Yabuli offers home comforts
Club Med Yabuli will be the first all-inclusive resort on the mainland. The resort, a ski hot-spot near Harbin in the north-eastern Heilongjiang province, is set to open in November. It will be a four-trident premium resort, ideal for families, couples and business groups.
All-inclusive packages include unlimited food, drinks, entertainment, ski passes and ski lessons for all guests aged four and over with qualified instructors and the best quality equipment.
All-inclusive holidays are becoming more appealing around the world, according to Henri Giscard d'Estaing, the chairman and chief executive of Club Med.
'Especially with people in Southeast Asia and China who are less used to travel - they are likely to choose easier and safer options. This applies particularly if it is for a new activity, such as skiing,' he says. 'An all-inclusive holiday means there is nothing to worry about or constant costs to deal with.'
Wealthy mainlanders now make up 15 per cent of the market share to destinations such as Phuket, the Maldives and Bali, according to d'Estaing.
The mainland vacation market is growing rapidly and, according to market research, 80 per cent of high earners there are interested in the Club Med brand, says Caroline Puechoultres, president and chief executive for Asia-Pacific. The research also shows that the only barrier in choosing a vacation destination is that it is nearby.
Club Med aims to have five new resorts on the mainland by 2015. The company is seeking 'exceptional sites with natural and cultural interest and space for a range of activities', d'Estaing says. At Yabuli, the ski season runs from mid-November to early April, and there are 30 kilometres of trails, the longest on the mainland, with a drop of about 530 metres. There is a range of easily accessible slopes for all ability levels, but with a particularly large zone including five magic carpet lifts for beginner skiers.
A heated gondola and chair lift by French brand Poma gives access to higher slopes. Ski equipment is available including Atomic skis, snowboards and boots from Austria.
There are an array of outdoor activities including ice skating, tubing and sleigh rides.
Although popular as a winter holiday area, the resort will be open all year.
The resort is styled after a Canadian ski lodge with a stone exterior and spacious interiors themed around the Five Flower Mountain nearby. The mountain is the home of oak, walnut, plum and maple trees that provide a rich palette of colours all year. These colours are complemented by wood grains, seeds and fruits that run as a theme through the resort.
It features 284 large, tastefully decorated rooms including 27 suites with views of the mountain. The Petit and Mini Club areas and services will keep children amused.
There are also six conference rooms and a ballroom ideal for conferences, and a large spa, gym and indoor swimming pool.
During the annual Harbin Ice Festival, Club Med will offer packages to include a visit to this international attraction.