Val Thorens in the French Alps is skiing’s answer to the big-and-tall store. At an elevation of 7,500 feet, it’s the highest resort in Europe and one of the main stations in Les Trois Vallées—the largest linked ski area in the world, with nearly 400 miles of trails. If you’ve ever considered cheating on American snow for a week or two, you might as well do it on a cirque surrounded by powder fields as far as the eye can see.
The area has come a long way since the ’70s, when Brutalist-style apartment buildings popped up to accommodate pioneering residents. The concrete boxes have since given way to stylish, modern hotels such as Altapura, which has 72 rooms, 16 suites, and a design sense that could be described as “alpine lodge and Williamsburg loft had a baby” (the arty deer head sculptures in the lounge should tell you all you need to know).
After a day of conquering (or being conquered by) the slopes, grab some sun and a cup of mulled wine on the hotel’s south-facing terrace. Or head straight to the onsite restaurant for pumpkin soup with truffle cream and other bistro bites. Stick around long enough and the dining room becomes an after-hours club with music and cocktails. Though if you’re anything like us, you’ll head back to your room and fall asleep watching the Mac Mini TV (each accommodation has one). After all, you’ve got more vertical to explore tomorrow.
The details: Rooms start at $370/night. The nearest airports are in Chambéry, Lyon and Geneva.