Ski resorts are big business, and in the battle for visitors size is everything.
Adding extra runs and lifts, or connecting into other areas are all part of the alpine arms race to attract more punters. Marketing departments drool over the figures, casting them out like juicy lures. In the United States and Canada resorts tend to measure their extent by area, whereas their European counterparts deal in kilometers of runs.
One independent survey, conducted by German ski resort consultant Christophe Schraheusing GPS to calculate length based on a line down the middle of runs, questions the accuracy of some official figures.
But based on advertised data, here’s a rundown of 12 of the world’s biggest ski areas:
Les 3 Vallees, France
Good for: Mileage hunters, velvety slopes, guaranteed snow, gourmets, luxury, Europe’s highest resort.
The titanic 3 Vallees is the top dog, the world’s biggest ski area with 600 kilometers of runs spread between the three main resorts of Courchevel, Meribel and Val Thorens.
There’s even a fourth valley — above Orelle — leading to the region’s highest lift-accessed point at 3,230 meters below the summit of Pointe du Bouchet.