Ski special: What's Cool: The Hot Skiing List

Where's this season's best address? What's the latest gear to wear? And the must-have gadgets? Susannah Osborne answers the questions
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The Independent Travel

1. The coolest address

Looking for Prada on powder? The Adara hotel in Whistler is your answer. The 41-room boutique hotel, Whistler's first and only member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World, is a cool alternative to standard ski-town accommodation. Blending modern style with cosy wooden chalet, this is a great place to hang out - and has already been touted as a hot destination for celebs-on-skis as the BC ski area gears up for its leading role in the 2010 Winter Olympics. Not content with the existing 7,000 acres of skiable terrain, the opening of the new Symphony Express lift will unlock another 1,000 acres on Whistler mountain.

Further information: One night in a superior queen room at the Adara Hotel (001 604 905 4009; adara hotel.com) costs from C$199 (£93) per person, room only based on two sharing.

2. Travel by land, air and ski

A 15 per cent growth in independent ski travel proves that more and more people are organising their ski holidays themselves. So why not hit the road? You may think that the time you spend at the wheel is wasted skiing time but a snowy road trip could take you on an adventure across states, countries and mountain ranges, as you follow your nose to the snow. If you can wrestle with your conscience and pick up a 4x4, Canada is the perfect destination. Drive the Sea to Sky highway from Vancouver to Whistler, then motor on into the interior to the smaller, "rawer" resorts of Sun Peaks and Big White. Or, start out in Calgary and go west to Banff, Kicking Horse and Panorama through a string of snow-covered country towns.

Further information: Frontier Travel (020-8776 8709; frontier-travel .co.uk) offers a 10-day road trip visiting Banff, Kicking Horse and Panorama for £1,141 per person, based on two sharing, including return flights, 4WD hire with unlimited mileage, tax and insurance, and room-only accommodation. Departs 2 January.

3. Send the kids on winter camp

You've heard of the summer camp, now the kids can do their own thing in the snow, too. At Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming, your kids will never want to hang out with you again. While you take in a long lunch at the new on-mountain Bridger restaurant, rest assured the children will be taken care of. Team Extreme and Roundup Camp are multi-day camps that give youngsters and teenagers three to four days of intense instruction, while killing it on the mountain with a gang of ready-made skiing and riding mates. At Team Extreme, 12- to 17-year-old rippers can learn to ride steeps, take in back-country tours and master their park and pipe technique. At Roundup Camp, for seven- to 17-year-olds, they will hit the coolest trails, hang in the terrain park and cruise the race course. After the lifts have closed there are après ski and evening activities. The only downside? The kids will return far too cool for school.

Further information: Team Extreme and Roundup Camps at Jackson Hole (001 307 733 2292; jacksonhole.com) run from December to March. Team Extreme camps (one to four days) cost from $135 (£71) per day excluding lift pass. Roundup Camps cost from $450 (£237) excluding lift pass.

4. Head for the next big thing

Rumour has it that Bulgaria is the next big thing on the snowy horizon. It hides a clutch of "undiscovered" resorts where you're likely to have little company on the slopes - and the beer is cheap. Slovenia and Serbia have also seen strong growth in their share of the ski market and the number of operators offering eastern European destinations is increasing every year. Inghams and Neilson offer packages to Slovenia, and Mountain Paradise specialises in Slovakian resorts in the High Tatras. Or head for Sochi, the Russian Black Sea resort bidding for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Matt Barr, author of Snowboarding the World (Footprint, £19.99) also gives Shemshak in Iran the thumbs-up.

Further information: Inghams (020-8780 4433; inghams.co.uk). Mountain Paradise (0161-973 7550; mountainparadise .co.uk). Neilson (0870-3333 347; neilson.co.uk).

5. How green is my valley?

The European Alps are one of the areas most at risk of glacier melt, saysthe WWF. Sergio Savoia, director of WWF's European Alpine Program in Bellinzona, Switzerland, says that over the coming decades "low-altitude ski resorts will simply go out of business and skiers will have to go higher and higher to find snow". This worrying information is discussed on the eco-snow website Save Our Snow, an excellent resource for anyone anxious about the future of the planet, with information on eco-projects within the ski industry and a green rating for individual ski resorts based on their environmental policies.

Further information: Go to saveoursnow.com

6. Are we nearly there yet?

With the season in the European Alps starting later and later, the snow-sure slopes of Scandinavia are becoming more and more appealing. Norway, Finland and Sweden all open their resorts in early December and don't close them until late April or May. This season, the best time to hit the über-chilled resort of Are, favoured by the blond, blue-eyed set is between 3 and 18 February when you can catch 350 of the world's fastest and most fearless skiers flying down the Olympia World Cup run right into the village. The decision to hold the 16-day World Ski Championships there is a nod to the guaranteed snow of this area. Hardcore racing fans should book now.

Further information: During the championship, Neilson (0870-3333 347; neilson.co.uk/Are) is offering seven nights' b&b at the four-star Hotel Diplomat, Aregarden in Are, from £775 per person, based on two sharing. Departs 4 February.

Pre-bookable ski packs, including five days' tuition, six days' equipment hire and a six-day lift pass, cost £225 for adults and £195 for children aged 8 to 15 years.

7. It's snowing in your inbox

New this season is an email service for snow fiends keen to know exactly what the conditions are like under foot. Skinets will produce on-mountain video weather reports for Chamonix, Val d'Isère and Three Valleys streamed directly to your inbox, three times a week. The videos will give you the low-down on current conditions on and off the piste, including information on notorious black spots such as the runs back into resort, and where to find the best snow.

Further information: go to skinets.com

8. Skiing from the bottom up

If you've always wanted to, but never dared, now is your chance to hit the slopes without committing to a whole week on the white stuff. The first national ski and snowboard week takes place between 12 and 18 November countrywide. Encouraging you to "Give Snow a Go", members of the industry have joined forces to offer discounts, organise events and give away top prizes. On 16 November, at SnoZONE in Castleford, West Yorkshire, you can join the Salomon freestyle team on its tour to promote freestyle skiing and to celebrate the launch of a revolutionary freestyle ski boot, the SPK - all levels of skier are welcome. And on 18 November at SnoZONE in Milton Keynes, up-and-coming skiers can take part in the Burton Amateur Tour, a slope-style competition for Juniors only.

Further information: Go to the National Ski and Snowboard Week website (nssw.co.uk) for more details and for information on how to enter its competition to win a ski holiday.

The best hat trick

Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of head injury by 60 per cent, a recent report by scientists at the

Norwegian School of Sport Sciences has concluded.

Now you can wear a helmet without compromising your style. RED, Salomon, Giro and Protec produce the style-and safety-conscious headgear that is part of the tribal getup of snowboarders. RED Hi Fi Audio has DJ-style iPod-compatible headphones.

Further information: RED Hi Fi Audio costs £90 from Burton Snowboards (00800- 2878 6613; burton.com)

Brace yourself for a comeback

The salopette has never been cool. It may keep your nether regions warm and snow-free, but it has only ever been championed by saddos-on-skis - until now that is. The lowly cover-all is making a comeback, but the new Burton salopette is bigger, baggier and has attitude. The Ronin 2L pant features a removable high top and comes in a vivid green snakeskin print, Titanic Blue and True White.

Further information: Ronin 2L pant from Burton Snowboards (00800-2878 6613; burton.com), £180.

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