Short cuts: the world’s highest civilian airport in Sichuan; ski a ‘private mountain’ in Graubünden
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Sichuan: The world’s highest civilian airport opened last week, in the remote Garzê Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, in the far west of Sichuan province. Daocheng Yading airport, at 4,411m above sea level, is the latest infrastructure project designed to promote tourism in China’s sparsely populated mountainous west. The new facility sits on an empty, windswept plain, 15km north of the hamlet of Sangduixiang. The surrounding Daocheng county, which covers 7,300 sq km, has a population of just 30,000. Nevertheless, the airport, built at a cost of $258m, has been designed to handle 280,000 passengers per year. Its runway, at 4.2km, is longer than either of those at Heathrow, and those at Beijing – a result of the high altitude that requires planes to land faster to avoid stalling. Flights to from Sichuan’s regional capital Chengdu are being operated by Air China and take just over an hour. The journey previously took two days by bus. It takes the title of highest airport from Qamdo Bamda, which opened in 1995, 330km to the west.
Graubünden: Guests at the five-star Tschuggen Grand hotel in Arosa, in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, are being offered the chance to ski a “private mountain” for one day only. The hotel has arranged for the pistes and lifts of the Arosa ski area to be opened exclusively for its guests on November 29, the day before they open to the public. Guests can access the ski area using the hotel’s own private mountain railway. Three nights half-board, including two days skiing (on November 29 and 30), costs from SFr930 (£630). The resort currently offers about 70km of pistes but this is due to rise to 225km on December 22 when a new lift opens, linking the ski area to that of neighbouring Lenzerheide. www.tschuggen.ch
Rome: The Dorchester Group, a chain of luxury hotels in Europe and the US, has announced its acquisition of the Hotel Eden, one of Rome’s most celebrated hotels. The Eden, which was built in 1834 and converted to a hotel in 1889, had been run under Starwood Hotel’s Le Méridien brand. It becomes the 10th property in the “Dorchester Collection”, joining landmark hotels including the Dorchester in London, the Plaza Athénée and Le Meurice in Paris, and the Bel-Air in Los Angeles. The Eden will now undergo a “major restoration”, though the timing and extent are yet to be decided. www.dorchestercollection.com
London: The Krazy Kanguruh, the Austrian bar where the modern concept of raucous après-ski was invented, is hosting a winter season opening party in London. Staff from the “KK”, which opened in 1965 on the mountainside above the resort of St Anton, and Kaluma Travel, a specialist tour operator in the resort, will run the event at Bodo’s Schloss, an alpine-themed bar in Kensington, on September 26. Entry free before 10.30pm; £10 thereafter. www.bodosschloss.com; www.kalumatravel.co.uk