There’s a well-known phrase used among us skiers and snowboarders: “The mountains are calling!” They generally call me twice a year, in February and at Easter. Once you’ve been bitten by the winter holiday bug, it won't be long before those mountains are calling you! Here's my list of 10 best picks of how you can enjoy life in the snowy mountains without stepping into a ski.

Spending a week or longer in snow-covered, jaw-dropping, white and slate landscapes never fails to remind me just how insignificant I am in the face of the power of Mother Nature. Over the past 100 years, ingenious resort planners have carved out playgrounds, all over the world, for winter sports enthusiasts to test their skills and enjoy all the magnificent mountains have to offer. Just the architecture and infrastructure of some ski resorts is an incredible feat of engineering in themselves... So, just how did they build those cable car routes decades ago?

Winter sports enthusiasts have been inspired the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, an event which encouraged many to take to the snowy slopes and chairlifts.

Last month's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, no doubt inspired many to take to the snow-clad slopes to discover the joys of a holiday in the mountains, or encouraged the enthusiasts, such as Jem, to return to hone their skills to perfection.

My parents introduced me to skiing as a child, before I turned to snowboarding at university and, subsequently, spent my winters working in Italy as a ski holiday rep. While my parents have reluctantly grown older, their love of the ski resort ambience and fun hasn’t waned one little bit and they still holiday in Austria each year, filling their days without even stepping foot on skis.

If you’ve been inspired by last months’ Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, but snowsports aren’t what you would choose to do on holiday, you may not be aware that many ski resorts have plenty to offer visitors seeking a less energetic snowy escape - and plenty of activities that aren't necessarily adrenaline-fuelled.

Lots of ski resorts offer fabukous holiday experiences which don't need you to climb into a pair of skis or step onto a snowboard. With the right clothing, you can have as much fun on a snowy muntain as you can on a sandy beach.

Dressed in the right gear, you can have so much fun out on the snowy slopes and walking trails, as well as in the surrounding picturesque villages, without even having to step into a pair of skis or onto a snowboard.

With the right wardrobe and accessories, you can have just as much fun on the snowy mountains as you can on a sandy beach. Winter clothing is getting cheaper to purchase every season too, so grab yourself a toasty-warm ski jacket, gloves and pair of sallopettes in the spring sales. The secret is to pack base-layers, a sturdy pair of walking boots, thick socks and your sunglasses (yes, I'm happy to tell you that you will need them) and choose which activities you want to try.

1. Ride a gondola to the top of a mountain for lunch

Gondolas are a great way to get around the ski resorts so yuo can make the most of the scenery, as well as the mountain-high dining experiences.

Gondolas are a great way to get around a ski resort, simply to make the most of the scenery or to find a table in a mountain-high restaurant with the most incredible views.

If you take a gondola ride to the top of a mountain for lunch - you will be rewarded with the fabulous views as well as the delicious traditional cuisine. Why not help your lunch go down with a glass of glühwein or Bombardino as you take the time out to stop and take in the view? You’d be surprised how warm it can get in the sun, even when you are surrounded by so much snow, and how prevalent deck chairs are on mountain-side restaurant terraces!

2. Watch the experts in action

Why not watch the experts in action? It can be almost as thrilling as participating, as the tension of the race rises. Choose from ski jumping, ski racing, pairs of skiers or snowboarders pitched head to head in downhill slalom racing, half pipe, big air or slopestyle - think aerial acrobatics on skis and snowboards. For more sedate spectator sports, cheer on super-fit biathletes as they ski across country, stopping to fire their rifles at targets en route. Even without the competitions, many resorts stage weekly snow shows by night which are floodlit or illuminated by torch light and put on by the ski school instructors. They are usually free to watch, so all you have to do is turn up and cheer them on.

Ski and snowsports is a great spectator sport also. Choose from ski jumping, ski racing, pairs of skiers or snowboarders pitched head to head in downhill slalom racing, half pipe, big air or slopestyle

Snowsports can be a thrilling spectator activity. There are so many different types of sport to see on the slopes, while in the evenings, many resorts will put on shows by torch light as your live entertainment for the night. Many such shows are free of charge, so all you need to do is turn up!

Who doesn't enjoy watching the thrill of the ski jump?

