World’s most luxurious winter holidays

Andy Round enjoys seven of the best winter escapes in the world from designer igloos and luxury Antarctic camping to snow polo, ice golf and skydiving over Everest. It makes for chilling reading. [20 images in total, text continues below]

  • Ice hotel in Sweden

  • Ice golf in Greenland

  • Ice hotel in Sweden

  • Ice polo in St Moritz

  • Ice polo in St Moritz

  • Curious penguins in Antarctica

  • Vast ice sea of the Arctic

  • On the way to the North Pole

  • Reindeer in northern Sweden

  • Ice polo in St Moritz

  • Polar bear on ice in the Arctic

  • Camping in Finland

  • A suite of the ice hotel

  • The astonishing Whitepod hotel in Switzerland

So what are you doing for a winter break this year? Planning to escape to the sun? Forget it. For a real taste of ice-cold excitement, you should discover your own snow-capped winter wonderland.

Antarctica safari

It was in the middle of crossing 1,850 kilometres of unforgiving Antarctic wilderness that inspiration struck explorer Patrick Woodhead. The idea was as exhilarating as the stunning icescape; why not create a luxury, eco-adventure camp in the middle of Antarctica? “There were Antarctic cruises but nothing that brought visitors to the heart of this mind-bogglingly beautiful place,” Woodhead tells says. “Antarctica is like a giant blank canvas that’s bigger than America and only scientists and explorers get to see it. We just thought that was such a pity.”

Two years later Woodhead was flying clients down on a private jet to the ends of the Earth for the experience of a lifetime. “When we started our aim was really simple,” Woodhead says. “We wanted to take elements of a safari in Africa, but include the world’s best Antarctic guides and offer a bespoke experience that could be tailored to whatever our clients wanted to do on a daily basis.”

The result is stunning. Meals include Champagne brunches and picnics; the camp features such essentials as a library and dining room while ctivities range from snow-kiting and ballooning to visiting penguin colonies and exploring ice caves. The next White Desert adventures are in November and December 2010 and prices start from US$46,000.

Designer igloos

If the thought of camping half way up a snow-blocked Swiss mountain freezes your blood, perhaps it’s about time you checked out the lavish eco-camp known as Whitepod in Les Cerniers.

Whitepod has taken all the outdoor excitement of winter camping and cocooned it in phenomenal levels of luxury. All 12 of the NASA-designed canvas creations are insulated to the same standards as a space shuttle and can, should you require, withstand frozen winds of up 180 kilometres an hour. The pods enjoy industrial strength duvets, ensuite showers, wood-burning stoves, giant scenic windows, outside hot tubs and some of the most comfortable furniture known to man.

You can only reach Whitepod by ski during the winter and according to its creator Sofia de Meyer that’s the way her guests like it. “The aim was to create a more ‘in-contact’ natural holiday experience,” she says. “We have a private ski run, dog-sledding, snow-shoeing trails, paragliding and, if you want, we also offer heli-skiing.” Pod prices start from just US$100 a night, but that’s in the summer which really defeats the point. A winter reservation is US$500.

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