Sustainably Snowy

Sustainably Snowy

4 January, 2016
Ski Destinations
These six mountain retreats will make your ski stay unforgettable
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#1. NISEKO, JAPAN
Niseko is world-famous for its powdery deep snow conditions and magically quaint atmosphere. Set against the backdrop of Mt. Yotei, the Niseko area is located in western Hokkaido, and is  made up of 5 different resorts: Annupuri, Higashiyama, Hirafu, Hanazono and Moiwa Ki. As a leading agricultural area well known for its fertile land and delicious foods, Niseko closes the loop by by turning garbage into compost for local farms. Meanwhile 70 per cent of the total forest in this area is natural, so strict regulations are in place for all new construction to ensure the area’s pristine ecosystems remain intact. Niseko’s sustainable everyday operations also include practices such as carbon footprint reduction, energy conservation and using renewable energy sources. Bonus: due to its proximity to  Hong Kong, you can spend the money saved from buying carbon offsets on enjoying some of the fine Japanese dining in the area!
How to get there: From New Chitose Airport in Hokkaido take bus, train or car
Where to stay: The Vale Niseko, Kozue Luxury Condominiums 
What else: Traditional Japanese onsen, amazing food, year-round outdoor activities
 
 
2. KITZSTEINHORN, AUSTRIA
Visionary thinking made Kitzsteinhorn the first glacial skiing area in Austria in 1965. The beautiful scenery being a clear asset, the resort took a pioneering role in local environmental protection to preserve the immaculate surroundings. A zero waste effort is applied at trains and lifts, restaurants and offices. Free shuttle buses are provided to minimise vehicles. Even the letterheads are printed on only chlorine- free paper. Kitzsteinhorn also installed a sewage treatment system back in 1974 by connecting lifts to a sewage pipe to remove waste from the mountain efficiently. Solar panels are located on top of the ski area providing hot water supply for the restaurants, and the lifts and cable cars are powered by electricity, creating zero emissions onsite. The resort also liaises with the Institute of Ecology in Salzburg on planting indigenous alpine vegetation to avoid erosion during heavy rainfall.
How to get there: From Salzburg, take the train to Zell am See station then a shuttlebus
Where to stay: Tirolerhof Hotel, Prielau, Hotel Schloss, and St. Hubertushof
What else: Hiking, mountain biking, ice camping
 
3. WHISTLER BLACKCOMB, CANADA
This venerable 50-year-old ski resort offers incredible and varied terrain, with mile-long vertical descents for an unforgettable experience. In addition to providing exceptional service to guests, Whistler Blackcomb also relentlessly pursues  sustainable  operations. Zero Operating Footprint is their target destination, and they’re well on track. Their restaurants have successfully reduced waste by 42 per cent through implementation of large-scale composting. Great effort has been made to improve their energy management, including energy-saving appliances and fuel reduction. The Fitzsimmons River provides renewable hydropower inside the ski area. Meanwhile the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, established in 1992, supports hundreds of community charities.
How to get there: Trains depart from Vancouver, or coaches and taxis straight from Vancouver Airport
Where to stay: Fairmont Chateau Whistler, Blackcomb Greens, Blueberry 3367
What else: The GLC (‘Best Après bars in North America’), tasting tours, CycloCross Whistler
 
4. SAAS-FEE, SWITZERLAND
People praise Saas-Fee as the “Pearl of the Alps” because of its breathtaking views and excellent skiing conditions. This internationally recognised resort nestled northeast of Zermatt was awarded Energy Town Status  by  EnergieSchweiz  in 2013, for the community’s commitment to advancing eco-friendly energy policies, pushing renewable energies and using local resources. In the ski resort, all electricity is acquired from 100 per cent hydroelectric power, and their wood-fired furnaces are equipped with particle filters to minimise air pollution. Saas-Fee is a family- friendly ski resort with many gentle slope choices, and is also entirely pedestrian, only permitting electric taxis and buses in the village. This not only makes it safer for children, but is also a measurable way to reduce green gas emissions.
How to get there: From Zurich airport take the train to Visp, where buses and taxis are available to the resort
Where to stay: Elite Alpine Lodge, Ferienart Resort & Spa, The Capra Saas-Fee
What else: Camping, hiking, Kreuzboden Spa
 
5. JACKSON HOLE (JHMR), USA
This family-owned resort is located south of Yellowstone National Park and offers spectacular, awe-inspiring natural vistas. JHMR is the only ski resort in the USA to have had ISO 14001 certification for almost 10 years. Sixty-four tonnes of waste are recycled every year and 3,785 litres of used vegetable oil waste fully powers their vehicles. They commit to using toxin-free products as much as possible, from bathroom floor cleaners to antimicrobial boot sprays, for guest and environmental health. But they’re not resting on their laurels yet; JHMR will be implementing a range of new eco-friendly systems in next five years, such as fully renewable energy installations and water saving measures.
How to get there: 40 minutes drive or shuttle bus service from Jackson Airport
Where to stay: Alpenhof Lodge, Rusty Parrot and Four Seasons Resort
What else: Spas, nightlife, golf, scenic & wildlife tours
 
6. AVORIAZ SKI RESORT, FRANCE
Avoriaz Ski Resort blends beautifully into the surrounding mountains, with its eye-catching architecture and cliff-top position. They are considered to be one of the greenest ski resorts in France, with ISO certified authentication. In 2013, Avoriaz won the Environmental Award for Ecological Development at the World Snow Awards in London. No personal cars are permitted in the resort, which enables people to enjoy their holiday in quietness. An innovative dual-energy wood-pellet-fired boiler, situated at the top of the mountain, supplies power for 80 per cent of the heat requirement in the resort. They take waste seriously too, sourcing recycled products, sorting and processing waste meticulously, and providing recycling bins throughout the ski area. Ecological management of water resources also helps reduce the waste of snow production.
How to get there: Coaches available from Geneva Cointrin International Airport
Where to stay: Hotel Neige Et Roc, Hotel Des Dromonts, Hotel Les Prodains
What else: Nighttime sledging, skydiving, Segway tours

By: Ecozine Staff
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