Living in the Middle East means you’re blessed with almost perma-sunshine - rain, clouds and cold weather almost cherished elements due to their scarcity. And while living in a place where daily blue skies are immediate mood-enhancers, every so often even the most die-hard warm weather worshippers crave something cool, longing to swap sun for snow, beachwear for winter warmers, and hot weather for hot chocolate.
In Dubai, there’s one hotel that delivers the seemingly impossible - a winter experience in the middle of the desert. Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates is where sun meets snow, its central city location also positioning it overlooking Ski Dubai’s powdery white indoor slopes. Home to 388 rooms and suites, it’s the hotel’s 20 Aspen Ski Chalets that bring something wildly unique to the Middle East.
Varying in size from a one-bedroom to an impressive three-bedroom Aspen Ski Chalet, the Duplex Aspen Ski Chalet feels all the more intimate for its split-level use. Downstairs you can soak up the alpine ambience around the long oak table in the dining room or curl up in the living room in front of the stone faux fireplace as it crackles a soundtrack to the zig-zagging skiers beyond the window. Upstairs, the free-standing bathtub brings all the cosy feels to life, with a fluffy faux fur blanket beckoning from the King bed.
For me, on a rare night away from demanding children and pets, the One Bedroom Aspen Ski Chalet becomes my cosy abode. My butler Rami promises no request is too big or too small, whilst imparting the most important piece of information I never realised I needed to know... That the floor-to-ceiling bedroom window, that looks over Ski Dubai, is ‘two-way’ glass. So while I peep out over the piste, be prepared that the skiers could well be staring right back!
The vibe of the suite takes me away to some far-flung ski resort in Alberta or Gstaad, its dark mahogany woods like a warm hug, its low-raftered ceiling simulating a ski lodge, all softly lit by a decorative ‘antler’ light fixture suspended over the dining table.
The white-slope view is visible as soon as you open the door, the chalet segueing from entrance way past the bathroom, into the dining room and down two steps into the bedroom. The pre-arrival questionnaire I’m sent by Kempinski’s ‘Lady in Red’ means my chosen pillow is fluffed and waiting at the end of a very well-made bed, crisp white linens contrasting against the brown leather chairs and ottoman. In fact, there’s leather everywhere you look, from bedside tables to door handles on the kitchen cabinets. There’s also a cream leather chaise lounge positioned next to the floor-to-ceiling window, strewn with a cashmere throw, allowing me to steal a few moments, steaming cup of coffee in hand, to watch the alpine pursuits unfold. While there’s Rami and room-service for anything I may need, the mini-bar is plentiful, as is the snack shelf which is filled with salted pistachios, pretzels, gummy bears and M&Ms - the latter of which I’m allowed to enjoy in peace for once, without the light-fingered intrusion of my offspring.
More alpine accents pop up in the themes of books on display - soups, winter recipes and a ski season cookbook; the snowflake ‘papercutting’ artwork; and the ‘sun and snowflake’ emblem stitched onto the butter-soft dressing gown in the marble-clad bathroom. But the real scene-stealer is the fire and its over-size stone chimney place. While it might be electric and therefore lack the ‘heat’ factor, it flickers and crackles so realistically I later drift off to sleep dreaming of campfires and S’mores.
The Aspen Ski Chalets have their own entrance too, a chic space of white textured walls that feels like you’re strolling through a snow cave on the way to your room, the corridors lined with pictures of frost-tipped flowers and dancing icicles. When it’s time to leave your winter wonderland and venture back into the hotel, snow makes way for summer once more, the hotel filled with sun-kissed vacationers and staycationers.
One of the many strings to the hotel’s bow is its attachment to Mall of the Emirates, meaning the city’s best boutiques, activities and entertainment are in fingertip reach, from Chanel and Dior to Dreamscape VR and Vox Cinemas. But when it comes to dining in style, your best bet is to stay put in Kempinski. Enjoy afternoon tea in the elegance of Aspen by Kempinski; let Salero Tapas & Bodega take you to Spain over tapas, Sangria and paella; or for a contemporary taste of the Levant, sit outside at Olea (if the weather allows) and tuck into mezze, shawarma and kunafa.
Just before you wind your way back to your chalet, pop into SensAsia Stories Spa for a Blissfully Unaware treatment to prep yourself for bed. Then put the kettle on, grab that blanket, crank up the fire and settle in for what promises to be a truly unique, snow-filled sleep in the city.
WHAT: One-Bedroom Aspen Ski Chalet
WHERE: Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates, Dubai
TEL: +971 4 341 0000