The Internet has been abuzz with the first footage from Spectre, the 24th film in the James Bond series. Shot in the mountains above Sölden, Austria, the 1:49 clip teases that 007 could be returning to the ski slopes for the first time in the Daniel Craig era. No small news considering that some of the franchise’s most memorable action set pieces were shot on snow (remember Bond’s iconic base jump in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me?).
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until the film’s November release to do some Bond-worthy skiing of your own. Over the course of the franchise’s 50-year history, 007 has hit the slopes on five occasions, escaping henchman and bedding babes on some of Europe’s most stunning snowy terrain. And while we can’t guarantee your luck with the ski bunnies, we’re certain you’ll have a good time schussing and sipping après-ski martinis at these Alpine resorts.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Once maligned largely due to George Lazenby’s wooden portrayal of 007 (it takes subtlety to pull off those misogynistic innuendoes — just ask Sean Connery), 1969’s On Her Majesty’s Secret Service has since become a fan favorite thanks to its audacious script, elegant ski chases, and mesmerizing score. Featuring a slew of 007 firsts, from Bond’s kilt to his marriage (46-year-old spoiler: Tracy was shot minutes after the vows), OHMSS was also the first film in the series set in a snowy locale.
Perched on a sheer cliff thousands of feet above Switzerland’s spectacular Lauterbrunnen Valley, Mürren is a pedestrian-only farming village that’s as quaint as they come. The skiing, however, is anything but tame. Hitch a cable car to the top of the precipitous Schilthorn and take in views of the Eiger, Jungfrau and other famous peaks of the Bernese Oberland while eating lunch in the rotating Piz Gloria restaurant. Used by the film’s producers as the lair for arch Bond villain Ernst Stavro Blofeld, today Piz Gloria features a sprawling sun deck and Bond World 007, an interactive exhibit with props and rides from the movie. But you won’t want to stick around for long with over 7,000 feet of vertical beckoning. Make like Bond by heading down the Inferno, a six-mile ski run that takes you over steep drops, down cliff-flanked chutes, and through the woods. There are no roulette tables back in town, so leave the tux at home and post up in local hangout Stägerstübli for an après-ski tipple. Come nightfall, head back to the four-star Hotel Eiger, whose Stübli Restaurant serves the best Züri Gschnätzlets (wafer thin veal in a mushroom cream sauce) in town, then crash in the modish, 60s-inspired James Bond Suite, which will have you feeling like a handsome secret agent, even if it doesn’t come stocked with Bond Girls.
St. Moritz, Switzerland
The Spy Who Loved Me and A View to a Kill
The jet set ski slopes of St. Mortiz, Switzerland have been featured twice in the Bond series, though both times they stood in for other locations (Austria in The Spy Who Loved Me; Siberia in A View to a Kill). Which is strange considering that St. Moritz — an enclave of the super rich, where polo is played on ice and ascots are favored over neck warmers — is as 007 as they come.
With five mountains to choose from, St. Moritz serves up some serious terrain. Ski filmmaker Willy Bogner, Jr. lensed A View to a Kill‘s opening sequence on the Morteratsch Glacier (as well as Iceland), which you can access via the nearby Diavolleza cable car. Feel like staying local? Grab a funicular out of town and stick to main hub Corviglia’s more expansive slopes, where Roger Moore outskied KGB agents in The Spy Who Loved Me — though the base jump was filmed on Canada’s Baffin Island. Corviglia’s front side offers undulating, corduroy-groomed slopes popular among sun-seeking skiers, while at Piz Nair, Trais Fluors and Gluna you’ll find some powder stashes in several untouched, off-piste chutes (we recommend tackling with a guide). At lunchtime, skip the caviar and truffle crowd at La Marmite and head to El Paradiso for the area’s best cheese fondue, not to mention the best people watching on this glamorous, mid-mountain eatery’s south-facing deck. The rumbling sound overhead? That’s no avalanche, just the constant stream of G5s carrying Bond villains (ahem, Russian Oligarchs) to the nearby private airport.
St. Moritz boasts nearly as many 5-star hotels as it does mountains, but if you’re on a Bond-sized budget, check in at Badrutt’s Palace Hotel, the glitziest address in town. Come nightfall, don a blazer — de rigueur after 5 p.m. — and swing by the hotel’s Renaissance Bar for a Bellini, whose barman Mario has kept the social score for over half a century. Dinner’s at the Chesa Veglia, a 17-century chalet that serves some of the best wood-fired pizza we’ve ever had, followed by dancing at Dracula Club — watch out for Elle MacPherson and Liz Hurley on the dance floor (having a Bond girl or three with you will help to make it past the tight door). Willing to put the following ski day in jeopardy? Then head over to the Kempinski Hotel’s casino to see if you can relieve a few of the aforementioned oligarchs of their hard-earned Roubles.
Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
For Your Eyes Only
In our opinion, Bond’s best ski scene occurred in 1981’s For Your Eyes Only. Shot in Italy’s glamorous Cortina d’Ampezzo — host of the 1956 Winter Olympics — the sequence saw 007 dodging motorbikes and snipers while jumping off a 90-meter ski jump and schussing down an icy bobsled track.
You’ll probably want to stick to Cortina’s 71 miles of ski slopes, all set below the serrated peaks of the dramatic Dolomites. Grab the The Freccia nel Cielo cable car from the northern side of town (near the Olympic ice rink) to the 10,000-ft. summit of the Tofana. Bond took in the soaring views of limestone peaks while rendezvousing with his Italian contact, but if preventing world domination isn’t your thing, then we suggest getting off at the Ra Valles mid-station, home to the best skiing. Hit the Pista Olimpia, a sweeping downhill course made famous by racers from Toni Sailer to Lindsey Vonn, or dice up Vertigine Bianca, a steep, ungroomed chute that fluctuates between powder and bumps depending on snow conditions. Italian skiers take their lunch as seriously as they do their turns, which is probably why over 50 rifugi — mountain huts serving a mix of rustic Italian and Austrian fare — dapple the hillsides. Fortify yourself with homemade pasta and smoked speck (a variation of prosciutto, but for our money better) paired with local schnapps at the family-run Rifugio Pomedes, either al fresco on its Ampezzo Valley-facing terrace or next to the wood stove inside.
The Dolce Vita vibe that once attracted starlets like Sophia Lauren and Audrey Hepburn still prevails in town, mostly along the boutique-flanked Corso Italia — watch all the well-heeled Milanese swapping ski bags for shopping bags — and at five-star joints like the Grand Hotel Savoia. But if you’re looking to replicate the Bond experience, then book room 300 at the Hotel Miramonti. It might seem a like a dated relic these days, but so was Roger Moore when he stayed there.
The World Is Not Enough
France’s Chamonix is more bro-brah ski town than 007 haunt, which is probably why it doubled for Azerbaijan’s Caucasus Mountains in The World is Not Enough. Like most of the Brosnan-era flicks, this one was forgettable. Ditto its ski scene, which focused more on Pierce’s perfectly coiffed locks and dated one-piece than any action.
That said, Chamonix’s skiing is vast, steep, and often deep, and thanks to a few upscale hotels and restaurants, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to piss off M with your extravagant expense report. Start by checking in at Hameau Albert, a mix of modern design and rough-hewn wood reclaimed from old Alpine chalets. It also boasts a two Michelin-starred restaurant called Albert 1er — order the beetroot gnocchi and save room for the sweetbreads.
