In terms of sheer intensity and choice of skiing, Whistler Blackcomb rules north America and quite possibly the world. About 100km north of Vancouver, in British Columbia, the two valleys add up to 8,171 acres, with Whistler set to host most of the snow sports of the 2010 Winter Olympics. With elevations of 2,182 metres and 2,240 metres respectively, Whistler and Blackcomb offer excellent views of the snow-drenched valleys. Skiing and snow sports fanatics are the primary customers – those seeking glamour won’t find the Aspen and Vail swagger. That’s not to say there aren’t plenty of places to enjoy: for alpine dining, go for Christine’s, simple American classics served in a dining room and patio overlooking the Blackcomb valley. There are loads of pubs and bars – live music and beer is best enjoyed at Dusty's, while the Crystal Lounge is top for cocktails.

Where to stay: Nita Lake Lodge. This is proper Canadian alpine luxury – geothermal heating system and views of the lake, mountains, forest and creek are visible from every window. Furnishings are elegant and plush – from the 40 inch LCDD TV to the private hot tubs. Studios from $139 a night; suits and private residences also available. www.nitalakelodge.com. Whistler and Blackcomb Winter Lift & Lodging Packages from $88 per night; 26 Nov-18 April 2010. www.whistlerblackcomb.com.