All-inclusive tour operator Club Med has opened its second ski hotel in China, in the resort of Beidahu in Jilin province, northeast of Beijing. Beidahu has a drop of more than 800m – the highest vertical operating in the country – and its 13 runs, which reach up to 1,357m, are best suited to beginners and intermediates. 10,000m of cross-country ski trails are also available, as well as a range of family activities.
1. Chinese interest in winter sports
The move of the world-renowned brand is indicative of the communist nation’s growing interest in skiing and snowboarding, with more and more Chinese visiting alpine resorts.
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Warren Smith, who founded the Warren Smith Ski Academy and Snowboard (the Warren Smith Ski Academy in Verbier teaches groups of Chinese skiers), explains: “In the 27 years I have taught the sport, I can honestly say that I have never taught to such enthusiastic skiers, they crave content and information about the technique of the sport. With the 2022 Winter Olympics, skiers in China want to improve in skiing, and quickly. »
2. New target consumers in Europe
Other European destinations are also looking to attract Chinese visitors, eager to tap into a lucrative and growing market. These include high-end Swiss ski resorts, the Val d’Isère, resorts in Western Canada and Japan.
In Switzerland, Mandarin-speaking ski instructors and a wide variety of winter activities such as skating, snowshoeing and horseback riding are available in addition to the usual spas and restaurants, to attract Chinese visitors.
During the 2013/14 season, Tourism Switzerland launched the project where Chinese ski instructors spent the winter teaching at eight ski resorts. Today, there are about thirty people employed to look after Chinese skiers: more than 10 trained instructors who speak Chinese and about 20 Chinese ski fans who help ski schools with translation if guests have a ski instructor who does not speak Mandarin.
b) China, a strategic market
China is strategically important to Switzerland. In 2015, China was the country’s fourth-largest foreign tourism market after Germany, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Chinese overnight stays increased by 33% from 2014 to 2015 and is expected to increase by a further 33% by 2022 when Beijing hosts the Winter Olympics.
Switzerland is a regular stop during Chinese travel through Europe, but the country also experiences a shift from groups to individual trips, especially in winter. As a result, Switzerland Tourism creates a day-long skiing experience with a package including equipment and ski lessons.
Club Med Beidahu
Club Med Beidahu is the second ski resort the tour operator has opened in China. The first was Yabuli in the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. As for Club Med’s new offer in Beidahu, what the operator calls a “ski resort” has 176 rooms, including 11 standard club rooms, 154 luxury rooms, eight high-end suites, two family suites, and a presidential suite.
There are three restaurants and bars on-site, a fitness room, a spa, and a hot tub, as well as a range of activities, including archery, darts, table football, table tennis.
Skiing is the new passion of the Chinese and the resorts have every interest in providing activities and services tailored to these new winter sports enthusiasts.
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