Melco China Resorts (MCR) is the largest operator and developer of ski resorts in China. Currently transforming one existing ski area in Beijing and four existing ski areas in the North Eastern provinces of Heilongjiang and Jili, most notably Sun Mountain Yabuli, MCR is introducing international standards never before seen in China's ski resort industry. The company envisions a network of year-round village centered, destination mountain resorts in China.
According to the China Ski Association, the total number of ski visits in China increased by 109% to over 4 million between 1999 and 2004. With China's skiers predicted to more than double to reach 10 million by 2010, MCR, a division of Hong Kong's Melco International Development Limited this week revealed plans for their inaugural development, Sun Mountain Yabuli, set to be the first resort to fill the desire for up-market recreational activities among the country's rapidly growing middle and upper classes.
Located 2.5 hours southeast of the city of Harbin by road or 90 minutes by train, Yabuli is a village-centered mountain resort with three premium hotels under construction with a total of 312 rooms, including 24 luxury sky suites with sauna, outdoor hot tub and observatory scheduled to be completed by this December. A 263-room condo hotel is also being developed and will be completed by December 2009. Recently invited to be part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), Yabuli's Sun Mountain Lodge will be bringing a level of refinement in terms of finish, fixtures and service that more consistent with the quality of hotels expected in Asian cities than is those in European or North American ski resorts. A number of mountain-side resort homes are also currently being offered for those looking to own their own piece of the mountain.
On the mountain, some of the industry's best snow and grooming technicians have devised a unique grooming system which will allow the snow to cure for different aspect, pitch, different levels and numbers of skiers. The innovations are not restricted to improving the downhill experience, however; traveling back up the mountain will also be a unique experience at Yabuli. MCR will offer a heated gondola for its VIP guests and residents. The VIP cabins will feature polished timber trim, leather seating surfaces, a mini bar, cabin lighting, and a Bose stereo system.
"Our commitment is to introduce standards that did not previously exist in China's ski industry," commented Graham Kwan, CEO of MCR. "Our portfolio of integrated resorts and luxurious resort homes represents a status and lifestyle pinnacle that was not available in Northern China until now."
Other attractions, including tennis, zip lining, boating and water sports, equestrian, biking, luxury camping, performance driving schools, culinary arts and wine programs, and live entertainment will be available year-round.
MCR will also upgrade the Sky Mountain Beidahu and Star Mountain Beijing resorts, with minor projects underway and much larger development planned for the coming years. Meanwhile, work on MCR's Adventure Mountain Changchun resort and development of the members-only Lotus Mountain Club is expected to be well underway by 2009.
MCR isn't the only company looking to capitalize on China's growing middle and upper class hunger for a luxury skiing experience. Work continues to build PingTian Resort in northwestern China's Xinjiang region from the ground up, also to modern international standards ensured by hiring ski industry veterans away from Colorado's Vail Resorts to oversee operations. Originally scheduled to open in November 2007, PingTian officials last fall pushed that date back to November 2008 to accommodate construction delays.