Who doesn't love the thrill of watching the ski jumps? It is a spectacle that makes your heart race, as the ski jumpers defy gravity and take to the air, soaring above, like a dazzling bird against the backdrop of the mountains.

3. Test your precision and learn the winning techniques of the incredibly skilful sport of curling

You can learn a lot on a winter holiday without being able to ski, such as curling.

Did you watch the curling at home when the Winter Olympics were on TV thinking 'I could do that'? Well, you probably can... No ski skills or skis required - just an appetite to learn and a fighting spirit will take you a long way on the ice with this sport, and many winter resorts are happy to give lessons in curling.

To learn the winning techniques of curling, no skating skills are required as you take to the ice for this team game, attempting to outwit your opponents by gliding the closest ‘rock’ to the target. It was certainly a highlight of the Winter Olympics in South Korea for many, sat in their armchairs at home wishing they could give curling a try.

4. Soak in a thermal pool

Thermal pools and saunas are special features of winter resorts - and the mountains are the perfect place to enjoy them.

Thermal pools are a feature of many winter resorts, allowing you to lay back and chill in a heated pool - except that you will be outside, surrounded by the snowy mountains in the crisp icy air. This is a truly memorable experience.

Soak in a thermal pool. Many resorts have heated pools, which have both indoor and outdoor sections. Floating on your back at night in a steaming pool, looking up at the clear starry sky and ghostly mountain peaks looming overhead is a very special feeling. Plus, where you find winter sports, you’ll find an abundance of saunas too which are a perfect way to unwind and relax on your holiday.

Winter resorts and steaming hot saunas go hand in hand.

Saunas go hand-in-glove with winter resorts. There can be few better places to feel the benefits of the cold and heat therapy than way up in the icy mountains, which will take your sauna experience to another level.

5. Strap on a pair of snow shoes

Snowshoeing - or snow walking - evolved over thousands of years as our ancestors hunted, migrated and moved around their snowy landscapes. Whilst the snow shoes have become more sophisticated over time, the simple pleasure of squeaking through fresh, crisp snow at your own pace is yours to discover. Most ski resorts now offer snowshoe walking tours of many different lengths and duration to give everybody an opportunity to do something they have most likely never done before.

Snow walking, with the help of special snow shoes, is a wonderfuly natural way to soak up your surroundings. Snow walking - or snowshoeing - is a wonderful way to get to be at one with nature in the winer mountains, and gudied tours make it easy for everyone to experience this unique activity.

Snowshoeing, or snow walking, is a wonderfully natural way to explore and appreciate nature's majesty all around you. Special snow shoes make it a stable and fun experience, while many winter resorts offer guided tours of varying durations to give everyone an opportunity to get up and close and personal with Mother Nature.

6. Boo at the bad guys at an ice hockey match!

Why not have a good old 'Boo' at the bad guys at an ice hockey match? Exciting, loud, easy to follow and just pure all-round hearty fun. You pick a team. Cheer them on. The team with the most goals wins. You might even be inspired to return the next day to take an ice skating lesson.

Ice hockey is always good fun, just cheering your team on and boong the bad guys - it is simple, easy to follow and something to get everyone joining in.

Ice hockey is another sport which fascinates when shown on TV and so what better setting to view it in than in the 'flesh' on a winter holiday? Cheering your team on, booing the opposition; it is simple, hearty fun - best enjoyed in holiday groups.

7. Shout ‘mush’ at your own team of huskies

Shout ‘mush’ at your own team of huskies as they pull you through the snow. But don't forget to make a fuss of them afterwards as a reward, while admiring their beautiful coats and mesmerising eyes, up close and for real. For those wanting something more sedate by way of a ride, you can always try a horse-drawn sleigh through pine tree-lined trails as you explore the heart of your winter wonderland.

Huskies and snow go together like strawberries and cream. How often do you get to drive your own team of these magnificent creatures through the snow? A winter holiday is one of the few opportunities you'll get!

Racing through the snow with your team of huskies is a unique and thrilling experience - reason enough to go off on a winter adventure. For those wanting to explore their winter wonderland at a more gentle pace, there is always a sleigh ride through the snow-clad pine forests.

8. Pilot a skidoo

A popular option is to ride into the mountains at sunset on a skidoo for a traditional dinner at a piste-side restaurant, and then ride back in the dark. If snow and motors are your thing, some resorts also offer rides in gravity-defying ‘piste-bashers’ as they groom and prepare the slopes for the next morning with their caterpillar tracks. Definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Skidoo rides are an increasngly popular winter holiday option.

