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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - Ski resorts used to cater only to skiers and snow-bunnies but not anymore, with many resort towns housing first-rate spas, art galleries, shops, and top restaurants.
Travel website ShermansTravel.com has compiled a list of the top 10 ski resorts for non skiers (here).
The list is not endorsed by Reuters:
1. Bad Gastein, Austria
The picturesque Gastein Valley has over 170 miles of well-groomed trails but its spas have been luring visitors since the 13th century. Treatments here make use of the natural hot springs, which, combined with mountain air and healthy levels of radon, are said to have regenerative effects.
2. Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Where else can you throw a snowball and burn your feet on a beach in the same day? At more than 73,000 square feet (6,800 sq meters), Ski Dubai is a large, opulent facility with five runs of varying difficulty, including the world's first indoor black diamond course, a "freestyle zone," snow park with options for bobsled rides and more, and two mountain-themed restaurants.
3. Mont Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
Mont Tremblant has a plethora of high-thrill activities for non-skiers such as Acrobranche, an obstacle course of sorts that comes complete with Tarzan ropes and suspended bridges atop a forest canopy, dog-sledding, horseback riding, and sleigh rides.
4. Park City, Utah, United States
This silver-mining mecca turned resort town is just 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport and continues to welcome the world's best skiers -- or you can lounge at the Egyptian Theater and watch an independent thriller during the Sundance Film Festival. Every January, this celebrity-studded affair ambushes the quaint town's 100-plus restaurants and bars, 20-plus art galleries, and dozens of shops and boutiques.
5. St Moritz, Switzerland
While the snow-capped Corviglia provides breathtaking views, and amazing skiing at any level, it's the wineries, designer boutiques, and world-class cafes that really draw celebrities and glitterati to this Swiss resort. St. Moritz's main strip, Via Serlas, is lined with ultra-posh designers like Cartier, Dolce & Gabbana, and Armani.
6. Sierra Nevada, Spain
Southern Spain's "snowy range" has an altitude of over 10,000 feet and boasts views of Morocco's Atlas Mountains while the Moorish city of Grenada lies at its base, a compelling draw for its stunning architecture and Andalusian cuisine. It's home to the Alhambra, a hilltop fortress that was the seat of the Iberian Peninsula's last Moorish kingdom, with palace after palace and exquisite gardens.
7. Stowe, Vermont, United States
Popular for its super-advanced "Front Four" pistes and night-skiing, with only 4,600 permanent residents, peace and quiet is prominent in Vermont's mountains. Featuring half-a-dozen wellness centers and spas, as well as yoga and pilates centers, over-worked bodies find refuge away from the slopes, and in the warm whirlpools at Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield.
8. Sun Valley, Idaho, United States
Sun Valley may have opened in 1936 as the Rockies' first ski resort, but its good-old-fashioned Western charm makes it equally captivating off the slopes. The saloon-filled town of Ketchum at the mountain's base is rife with art galleries showcasing Western and modern art, and even boasts its own Sun Valley Opera House. Literary buffs can also pay their respects to the grave of author Ernest Hemingway, who is buried in the town cemetery.
9. Taos, New Mexico, United States
The little town of Taos is home to the state's highest mountain, Wheeler Peak, with the range providing the town's renowned local art colony with abundant outdoor recreational fun. The 5,000-plus residents support a high number of A-list restaurants, and you can discover the area's ancient Taos Pueblo, a Native American site inhabited for at least 1,000 years.
10. Queenstown, New Zealand
Surrounded by New Zealand's Southern Alps on the edge of scenic Lake Wakatipu, skiers and snowboarders flock to Coronet Peak but adrenaline rushes also abound away from the snow, as you might expect of the town known for inventing the bungy jump. Other daredevil options like jet boating and tandem skydiving are available all year long or opt for quieter activities like wine-tasting or flightseeing over the nearby fjords.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith