The Next Big Thing: Dawang Mountain Resort

John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, January 02, 2013

The resorts of St. Moritz, Lech and Megève may be enduringly popular with the world’s most discerning skiers, but how long will that last? While it’s unlikely the crowds will be abandoning long-established favourites in favour of North Korea’s “impeccable” new ski resort, the forthcoming Dawang Mountain Resort Deep Pit Ice and Snow World could well lure a new generation of winter-sports fans to China.

Near the city of Changsha, the capital of Hunan Province, the extensive development will be built into a disused cement-mining quarry pit and lake and at its core will feature an as-yet-unnamed, 270-suite five-star hotel. Its 60 executive suites and six-room presidential suite will all feature impressive views of Tongxi Lake, Dawang Mountain and surrounding attractions.

The project has been designed by Austrian architectural firm Coophimmelb(l)au and will also incorporate an indoor ski slope, water park and “Ice World” entertainment park which will stretch over a cliff face and connect two sides of the quarry. Providing additional leisure facilities, a series of islands, cliff-side pathways and hanging gardens will surround the development, and an outdoor cantilevered swimming pool will form part of a 200ft waterfall that drops into the quarry pit.

Although Changsha is unfamiliar to most tourists from outside of China, the city of two million is some 3,000 years old and is replete with historical sites and religious structures. It is currently engaged in an ambitious development plan that will see the construction of an entirely new district and a one-of-a-kind undulating bridge ; Dawang Mountain Resort itself will be supported by a range of ancillary restaurants, bars and shops.

Construction of the resort is scheduled to begin this year, with completion expected in 2016. For those who would like to explore an unusual Chinese resort somewhat sooner, Songjiang Shimao Hotel near Shanghai is scheduled to open this year. As with Dawang Mountain Resort, it has been built into an abandoned quarry and will incorporate a waterfall that cascades over its atrium .