You can spend pounds 600 a night to stay in the Austrian resort of Gsta ad. Is it worth it?

Chris Gill checks out the world's six most glamorous ski resorts
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The Independent Travel
Even if budgetary considerations confine most of us to routinely expensive resorts such as Val d'Isere and St Anton, it's reassuring to see that the other half - well, the other 5 per cent - have pretty much the same sort of skiing as we do. As it happens, skiing in the most glamorous resorts is not necessarily much more expensive than doing so in any big, internationally known resort. But it certainly can be more expensive if you make the most of what's on offer in the hotels, restaurants and shops.

In our selection of the world's six most glamorous resorts, it's only right that affluent Switzerland should be allowed more than its fair share. Students of royal ski expeditions will look in vain for Klosters; it's not particularly glamorous and is certainly not a self consciously smart resort - the Prince of Wales goes for the skiing and warm reception.

Aspen

If you're going for American swank, this old mining town in Colorado is the place. The standard view is that Aspen attracts mainly film stars and other celebrities, who seek seclusion in private mansions. But lesser mortals can be cosseted in the opulent Ritz-Carlton or splendidly Victorian Jerome (even more expensive at pounds 250 to pounds 480 per room per night), and choose from scores of restaurants before shooting pool in a basement dive or wangling entry to the Caribou Club. Shopping for expensive trinkets as well as clothes is a major activity, coming a close second to skiing on no less than four excellent mountains, from small but steep Aspen Mountain above the town to big and varied Snowmass, 12 miles away.

Courchevel

With two restaurants earning twin Michelin stars, the smartest resort in France is also the gastronomic capital of skiing. But the thousands of Brits who flock here each winter come for the excellence and extent of the Trois Vallees skiing, stay in catered chalets and eat picnics and Mars bars at lunch time. To break the mould, fly in by air taxi to the airstrip amid the ski fields, stay up in the exclusive Jardin des Alpin (or perhaps in the rather vulgar Byblos des Neiges with rooms at a mere pounds 250-pounds 500 a night), lunch only just above village level at the Chalet de Pierres and dine at the Bateau Ivre.

Cortina d'Ampezzo

Italy's most fashionable resort by a considerable margin - in season, a feast for the eyes, when the spectacular Dolomite scenery is complemented by sun terraces full of sharp-dressing Italian visitors. Many of the best lunch spots are accessible by car - a happy arrangement, since many of their patrons would not be seen dead on skis, despite the gloriously long and spacious nursery slopes. For lunch at the Michelin-starred Tivoli, allow pounds 30 even with a weak lira. A good resort for intermediates, but not much to offer experts.

Gstaad

Consumption seems relatively inconspicuous here, in what is nevertheless one of the most upmarket of Switzerland's resorts. The winding main street might be that of any Vaudois country village, were it not for the number of Geneva jewellers with outlets there. But ride up a ski-lift on the surrounding prettily wooded hills and into view come the turrets of the Disney-style Palace hotel, where half-board goes from pounds 200-pounds 600 (per night), and the private chalets where Gstaad habitues spend their winter months. The skiing is low and fragmented; if you're keen, go elsewhere.

Lech-Zurs

These distinct but linked villages, high in the exceptionally snowy Arlberg mountains close to St Anton, are Austria's smartest - this is the only area in the country where environmental opposition to heli-skiing is ignored. The Princess of Wales patronises pretty Lech, and Princess Caroline of Monaco may or may not still visit less appealing Zurs, but fat Mercs with German plates sliding into underground garages define the market. For apres-skiers, the ice bar of the Tannbergerhof is the place to be seen, having flicked your flexible friend across the counters of Strolz - a mini department store that seems to sell anything provided it costs enough.

St Moritz

The Swiss resort first patronised in winter by the dowdy British is now among the smartest in the Alps. Of the five-star hotels, you may feel at home in the dull Kulm or the pleasantly secluded Suvretta, but Viyella- clad Brits aiming to relive past glories on the Cresta run or explore the scenic and entertaining ski area should leave the glossy Carlton to the Germans and the Gothic excesses of Badrutt's Palace (half-board pounds 200- pounds 500 a night) to the Yanks. Lunch should be at the slick Marmite (pounds 30 for a plate of pasta), dinner out at Champfer - allow pounds 60 for the Michelin- starred Johri's Talvo.

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