Unwind and Uncork: Top Après-Ski Destinations for the Over-50s
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Unwind and Uncork: Top Après-Ski Destinations for the Over-50s

As the snow-capped peaks beckon and winter enthusiasts eagerly anticipate the thrill of carving down pristine slopes, we say: leave that to the young'uns and uncover a more sophisticated side to the joys of après-ski.

Naomi Chadderton
Naomi Chadderton
An experienced editor and journalist specialising in news and lifestyle.

Ah, après-ski. A time when the bitter chill of the open slopes is replaced by toasty fires, and hot chocolate magically transforms into mulled wine.

What started in the Fifties as a French term for “after ski” socialising quickly became a fully-fledged tradition for those after a little harmless – and occasionally heavy – fun after a hard day’s skiing. That said, in certain resorts, it’s garnered quite the reputation for being overly rowdy, to say the least.

Luckily if your idea of a post-piste beverage is a little more sophisticated than Champagne sprays and drunkenly dancing on jaeger-soaked tables, there are plenty of options for the over-50s skier, from intimate wine bars to cosy cocktail stops complete with plush open fires.

Here’s exactly where you need to head.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Perhaps Switzerland’s best-known resort, Zermatt is not only home to some of the best views of the world's most photogenic mountain, the Matterhorn, skiers can also enjoy 200km of its own pistes alongside 160km in neighbouring Cervinia, Italy.

From pubs to Champagne and wine bars, there’s a real variety of venues to choose from when it comes to après, which is always fun and lively. Of particular note are Snowboat for a smarter kind of socialising, Cervo at the end of red runs 1, 2 and 3 for crisp drinks out on the sun terrace, and Pollux Bar which is a favourite with locals who you’ll most likely find huddling around its open fire.

Alternatively for town-centre drinks, head to Harry’s Bar at the Matterhorn Lodge which is particularly popular for its impressive selection of craft beer.

Whistler, Canada

With its ample powder and giant ski areas, skiing in Canada is an adventurous alternative to the Alps. More European than most – and the largest ski resort in North America the imposing Whistler is home to over 250km of slopes, is blessed with a particularly long season of high-quality snow and, most importantly, also happens to boast over 50 potential après venues.

Home to a myriad of options for those who would rather eat and drink in peace than dance on a table (there’s plenty of that too, though, if the mood takes), the après scene starts at the bottom of the mountain once the lifts close at around 4pm.

If you’ve worked up an appetite while skiing, The Garibaldi Lift Company should be top of your list, serving up standard North American-sized portions and excellent margaritas. If you’re after a more laid-back experience, The Mallard Lounge at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler is perfect for live music and fine wine beside a fire (it even has a dedicated chocolate lounge), while Black’s Pub, on the other hand, is great for cocktails. Be sure to try a rye whisky and ginger ale – it’s a Canadian classic.

Garibaldi Lift Co, Whistler

Garibaldi Lift Co, Whistler

Snowboat,  Zermatt

Snowboat, Zermatt

Livigno, Italy

Nestled high up in the Italian Alps, the high-altitude Livigno is home to more traditional chalet-style ski-in/ski-out hotels, set in a high, wide and remote valley close to the Swiss border. Fun fact: it is known as ‘Little Tibet’ because of its height and remoteness, with a long season that lasts from the end of November to the beginning of May.

When it comes to après, hot foot it past the hectic tunes of Allegra and instead opt for a long lunch or a red wine and cichetti pit stop. Bivio at the central Bivio Hotel Plaza enjoys a more sophisticated approach and serves traditional dishes made from high-quality regional produce, while elsewhere Milky’s Aperitivo Bar makes a mean Aperol spritz to be enjoyed by a crackling fire.

Aspen, USA

Dubbed America’s A-list resort, Aspen is famous for its challenging runs, cultured town and celebrity visitors. It’s no surprise then that much of the après here is on the high-end – you can escape the riffraff by joining private bar The Caribou Club that charges up to $2,000 for a week’s membership depending on the time of year, for example – with options both on the slopes and at its base stations.

On the National Register of Historic Places, the J-Bar at the swanky Jerome Hotel has been an Aspen staple since 1889 while, for live acts, Belly Up should be your first port of call. Jimmy’s also puts on regular live blues and swing events.

For something a little smarter, head for cocktails at the NEST’s pool-side bar, and don’t forget to check out Aspen Art Museum which hosts daily events from 5pm until 9pm on its rooftop. As an alternative to drinking, there’s also a theatre and lots of high-end shopping to do too.

J-Bar, Jerome Hotel,  Aspen

J-Bar, Jerome Hotel, Aspen

Milky’s Bar, Livigno

Milky’s Bar, Livigno

Val d’Isère, France

A French favourite, Val d’Isère is perhaps one of the world’s most famous ski resorts. Linked to neighbouring Tignes to form a ski area of 300km of pistes and 78 lifts, it attracts both novices and experienced skiers in their hordes, meaning its après scene is particularly well developed.

Yes, it’s home to the site of the first La Folie Douce bar, which opened in 1980, but it’s also a premier après destination for the older generation too. Grand Marnier and Rosee Blanche offer more relaxed, quieter options for an evening tipple while, in town, you will also find sophisticated cocktail bars like M Bar and Le Bar Rouge, which serves up expertly-crafted pours within the 5-star Airelles Val d'Isère hotel.

B’Bar is also a welcome recent addition to the resort with a focus on a laid-back après experience with pool tables and dart boards.

Klosters, Switzerland

A place where discreet royals and old money come to ski, après at Klosters is as refined and as elegant as the clientele it serves.

Posh yet unpretentious, the most popular spot for post-ski drinks is Pellegrini Bar (think fine whiskeys over plastic pints of beer), while the traditional chalet-style Alpina Bar by the station is a cosy spot for holidaymakers looking to warm their cockles after a long day on the slopes.

Also be sure to check out Wolf’s Den in the Hotel Klum for a rösti lunch, as well as Bahnhofstrasse’s – a cellar bar where Gene Kelly famously danced on its tables and a pianist tinkles away in the corner. If you feel like throwing some shapes yourself, head to the nearby Casa Antica where you can hit its tiny dancefloor.

Alpina Bar, Klosters

Alpina Bar, Klosters

La Folie Douce, Val d’Isère

La Folie Douce, Val d’Isère