By Adam H. Graham, Travel + Leisure • Updated 28th January 2013
About three-thousand feet above sea level, fleece-clad guests sit fireside sipping glasses of Burgundy from the chalet owner's private vineyard. But this isn't St. Moritz. Down the hall is a stone-and-oak onsen for après-ski muscle soaking. Welcome to the Kimamaya Boutique Hotel on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, an increasingly chic ski destination.
Kimamaya is one example of how the latest ski resorts are trending toward high design and popping up in some unexpected places. Such new resorts in Norway, Japan and Austria's Tyrol region have begun to attract an off-the-beaten-trail set. They have enough varied amenities to appeal to all, especially non-skiers who were previously dragged into the cold by their ski-enthusiast friends and family.
Travelers can expect mountain retreats with designer furniture, original art on the walls and top chefs brought in from cities to give the cheese-and-potato ski cuisine a makeover. And, naturally, some ski-specific perks: better ski-in, ski-out access, ultra-groomed and longer trails and state-of-the-art lifts.
Whether you ski or not, there's never been a better time to change your altitude with a stay at one of these chic mountain resorts.
Myrkdalen Hotel Voss, Norway
Skiing was invented in Norway, so it's fitting that this resort (opened in November 2012) is adorned with vintage black-and-white photos that recall the sport's glamorous early days. The property's 122 rooms vary from designer suites with faux-fur pillows and earthy tones to family-friendly ones with bunk beds and pull-out sofas.
The location in Voss Mountain Village provides quick access to 15 slopes, a network of cross-country trails and a ski school. UNESCO-inscribed Sognefjord and Nærøyfjord fjords are nearby for the days you need a break from the slopes. Rooms from $160.
Kimamaya Boutique Hotel, Hokkaido, Japan
This luminous barnlike hotel designed by Andrew Bell in the ski region of Niseko-Hirafu on the northernmost island of Hokkaido opened in 2011 and is also a new member of Design Hotels.
The lobby fireplace crackles, jazz sets the mood and elm floors and black granite make a dramatic design statement. The nine rooms are customizable with three types of pillows, timber floors and granite bathrooms, while a stone-and-oak onsen (thermal baths) hits the spot after a day on the slopes. Rooms from $157.
The Sutton Place Hotel/Revelstoke Mountain Resort, Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada
Under the gaze of Mount Mackenzie, Revelstoke Mountain Resort debuted in 2007. It counts five lifts and 59 runs (with more of both in the works) and is now the only resort in the world to offer lift, cat-, heli-, and backcountry skiing from the same village. Cool kids stay at the luxurious Sutton Place Hotel for the condo-style rooms with gas fireplaces, the outdoor, year-round pool and hot tubs, and the fitness studio offering yoga sessions. Rooms from $149.
The Dom, Saas Fee, Switzerland
The oldest hotel in Saas-Fee was given a radical 2012 makeover that went from dowdy to sophisticated and romantic, with a price tag that's hard to find in Switzerland. In-room iPads control windows, TVs and temperature, while stone and weathered wood beams give the rooms a cozy alpine feel. Best of all: Big fluffy-down-topped beds offer unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers. Rooms from $350.
Altapura, Val Thorens, France
Altapura emanates après-ski opulence with a warm indoor/outdoor pool and Scandinavian-style interiors of light-colored wood draped in white faux fur and accented by giant snowflake cutouts. It's also the highest five-star hotel in Europe at 7,545 feet, replete with tepidarium and views of Les Trois Vallées's six glaciers, toothsome peaks and 372 miles of ski-in, ski-out trails. Rooms from $300.
Basecamp Hotel, South Lake Tahoe, California
Arc'teryx meets Anthropologie at Lake Tahoe's newest place to stay. Just minutes from both the water and the Heavenly Mountain ski resort, Basecamp Hotel was designed with high-style adventurers in mind. Its 50 chic, sleepaway-camp-inspired rooms (some with bunk beds) substitute lanterns for lamps and survival guides for Gideon Bibles. Nightly group meals encourage hostel-like mingling—as do the outdoor fire pits, where you'll find guests sharing s'mores and trading stories about the moguls on Heavenly's famous Gunbarrel run. Rooms from $104.
Hotel Jerome, Aspen, Colorado
Auberge Resorts swooped in to give the historic Hotel Jerome a 2012 restoration and generate some buzz. While the grand fireplace and historic ballroom remain, a new lobby living room, a spa and a yoga studio have been added. The upgraded restaurant, bar and rooms take inspiration from old-time Hollywood glamour; John Wayne, Lana Turner and Hunter S. Thompson are all former hotel guests. Rooms from $640. See the rest of the best new mountain resorts.
Matt Villano contributed to this story.