Discovering Dubai: Skiing in the Summer

Hello Dear Readers!

I’m just going to go ahead and admit now that I booked these tickets to Dubai solely on the fact that I knew Dubai was this insane city of gleaming metal and novelties, and let me tell you, it did not disappoint.

Now, Dubai may be short on the whole Arab culture thing (almost no one is actually Emirati), but what it does have is style. Lots and lots of style. Think of Dubai like a gleaming, un-trashy version of Las Vegas. Everything is huge, glittering, and gaudy, and almost everything there is built for your amusement.

Which is how we came to Ski Dubai. Surely everyone by now has heard of the mall with a ski slope built inside? I certainly had, and I made sure that I had skiing at the mall on my to-do list of UAE activities.

Shout out here to Hairless Hannah, whose advice about Dubai I stumbled across in January, and whose recommendation to use the Entertainer app saved me almost $400 between food and activities. This is her post here, if you’d like to check it out. Essentially, you buy the Entertainer app and it gives you massive quantities of buy one get one free specials, which is basically how PJ and I dictated where we ate and a lot of the things we did.

We used one such coupon for our first day at Ski Dubai, which includes a snow park as well as the ski slopes.

That’s right. We, PJ and I, bobsledded down a hill, threw snowballs at each other, rode inner tubes down a half pipe, and climbed inside an enormous rubber ball before we decided to pick up our skis and try out the slopes. I promise we are adults.

If you all recall, I’ve really only skiied once before, during a Valentine’s Day trip earlier this year. I took lessons for a day in an effort to avoid re-breaking my tailbone and ankle like I had the first time I attempted skiing. I did great! However, it had been months since that lesson, and I was feeling decidedly nervous hopping back onto skis. I think it has something to do with my tragic first time.

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Anyway, I forced PJ to go down the bunny’s bunny slope with me a few times before I finally mastered the courage to head up to the regular bunny slope.

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Also, side note here, I would just like to say that Ski Dubai is really cool. It’s got 5 different slopes, from beginner to expert, and they’ll sell you a full day lift ticket (like 9am-11pm) for 80 bucks. There’s no wind or sun, and though it’s cold, they also give you snow clothes to wear while you’re inside. The snow gets a little packed by the end of the day, but overall it’s not super busy and it’s probably one of the best/cheapest places to learn to ski.

I got my ski legs back pretty quickly, and finally felt confident enough to try out the bigger slope. There’s only one problem. The only way to get up there is via the drag lift, which is a little pole that slides between your legs and literally drags you on your skis up the mountain.

To date, I have never successfully ridden a ski lift. This now also includes the drag lift. I ate it on a corner where the lift changes pulleys (people fall so often they have someone stationed there) and was so embarrassed that I ended up trudging back down the slope. No, I couldn’t ski it. It was the black diamond slope, and I wasn’t about to attempt that immediately after beefing it on the stupid drag lift.

I returned shamefully to the smaller hill, where I immediately fell down for the first and only time of the day.

Confidence is key folks, and I know when I’m beaten. I took my skis off and went home for the day.

However! The Entertainer app had one coupon left for a BOGO full day ski slope ticket, so PJ and I decided to return for our final day in Dubai.

First, we spent the greater part of the day tanning at the pool in 110 degree weather. Then, when we were nice and overheated, we returned to the hotel room, cleaned up, checked out, and dragged our luggage back to the Mall of the Emirates (for free luggage storage) before hitting the slopes from about 5pm-8:30pm. No, it wasn’t a full day, but we had planes to catch.

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This time went much better! It took me a lot longer to get my groove back, but once I got going I started nailing the carving.

No, I didn’t try the drag lift again. I think I may be cursed.

Anyway, we had a blast and spent our last few hours in Dubai carving up the slopes before heading home.

I’ve got more stories from our trip ahead!

-Carissa “Snow Bunny” Rawson

Skiing With the Rich and Famous: A How-To Guide for the Poor (and Unemployed) Among Us

Hey guys!

Ok, so I’ve been sitting on this one for a while because I reaaally wanted to do it justice.

