We’re going to the snow. You don’t have to know your chowder from your corduroy to recognise the promise of adventure conjured in that phrase. Snow is white, fluffy stuff that falls from the sky. But the snow evokes something else – an enchanted wonderland of chalets glowing with roaring fires, icicles that hang from marbled snow gums, mountains with their heads in the clouds and views that stretch for ever. It’s a thrilling experience that transcends the sport of skiing.

When I look back on trips to the snow, it’s often not the skiing that stands out, no matter how exhilarating at the time. More vivid in my memory is the steam rising from the hot water as I soaked in an open-air onsen in Japan. Or the fireside fondue dinner in a timber chalet in Austria; playing of game of curling on a skating rink lit by fairy lights in Switzerland; being wrapped in a sheepskin blanket and towed on a sleigh by Belgian draft horses in Colorado, or guiding a skimobile along a dark forest trail to dinner in a log cabin in Whistler, headlights punching yellow portals in the mist.

More than ever, Australian ski resorts are creating unique, on-mountain experiences that don’t include hurtling down a hill. And they must, given the climatic trends. Not that anyone’s complaining right now. This will be one of the best starts to the season on record, with most resorts getting lifts turning a week ahead of schedule thanks to mega early season snow-dumps. The official season opening is this weekend, and given the disruption of the last two years when resorts were forced to close due to rolling lockdowns, there’s a “nothing can stop us now” sense of optimism in the mountains. With bookings at an all-time high, resorts are putting on special events and offering incentives to attract mid-week guests.

Villages are flush with fine dining, boutique hotels, indulgent day spas and pop-up après ski bars. Take a scenic flight, take a walk with alpine dingos or drink schnapps round a fire in a luxury tipi. And for the diehards, there’s been plenty happening on the piste, from new chairlifts and cross-country facilities to sunrise sessions and night skiing, plus enhanced snow-making equipment that should have you carving turns until October…

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