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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 February 2019

Five skiing destinations less than five hours from the UAE

You don't need to go all the way to the Alps for snow-capped fun, these five destinations prove that you don't need a long-haul flight to ski or snowboard

Gudauri ski range in Georgia's Caucasus Mountains
GudauriΒ ski range in Georgia's Caucasus Mountains

When you think about Turkey, Cyprus and Lebanon, a skiing holiday may not be there first thing that comes to mind. However, here we round up winter wonderland destinations, closer to home.

Gudauri, Georgia

Just three-and-a-half hours from the UAE, Georgia has dependable snow. Gudauri is one of the best ski spots, with more than 50 kilometres of powder-covered Caucasus slopes. The season runs until April and there are seven lifts to ferry you to the top of the runs, which start at 2,195 metres and rise to a peak that is over 3,000 metres high. There is also year-round heliskiing for adventurers keen to make tracks in some of Europe’s most pristine runs. Check-in at Rooms Hotel Kazbegi for stylish suites deigned by a local duo, and traditional Georgian fare.

Mzaar Ski Resort, Lebanon

BEIRUT, LEBANON - JANUARY 16: Lebanese and tourists ride a ski lift at the Lebanese Mzaar Kfardebian ski area where peaks range between 2800 meters above sea level, in the mountains one hour away from Beirut on January 16, 2015 in Lebanon. (Photo by Bilal Jawich/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
Skiiers ride a ski lift at the Mzaar Kfardebian ski resort, one hour away from Beirut, Lebanon. Getty Images

This is the largest ski resort in the Middle East and a Lebanese stalwart that has been attracting piste-lovers to its slopes for decades. With 80km of ski tracks, the three peaks range from 1,850 metres to 2,465 metres, while there are also 18 ski lifts. That means you will never have to wait too long to get back to the top and enjoy another serene run on the slopes. There are plenty of apres-ski activities, too. Base yourself at the Intercontinental Mzaar Lebanon Mountain Resort and Spa to be at the centre of the action. Authentic Lebanese food and a heated indoor pool with snow-covered views make it a great place to unwind after a day on the slopes.

Kartalkaya in the Bolu Province, Turkey

Kartalkaya Ski Center in Turkey covers 25 tracks with various levels of difficulty for both skiers and snowboarders. Photo by Omer Urer / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images
Kartalkaya Ski Center in Turkey covers 25 tracks with various levels of difficulty for both skiers and snowboarders. Getty Images

About 30 minutes from Bolu, Kartalkaya is one of the country’s most-visited ski resorts. Nestled between Ankara and Istanbul, snow conditions are good here until the end of March and the slopes are surrounded by forest pines. There are 11 ski lifts and excellent glades and trails for alpine and cross-country skiing. Stay at the Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain resort where the main building leads directly to the ski lifts. Alpine-inspired food is served at the Swiss Fondue restaurant, while you can also recharge at the spa and wellness centre, or get your skates on at the open-air ice rink. Your little ones will love the on-site snow-tubing park.

Troodos Mountains, Cyprus

A skier takes the ski-lift up one of the slopes in the Troodos mountains.  Photo by MONA BOSHNAQ / AFP
A skier takes the ski-lift up one of the slopes in the Troodos Mountains, Cyprus. AFP

While it may be best-known for its sun-dotted beaches, Cyprus has a ski scene that dates back to the 1930s. The Troodos Mountain range is in season from December to early April when temperatures can drop to as low as -5°C. Mount Olympus is where the fun happens, with four main slopes to choose from, ranging from a 150m run for beginners to a 500m long, 1,915m-tall trail called Zeus that is reserved for advanced skiers. Nearby Troodos Square has everything you need for apres-ski fun, while the Troodos Hotel, located at an altitude of 1,725m, or the Jubilee Hotel a few kilometres higher, offer log-fire lodgings in pine-forest surroundings.

Ski Dubai, Dubai

Ski Dubai inside Mall of the Emirates, Dubai. 
Ski Dubai inside Mall of the Emirates, Dubai.

Can’t get away but still craving time on the crud? Ski Dubai is the closest thing the Emirates has to on-slope activity. Housed in Mall of the Emirates, the run is more of a mound than a mountain, but it is perfect for beginners and can keep powder hankerings at bay until you can actually make it abroad. There are five small ski runs – the longest is 400 metres with a 60-metre drop – a ski-school for those who want to learn the ropes and a snow park for little kids to play around in. Stop for a hot chocolate at Avalanche cafe halfway up and visit Apres restaurant for post-ski bites accompanied by snow slope views.

Updated: February 3, 2019 11:36 AM

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