Skidoo rides are an exciting and thrilling way to 'taste' the speed without having to worry about keeping your balance on skis or a snowboard! By sunset and by night, the skidoo ride becomes something really special.

9. Be a passenger in a bobsleigh on an Olympic run

Be a passenger in a bobsleigh on an Olympic run. This may require some adrenaline but what an incredible once-in-a-lifetime experience! You can ride with the pros on tracks at Igls, near Innsbruck in Austria; La Plagne in France; Lillehammer Olympic track, Norway; Sansicario, Italy and the world’s oldest track of 125 years: St Moritz in Switzerland.

Bobsleigh - ride with the pros on tracks at Iglis, near Innsbruck in Austria; La Plagne in France; Lilehammer Olympic track, Norway; Sansicario, Italy and the world’s oldest track of 125 years: St Moritz in Switzerland.

To ride a bobsleigh you really do have to be an adrenaline junky, but you will never forget the experience!
Photo Credit: Roger Schaffner.

10. Sample some of the world’s finest cuisine

Many snowy European destinations are, as luck would have it, situated in countries boasting some of the world’s finest cuisine. If you’ve spent your day outside burning calories in the cold, you can surely justify that wood-fired calzone oozing with mozzarella and a huge slice of Marsala-soaked tiramisu.

Calzone - a treat after a day on the cold slopes.

A hot and tasty slice of wood-fired calzone loaded with melting cheese is a warming and rewarding way to end a day of working up an appetite out on the slopes and in the snow.

Tiramisu - a traditional Italian alipine dessert enjoyed in winter climes.

The food in ski resorts is always something special. After burning up all that energy, you've earned a treat or two, such as this deliciously sweet tiramisu.

The good news is, for those of us based in Europe and the UK, dozens of the world’s leading snowsports destinations are within easy reach, thanks to budget airline routes flying into numerous gateway cities to the Alps, Dolomites and Scandinavia. Don’t rule out driving yourself out to France, Italy, Switzerland or Austria - you can add an overnight stop onto your journey for some bonus exploring.


An Alpine town by night bring some romance and picture postcard scenery to your winter holiday.

Winter resorts have as much to offer by night, as by day, as this picture of an Alpine town brightly lit against the darkening sky demonstrates. Follow the warm lights to find quirky shops, cosy eateries and bars to while away your evenings.

Don’t underestimate the incredible experience of flying over the Alps to your destination, which is an experience in itself. If you’re lucky enough to fly on a clear day, the views as you come down to land are truly stunning; it’s a genuine privilege to see the topography of the landscape from that angle. Landing at Innsbruck airport in Austria offers an extra-special thrill, as you come down to land through the mountain valley.

The majority of these destinations are under a two-hour flight away from UK airports. It's quite amazing to think that there’s a whole different side of our astoundingly diverse planet waiting, so short a distance away, to offer you the warmest of welcomes to their colder climes.

Chamonix-Mont Blanc is one of the most popular of the Alpine villages.

Chamonix is a popular resort area between France, Switzerland and Italy, nestling at the foot on Mont Blanc - the highest summit in the Alps. Famed for its excellent skiing, it s very much a year-round resort, boasting so many activities for all ages, including mountain gardens, nature reserves and zoos; adventure parks and paintballing; tennis, golf, mini-golf and ice skating; spas, a casino, cinemas, guided tours - even into Switzerland... The list of things to do and see in this resort is endless! You certainly don't need to be an Olympic athlete to make the most of this beautiful Alpine retreat.

If you feel like a change from the sand, sun and sea holidays, then start planning a snow, sun and ice holiday and fill your days with exhilarating new experiences. RCI members have some 806 great winter resorts to choose from if they want a holiday experience way beyond the beach - just click below and see for yourself.

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Many people own timeshare, but don't realise how far it can take them with a holiday exchange membership, such as RCI membership. From sunny shores to sensational summits, the softest of sand to the crispest of snow - and every holiday experience in between - with RCI membership you could be widening your world and collecting some amazing once-in-a-lifetime experiences. If you own timeshare and want to see where it could be taking you, just click on the button below to join RCI in a few simple steps.

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