Val Thorens leads winners at 2017 World Ski Awards

Val Thorens has taken the title of World's Best Ski Resort at the 2017 World Ski Awards

The legendary French resort - the highest resort in Europe - was the big winner at ski tourism's event of the year which took place at the five star A-ROSA Kitzbühel for the fifth consecutive year this evening, welcoming the elite of the ski hospitality industry to Austria. 

Also among the winners was the W Verbier. The W's first alpine and ski resort in Switzerland, walked away with the title of World's Best Ski Hotel. Elsewhere Chalet Les Anges, Zermatt - created by the world famous interior designer, Magali de Tscharner - took the title of World's Best Ski Chalet, while The Vale Niseko was voted World's Best Ski Boutique Hotel. 

Sun Web scooped the trophy for World's Best Ski Tour Operator, with Leo Trippi named World's Best Ski Travel Agent. In a first for World Ski Awards, Rocksresort - whose stone buildings are heated with entirely renewable biomass energy - was voted World's Best Green Ski Hotel. 

Bergbahn AG Kitzbuhel was also honoured during the red carpet event, taking the title of World's Best Ski Resort Company, while Bella Coola Heli Sports was recognised as World's Best Heli-Ski Operator and Ski-Lifts picked up the award for World's Best Ski Transfer Operator. 

Meanwhile LAAX was celebrating having been recognised by voters as World's Best Freestyle Resort, while Ski Dubai scooped the trophy for Best Indoor Ski Resort. 

Two of the night's biggest winners were Fahrenheit Seven and Alpaca. Hip design-led hotel, Fahrenheit Seven, collected the trophy for World's Best New Ski Hotel while Alpaca, in the French resort of Méribel, was recognised as World's Best New Ski Chalet. 

An extensive programme of events is taking place over the weekend, seeing guests invited to engage in three days of exclusive networking events, private skiing, sightseeing tours and a host of other VIP activities. World Ski Awards Managing Director Sion Rapson said: “The 2017 World Ski Awards has been our most successful to date, firmly cementing our position as the global benchmark for ski hospitality. "It has been a pleasure to recognise so many industry leaders here this evening and I hope their recognition, both by their peers and members of public ski community, will inspire them to aim ever higher in the pursuit of excellence." 

In an unique presentation, the World Ski Awards Academy honoured ski industry stalwart, Hans Grimus, with the title of Outstanding Contribution to Ski Tourism. The native Austrian, who left his homeland for Australia 56 years ago, was instrumental in constructing the first lifts on Mt Buller - a resort village in eastern Victoria, Australia - as well as building his eponymous hotel. 

Voting for the 2017 Gala Ceremony closed at the end of September, with a record number of ballots cast by leading ski tourism professionals. These were tallied alongside the votes of hundreds of thousands of ski consumers from around the world, with the winners revealed earlier this evening at A-ROSA Kitzbühel.  Find a full list of 2017 World Ski Awards winners on the official website, 

2017 World Winners
World's Best Ski Resort 2017: Val Thorens (France)
World's Best Freestyle Resort 2017: LAAX
World's Best Ski Hotel 2017: W Verbier (Switzerland)
World's Best New Ski Hotel 2017: Fahrenheit Seven Val Thorens
World's Best Green Ski Hotel 2017: rocksresort
World's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: The Vale Niseko (Japan)
World's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Chalet Les Anges, Zermatt (Switzerland)
World's Best New Ski Chalet 2017: Alpaca
World's Best Ski Resort Company 2017: Bergbahn AG Kitzbühel
World's Best Indoor Ski Resort 2017: Ski Dubai (UAE)
World's Best Ski Tour Operator 2017: Sunweb
World's Best Ski Travel Agent 2017: Leo Trippi
World's Best Heli-Ski Operator 2017: Bella Coola Heli Sports (Canada)
World's Best Ski Transfer Operator 2017: Ski-Lifts
Outstanding Contribution to Ski Tourism 2017: Hans Grimus

