by Lucy Aspden, The Telegraph, September 19, 2018
Since it was announced that Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games the interest in snow sports in the China has skyrocketed, with dozens of new ski resorts opening and the government funding huge initiatives to get the Chinese population into skiing and snowboarding.
The latest announcement to hit headlines is the planned development of the world’s largest indoor ski resort, to be built in Shanghai.
Wintastar Shanghai will cover a whopping 227,000 square metres, with the ski slope itself spanning 90,000 of those.
The new development has been designed by award-winning Italian architect Massimo Mercurio of Singapore-based, Mercurio Design Lab. Behind the space-age facade of the building, inside the interior is said to draw inspiration from European ski resorts, icebergs and the charm of the Alps.
Behind the project is KOP Limited, a Singapore-based real estate development and entertainment company, the new resort will be the company’s largest project to date. The operation of the new facility will be run by Majid Al Futtaim, the company behind Ski Dubai, which was the Middle East’s first indoor ski slope.
The UAE indoor ski resort was the largest in the world when it was built back in 2005, the new facility in Shanghai will be almost three times larger. Majid Al Futtaim has been behind some of the world’s most ambitious snow-sport openings in recent years, as well as Ski Dubai, the company launched Ski Egypt in 2017, the first indoor ski resort in Africa, while Ski Saudi and Snow Oman are also in development.
KOP has estimated that the new facility in the Pudong New Area of the Chinese city will welcome an estimated 3.2 million visitors each year. There will be three slopes of varying gradients, including a slope of Winter Olympic training standard measuring 3km in length, according to reports.
On opening, Wintastar Shanghai will steal the title of the world’s biggest indoor ski resort from the Harbin Wanda Indoor Ski and Winter Sports Resort, which opened in July 2017. With six different runs, accommodating up to 3,000 people, the facility in Harbin, near China’s northern border with Russia, covers an estimated 80,000 square metres.
According to a Chinese ski industry white paper 12.1 million Chinese people skied in 2017, that's less than one per cent of the country’s estimated 1.38 billion population. This is a statistic the government are keen to change ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. In 2016 China’s National Development and Reform Commission revealed plans worth an estimated £169 billion to build hundreds of new ski resorts ahead of the Games, in an attempt to boost the country’s medal prospects. The state-owned China Daily newspaper suggests there could be as many as 800 new resorts by 2022, as well as 650 skating rinks, to encourage an estimated 300 million people to get involved in winter sports.
“The timing for Wintastar Shanghai could not be better, with Chinese consumers yearning for travel, leisure, novel experiences, and winter sports being the next big thing in China because of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022,” said Ms Ong Chih Ching, the executive chairman and executive director of KOP.
“Majid Al Futtaim’s impeccable track record will help bolster Wintastar Shanghai’s vision to bring world-class, hi-tech and safe indoor skiing and snow play into China,” said Ong.
In addition to skiing and snowboarding facilities Wintastar Shanghai will also cater for non-skiers, with après activities including shopping, restaurants and bars, a spa, ice skating rink and an events space to host exhibitions and performances.
There will also be four new themed hotels run by luxury hotel chain Montigo Resorts, these will include ski-in/ski-out Alpine-themed accommodation and a new ice hotel.
In a tropical twist, there will also be a Nordic-themed water park set over two levels and taking up 28,000 square metres of the space. Designed around a Nordic Viking theme there will be indoor and outdoor slides, a beach club and infinity pool. Visitors to the water park will also be able to see all the action on the centre’s ski slope, from the warmth and comfort of their swimming suits.
The news from Shanghai comes just a month after architectural firm ATAH announced the opening of a year-round state-of-the-art dry ski slope in the mountains near the city of Qingzhou, which spans 17,000 square metres.