The Emily Resort in western Ukraine.
The Emily Resort in western Ukraine boasts year-round skiing. (Photo: Emily Resort/Facebook)

Ukraine Just Opened a Year-Round Ski Resort

The plastic ski surface at Emily Resort in western Ukraine allows skiers to slide downhill even when there’s no snow

The Emily Resort in western Ukraine.
Evie Carrick

from Ski

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Russia’s military invasion has put the once-quiet country of Ukraine in the international spotlight. But even in the midst of upheaval, Ukrainians are finding hope for the future. Last week, a company in the western city of Lviv, near the country’s border with Poland, opened a new year-round ski resort that claims to be the largest of its kind. 

The ski area, which is part of the Emily Resort—a soaring hotel, restaurant, and health getaway—is turning heads for its ability to operate 365 days a year—outside—with or without snow. The year-round operation is thanks to an artificial ski surface from Skitrax World, a German company that specializes in what it calls “dry slope technologies.” Their textured plastic mats, which are installed down the mountain slopes, mimic the feel of snow-covered trails.

Ukraine summer ski
The artificial slopes are skiable in the summer and hold snow in the winter. The red lion at the top of the lift is the mascot of Ukrainian soccer club RUKH, whose owner is also the financier of the ski and hotel complex. Photo: Courtesy of Emily Resort

Come winter, the low-elevation resort has snowmaking operations, and the mats are designed to hold both natural and manmade snow. The slopes are aimed toward beginners, with two 1,500-foot runs and an 800-foot-long, six-lane tubing track, all served by a chairlift. There’s also a ski school, rentals, and a ski-in/ski-out restaurant. 

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While there are over 50 dry-surface ski areas across Europe, only a few U.S. resorts offer dry-surface skiing in the summer. Among the short list of areas is Buck Hill, Minn., and Liberty Mountain in Virginia. Buck Hill uses artificial Neveplast, known for its grippy texture that replicates groomed snow, while Liberty’s surface is made from SnowFlex, a multi-layer polymer composite. A Chicago-area developer just announced plans to build a new SnowFlex complex on a 94-acre property outside of the city.

The brand-new lakefront hotel has 166 rooms and an expansive spa and sauna with several swimming pools and beaches. The hotel is flanked by an amphitheater, a medical therapy center, a soccer academy, and a manmade island with a series of pools and outdoor spaces—including private fireside seating set in pods in the water.

While Ukraine may not be a skiing hotspot—yet—the ski scene does include some 50 ski areas, primarily small traditional resorts in the country’s Carpathian Mountains. The hope is that beginner-centric offerings like this one will help grow the sport in the future.

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Lead Photo: Emily Resort/Facebook