Winter holidays in the Middle East and Western Asia

Discover nearby winter destinations like Lebanon, Azerbaijan, Iran and more
By Lubna Hamdan
Tue 20 Dec 2016 03:47 PM

You don’t have to look far to find impressive winter holidays in the Middle East and Western Asia. Countries like Lebanon, Azerbaijan and Iran boast massive ski resorts and mountain terrain less crowded and more intimate than numerous other popular destinations. Below are the places we recommend:

Shemshak, Iran: Just an hour away from Tehran lies Shemshak ski resort in the Alborz mountain range. Boasting slopes as high as 10,000 feet, it is best left to advanced skiers. It has two ski lifts and tele-skis as well as lighting facilities for night skiing. We recommend you stay at the Barin Ski Resort for its proximity to the ski lifts and its unique design inspired by igloos. The all-white resort is modern but retains an intimate and cosy vibe thanks to its cave-like rooms.

Shahdag, Azerbaijan: With winter temperatures reaching as low as -20°C, Shahdag is ideal for ski fanatics. It has an extended ski season that lasts from mid-December to April and is home to the region’s largest ski resorts. Because the complex was open to the public in 2012, it's not as crowded as neighbouring resorts. If you’re planning to stay the night, we recommend the Park Chalet, Autograph Collection, featuring a spa, wellness centre, sauna and indoor pool. Its rooms are spacious yet maintain a cosy, winter-themed vibe.

Kazbegi, Georgia: Located on the northern slopes of the Caucasus range, Kazbegi is home to an 8,700-hectare national park, hot springs and carbonated lakes. The area is best known for ice climbing and mountaineering as it’s covered with 135 square kilometres of glacier. Opt for the Rooms Hotel Kazbegi if you’re looking for a modern stay. The hotel features a library, dining outlets, indoor pool, terrace and panoramic mountain views.

Kfardebian, Lebanon: Often referred to as 'Faraya', Mzaar Kfardebian is a large ski area just an hour away from Beirut. It’s equipped with several electrical lifts, 18 courses and 80 km of ski trails frequently used for winter sporting events. Though it hosts several high-end hotels, we favour the 5-star InterContinental Mzaar Lebanon Mountain Resort & Spa. Ultra-luxurious, the hotel contains ski schools and snow hire. It also has a pool, sauna, spa and six dining outlets ranging from casual to fine dining. It is less than an hour's drive from Beirut International Airport.

Bolu, Turkey: If you’re not an avid skier, head to Bolu, Turkey, a forested mountain district with some agricultural land and a small number of hotels and residential properties. The province is ideal for relaxing, intimate holidays but is also great for climbers and adventurers thanks to large rivers, lakes and land rich in wildlife. The Gazelle Resort & Spa Bolu is situated in an oak tree forest but offers luxury services such as tennis courts, gym, sauna, swimming pools and spacious rooms.

Dizin, Iran: Unlike Shemshak, Dizin draws beginner and intermediate skiers. The complex is the first sport winter resort in Iran to have been officially recognised by the International Ski Federation for its ability to host official competitions. It is also worth noting that the ski season in Dizin lasts longer than European ski resorts, starting from mid-November to mid-May, due to its high altitude. Dizin has several hotels and resorts that feature large private chalets.

Kartalkaya, Turkey: While most tourists relate to Turkey’s warm summers and beach shores, its Kartalkaya region has slowly developed into a winter holiday destination, which is especially popular among snowboarders due to its off-track slopes. The winter season sits between December and March when snow depth can reach 3 metres. Kartalkaya is located over 2,200-meters high in the Köroğlu Mountains and its surrounding area is covered with pine forests. We recommend you stay at the high-end Kaya Palazzo Ski & Mountain Resort situated near the ski slopes with panoramic mountain views available from every room.

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Last Updated: Sat 28 Jan 2017 01:28 PM GST

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