What is “it,” exactly?

Well, let me tell you!

It was our Valentine’s Day celebration that we celebrated in a totally planned and not-at-all last minute fashion! Ok, you caught me, it was like a week in advance and maybe I forced David to cancel all his plans. But trust me, it was worth it. So what did we do?

We went to Beaver Creek, Colorado! (It’s for skiing). More specifically, we stayed at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek and skied our tails off on Beaver Creek’s many many ski runs.

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The view from our hotel room

Now, in case many of you guys don’t know, Beaver Creek is full of rich people. I mean like, “Oh I guess I’ll just spend ten thousands dollars this week and go to Beaver Creek” rich. Way above the likes of us. Luckily, and you guys guessed it, Carissa-the-Points-Queen was here to save the day. So how did I manage this?

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Yes. I live here.

Well, the Hyatt brand happens to be a transfer partner of Chase. If you guys remember, I’ve got a few different Chase cards, which have earned me almost 200k Chase points. However, I also happen to have the Hyatt Chase card, which has a sign-up bonus of 2 free nights anywhere.

Now, I had originally planned to use those free nights at the Maldives, but a quick search showed me that I could save myself some points and swap those free nights over to the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek.

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Why? Because the Park Hyatt Maldives is only a Category 6 hotel, which costs 25,000 points/night, and the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is a Category 7, costing 30,000 points/night. So, by using my two nights at Beaver Creek, I could save myself 10,000 points over a 2 night stay. Well worth it, in my opinion.

For reference, the Park Hyatt is currently going for almost $1000/night, so this was a pretty big deal.

With the hotel taken care of, all we had to do was get there. Starting from Washington D.C., roundtrip flights were around $700/person. Ew. Too much for me.

However, after a stupidly long amount of time, I found some Southwest flights from Philly that were $180 roundtrip. And you know what flying Southwest means, right? David comes for free! (I also redeemed points for our flight) So we drove our happy butts two hours up to Philly, spent a night in Denver, then rented a car and drove the additional two hours to Beaver Creek.

Pause for a moment here. At the request of David, I need to enthusiastically tell you guys how great our rental car company was. I rented from Silvercar, which gives a 30% discount to Visa signature card holders (Chase Sapphire Preferred/ Reserve) They only rent out Audis, which is the coolest thing ever, so we cruised to Beaver Creek in style. It’s also worth noting that the cost of our Audi was $269 for the entire weekend, while a shuttle roundtrip would have cost us $349. I’ll take the leather seats, please.

Let me just say, our hotel was awesome. It was located at the bottom of the ski slopes, so you literally left the hotel and got onto the chair lift up. Super cool.

Now, if you guys happen to know me, you happen to know that I had tried skiing exactly once in my life before this. Suffice to say, it went badly. (So so badly). So I was fairly concerned about attempting to ski again. David had been before, so he was all set, but I opted for ski school. And I mean like “how do I put boots on?” ski school.

Of course I was obviously the best at it (why? I’m normally so clumsy). In fact, I was so good that my instructor had me go it alone on the ski lift. He called me athletic and sent me on my way, which meant that I immediately fell over and ate shit as soon as I tried to get off. Very encouraging.

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Look how perfect I am.

Overall the day was fantastic and made huge ski fans out of both David and I. Unfortunately, since the skiing up there is so bleeding expensive, we only managed to make it out for one day. The other day we spent wandering around Beaver Creek village (they hand out free chocolate chip cookies!) and watching a concert with Glen Morrison, who is some guy from Glee and also other famous things.

Did I mention that David opted for no ski school? He says he had a great time, but he also had a GoPro strapped to his and oh my God you guys need to see the videos of him wiping out. He promises he’s uploading them to YouTube soon so I’ll link you guys as soon as they’re up.

Otherwise, we had an amazing weekend which we could have in no way afforded without points. True, ski rentals and ski school cost us out of pocket, but a free hotel and free flights meant we could afford this awesome opportunity without breaking the bank. Totally worth it!

Carissa “Snowbunny” Rawson