It's a tall order to identify the best ski resorts in the world, and many people might be surprised not to see the huge linked resorts of France and any resorts from North America in the list, but one of my criteria is you must be able to get to the resorts easily by public transport. Another is that there is a long season, a good snow record and a variety of slopes that suits families and beginners through to hard core freeriders, with equal consideration for snowboarders as for skiers. You would have thought the best resorts would be expensive, but they don't have to be, and all of these resorts are, priced by kilometre of piste, actually amongst the cheapest in the world!
Another consideration is that the resort is in an area where other resorts are linked or close by, and there is plenty to do for those who don't ski or snowboard (or can't, when the weather prevents you). Ideally the villages should be pretty and have outstanding natural beauty. And it has got to be cool if the lift pass covers more than one country.
Dotted above the Rhône valley, the Valais features some of the most iconic and snow-sure resorts in the world, but one stands (literally) above them all - Zermatt, quite simply the best ski resort in the world. There is a rocking après scene, the best Alpine restaurants and a huge variety of slopes. However there is a price to match. Still, you can always ski over the border on your lift pass, past the Matterhorn to Cervinia in Italy.
There is nothing passé about St Moritz. The slopes are awesome and there are plenty of them. Aside from the illustrious birthplace of winter holidays, other destinations in the En valley worth visiting include Pontresina, Celerina and Silvaplana/Surlej and in the Lower Engadine, Scuol. As well as awesome skiing, the area is outstanding for cross-country skiing and a host of other winter activities.
St Anton is the main resort amidst a clutch of varied pistes, and one of the best party towns in the Alps. And nearby you have the swanky resorts of Lech and Zurs, all now linked as part of one huge circuit.
Perhaps the greatest of all the lift-served off-piste runs is the Vallée Blanche near Chamonix. Chamonix has five unlinked and rather spread out areas to ski and snowboard and a rocking village in the centre, all overshadowed by Mont Blanc.
The peaks of the Schilthorn, Jungfrau, Mönch and Eiger look down on some of the most beautiful resorts in the world. There's plenty of variety for all standards of skier and snowboarder and, for ski touring, you can drop off the Jungfraujoch and ski the length of the longest glacier in the Alps, the Aletsch. The resorts comprise Wengen, Mürren and Grindelwald.
Flims, Laax and Falera make up the best snowboard and freestyle destination in the world. Head for the Riders Palace for a place to party and sleep, take in a beer in the Crap Bar and ride some huge terrain.
Above Sion, lies the huge linked area that includes Les Masses, Nendaz, Siviez, Thyon, Veysonnaz and Verbier. If you are looking for something like the big French circuits, Verbier has it all, and some more.
When two little known resorts linked up together to form Arosa-Lenzerheide, a new super-resort was formed. However both resorts deserved to be better known than they had been. Together they cannot be ignored as a serious destination, with plenty of pistes for all standards, freeride areas, a fabulous ski touring circuit which also takes in Tschiertschen and a huge variety of other winter activities to partake in. Plus kudos to Arosa for hosting the annual Gay Ski Week.
Sleepy, duty-free Samnaun and hard partying Ischgl comprise the resorts of the Silvretta Arena, separated by the Swiss/Austrian border. Ischgl is the only ski resort I am aware of with pole dancing as part of its repository of après ski attractions.
Val D'Anniviers comprises the villages of Saint Luc, Chandolin, Vercorin, Zinal and Grimentz. An insider secret, what the valley lacks in vibrant nightlife it makes up for in the sheer variety of terrain it offers, amidst some stunning scenery.
Car-free and the most ecologically aware resort in the world, lively Saas-Fee is the largest of a clutch of resorts in the Saastal.