Where Is the World’s Best Après-Ski Scene?

We’ve indulged in après scenes in Europe, South America and North America. Where do you think the best après-ski scene is?

Oct 14, 2010
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Zermatt, Switzerland sits perfectly nestled in the Alps with a sublime view of the Matterhorn.
Zermatt, Switzerland sits perfectly nestled in the Alps with a sublime view of the Matterhorn.
Some of the finest in ski and outdoor apparel can be found at Bayard Sports & Fashion in the sophisticated alpine village of Zermatt.
Some of the finest in ski and outdoor apparel can be found at Bayard Sports & Fashion in the sophisticated alpine village of Zermatt.
The view of the Aconcagua Valley coupled with the mouth-watering steaks and barbecue make Tio Bob's the place to go while skiing in Portillo, Chile.
The view of the Aconcagua Valley coupled with the mouth-watering steaks and barbecue make Tio Bob's the place to go while skiing in Portillo, Chile.
Shopping in Vail Village rivals that of any world-class shopping destination.
Shopping in Vail Village rivals that of any world-class shopping destination.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Settle down for some après-ski drinks after a fun day on the mountain.
Settle down for some après-ski drinks after a fun day on the mountain.
Photography courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Skiers flock to Vail's Los Amigos for margaritas and a view of the slopes looking up at the mountain.
Skiers flock to Vail's Los Amigos for margaritas and a view of the slopes looking up at the mountain.
The famed Silver Dollar Bar in Jackson Hole is inlaid with 2,032 namesake 1921 coins.
The famed Silver Dollar Bar in Jackson Hole is inlaid with 2,032 namesake 1921 coins.
Whistler's Bearfoot Bistro offers one of the best après-ski meals in all of Canada.
Whistler's Bearfoot Bistro offers one of the best après-ski meals in all of Canada.

Editors’ Note: We asked outdoor sports writer Larry Olmsted to share his favourite après-ski scenes from around the world, but we just couldn’t resist adding in our own selections. There’s nothing hotter amid the cold mountain slopes than the après ski scene in our favourite winter sport destinations—Jackson Hole, Wyoming; Whistler, British Columbia; and Vail, Colorado. We don’t need to say much about Vail because Olmsted covers that destination in his own selections. But we’re going to evoke editorial privilege to throw in our two cents’ worth about Jackson Hole and Whistler.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, which is renowned for big-mountain skiing, also has a big-time après scene to match, with several of the nation’s most famous post-slope haunts, including the Mangy Moose Restaurant & Saloon in Teton Village, just steps from the lifts and Four Seasons. In Jackson Hole itself are the Silver Dollar Bar & Grill; the bar is inlaid with 2,032 namesake 1921 coins, and the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar with saddles for bar stools. Hungry? To rub elbows with locals, head to Billy’s Giant Hamburgers.

Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler, which hosted the 2010 Olympics earlier this year, is best known for an après-ski scene that has an unparalleled array of cuisine, topped by the Bearfoot Bistro, which starts après time as a champagne bar before segueing into one of the best meals in Canada. Garibaldi’s Lift Co. Bar & Grill at the Village Gondola is constantly rated one of the world’s top après bars, while Irish (Dubh Linn Gate), European (Amsterdam Cafe Pub), hockey (Tapley’s) and homemade (BrewHouse at Whistler) pubs round out the scene.

Well, that’s all from the editors. What follows is Olmsted’s original article.

Olmsted’s Top Three for Après-Ski

For many skiers on vacation, the last run of the day is not an end but a beginning. Après-ski scenes range from Old West cowboy chic to modernistic urban-inspired martini bars. Whatever your passion, when the clock turns to après time you can indulge it at some ski resort, but these are three of my favourites. What’s yours?

Vail, Colorado
With four distinct slope-side villages at North America’s largest single mountain resort, there truly is something for everyone. Some locals like to spend the final hour of the ski day on the patio of Los Amigos, at the base of the Vista Bahn Express in Vail Village. The drink of choice is the margarita, but the main attraction is the view of Pepi’s Face, a short black diamond run at the bottom of the mountain that has a shocking number of crashes. More dignified post-skiing pursuits include skating on one of Vail’s two outdoor rinks in Vail Village or Lionshead; enjoying the long list of wines by the glass and antipasti at La Bottega, a traditional enoteca; twilight lift-served tubing at the mountaintop Adventure Ridge complex; or catching a current release at Vail’s new gourmet movie complex, CinéBistro, which serves buckets of fried calamari and cocktails.

