Avoid long queues, high prices and too much hype this winter with our guide to the best alternative ski resorts, from family-friendly options to discovering powder galore.

Best for first-timers: Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

A mere two-hour flight from London, Slovenia is one of Europe's cheapest skiing destinations and has plenty of gentle slopes and an unintimidating atmosphere, which are great for beginners. Kranjska Gora has slopes to cater for all ability levels, with lots of low slopes and ski tuition for first-timers. Kranjska Gora is also arguably the best equipped resort for alpine skiing in Slovenia, and is one of the countries that lays claim to being the birthplace of the sport. What's more, you'll find ample facilities for snowboarding, tobogganing, ice skating and ice climbing here.

Best for families: La Rosière, France

La Rosière has been awarded the 'Famille Plus Montagne' award by the French government and families will find the resort centered on them with wide gentle slopes by the resort and family-friendly accommodation and facilities in the village itself. These include the excellent Galopins kindergarten in the new Eucherts development and ski school classes from age four. Off the slopes families will enjoy facilities such as the ice rink and bowling alley as well as a full programme of activities organized by the tourist office.

Best for city and ski: Salt Lake City, Utah

A city break might not be the most obvious ski choice, but Salt Lake City is the perfect base for exploring Utah's many fantastic resorts. Both nearby Snowbird and its linked neighbour Alta offer amazing powder, whilst the underrated gems of Little Cottonwood Canyon, Brighton and Solitude also offer fantastic skiing and less-crowded slopes. Not forgetting Robert Redford's very own Sundance resort. Your city location also provides plenty of après ski alternatives and lots of off-slope entertainment.

Best for après ski: Ischgl, Austria

Ischgl in Austria attracts music lovers by staging big-name, open-air rock concerts at the start and close of each season, with a third event in between. Elton John, the Scissor Sisters and Rihanna have all graced the stage, and this year festivities kick off on the 28 November with Katy Perry. The Tyrolean village has a medieval charm similar to that of popular Lech, with a huge ski area, groomed pistes, gondolas and high-speed chairlifts.

Best for great powder: Niseko, Japan

Despite having over 60 plus resorts, Japan receives relatively few British visitors. However, with enviable snow fall and ridiculously deep powder on a regular basis the resort of Niseko is well-worth the trip. Facing the dormant volcano Mt Yōtei, Niseko compares very favourably to similar European and North American mega-resorts in its range of facilities and runs. The resort's main town of Hirafu has a rocking après-ski scene and the city of Sapporo is a wonderful day-trip option.

Read more about winter 2009's top ski resorts:

Bitesized guide: Best après-ski resorts 2009

Bitesized guide: Best resorts for winter sports

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