Deep in the Fljot valley, in the remote Troll Peninsula of northern Iceland, Deplar Farm, a restored 3,000-acre former sheep ranch, is a game changer for heli-skiing enthusiasts, wile also being an idyllic place to stay for groups of up to 28. From Deplar's doorstep, you can take off in the company helicopter to some 30 different landing spots, including a mountain that rises 300ft above the black volcanic shorelines of the Artic sea. Here, you'll get a taste of what it feels like to ski on the vertical, on virgin powder, standing on the edge of a drop as if you're the only person on earth. There are also snowmobiles to take you to gentler slopes and endless trails for cross-country skiing. Back at the ranch, outdoor springs emerge in trails of vapor from the ground at 98 degree F, an outdoor sauna hides under an hobbit-like turf mound, and flotation tanks and a massage studio complete the après-ski spa experience.
This black painted cabin with its glass walls overlooking an exposed southwest stretch of the Canadian Rockies, here the romance of scaled-down cabin life has been given a stylish overhaul by hip Canadian design practice Form & Forest, whose designer wooden huts can now be experienced anywhere in the world. Pioneer Cabin is a sustainable, four-bedroom retreat with sparse, tastefully understated interiors so as not to distract from the views of the snow-capped Rocky Mountains outside. You can explore this rugged wilderness straight from the back door on the numerous Nordic ski trails, gentle local pistes and a link to the more hard-core Kicking-Horse Resort circuit. For many, however, it's simply a place to hunker down by the stove and enjoy a fish pie of freshly caught sockeye salmon and a giant spot prawns from the nearby Blaeberry River.
In the Swiss resort of Zermatt, there is history at every turn: grand Victorian hotels, ancient su -blackened chalets, a mountain railway dating back to 1898. Yet, despite that weight of tradition, Zermatt is home to one of the Alps' most stricking modern places to stay. The Loft, a Manhattan-style space hiding inside a wooden chalet. It sits on rocky outcrop just above the venerable hotel Monte Rosa and has six- meters-high, floor-to-celing windows looking out over the village. the bold industrial decor is softened by reference to more conventional Swiss chalets. There is a roaring log fire and floors are warmed by white wool rugs or cow hides. The 300 sq m loft apartment sleep six and was the former home of Heinz Julen, a scion of one of the old families who have dominated the village for centuries. Now 51,Julen looks more rock star than hotelier, and has made a career as an iconoclastic artist and furniture designer. The apartment is full of his work and was clearly designed with parties in mind. There's a Steinway baby grand piano, a hot tub, a bar and a rotating bed. And for the morning after, a huge external curtain that wraps around the glass walls at the touch of a button, shielding tired eyes from the bright montain light.
The utopian ski resort of Flaine was created in the 1960s by the Hungarian-American master of Bauhaus architecture, Marcel Breuer, and everything from the street lamps to the ski lifts carry his design stamp. But the hip three-star Totem Terminal Neige is where his vision makes its greatest impact: the linear brutalist exterior of exposed concrete maximizes the alpine views and winter sun, while inside, this is softened by ethnic textiles, cosy textures and flea-market finds, including neon signs, street artist murals and vintage fruit machines. Dreamed up by the Sibuet hotel group, famed for their five-star Fermes de Marie lodge in Megève, its relaxed informality is conceived for millennials - check-in, for example, is a warm welcome on the sofa with hot tankards of cider. Book in, with a group of up to six, to the semi-self-contained loft: the vast 150m2 open-plan living space comes complete with a cinema-sized plasma screen and a giant walk-around Breuer-designed fireplace, opening out onto a wide sunny terrace that overlooks the towering pines - it's the ultimate spot for an après-ski loft party.
If Queenstown in New Zealand is the adventure capital of the southern hemisphere, then the Whare Kea Chalet is the region's temple of luxury, where one can rest tired feet from all the snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing and heli-skiing that the southern Alps has to offer. This remote cabin sits 5,700 feet high in the Albert Burn Saddle on the north side of Dragonfly Peak and is accessible only by helicopter - Whare Kea's resident pilot, Charlie Ewing, can drop you from his chopper into the belly of a glacier or give you tours of Mount Aspiring National Park. Owned by the Myer family (of Melbourne's department store fame), this long, steel, glass and timber chalet is fillet with a mix of modern furniture and antiques and sleeps up to six guests and two staff. Bathroom floors are heated, showers are steaming and the hot tub on the deck is a great vantage point overlooking the Southern Alps; but the light-filled living area is the chalet's star turn, where you can relax over a glass of Central Otago Pinot Noir and chef James Stapley's signature Aroaki salmon from the region's glacial waters.