Planning a snow holiday in Australia? You really should consider these cool, chic and crazy accommodation options. From lovely lodges to all-in resorts. From old favourites to hip hotels (by Steve Madgwick).
1. The hipster – QT, Falls Creek
Amazing hot tub vistas of Falls Creek ski runs and the surrounding Kiewa Valley from your private balcony? Sure. All of QT Falls Creek’s 1, 2 and 3 bedroomed apartments sport funky chic Scandi décor, but the multi en-suited penthouse is the one to aim for – one of the most sought-after alpine accommodation options in Australia. QT Falls is on the cusp of the resort’s lift system, has downstairs ski lockers and the seasonal fare at in-house Bazaar is as good as anywhere on the slopes. The real deal breaker? The onsite spaQ… Before you book: Internet is free (and it’s fast).
2. Chalet par excellence – Rockpool Lodge, Thredbo
An intimate chalet in an exquisitely secluded setting in Thredbo village, Rockpool Lodge (no relation to the Sydney restaurant) recently scored ‘Australia’s Best Ski Chalet’ at the World Ski Awards. A treat for small groups or families (free Wi-Fi and linen et al supplied), the two-bedroom, three-floor layout comes complete with the almost mandatory stone wood fireplace to dry yourself in front of after a day on the mountain or post float in the Jacuzzi… Before you book: As with many snow lodges, expect a minimum stay – between three and seven nights, depending seasonal demand.
3. The alpine dream stay – The Buckland, near Bright
Nestled close to Mt Buffalo, near the Victorian town of Bright, splash-out palace The Buckland private retreat embodies alpine-style decadence without seeming to try too hard. The five cabins all exude a small-scale attention to detail; they are tastily decorated and replete with cosy goose down bed linen, free-standing baths, L’Occitane toiletries and High Country views that just don’t quit from almost every vantage point. Post-ski pamper? Light the fire while you wait for your in-room masseuse to arrive…
Before you book: It’s a bit of drive to the big Victorian resorts (about 30km to the closest, Mt Buller), but you will forget the distance once you’re ‘home’. Oh, book well ahead!
4. Old-world cosy cottages – Moonbah Hut, near Jindabyne
The well-appointed Moonbah Hut(s) (there are actually two, the Lake and River Hut) have nailed that rustic cattleman’s-hut vibe, despite the fact they were actually built in 2003 (as replicas). Think luxe bedding, cushy robes, open fires and underfloor heating. The River Hut, on the banks of the Moonbah River, is perhaps the pick of the pair with its traditional claw foot bath, wrought iron beds, 80-year-old wood stove and foodie-friendly (more spacious) kitchen. They are planted on 250 acres of winter wonderland with plenty of scope for snowman engineering or just staring out into the countryside, wine in hand. Equally good place to spend a summer long weekend…
Before you book: Located 15 minutes’ drive out of Jindabyne, its’ a fair trip every day to Perisher, Thredbo, Charlotte’s Pass or Selwyn. Yes, it’s delightfully remote but proudly so offering “no television reception or PlayStations”. Thank God.
5. Action stations – Huski, Falls Creek
Not quite as hip as its Falls neighbour QT, but the strikingly angular Huski is one of those solid all-inclusive self-contained places (14 apartments) that bleeds a sometimes energetic, sometimes laid-back atmosphere, a specialty of Australia’s snowfields. The four-bedroom, four-bathroom split-level penthouse (maximum 10 people) has all the homely creature comforts to make your ski holiday effortless: laundry facilities, drying cupboards, Bose bluetooth speaker, free wireless and Apple TV. Hot tub and heated marble floors will do the rest… Before you book: Bottom-floor apartments can get a little too involved in the après ski atmosphere so opt for upper floors if you need absolute zen.
6. The all-in one – Novotel Lake Crackenback Resort & Spa
Novotel Lake Crackenback is ideal for those who like their ski holidays all-inclusive and who appreciate an out-of-town lakeside ambiance (check out the website for deals that include brekky, ski hire, lift tickets etc, especially for families). The resort can seem a little isolated (it’s on the border of Kosciuszko National Park, 20km on the snow-side of Jindabyne), but the Thredbo Valley views and ample amenities (the highlight of which is the Waterlily Collection-stocked Spa & Wellness Centre) should more than compensate. Despite a largish collection of apartments and chalet options, Crackenback maintains a relatively peaceful ‘un-resortish’ atmosphere… Before you book: Thredbo is a 15-minute drive by car (add national park entrance fee) and 800m (along a private road) from the Skitube to Perisher – complimentary shuttle bus during winter. Note: firewood for the rooms costs $25 a bag.
7. Euro kitsch – Hotel Pension Grimus, Mt Buller
This Mt Buller icon (yes, it’s been there that long) is all about its family-run atmosphere and the Austrian-Tyrolean style architecture. Built by owner Hans Grimus in the 1970s, the hotel (or is it a pension?) is spacious, almost as central as you get to Mt Buller’s ski facilities and revels in its Euro-style fireplaced kitschy cosiness. Grimus staff love to get involved too – expect to share the odd belt of schnapps with them… Before you book: Don’t expect the latest modernist fittings – this is old-school Austrian-Australian ski field chic. Note: Grimus has one of the best ski centres around for all your hiring requirements.
8. For the adventurous – Alpine Winter Camp, Mt Stirling
Warning: the Alpine Winter Camp is for adventurous souls who like to get out among the snow gums. Catering to cross country skiers and snow shoers around Mt Stirling, you can ski in to your (pre-erected) heated tent (on raised, insulated platforms). After you settle in, head to the central tepee to discuss the day’s action around the warmth of a potbelly stove… Before you book: This isn’t glamping! It’s pretty basic but warm with onsite cooking facilities.
9. The first-timer family snow weekend – Lake Mountain Alpine Resort
Lake Mountain Alpine Resort is around two hours’ scenic drive from Melbourne, as good a reason as any to start the inaugural annual family snow holiday. Make a weekend of it by staying at the newly opened Vibe in nearby Marysville. The roomy hotel is a good mix of funky, fresh and functional with hearty (and local) on-site food options at Radius Bar & Grill… Before you book: Lake Mountain Alpine Resort caters to ‘snowplay’ – cross country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding etc. There is no downhill skiing or snowboarding.
10. The comfortable old fave – Marritz Alpine Inn, Perisher
On-snow accommodation at Perisher is smaller, sometime older style lodges, inns and hotels, so it’s all about finding a perfect fit and wearing it well, just like your favourite pair of shoes. The Marritz is “premium accommodation”, not exactly high-end luxury, but offers a solid mix of services: the food is good, the staff are friendly, the rooms are relatively big and bright, and the tariff is reasonable (by Australian snowfield standards). The Front Valley views (from some rooms with enclosed balconies) are extra spesh and most of the post-skiing goodies are there: open fire in the lounge area, a sauna and indoor heated pool (get in early). Before you book: Some find it a tad outdated, but it’s comfortable, well-positioned and functional without being fancy. Ideal for families looking to stay on snow.