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The World’s Most Unusual Ski Resorts

It’s time to take the piste less travelled.

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Already done Whistler, the Alps and Niseko? Join the club. Why not take the piste less travelled and ski in a shopping mall in the desert, down the Lord of the Ring’s Mount Doom, or on top of a Scandinavian power station?


#1 Ski Dubai, Dubai

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(Photo: Ski Dubai)

Dubai is a flat desert city ‘built on sand’ with year-round scorching heat. But they weren’t about to let those minor details get in the way of a blockbuster ski resort. Located in a shopping mall – the massive Mall of the Emirates that’s bigger than some cities – Ski Dubai is 22,000 square metres of snow-topped good times, with toboggan runs, an icy body slide, giant snowballs and the world’s first indoor black run. Warm clothes and ski equipment are included in the price of admission (because what native Emirati actually owns a sweater?) But the best bit is the penguins, which get periods of free-time to roam around the resort with you. How, er, authentic.


#2 Mauna Kea, Big Island Hawaii

If you’re a traveller of the indecisive ilk, we feel ya. To sun yourself on sandy shores or ski down towering mountains? Well, in the immortal words of the Taco Girl, why not have both? In Hawaii a whopping 9700 metre-high snow-topped volcano sees people make their surfboards work double duty, skiing down its sizeable snowfall between December and February. There’s no lifts, maps, nor facilities, but it doesn’t stop intrepid skiers heading up in 4×4, skis or beach boards in tow. For astronomy buffs, the mountain is also home to the largest observatory in the world, with 13 telescopes studded across its summit. For everyone else, there’s always pina coladas on the beach!


#3 Ski Pucon, Villarica, Chile

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(Photo: Ski Pucon)

Consider yourself a bit of a daredevil? Head to this active volcano, that spits out lava and heavy smoke without a minute’s warning. Located in Chile’s Lake District, the ski area has a modest 17 runs with differing levels of difficulty, but the best terrain is off-piste, with wind lips and half pipes. After you’ve earned the bragging rights of skiing down a volcano, you can keep your heart racing with sweaty sexy Latin dancing at Salsa Pucon.


#4 Vrisopoules, Mount Olympus, Greece

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(Photo: Greece.com)

Up on Mount Olympus, the 12 Olympian Gods toyed with us mere mortals. But now we can play Zeus too, with a resort on Greece’s loftiest – and most remote – peak. After getting permission from an officer, skiers should trudge up to Vrisopoules, a ski area operated by the Greek military that has slopes ranging in altitude from 1000 to 2400m. And hey, it doesn’t matter if your body skews more dad bod than Greek God – that’s what ski layers are for!


#5 Mzaar, Lebanon

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(Photo: Akhawiyat.org)

Love it when summer and winter intersect? Get thee to Mzaar in Lebanon, a ski resort an hour out of Beirut that stages bikini runway shows in sub-zero temperatures. The babes are part of a bid to attract tourists in the quieter seasons – and reportedly, it’s paid off. Other reasons to head to Mzaar is the excellent facilities, 42 slopes, and seriously wild apres ski at the nearby clubs.


#6 Roc de La Peche, Pralognan, France

The Alps? Snore. Hang on, not if it’s Roc De La Peche, AKA the most remote resort on the Alps. Right next to the gorgeous Vanoise national park, this hut is only accessible by a snowshoe from Pralognan or ski tour from the neighbouring resort Val Thorens. Any misgivings you have about its isolation will be instantly forgotten upon glimpsing the outdoor heated jacuzzi. Bliss.


#7 Oukaïmden, Morocco

This tiny ski resort up in the Atlas Mountains has five runs – mostly icy and steep that beginners should avoid – but the slopes themselves have nothing to do with its place on this list. Nope, that wold be the fact that you can hitch up the 3000-metre-plus slopes by donkey. Bonus points for the locals selling bags of walnuts and jewellery at the slopes’ feet.


#8 Mount Ngauruhoe, New Zealand

Remember that menacing volcano in Lord of The Rings where Frodo finally defeated Gollum? Turns out the perfectly symmetrical cone of Mount Doom wasn’t just the result of some seriously expensive special effects – director Peter Jackson filmed many of the scenes atop the New Zealand volcano Mount Ngauruhoe, which has killer steep slopes for skiers in the winter. Although its real name isn’t quite as forbidding, the fact that it erupted 45 times in the 20th century sure is. Apres ski activities including hunting for Gollum’s corpse in the chasms. Or, you know, seeing a dubstep gig at the close by Schnapps Bar.


#9 Copenhagen, Denmark

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Who but the stylish Danes could mesh a power station, a heap of garbage and a ski resort, and actually make it look cool? A Copenhagen power plant slated to open in late 2016 will convert the city’s waste to energy, and, somewhat randomly, be the landing ground for a 2.7 acre ski resort, open for year-round use. Mark it in your diaries.

When you look at the world differently, opportunities open up. We’ve partnered with 5 Seeds Cider to offer fresh perspectives and out of the ordinary stories on travel.