No Alps? No Problem

Article excerpt

Byline: Rob Baedeker

Late-night slopes in Norway, Club Med China, a Bavarian lodge in New Mexico. The world of strange and extraordinary ski destinations.

As of early December, the ski slopes were open--in China and Dubai, but not, alas, in much of the Swiss Alps. Following the driest autumn on record in Switzerland this year, celebrated Swiss and French slopes like Davos, St. Moritz, and Courchevel had a longer-than-usual wait before finally getting a dose of the white stuff.

Meanwhile, on a 73-degree day in the United Arab Emirates, skiers zipped down the manicured slopes of the indoor ski resort Ski Dubai. In northern China's Changbai Mountains, ski runs with names like the Trail to Happiness were bringing smiles to the faces of Asian ski bunnies.

As new storms begin to hit Central Europe, things are looking up for the august Alps. But the delayed Swiss ski season gave us cause to look elsewhere around the globe for resorts that either rivaled the grandeur of a Chamonix or Zermatt or offered their own uniquely non-Alpine charm.

Ski Dubai, U.A.E.

You can always count on snow in the desert. Ski Dubai, the Middle East's first indoor ski resort (Bahrain has plans for the next), keeps its five ski runs, spanning 242,000 square feet, covered with snow all year. The slopes rise approximately 25 stories high and offer varied terrain for beginners and more seasoned desert skiers. The resort's St. Moritz Cafe keeps visitors in mind of Switzerland.

Hemsedal, Norway

If the Swiss Alps are too toasty for snow, you can find more frigid conditions farther north, in Scandinavian ski destinations such as the small Norwegian town of Hemsedal. The Hemsedal Ski Resort is home to Norway's highest groomed ski slope (at about 4,760 feet). …