An expensive sport that’s not often associated with China, skiing is expected to become more popular.
According to China’s Ski Association, there will be an estimated 20 million skiers in the country by 2014, up from five million just five years ago.
People are getting richer and a natural next step is that they would be looking for luxury experiences instead of just possessing luxury goods.
Hoping to cash in on this potentially lucrative market, French travel company Club Med has opened its first all-inclusive upscale ski resort Club Med Yabuli on November 27.
Yabuli, nestled in the heart of a national park at an altitude of 1541 ft. in China’s northeast Heilongjiang Province, is one of the most popular skiing destinations in China.
It is 110 miles southeast of Harbin, a city of 10 million people that is home to the world’s largest ice festival. Harbin has an international airport that allows travelers to reach Beijing in one hour and a half, and Shanghai in about 3 hours.
Last year the local government reportedly spent US$400 million upgrading Yabuli, which is popular for its high-quality skiing. Ranked in the top 10 in China, Yabuli is the main training base for China’s ski team and hosted the World University Youth Games in 2009.
Club Med Yabuli has 283 rooms including a 1,291 square feet Presidential Suite, a new spa in partnership with French skincare brand L’Occitane, and three dining options including Club Med’s first Chinese restaurant, Mudan, that offer specialties from Northeast China. The ski-in, ski-out resort also has after ski activities including yoga and a sauna.
Similar to other Club Med resorts, Yabuli is family friendly and offers an all-inclusive package of accommodations, lift passes, meals, snacks and activities.
Skiers can expect powdery slopes with 18 ski runs — two green, 11 blue and five black trails, including Asia’s longest Alpine ski run. The ski season runs from early November through early April.
The Yabuli resort marks the beginning of Club Med’s expansion into China. The company plans to open five resorts in four years in locations like Hainan and Yunnan Province.
“China will be by 2015 the second market of Club Med in the world,” said Henri Giscard d’Estaing, Chairman and CEO of Club Mediterrane.
photo credits: club med yabuli