The northern hemisphere ski season will welcome a crop of five-star hotel openings in major ski resort towns around the world, all looking to push the envelope in already-luxe settings.
For most any high-end mountain resort, ski concierges and boot butlers are a given. What makes these spots shine is their commitment to modern alpine design, creating rooms that are as fit for the 21st century as your custom-molded Solomon boots.
Huus Hotel, Gstaad, Switzerland
Outside, it looks like the most traditional of alpine chalets. But one peek into Gstaad's new, 135-room Huus Hotel is all it takes to realise that this is something else entirely. Sure, the are cuckoo clocks on the bedroom walls – but depending on the room, those walls are painted in slate gray or Kelly green, and they're accented by headboards that span the entire length of the room.
On the beds are a cornucopia of plaid patterns that no 1960s designer would have ever attempted to put together. This is, after all, a Design Hotels property, and it's daringly styled accordingly by the Swedish team at Stylt Trampoli.
But just as alluring as its good looks is its access to some of the world's best ski terrain: the Schönried and Gstaad lifts are both roughly two miles away. Rooms from US$152 ($199).
Hotel Talisa, Vail, Colorado
The former Vail Cascade Resort has been completely remastered and rebranded by The Luxury Collection as the Hotel Talisa – which means "beautiful waters" in the local Native American language. Those beautiful waters refer to Gore Creek, which forms a burbling backdrop for the spa and many of the resort's 285 masculine rooms.
Skip the entry-level Standard rooms, which lack the fireplaces and private terraces that you'll find one category up, in the Deluxe rooms. And if you forget to book yourself in for a restorative massage, just retreat to your floor-to-ceiling marble-clad bathroom for a bubble bath in the massive soaking tub.
As for mountain access, that's a point of pride for the new hotel, which opens on January 20. It's set in Cascade Village - the least-exciting of Vail's three villages, yes – but the silver lining of being a mile away from the restaurants of Vail Village or the skating rink in Lionhead is that you're right at the foot of the Cascade lift. According to the hotel's Managing Director, John Garth, it's the fastest way to zip up to the top of the mountain. Prices not available at press time.
Les Neiges, Courchevel, France
Forget everything you know about cliché mountain décor. The Hotel Barriere Les Neiges has found a way to make every tired alpine design trope feel new again with the debut of its 42 rooms this season in Courchevel.
Each is like a little wooden jewel box, practically glowing in warm amber tones. With white fur blankets, velveteen throw pillows, chairs covered entirely in furry white shag, and in-room fireplaces, this is a place where you can easily forget about the slopes and stay in bed all day long.
If you do insist on getting outside – and your private terrace doesn't cut it – the property is ski-in, ski-out. And what better excuses to check out the Biologique Recherche spa or the Mauro Colagreco restaurant than sore legs and a worked-up appetite? Rooms from US$1,600 ($2096).
The Blake, Taos, New Mexico
Taos has tons of die-hard fans for its powdery conditions and barely-there lift lines. But up until this season, the only lodging options have been a kitschy Bavarian-themed inn and Airbnb.
Enter The Blake, part of a US$300 million ($393,072,086) investment into the entire ski area. The 80-room hotel, opening February, is just one of many mountain improvements coming this season. A renovated base area, a new lift to the top of the mountain, and the development of public plazas and a Riverwalk are also in the works.
But even if the hotel was the only development, it would still be reason enough to renew interest in this uniquely Southwestern ski destination. Its 80 rooms and common spaces will blend elements of Alpine and Puebla design: the lobby will have a white adobe fireplace adorned with antlers and flanked by Native American textiles, for instance. And unlike the only other luxury resorts in the wider area, you won't have to drive 40 minutes to get to the lifts - they're just outside your door. Rooms from US$249 ($326).
Suvretta House, St Moritz
Suvretta House holds plenty of superlatives - even in the company of the half-dozen grand hotels that line St. Moritz. It's the iconic destination's only ski-in, ski-out option. It's got the best snow sports school in town. Its position on the slopes affords it some of the best landscape views in the area. But now, it's also the most modern option, by far.
Whereas St. Moritz is known for its 100-plus-year-old historic hotels, the 105-year-old Suvretta is renovating its rooms to fit in squarely with the 21st century. The gold curtains and patterned carpets are being replaced with sleek wood floors, graceful rugs, modern striped window treatments, and pops of violet. And while only half of the rooms will renovated in time for this season (the rest will come online next year), all guests will have access to one covetable perk: the new house car, a Tesla, painted in British Racing Green. Rooms from US$290 ($378).
Dunton Town House, Telluride, Colorado
The Dunton team struck gold with their first property, a takeover of an abandoned ghost town in a hot springs town that few had ever heard of before. Its sophomore opening, Dunton River Camp, had the fashion world clamouring to go glamping in Colorado's remote backcountry. So imagine what they will do to skyrocket Telluride's reputation, given that the popular (if low-key) ski resort has never had a grade-A property in the heart of its historic downtown core?
That's the bet that's being made with Dunton Town House, a five-room Victorian home that the Dunton team is converting into a high-design, five-room inn. The décor will riff on the heritage of Austria and Tyrol, with antique Austrian furniture, alpine-inspired Gmundner Keramik dishes for breakfast service, and art that was curated by co-owner and professional gallerist Katrin Bellinger. Doors open in November - within a two-minute walk of the lifts, no less. Rooms from US$350 ($458).