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Holidays on ice

Some hotels have their very own skating rinks. Claire Wrathall laces up her boots

Claire Wrathall | January/February 2012

They ask you to sign quite a scary disclaimer before letting you on the ice at this guest ranch. But then it’s not a conventional rink, it’s a pond that opens—for skating and hockey—as soon as it’s frozen solid (usually in mid-December). The ranch is owned by James Manley, the founder and CEO of the boutique investment bank Atlantic Pacific Capital, who bought it as a private retreat where he could live out his childhood Wild West fantasies, and turned it into a hotel in 2010. Most guests come in summer, but this year it’s open all winter, offering skiing, snow-shoeing, sledding, sleigh rides and even horse-riding when the trails aren’t icy.
From $990 per person, all inclusive 

From early December till January 31st, the elegant interior courtyard of the super-soigné Plaza Athénée becomes an ice rink. Surrounded by a forest of frosted, fairy-lit fir trees it’s small (just 11m by 11m), but perfectly maintained by a team of ten. And because it’s accessible only to the hotel’s guests, it is rarely crowded.
Doubles from €865, room only

Built in 1706 by the Elector of Saxony for one of his 13 mistresses, this splendid Baroque palace is across the square from the opera house. It was largely destroyed when Dresden was bombed in 1945, but rebuilt as a hotel in the late 1990s. In winter, an ice rink is set up in the courtyard to coincide with the city’s vast Christmas markets. Open till 10pm, and until January 29th, it’s a magical sight after dark. Pretzels and Glühwein are available in the candle-lit log cabin beside it.
Doubles from €249, room only

High in the Upper Engadine Valley, just outside St Moritz, the venerable Suvretta House opened in 1912. The hotel’s own drag lift takes guests direct to the chairlift that goes up Corviglia mountain, where there are 80km of pistes. It caters to other winter sports too, notably curling. Skating is on the championship-standard rink in front of the hotel, with its wraparound view of snowy Alps. The professional coach is happy to work with skaters of all levels.
Doubles from SFr1,260 (£900) including breakfast 

It’s a telling detail that although “skates are provided, socks are available for sale” at this ice rink—who wears socks in Dubai? If you want to work on your lutzes and salchows, professional figure skaters are on hand as coaches. Despite its essentially urban location, the hotel also has a nine-hole pitch-and-putt golf course, three tennis courts, a 200-metre jogging track and a rooftop outdoor pool, where the water is cooled—yes, cooled—to 29-30°C in summer. It’s not the green option for ice-skating, either.
Doubles from AED670 (£116), room only