The Scout travel guide for skiers is written by dedicated ski enthusiast Sarah Plaskitt, who quit her advertising job in Manhattan and moved back to her native Australia in 2013. Frustrated by the difficulty she and her friends had getting accurate information about ski areas and accommodations around the world, she founded Scout, an independent, customer supported ski advisory and booking service.
In a recent interview with Curbed Ski magazine, she said,
“I had a difficult time deciding where to go and stay, because there was nothing geared toward the independent-minded ski traveler. I saw an opportunity to provide credible, honest, and detailed information that would help skiers independently make up their minds about which resort and hotel was right for them.
“Our demographic is a mix, so we cater to a range of budgets. I want Scout to feel like you’re talking to a friend who’s been there. Hence, the name of the site.”
What sets Scout apart from other services is that Sarah has been to each site she reports on personally. And she doesn’t accept advertising from the places she visits.
“A hotel that describes itself as a ‘short walk’ from the slopes can often be located up a steep hill that, when carrying your gear and accompanied by young kids, isn’t very convenient. Similarly, a place that might look a bit far on an online map may have a shuttle stop right out front.
“If I’m writing about a place, it’s because I’ve been there, and this is my opinion. I don’t gloss over negatives. Hotels are having to be more transparent now in their descriptions because of online reviews. We also don’t bundle- we’re for the indie skier who needs help with research.”
Plaskitt emphasizes ski adventures that bring the skier into contact with the local population.
“For me, location is the most important thing when I’m deciding where to stay. I like to be able to get around easily, have easy access to the slopes, and great restaurants. I also personally tend to prefer resorts that have an actual town or village, places where people actually live and work.
“I’m not bagging on purpose-built resorts, because they have things to offer. It’s just something that matters to me as a traveler. I enjoy having a cultural experience, and passing that on to our customers. I want a big part of Scout to be about discovering different places.”
One thing that sets her service apart is its detailed and helpful guides.
“The guides are 32-page resort overviews that include getting there and around, hand-drawn maps, where to get the best snow reports, rentals, lessons, tickets, and insider tips on the best deals, restaurants, bars, shopping, and spas, and all the relevant contact info.”
Scout currently features information about skiing in New Zealand, North America, Europe and Japan. Sarah is especially complimentary about the experience offered by Japanese ski resorts.
Japan is becoming more popular with Western skiers because it’s getting more press and anyone that’s been there raves about it. Every country has such a different ski experience to offer, but Japan is so distinctive. The terrain isn’t steep, but if you love soft, deep powder, and birch trees that form almost a slalom course, it’s incredible.
“Then you stop at a mountain hut for lunch, and have ramen, and instead of après ski, you visit an onsen to soak in the natural hot water. Plus the locals and staff in resorts are some of the most friendly, helpful people you’ll ever meet. But mostly, skiing in Japan is about the copious amounts of dry snow – more than you’re ever likely to experience in a North American resort.”
That sounds divine. Thanks, Sarah!
Photos by Sarah Plaskitt