2017 Country Winners

2017 Best Ski Resort Winners
Australia's Best Ski Resort 2017: Thredbo
China's Best Ski Resort 2017: Vanke Lake Songhua Resort
Japan's Best Ski Resort 2017: Rusutsu Resort
New Zealand's Best Ski Resort 2017: Mt Hutt
South Korea's Best Ski Resort 2017: Vivaldi Park
Andorra's Best Ski Resort 2017: Vallnord
Austria's Best Ski Resort 2017: Kitzbühel
Bulgaria's Best Ski Resort 2017: Bansko
Czech Republic's Best Ski Resort 2017: Skiareál Špindlerův Mlýn
Finland's Best Ski Resort 2017: Iso-Syöte
France's Best Ski Resort 2017: Val Thorens
Germany's Best Ski Resort 2017: Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Italy's Best Ski Resort 2017: Val Gardena
Norway's Best Ski Resort 2017: Trysil
Poland's Best Ski Resort 2017: Białka Tatrzańska – Kotelnica
Romania's Best Ski Resort 2017: Sinaia
Russia's Best Ski Resort 2017: Rosa Khutor
Slovakia's Best Ski Resort 2017: Jasná Nízke Tatry
Slovenia's Best Ski Resort 2017: Krvavec
Spain's Best Ski Resort 2017: Aramón Cerler
Sweden's Best Ski Resort 2017: Åre
Switzerland's Best Ski Resort 2017: LAAX
Argentina's Best Ski Resort 2017: Cerro Catedral
Canada's Best Ski Resort 2017: The Lake Louise Ski Resort
Chile's Best Ski Resort 2017: Nevados de Chillán
United States' Best Ski Resort 2017: Deer Valley Resort

2017 Best Ski Hotel Winners
Australia's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Hotel Pension Grimus
Japan's Best Ski Hotel 2017: The Westin Rusutsu Resort
New Zealand's Best Ski Hotel 2017: The Rees Hotel
South Korea's Best Ski Hotel 2017: InterContinental Alpensia Pyeongchang Resort
Andorra's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Sport Hotel Hermitage & Spa
Austria's Best Ski Hotel 2017: A-ROSA Kitzbühel
Bulgaria's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Kempinski Hotel Grand Arena Bansko
Czech Republic's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Clarion Hotel Spindleruv Mlyn
Finland's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Ruka Ski Chalets Apartment-Hotel
France's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Altapura
Germany's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Schloss Elmau
Italy's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Cristallo, a Luxury Collection Resort & Spa, Cortina d’Ampezzo
Norway's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Radisson Blu Resort Trysil
Poland's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Hotel Bania Thermal & Ski
Russia's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Rixos Krasnaya Polyana Sochi
Slovakia's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Grand Hotel Praha
Slovenia's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Ramada Resort Kranjska Gora
Spain's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Meliá Sol y Nieve
Sweden's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Copperhill Mountain Lodge
Switzerland's Best Ski Hotel 2017: W Verbier
Argentina's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Llao Llao Hotel & Resort
Canada's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Pan Pacific Whistler Mountainside
Chile's Best Ski Hotel 2017: Gran Hotel Termas de Chillan
United States' Best Ski Hotel 2017: Waldorf Astoria Park City

2017 Best Ski Boutique Hotel Winners
Australia's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Astra Lodge, Falls Creek
Japan's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: The Vale Niseko
New Zealand's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Eichardt's Private Hotel
Andorra's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Grau Roig Hotel
Austria's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Hotel Tannenhof
Bulgaria's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Alpin Hotel
Czech Republic's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Hotel Savoy
Finland's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Hotel Iso-Syöte
France's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Le Chalet Zannier
Germany's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Hotel Staudacherhof
Italy's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Saint Hubertus Resort Luxury Hotel & Spa
Norway's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Nermo Hotell
Poland's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Hotel ART&SPA Zakopane
Russia's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Sport Inn Hotel
Slovakia's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Hotel FIS Jasná
Slovenia's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Skipass Hotel
Spain's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Meliá Royal Tanau Boutique Hotel
Sweden's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Buustamons Fjällgård
Switzerland's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Romantik Hotel Chesa Grischuna
Argentina's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Charming Luxury Lodge & Private Spa
Canada's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel
Chile's Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Hotel Antumalal
United States' Best Ski Boutique Hotel 2017: Washington School House

2017 Best Ski Chalet Winners
Australia's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Sequoia Penthouse Thredbo
Japan's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Sekka Kan
New Zealand's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Whare Kea Lodge & Chalet
Andorra's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Els Llacs
Austria's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Überhaus
Bulgaria's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Villa Gella
Finland's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Rukan Salonki
France's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Chalet Grande Corniche, Les Gets
Germany's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Country Home Pitzner
Italy's Best Ski Chalet 2017: San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge
Norway's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Havsdalsgrenda
Slovenia's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Chalet Planina
Sweden's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Skutan Ski Lodge
Switzerland's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Chalet Les Anges, Zermatt
Canada's Best Ski Chalet 2017: Bighorn, Revelstoke
United States' Best Ski Chalet 2017: Ski Dream Home

Notes to Editors

About World Ski Awards World Ski Awards – the only global initiative to recognise, reward and celebrate excellence in the ski hospitality industry – is the sister organisation of World Travel Awards currently celebrating its 24th anniversary. Launched in 2013, World Ski Awards aims to drive up standards within the ski tourism industry by rewarding the organisations that are leaders in their field. Votes are cast by professionals working within the ski industry – senior executives, travel buyers, tour operators, agents and media – and by the public (ski tourism consumers). Votes are submitted online at the World Ski Awards website. Download the World Ski Awards media pack at: 