Zermatt, Switzerland
The most picture-perfect alpine village in all the Alps, Zermatt remains special by taking steps like banning cars from its main street—and the village basks in the shadow of the Matterhorn. The most uniquely Swiss way to start the après-ski scene is with raclette, fondue’s less-well-known sister dish, where the cheese goes on the bread, meat and potatoes rather than other way around. The sophisticated set then heads for cocktails with live music at clubs such as the Pink Elephant Jazz and Piano Bar, while the more energetic might end up at a hybrid disco-bar like Moby Dick’s Dancing Pub. Shopping is a beloved après-ski pastime with upscale shops laid out along the main street, the Bahnhofstrasse. Be sure to check out shops like Bayard Sports & Fashion where you can purchase fine ski and outdoor clothing so that you can look fabulous at tomorrow’s après-ski scene, when you do it all over again.

Portillo, Chile
Arguably the world’s most perfect après-ski bar and restaurant is Tio Bob’s, which is the kind of place an affable uncle would build, if he was a bit odd. What makes Tio Bob’s an unusual après spot is that it is well up on the ski slopes, and guests still have to make one final descent afterward. Tio Bob’s serves a traditional gaucho parillada, or open-air barbecue with mouth-watering sausages, steaks and burgers, and plenty of cold beer. The sweeping views of Portillo’s high-altitude lake and the Aconcagua Valley are so incredible from the terrace that many skiers abandon the slopes by noon to grab a spot and never leave until the 3:00 pm closure, which is rarely enforced. The food, the melting pot of skiers, the beer and the setting conspire to make Tio Bob’s unforgettable—and perhaps skiing’s earliest après party.

These are just a few of the world’s best après-ski scenes. What’s your favourite?


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17 Comments about Where Is the World’s Best Après-Ski Scene?

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  2. James H. Mowery III says:

    Riffelalp Resort, above Zermatt, beats them all.

  3. Don says:

    For accessibility and bang for the buck you can’t beat Vail. The new Four Seasons Resort has a fantastic après ski show with sing alongside just like I remember them

  4. TJ says:

    I am inclined to agree with the editors’ suggestion of Jackson Hole. There’s a few breweries in the region, and all of them make dope food. Its also the place where I was first told, or taught, the meaning of apres, and seems to have “apres” as almost half of its trail names

  5. Aad says:

    The best apres ski scene with only mountain guest en ambiance you can find with the Hamilton Lodge in Belalp (Switzerland)

  6. Joe Eichinger says:

    St. Anton & Whistler – they’ve got it all and right on the mountain. Just pop off the skis and hit it.

  7. Su Stroud says:

    St Anton and Lech in Austria.

  8. Chloe says:

    Jackson Hole & Aspen get my vote!

  9. Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA, says:

    Megève, France has it all, GREAT skying, cozy lounges (check out the fireside cocktails in the Hotel au Coeur de Megève!), live jazz, Michelin star dinning, a casio, and discos! See the Megève Office de Tourisme for more info at: http://www.tourisme.fr/office-de-tourisme/megeve.htm

    Olga Kovshanova, MBA, MA
    Sales and Guest Relations Manager CIS & Scandinavia
    The Grand Mauritian Resort & Spa
    Hotel Professional Extraordinaire
    Email: olinka@olinka.info
    Homepage: http://www.olinka.info/
    Skype name: olinkaru

  10. Doreen Lostritto says:

    Jackson Hole, best place on earth. And no one will find you!

  11. Jon says:

    Whistler B.C. The most impressive aspect of skiing in Whistler for me (after the great terrain of the mountain) was the international mix of people I met on the slopes and in the bars and restaurants apres ski. I met skiers from South America, Mexico, Ireland, Germany, Japan (mostly boarders) and Australia. I haven’t found this type of international diversity at any of the numerous other ski areas in western North America that I have visited. This was a year before the Olympics.

  12. sally says:

    Jackson Hole is the best for skiing and relaxing.

  13. Nancy says:

    Whistler, B.C. !

  14. Keith Miller says:

    Alpen Lodge Hotel Zermatt, nowhere else comes close in any part of the world.

  15. Michele says:

    Whiskey Jacques, Sun Valley Idaho
    because it is the natural cowboy scene with no pretense!

  16. James Cowell says:

    Val d’Isère, France – nothing compares or even gets close; either back at the resort or half way up the slopes!!

  17. Robert Hesp says:

    Lech, Voralberg, Austria

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