You get the best of both worlds with ski combo packages, says Minty Clinch

In the dark days of the 20th century, a winter sports holiday was a simple affair. Get up, get kitted up and get up on the slopes. Ski till you drop into a bar, drink till you drop into bed, repeat times six and go home in need of therapy - physio or psycho according to temperament.

In the dark days of the 20th century, a winter sports holiday was a simple affair. Get up, get kitted up and get up on the slopes. Ski till you drop into a bar, drink till you drop into bed, repeat times six and go home in need of therapy - physio or psycho according to temperament.

Come the age of enlightenment, we can look towards wider horizons. High-speed lifts and fast cruising pistes ensure that snow users can get more value out of their lift passes in four hours than their forerunners could in eight. An obsession with the body beautiful has generated a global spa and massage culture which embraces chalets as well as hotels. And more sophisticated tastes in food and wine have imposed standards that would have been unimaginable even 10 years ago.

Winter-sports operators have responded to the changed climate with combo packages to feed our dreams. It is now possible to improve existing skills, maintain wellbeing programmes or learn something completely different without sacrificing quality slope time.

What's first on the combined agenda?

A lifestyle package combined with Chamonix's magnificently challenging slopes should ensure that you return from your holiday in a mood to conquer the world. Dynamic Lives, owned by George Burdon, a New Zealander, provides a fresh approach to luxury chalet holidays, with programmes tailored to individual requirements. Under his master plan, guests can bolt yoga, pilates, meditation, massage, nutrition and morning exercise classes on to a basic chalet package.

Reservations: 07810 320686; email: bookings@dynamic lives.com; www.dynamiclives.com. Basic package from £675 (seven nights' half board, no flights); classes: 12 sessions, £420, eight sessions, £340, four sessions, £170. All include massage and exercises, plus a choice of other activities. Basic ski package from £1,250 (seven nights' half board, transfers to slopes and airport, plus a range of guided tours, including James Bond snowmobile evening and descent of Vallée Blanche). Inghams (020-8780 4433): Royal Park Hotel, Kandersteg, aerobics and water gym, 45-minute sessions, £21 solo, £9 per person (groups of four or more), seven nights' half board, from £633. Prices include flights and transfers.

How about something cerebral?

Then combine ski and bridge, a super-healthy combination which exercises body and mind while leaving little time for alternative frivolities. Since 1997, Peterborough insurance broker Trevor King has been feeding his skiing habit by taking groups of up to 40 people to selected villages in the French Alps. During the day, he and his son, Anthony, a non-bridge-player but a hot-shot skier, escort groups round the slopes. Après-ski means bridge and more bridge, with friendly cards at 4pm, followed by an instructional talk by an England international before dinner and a duplicate competition after it.

Alpine Bridge (01733-425 818; www.alpinebridge.co.uk): La Clusaz, 6-13 and 13-20 March, from £895.

But skiing makes me so hungry

Then try matching skiing with gourmet cooking. See how a top chef works at the Hotel des Dromonts in Avoriaz, the original angled shale-fronted building that set the futuristic mountain resort's friendly style. It is run by the celebrated Christophe Leroy, an enthusiast who regularly demonstrates his eclectic culinary skills once the mountain closes for the night. He runs four-night themed breaks from Sunday to Thursday, concentrating on a particular country or a seasonal pleasure. There are also wine-tasting evenings given by the sommelier, who draws on the hotel's fine cellar to illustrate his points.

Inghams taps into the gastronomic pleasures of the Dolomites with cheese-tastings at the Alpen Royal Hotel in Selva. Half-board clients are invited to graze the local cheeses while an expert explains how they are made. In neighbouring Arabba, guests at the Sporthotel get together for a two-hour wine-tasting with cheese snacks at 5pm, accompanied by a talk by the sommelier. About £15 per person (minimum of six), depending on the quality of the chosen wines.

Hotel des Dromonts reservations: 00 33 494 97 91 91, £82 per person per night. Cookery and wine demonstrations free to guests; open to outsiders for a small charge. White Roc (020-7792 1188; www.whiteroc.co.uk): Hotel des Dromonts, Sunday to Thursday, from £739, including flights, car hire or taxi transfer, four nights' full board, based on two sharing). Inghams (020-8780 4433; www.inghams.co.uk): Alpen Royal Hotel, from £1,078 for seven nights' half board. Sporthotel Arabba, from £627 for seven nights' half board. Prices include flights and transfers.

I want to see something of the world

If you're up for hard-core action by day and sybaritic luxury by night, go on a ski-cruise package. A flight via Oslo to Tromso, north of the Arctic Circle, connects with a 61ft motor launch for a half-day cruise to the remote Lyngen Alps. Skiers sleep on board, getting off every morning at the base of a fjord to hike up the mountain and ski down it, with luck, in glorious powder, to the next pick-up point. Schedules vary, but an average day would be four hours up and two hours down, so a reasonable level of fitness is required.

Original Travel (020-7978 7333; info@originaltravel.co.uk; www.originaltravel.co.uk): from £1,700 for four nights, including full board, flights, guide and equipment. February to late May.

But my better half won't leave the golf course

You can marry up skiing and golf; as twin obsessions go, this is probably the most potent of all. After months of slogging round in British mud, ski-golfers can start their season at the Winter Golf Championship in Hemsedal, Norway, (13-14 March) for a modest £8 entry fee. The game is played on ice, with red balls and whites instead of greens, a challenging formula that punishes less than perfect club selection even more savagely than usual.

As spring comes early in Italy's Valtellina, normal play is resumed on Bormio's mountain course in April. The highlight of the early season is the annual ski and golf competition, a giant slalom race plus 18 holes of golf. This is often won by Alfredo Cantoni, the proprietor of the Hotel Alpi & Golf. He is the right person to introduce you to the complexities of competitive ski-golf. Alternatively, he offers morning ski and afternoon golf packages throughout April.

Details of the Winter Golf Championships from the Hemsedal Tourist office on 00 47 3205 5030; post@golf hemsedal.no. Neilson (0870-33 33 347; www.neilson.com) offers seven nights' self-catering in apartments in Hemsedal from 7-14 March, from £395 per person including flights and transfers. Hotel Alpi & Golf (00 39 0342 901341; email: alpigolf@bormio.it): £295 for seven nights' half board, plus normal full ski pass or green fees or combo pass half day ski/half day golf, but excluding flights.

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