The rise of  the DIY holiday has shaken up the  ski industry in the past few years, and there has  been a corresponding increase in the number of  independent companies and one-off  boutique  hotels being set up.

As a rule, these places are run  by passionate ex-seasonaires or natives intensely  familiar with local resorts and determined to  offer a unique experience far removed from that  of  the main tour operators.

The advantages for  the customer are obvious. Not only are you likely  to be in the hands of  people who know their ski  area well and have a direct link to the mainline of  resort life, but you’re also likely to have more in  common with your fellow guests.

DRAGON LODGE, TIGNES, FRANCE

CLOSEST AIRPORT: Grenoble

DETAILS: This independently owned and run  lodge in Tignes has a great reputation, and has  been setting the pace for over a decade. The  chalet is in the Les Almes area of  Tignes Le  Lac, so it is about a minute’s walk to the nearest  piste and all amenities. Dragon Lodge tailors  each guest’s ideal holiday by starting with a  basic B&B or half-board service, then adding on  required extras such as kit hire, off-piste guiding  and transfers. The most laid-back snowboarding  holiday in the Alps? We reckon so.

PRICE: From €28pp.

WWW.DRAGONLODGE.COM

SKI LODGE, ENGELBERG, SWITZERLAND

CLOSEST AIRPORT: Basel

DETAILS: Throw together a bustling communal  vibe, a unique Swiss restaurant and five  Swedes with an enviable knowledge of  their  chosen resort and what have you got? One  of  the finest ski hotels in the Alps – the Ski  Lodge (pictured above). The atmosphere at  this hotel really is unique, and you’re based  right in the centre of  town. Comprising 34  rooms, it offers mod cons such as wi-fiand  cable TV, and a bar you won’t be able to drag  yourself  away from.

PRICE: From 90CHFpp (€59), including breakfast.

WWW.SKILODGEENGELBERG.COM

HOTEL NIVES, VAL GARDENA, ITALY 

CLOSEST AIRPORT: Milan (Bergamo)

DETAILS: Hotel Nives opened in January last  year and strikes a nice balance between flash  boutique number and family run secret. The  stone, wood and glass materials give it a  lovely feel, and there are 11 luxurious suites.  One of  South Tyrol’s finest hotels, it boasts  a spa and gourmet restaurant, and the Sella  Ronda and Dolomiti Superski areas are both  close at hand.

PRICE: From €130pp, half-board.

WWW.HOTEL-NIVES.COM

3 Best Resorts  For Families

ST JOHANN, AUSTRIA

CLOSEST AIRPORT: Salzburg

DETAILS: When a place has more mountain  restaurants than black runs, you can expect  a gentler type of  skiing. The lifts, ski school  and creche are all within 100m of  the town  centre, and only an hour from Salzburg.

WWW.FERIENREGION.AT

HEMSEDAL, NORWAY

CLOSEST AIRPORTS: Oslo (Rygge and Torp)

DETAILS: This lovely little resort is worth  the trek from the airport. The pistes are  mellow and there are special family rates  – kids under six ski free. The northern  latitude also creates a unique winter  wonderland atmosphere.

WWW.HEMSEDAL.COM

BAQUEIRA-BERET, SPAIN 

CLOSEST AIRPORT: Pau

DETAILS: Arguably the best resort cuisine in  Europe, just the right blend of  expert and  beginner terrain, and some great deals for kids.  The best resort you’ve never heard of ?

WWW.BAQUEIRA.ES