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What I do and don't miss about Dubai

t’s been 10 years since I left Dubai and it’s time to reminisce about the desert kingdom that I loved to hate and loathed to love…



The buzz


A favourite local saying in the UAE (of which Dubai is one of seven emirates) has long been: “Miss a week and you’ll miss something major” and certainly it’s true that in Dubai’s desire to take its place on the world stage, change is the only constant. Dubai reinvents itself more times than Madonna and, in the 10 years since I left, has had face lift on a scale that even Cher would balk at.
The Burj Khalifa – aka the world’s tallest building- was still being built during my Dubai days. Today it stands 828m high and offers dizzying views of Dubai’s skyline, but plans are already in place to top it. Enter the Dubai Creek Tower which will become the highest in the land, standing at 928m upon completion in 2020.
Dubai is also gearing up to welcome the world’s largest Ferris wheel. Situated on Bluewaters Island (, the Ferris wheel will boast 48 air-conditioned capsules when it opens in 2018.
Not that anyone should be surprised by by the scale of Dubai’s ambitions…. In the words of the emirate’s charismatic ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, himself: “Becoming number one is not impossible – the word impossible doesn’t exist in our dictionary.”

247 sunshine



As recently as two decades ago few Brits had heard of, yet alone been to, Dubai. Now the emirate is a permanent fixture on the winter sun scene thanks to its promise of guaranteed rays, without the need to fly halfway around the globe. For while in Britain the sky is the colour of porridge, the leaves are falling and everyone is succumbing to flu, in Dubai it’s baking-in-a-bikini-hot – making a few years in the desert, a tempting prospect to warm weather starved Brits like myself.
I spent three consecutive Christmases in Dubai and I loved every single one of them. Don’t believe me? I’m willing to bet that when you’re lying horizontal on bone white, flour-fine sand basking in the sunshine, The Queen’s Speech, Eastenders omnibus and over-cooked Brussel sprouts will soon lose their festive appeal.



The land of bling (not for nothing is it described as the ‘Las Vegas of the Middle East’) may extend a welcome as warm as the weather to footballers and reality TV stars who delight in holidaying in the emirate’s hip hotels, but it’s residents are a much more diverse bunch.
Make no mistake: living in the UAE means you get to mingle with a melting pot of cultures that make up modern day Dubai. Case in point? I used to reside with an Aussie, an Egyptian and a Filipino and be taken by a Bangladeshi born taxi driver to work – where I would be greeted by colleagues from Lebanon, South Africa, Syria, Jordan, Canada and more. On any given day, I was able to learn a little about their cultures  – not exactly something you can do in a homogenous suburb in Middle England. Very few places on the planet open its arms to so many.

Traditional Dubai


People, perhaps understandably given the emirate’s penchant for publicising its outlandish projects, have the wrong idea about Dubai – believing it to be all about  malls and modernity. 
However scratch beneath the shiny surface and you’ll find another side to the ‘city of gold’. Alongside the skyscrapers like the Burj Al Arab (the self proclaimed seven star hotel, shaped like the sail of a dhow) and the Emirates Towers on Sheikh Zayed Road, sit historical sites such as Bastakia and the creek – arguably the heart beat of Dubai. Here you can watch abras and dhows (traditional Arab sailing boats) weave their way across the water, as they have done for centuries. 
I also enjoyed sauntering through the souks (traditional Arab market places) on Saturday browsing and bartering for everything from curly Aladdin-esque slippers and jewellery to pashminas (a necessity given the Arctic air conditioning levels that you’ll find in Dubai’s myriad malls and hotels), batteries, bananas, spices and Indian sweets. All are sold out of large open sacks, making for sensory overload.


The living is easy


Let’s face facts: life in London (my former and current base) can be a grind. There comes a point when you grow weary of being squashed up against a stranger’s armpit on a packed Central line tube during rush hour. Of wearing ear plugs every night to block out the sound (walls in London are paper thin) of your neighbours snoring, or worse, having sex. Of the nightmare that is the night bus home (expect urination, violence and vomiting) at the end of an evening out.
By contrast in the sand pit (as we expats affectionately termed Dubai), the living is positively easy. Friendly petrol pump attendants fill up up your car (with dirt cheap gasoline), while supermarket assistants  bag your shopping with a smile. Instead of watching drunken people fight on the night bus, you can hop in a cab for peanuts prices after a night out on the town. Hungry? Panic not: the cafe/restaurant/shop you live next door to will happily deliver your order – even if it’s only a bar of chocolate – to the communal rooftop pool in your apartment block where you can spend weekends toasting on a sun lounger…Yes Dubai is an incredibly convenient destination – not that most expats realise this until they return to their Motherland.
Or in the words of the Chinese writer, Lin Yutang: “No one realises how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.”


