Monday, January 12, 2015

Ski Dubai

Ski Dubai... where do I start? Located in the famous Mall of the Emirates, Ski Dubai is an indoor ski hill winter wonderland created in 2005 as part of Dubai’s initiative to make everything extreme - bigger, faster, taller, etc - you name it they have thought of it! 

Ski Dubai
Ski Dubai entrance - much of the inside is Frozen themed

Ski Dubai
View of Ski Dubai's winter wonderland from the mall

A little background - Brian and I are not skiers.... yet! It’s something I have always wanted to do, but certain challenges (not learning as a child, closest ski hill being over an hour away, needing to find the time for multiple private adult lessons, wanting a willing participant to go with, etc) have always gotten the best of me. I did take a group lesson with The Traveling Mortician once, but we only learned basic skills and never went back for the ever so important second lesson that teaches a skier how to control speed and link turns.

So, what’s a barely beginner/non skier that wants a piece of the “I skied in the desert” Ski Dubai bragging rights to do? Well, I have somewhat bad news for you. There is no official green hill easy run at ski dubai other than the lesson learning area. Ski Dubai has 5 surprisingly harder slopes, ranging from medium difficultly blue hills to black diamond hills. 

Ski Dubai steep slopes

What are your options if you want the novelty experience anyway?

1. You could buy a lesson - at 150 aed (approx US $40) you are in a group setting and start with learning to put your skis on and balance control. There is a strong possibility they will not teach you to link turns, and even if you manage to learn during the lesson you will then have to purchase a lift ticket for an additional 200aed (approx US $55) if you want access to the real ski hills. If you have basic skills like we did but want to specifically focus on speed control and linking turns - you will need a private lesson at 605aed (approx $165) , which still won’t even include a lift ticket! Worth it? I think not!

2. You could ignore all pieces of advice listed multiple times throughout ski dubai and try to make your way down the ski hill anyway. Having done something similar to this after my first and only minimal ski lesson years ago, I highly recommend NOT trying this. It will likely result in injury and ruining your trip.

3. You could resign yourself to the fact that skiing isn’t happening at Ski Dubai and instead purchase a super pass which gives you access to most of the other onsite activities - the toboggan, the chair lift, and the zorb for 225 aed each (approx US $61.) This is what we did, and was the best compromise as you can’t really appreciate the magnitude of this winter wonderland unless you gain access to the inside - which you have to pay for !

Ski Dubai toboggan
We may not have skied but we did manage the toboggan!
ski dubai snow tube ride
Ski Dubai snow tube ride for the kids!

Included in the super pass was the famous ski dubai outfit and a voucher for a free pair of gloves to wear, which really came in handy. For a separate fee, they also have a zip-line pass, which we didn’t buy this time around.

Ski Dubai
The provided Ski Dubai outfit and boots

ski dubai chair lift
Chair lift selfie
How was the experience? 

I think Ski Dubai overall did a great job of mimicking winter, from the man made snow down to ice sculptures and pine trees. The temperature was chilly at about 30 degrees but as it was inside there was no wind, making it warmer than I think you would find on an NJ ski hill in winter. 

It was crowded. This might have been because we were there over Christmas break, but I imagine this is often the case as this is a main attraction in Dubai and the only time some of the locals will see snow! Because of this, we spent much of our time inside Ski Dubai waiting in line for attractions, but we didn’t mind as we were able to take pictures while we waited. 

The moral of the story - take a ski lesson at home beforehand so your ready to fully experience this man made wonder! I think it’s worth the money to give Ski Dubai a try, whether you can ski or you buy the super pass like us, as it really is amazing how they were able to recreate winter in the middle of a mall!


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