Though there are five mountains to choose from, Chamonix — like many of Europe’s historic ski resorts — suffers from an antiquated layout. Meaning you’ll have to cram yourself into buses if you want to sample several in the same day. We recommend tackling one at a time and, if you’re on a tight schedule, limiting yourself to the three best and biggest: Les Grands Montets, Le Brévent, and the Aiguille du Midi. Located just outside town in the small hamlet of Argentieres, Les Grands Montets remains the region’s most popular ski station. Small in terms of infrastructure with only eight lifts, it more than makes up for its lack of uphill capacity with terrain steep enough to challenge even the most seasoned of skiers. Take the namesake cable car to the summit (perched in the shadow of the looming Aiguille Verte), for access to 6,000 feet of vertical, plus bowls upon bowls of off-piste terrain. Hire a guide or follow one of the locals, some of whom are 60-year-old women who can still ski your pants off. Perched 5,000 feet above town, Le Brévent offers a steep network of south-facing slopes. For lunch, book a table at La Bergerie. A perennial favorite for over 20 years, the open-air kitchen serves steak, seafood, and local game that pair nicely with the jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc across the valley.
But all of this is just an appetizer to the main course: the Aiguille du Midi. Though only one run, getting there requires two cable car rides, a guide, one rickety bridge and a precarious roped-in climb down an icy footpath. Book a guide through Chamonixskiguide.com, then stuff yourself inside the cable car alongside an international crew of ski bums for a vertigo-inducing ride that deposits you at nearly 13,000 feet. The needle-like summit seems tailor made for Blodfeld — there’s even an observatory with a glass floor (sadly, no piranha pit) — but it’s the Vallée Blanche that truly impresses. At over 12 miles in length and serving up 9,000 feet of vertical, it’s not only the world’s longest lift-serviced ski run, it’s also the most spectacular. No surprise, then, that producers chose this locale for The World Is Not Enough’s ski scene. Crags, crevasses, and ice-formations abound, so stay in your guide’s tracks, but still be sure to snap some photos of this otherworldly landscape along the way.
If you can still stand after all that vert, go dance on the tables at rowdy après-ski bar Chambre Neuf, where the beer flows like wine and that Swedish ski bunny in the corner isn’t impressed with whatever dubious exploits you lay claim to. Party on, Mr. Bond.
We don’t know yet if Daniel Craig will actually click into a pair of skis for the Sölden segments of Spectre, but considering the quality of the Austrian resort it would be a shame if he didn’t.
Luckily you have no excuse. Though Sölden — like all of the Tyrolean Alps — has a deep sense of skiing history, it’s also the most modern resort on the menu. Forget buses and schlepping your gear to far off lifts, because all the skiing action is directly accessible from this vibrant town. A state-of-art network of 33 lifts ferry skiers and boarders to multiple peaks, serving up 90 miles of in-bounds terrain and over 6,000 feet of vertical. Hit the Rettenbach Gletscher for treeless, high alpine slopes, then funnel yourself back into town through the Rettenbach Valley, a nine mile run that’s rumored to be the location of Spectre‘s major action set piece.
According to the film’s leaked shooting outline (part of the Sony hack), Bond will also be dropping by Ice Q. Perched atop the Gaislachkogl, this glassed-in restaurant will double as a “clinic for the hyper-rich.” Skip the whole sick thing, though you might want to have the necessary funds to pair elevated takes on Austrian classics like wiener schnitzel with a local bottle of crisp Grüner Veltliner. For a more affordable alternative, head upstairs to the Tapas Lounge for some passed plates.
When it comes to après-ski, nobody does it better than Austria. With 40 bars in town, Sölden’s party can last till 5 a.m., but the best vibe is at the ski-in, ski-out après huts lining the slope. Things get going around 3 p.m., so cheek out Eugen’s Obstlerhütte and Philipp’s Eisbar for a mix of beer steins, Jäger shots and AC/DC covers. Partaking in all the sloppy behavior might land you on Her Majesty’s Shit List, so just blame your antics on the fact that you’re undercover.
When it’s time to run in, avoid the rowdy main drag and indulge your inner 007 by bunking up at Das Central, the only 5-star pad in town.
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