Thinking of a skiing holiday this winter but need to brush up on your skills? Or maybe you are already an accomplished skier and just want to take to the slopes without having to travel abroad this year?
Either way, there is a place two hours from Brussels that is just the thing for you. SnowWorld, just over the Belgian-Dutch border, boasts what is said to be the world’s biggest indoor ski slopes.
Open 365 days a year, SnowWorld offers activities for those with various snowboarding or skiing skills. Be it a family activity or skilled hobbyist, they offer a variety of packages – from a one-week crash course (13-years and over) to advanced technique lessons.
SnowWorld was originally the brainchild of Dutch businessman Koos Hendriks, who admits that when he first came up with the idea of opening a ski slope in the Netherlands, “many people did not think it would work”.
He can now reflect on how wrong they were. Since it opened over 20 years ago, Snowworld has proved to be a big hit, not least with the many Belgians who have become regular visitors.
There are two centres, one at Zoetermeer (which, at 300 metres and newly extended, has Europe’s steepest indoor slope) and at nearby Landgraaf, both open all-year-round.
Under an enormous, cathedral-sized roof fitted with solar power lights, Landgraaf has five ski slopes with a total of eight lifts, a six-person chairlift and even a 25,000 square metre climbing wall; Europe’s biggest.
For children and beginners, there are two rather more manageable and more modest-sized slopes, 60m and 50m long and both with a gentle gradient.
Ski passes for up to eight hours are available and all equipment – even gloves (which are compulsory on the slopes) – can be hired, although you can take you own. These precautions are because the temperature at SnowWorld is maintained at a constant -5 degrees Celsius, (don’t forget to pack warm clothes when you visit!).
Given the time you are allowed to spend on the slopes, the prices are very reasonable (they are slightly cheaper if you go after 6pm) and private lessons, for people of all ages, are available costing €49.50 per hour.
But SnowWorld is more than just a ski centre, as the site also comprises a 4-star, 100- room hotel, meeting rooms, fitness and wellness facilities and an enormous outdoor fun park which is just the job to keep the kids entertained when the adults are all done on the slopes.
Having conquered the Low Countries, Hendriks wants to set up similar centres in Paris and Barcelona with the aim being the first to operate such a business on a European scale.
A branch in Milan is also part of the plans with the construction of a 300 metre-long ski hall in the Italian city expected to start this year.
Hendriks said, “It might take a while, but eventually it will pay off.”
So, if you cannot make it to a swish Alpine resort this winter, fear not – the SnowWorld experience gets you very near to the real thing.