Covering five countries on three continents in the span of 34 days, a ski trip launching this December lets people experience some of the best glacier runs and off-piste heli-skiing on the planet.
The trip is designed for wealthy travelers as well as those seeking new cultural experiences, said Kirsty Edwards, head of operated ski product at Scott Dunn, the luxury tour operator behind the trip. "This itinerary is sandwiched by city stays in a hand-picked selection of fabulous hotels and resorts, and incredible mountain experiences including some of the best heli-ski in the world."
Every tour is bespoke, but the itinerary looks like this:
The trip begins at the foot of the Matterhorn in the iconic Alpine resort of Zermatt. This tiny, walkable mountain village in Switzerland offers 360 kilometers (224 miles) of ski runs, including those at Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. At 3,883 meters (12,740 feet) above sea level, the area is home to the highest mountain station in Europe; guests reach it by luxury gondolas that can carry 28 people at once.
Skiing here is year-round, though some simply come for the views. From the station at Klein Matterhorn, you can see 14 glaciers and 38 peaks that tower 4,000 meters above sea level or more, including France's Mont Blanc and, on good days, Italy's Gran Paradiso.
Après-ski options at Zermatt are almost as good a reason to go as the snow. Rustic mountain pubs mingle with Michelin-starred restaurants, heralding a new moniker — "the gourmet capital of the Alps" — for the mountain resort. Guests of this trip stay at the Schweizerhof Zermatt hotel, a mountain retreat that is part of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection.
Estimated stay: four nights
Flying overnight from Zurich to Tokyo, the journey continues to Niseko, located on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
It's no easy feat to break into the list of the world's best ski destinations. But Niseko's meteoric rise from local ski town to global hotspot is deserving; its champagne powdery slopes (due to the snow's low water content) and expansive backcountry are prized by skiers and snowboarders alike. Natural onsens, or hot springs, and Japanese hospitality and culinary skills couldn't have hurt its case either.
"Aman Tokyo is a particular highlight and a great base to explore the city," says Edwards. "Guests can enjoy Tokyo's wealth of fantastic restaurants, with more Michelin stars than any other city in the world."
Estimated stay: five nights in Niseko and two nights in Tokyo
After Asia, it's off to North America for an 11-day tour of Canada's westernmost province. The trip stops for two spots of heli-skiing: first in Whistler, with evenings spent in the luxurious Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler, before going off-the-grid with Last Frontier Heliskiing. The latter operates two lodges — log chalets in the Sheena Mountains and a historic hotel on the edge of the Alaskan border — with "exclusive access to the largest single heli-ski area on the planet," per the company's website.
"Heli-skiing gives guests the chance to access really remote, off-trail locations via helicopter as opposed to ski lifts," says Edwards. "These are runs that have not been touched by other skiers and snowboarders, allowing guests to forge their own trails down the mountain."
Estimated stay: five nights in Whistler, two nights in Vancouver, four nights in remote British Columbia
Next stop? Colorado. The Rocky Mountains are the longest mountain range in North America, and Aspen is one of its most chichi towns. Home to festivals — music, film and ideas, yes there's an Aspen Ideas Festival — and numerous sporting events including the Winter X-Games, Aspen is known for its quintessential ski slopes and the rich and famous that flock to them.
Celebs aside, Aspen boasts one of the best off-slope scenes in the U.S., including a lively arts culture, upscale shopping and social traditions like the nightly Champagne sabering at Mountain Social Bar & Lounge.
Guests of the ski trip stay at The Little Nell, a renowned ski-in, ski-out hotel on Aspen Mountain with a 20,000-bottle wine cellar and rooms warmed by gas log fireplaces and heated marble floors and walls.
Estimated stay: five nights
The trip culminates with one of the biggest selling points of the entire adventure — a stay at Deplar Farm on Iceland's Troll Peninsula.
A converted sheep farm in the Fljót region, this 13-suite luxury lodge is set among rolling farmlands, dramatic couloirs and crystalline fjords. Adventure travelers can heli-ski and fat-bike by day, while lazing away the evenings in the geo-thermal heated pool, which in the winter "provides front-row seats to view the ghostly Northern Lights," according to Eleven Experience, the company behind the lodge.
"Deplar Farm is a brilliant way to end the trip as it offers a range of different activities in a totally remote setting. It is quite unlike anywhere else," says Edwards.
Estimated stay: four nights
Travelers can book anytime between December and March. Approximately three nights are spent flying between destinations. Scott Dunn says it can help guests cope with jet lag by providing sleep kits and tips on when to eat and exercise to acclimate to new time zones.
A globe-trotting skiing adventure of this magnitude will set you back 39,000 British pounds ($50,657) per person. Budget travel this is not; however, bookings include hotel and resort stays, private transfers, internal flights and full-board at the heli-ski lodges.