China: Your Next Ski Holiday Destination?

You have ridden in the shadow of Mont Blanc then après-ed in Chamonix, choked on powder face shots inJapan and then unwound in an onsen.

Online PR News – 18-February-2010 – – You have ridden in the shadow of Mont Blanc then après-ed in Chamonix, choked on powder face shots in Japan and then unwound in an onsen. You have smashed the steeps in the Canadian Rockies and you’ve learnt why Sun Valley is called Sun Valley (because of all the sun?). It’s time for something new. Something different. Something out of the ordinary and off the beaten track. Your next ski destination could very well be China.

China, the country, is booming. The unbelievable pace of building is turning cities into metropolises and metropolises into megalopolises and riding this wave in the last few years has been a growing number of mountain resorts. As the Chinese middle class grows so too does demand for snow sports and resorts are responding by improving their facilities – adding trails, terrain parks and mogul fields – and starting to look at taking a bite out of the international ski market.

As with any industry growing out of its infancy, the quality of Chinese resorts is variable but the recent influx of foreign know-how in combination with Chinese cash has seen several areas break away from the pack and into the international spotlight. Nowhere is this more evident than in Yabuli, the home of the Chinese national ski team has emerged as the best of what China has to offer the snow seeker.

Located in Heilongjiang Province, the mountain tops out at 1,384 metres and offers almost 900 metres of vertical. The resort benefited from some serious infrastructure upgrades made in the lead up to it staging the 2009 Winter Universiade and it is now without doubt China’s leading ski holiday destination.

The Manchurian air is definitely cold enough to keep the snow dry but so as to provide the best riding conditions possible, the developers have also imported state-of-the-art snow making capacity. At 1 km long, Yabuli also boasts – possibly dubiously – that they have the longest toboggan run in the world but lets face it, it’s the riding that has brought you here, and the 17 lifts servicing 40 hectares of in-bounds ski terrain will keep your busy.

The terrain is a fairly even blend of levels, with designated beginner zones, sweeping mid-angle intermediate slopes and newly constructed advanced runs that ensure enough variety to cater for the more adventurous.

Some Chinese idiosyncrasies may take a little getting used to though luckily they’re of the interesting rather than upsetting kind. The lifts may be fully imported but they are run Chinese-style complete with a two-tier lift ticket system where VIP ticket holders get the more luxurious four- rather than six-person gondolas. So much for the Communist Manifesto!!

While heated gondolas will take you up to the top in comfort, there’s enough choice of hotels at the bottom for you to find just the right place to lay your weary head at the end of a long day. 10 different hotels and hostels offer accommodation that ranges from all the bells and whistles of the 5 star Sun Mountain Lodge to just the basics at the refurbished Windmill Inn.

There’s also a smattering of bars and restaurants in the village so you can feast on sumptuous local delicacies such as Flying Dragon soup as you unwind over a drink and plan your next day’s assault.

The riding may be the main focus but it would be a crying shame if you didn’t set aside enough time to check out the snow and ice festival in Harbin. Held in January and February, the festival attracts tourists from all over China to witness the frozen palace creations and ice skating displays.

If it’s proximity to the larger cities that is your main driver there are a bunch of smaller resort options to consider. Perfect for day trips or short stays, there are several mountains that are within striking distance of those staying in Beijing.

Wanlong Ski resort, China’s largest, is four hours drive from Beijing, probably a touch too far for anything but the most desperate day trip dash. Fortunately, there’s new hotel accommodation that make an overnighter a great choice. The maturing Chinese industry has ensured that most of the recent development at resorts has been focused on opening up more advanced terrain and Wanlong fits this evolution perfectly.

Nanshan Ski Resort is only 60 km from Beijing and would have to be the most border friendly of China’s resorts. In order to set itself apart from the crowd it has added a whole lot of man-made terrain to its natural slopes. A partnership with Austrian company Mellow Constructions means Nashan can brag about the quality of its terrain park that not only has enough kickers to get you up in the air but also rails for all the jibbers and an 80 metre half-pipe.

Of course though, a fair whack of the adventure comes from just being in China. Soaking up the centuries of culture at every turn, sampling the local fare and drinking in all that one of the world’s most fascinating countries has to offer. One thing is for sure, skiing in China is not something that you are going to forget in a hurry.

Darcy Carter
Tel: +613 9917 2545
Fax: +613 415 8575

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