Malaysia has everything except, well, real snow. It’s something that elicits a sense of wonder and fascination for those of us who live in a hot tropical climate. But with travel becoming increasingly accessible, winter wonderland is just a hop-on-a-plane away. In fact, more travellers from the region are making the trip towards colder terrain.
The Club Med Asia Pacific Snow Holiday Report revealed that in the last three years, an estimated 238 million travellers in the region had gone on a snow holiday. This trend extends to Malaysia as well, where it’s revealed that Malaysian women not only dominated interest in snow holidays relative to men – they also ranked first among other Asian Pacific women.
What could possibly spur this growing interest of snow holidays among Malaysians? Club Med country director (Malaysia & Singapore) Vijay Sharma says it all lies in the pursuit of fitness.
“The whole concept of fitness is becoming more normal for Malaysians. A snow holiday is something that has been popular with Malaysians for many years. But now a snow holiday is not just about feeling the snow, it’s also about trying new sports,” he says during a recent interview in Petaling Jaya.
The sports alluded to here are skiing and snowboarding. It helps that the recent 2018 Winter Olympics was held in Pyeongchang, South Korea. The next one is taking place in 2022 in Beijing, China.
Preparation is key
With the quadrennial sporting event happening back-to-back in the region, Club Med is banking on the growth of winter sports to further drive interest in snow holidays.
In Malaysia, the company recently partnered with First Traxx, a homegrown indoor ski and snowboard training facility. The collaboration will allow guests to partake in basic ski training before embarking on their snow holiday.
Vijay says some prior training will allow travellers to “embark on a snow adventure with a peace of mind”. First Traxx founder Rezza Hassan agrees, saying that some basic preparation is crucial.
“It’s better to have some idea of what the sport is about, instead of wasting time trying to pick it up when you’re at the destination,” he offers.
For the uninitiated snow holidaygoer, Rezza recommends doing some core exercises as well as clocking in about six to 10 hours of training to master the basics of skiing and snowboarding.
“Malaysians might not have the natural aptitude for snow sports compared to those who grew up in a country with snow like Japan. It’s always good to get some kind of bearing,” he says, adding that the general trend in the past year is that more people are signing up for lessons.
Fun in the snow
While winter sports may be all the rage, it’s only part of the reason why snow holidays are increasing in popularity among Malaysians.
The other top reasons cited in the report are the pursuit of food and other outdoor snow activities as well as to spend quality family time.
Another interesting find from the study reveals that millennials are leading the growth of snow holidays in the region. The average age of a snow holidaymaker in Malaysia is 34.
Vijay says the market is getting younger, spurred by a growing spending power.
“We see a lot of millennials who are now making travel decisions. Typically you see double income couples who are travelling a lot because they have the right disposable income,” he explains. However, Vijay stresses that the core market of 40- to 50-year-old travellers are still the key decision makers.
Regardless of your age, Vijay says it’s important to plan carefully for the kind of holiday you want.
“Do you want to just be in the snow or do you want to try a lot of activities? Do you want a lot of excursion or to just relax? Those are things you should weigh in on,” he offers. Malaysians tend to opt for ski destinations in neighbouring countries for snow vacations, with Japan emerging a top choice followed by South Korea. But the shorter distance should not translate to a quick getaway, says Vijay.
He says holidaygoers should also take their time during the trip. A snow holiday should last at least five to six nights.
“A quick trip to a snow holiday is not really worth it. It’s not the cheapest holiday, so it’s better to give yourself more time to enjoy and experience the snow,” he concludes.