When it comes to winter sports in China, Yabuli has long been considered the best. But with the recent opening of a third ski resort, Zhangjiakou has emerged as a serious competitor. And unlike Yabuli, which you’ll need a long train ride or a plane to get to, Zhangjiakou’s ski resorts are located close enough to be a doable weekend trip for Beijing skiers and snowboarders.
The Hebei city is home to Wanlong and Duolemeidi ski resorts, and, as of this January, the Genting Secret Garden Resort (400-168- 1234). Genting is by the hospitality group that owns the largest hotel in the world-Malaysia’s
Genting Highlands-among other resorts in Southeast Asia. Genting’s first foray in China has the largest investment of any resort in Asia. They’re even angling to attract the 2022 Winter Olympics to Zhangjiakou.
The mountain currently has 11 runs, but many more trails and a snowboarding park will be added by next winter. Already, it’s about twice the size of Duolemeidi, with many more challenging runs. Like at all the Zhangjiakou ski resorts, the snow is mostly artificial, but it’s good quality and well groomed. There are two chairlifts now-expect more next season- both of which boast heated seats and wind shields. Lift tickets are quite reasonably priced: ¥120 for two hours on a weekday, up to ¥470 for a two day weekend pass. Rental equipment here is a very big step up over what’s generally available at resorts closer to Beijing. Ski, snowboard and boot rentals are from ¥120 for two hours on a weekday, ¥330 for the entire weekend. The snowpants and jackets here are also nice – not the silly one-piece suits you usually find in China. As at other ski resorts, you’ll have to use your own goggles, but the ski lodge has a well stocked shop with all the accessories you’d need, and prices are reasonable-we picked up a pair of goggles for ¥200, and gloves for ¥40.
The 300-room, five-star Genting hotel, which will be completed in September, is right at the base of the mountain, and will have chairlifts running just outside its door. This winter, the closest hotel is the Chong Li Ya Long Wan Holiday Village (www.ylwhotel .cn), which is less than 10 minutes’ drive. Rooms are comfortable and clean and even boast floor heating. Rooms start around ¥864/night. But it’s much cheaper to stay right in town in Chongli County, where I Snow International Hotel (www.isnow.biz), offers similar rooms for just ¥388. In terms of getting to the resort, it’s easiest if you have your own car. It’s about three and a half hours from central Beijing to the ski lodge, via the Jingzhang Expressway. There are also high speed trains that leave Beijine throughout the day and get you to Zhangjiakm: South in the same amount of time, but you’ll have to get a van or bus for the extra 50 km to Chongli County, where the ski resorts are. After the skiing season ends (likely at th€ end of March), Genting also has plans for summer, with a whopping eight golf courses in that works, as well as other outdoor sports, music festivals, and even a TCM school just next the resort.