The dark side of Dubai


While Dubai excels in many areas, it doesn’t do well ecologically. Worryingly the UAE has one of the largest ecological footprints (signifying a lifestyle that wastes resources) in the world, second only to the USA.
Carbon footprint concerns aside, I was horrified by how many of the migrant workers who helped transform Dubai from a sleepy fishing village into a futuristic city were (and are) treated. A large percentage typically arrived in the UAE deep in debt – having paid recruiters in their homeland large fees for visas, jobs and plane tickets – only to have their passports are confiscated (despite the fact that the confiscation of passports is illegal). Forced to work long hours in searing heat by their employers for a low pay cheque, these migrant workers from the sub continent have little choice but to live in cramped, labour camps on the outside of town.
Bottom line? Next time you visit Dubai and stay in a swanky hotel on the Palm, don’t forget how it was built and by whom…

Mad, bad, driving


The Dubai metro – the world’s longest (but of course!) self driving metro system – has helped ease road congestion in the emirate, no end. However back in my day there was no metro system – car was king – and subsequently traffic in Dubai was as aggressive and chaotic as anything you’d find in India. Little wonder then that Sheikh Zayed Road – the highway that links Dubai with its sibling Abu Dhabi – earned the moniker Death Side Road owing to reckless drivers weaving in and out of traffic at breakneck speed in huge SUVs.
During my spell in the emirate driving was a necessity rather than choice due to limited public transport, but it still remains the most dangerous thing I ever did in Dubai.

The strict morality laws

Unless you have been living under a rock, you’ll know that it’s a punishable offence to drink, or to be under the influence of alcohol, in public in the UAE.
However not everyone knows that the UAE  deem homosexual acts unlawful. Even seemingly innocuous films such as the Adam Sandler vehicle I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry were banned by censors (censorship is alive and well) while I was living in the UAE. My message? It’s not great – something a couple of my former Time Out Dubai colleagues can attest to – for gays living in the Middle East.
For while Dubai may look like any other western city, in reality it’s a strict Muslim state. Although it’s more liberal than its neighbour Saudi Arabia, all displays of public affection between the sexes is banned as Michelle Palmer and Vince Accors – the two Brits who were accused of having sex on Jumeirah Beach in Dubai – discovered. The pari were jailed, although their sentence was later suspended.

World Ski Awards arrives at A-ROSA Kitzbühel

Wed 15 November 2017

Leaders of the ski industry are arriving in Kitzbühel, Austria, as the final preparations are put in place for the 5th annual World Ski Awards.

Ski tourism's event of the year will be staged at the five star A-ROSA Kitzbühel for the fifth consecutive year from the 17th-19th November.

An extensive weekend programme is in place which will see the elite of the ski industry invited to engage in three days of exclusive networking events, private skiing, sight-seeing tours and a host of other VIP activities.

The highlight of the weekend will, of course, be the glittering World Ski Awards Gala Ceremony itself on the evening of Saturday 18th November – when the 2017 winners will be unveiled.

World Ski Awards Managing Director, Sion Rapson, said: “With so much work having gone into the prestige event, it is a pleasure to begin welcoming guests here to the A-ROSA Kitzbühel in the Austrian Alps for our fifth annual World Ski Awards.

"The fabulous hotel was instrumental in the success of the inaugural World Ski Awards in 2013, while subsequent years have seen the event develop into the industry's must-attend international gathering."

Nestled among the Austrian Alps, the A-ROSA Kitzbühel is a stylish Alpine winter ski destination. Built in the style of a Tyrol castle, the resort boasts 115 rooms and 36 suites all offering spectacular views of the Streif – the most famous ski slope in the world.

Uwe Schramm, General Manager at the A-ROSA Kitzbühel, said: “We are extremely excited and happy to be hosting the 5th annual World Ski Awards again this year at the A-ROSA Kitzbühel.

"The World Ski Awards are an absolute highlight to us, and myself and the entire team are incredibly proud to be hosting this prestigious event – which provides a fantastic networking opportunity for the international ski hospitality industry – at our resort.”

The World Ski Awards programme has categories for the Best Ski Resort, Best Ski Hotel, Best Ski Boutique Hotel and Best Ski Chalet for the World's premier ski tourism nations.

The individual country level winner with the most overall votes will not only win the national award but also the world level award in the respective category.

A number of categories exist on a world level only: World's Best Freestyle Resort, World's Best Ski Resort Company, World's Best Ski Tour Operator, World's Best Heli-Ski Operator, World's Best Ski Travel Agent, World's Best Ski Transfer Operator and the special World Ski Awards Academy Honour for Outstanding Contribution to Ski Tourism.

New for 2017 are categories for the World's Best Green Ski Hotel, World's Best New Ski Hotel and World's Best New Ski Chalet.

Find out more on the official World Ski Awards website:

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