London Zoo Sleep with Lion

Room in a Zoo + World Ski Awards 2015

Fancy a room with a zoo? London Zoo began taking bookings December 3 for a new safari lodge it is building in the lion enclosure to allow visitors to get a taste of exotic holidays in the center of the capital. The “room with a zoo” is located in the Land of the Lions exhibit, which will be home to a breeding group of endangered Asiatic lions when it opens next year. An overnight stay costs between £ 378 (Euro 525,00) and £ 558 (Euro 775,00) for two people, including a drink and two-course dinner, breakfast, an overnight stay in a lodge and a tour before the zoo opens.

Emma Taylor, head of product development at the zoo, said in a statement that it would be “a fantastic experience unlike any other, sleeping near to our magnificent Asiatic lions”. Visitors will stay at the Gir Lion Lodge, a collection of nine wooden cabins “within roaring distance” inside the enclosure and surrounded by protective fence. The accommodation design is inspired by guest houses close to the lions’ native habitat in the Gir Forest, a protected area of western India which is a safari destination and the only place where Asiatic lions remain in the wild.

Asiatic lions, which are smaller than African lions, were hunted to the brink of extinction before their population recovered to number about 500 in the wild. London Zoo hopes that its lion exhibit will help its conservation efforts in India, where it plans to help patrolling efforts, train local staff and educate local communities.

In the meantime the winter season is coming and the Austrian ski resort Kitzbuehel has dethroned France’s Val Thorens to be named the World’s Best Ski Resort 2015. At the third annual World Ski Awards, the host of the ceremony was given the coveted title on November 20-22th at a gala event that aims to highlight the best in the industry. Located 95 km from Innsbruck, Kitzbuehel boasts a 120-year-old skiing tradition and features 170 km of slopes including the Streif, one of the most famous and challenging downhill ski race tracks for its high-speed jumps, steep slopes, curves, compressions and bumps.

The ski area also features 50 gondolas and lifts, 120 km of cross country ski trails, and 155 days of guaranteed snow from December through to April. Visitors can choose between rustic Tyrolean guesthouses, or five-starred hotels in town. Likewise, medieval streets are dotted with international designer boutiques for the well-heeled. Meanwhile, Utah’s only Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five-Diamond hotel, the Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley took home the title of World’s Best Ski Hotel this year, a ski hotel styled after European winter getaways.

Named after Norwegian Olympic Gold Medal skier Stein Eriksen, the lodge mixes Nordic elements with contemporary American esthetics within its 180 rooms or suites and features 145 stone fireplaces and cathedral ceilings. The World Ski Awards are an offshoot of the World Travel Awards which has been described as the Oscars of the travel world. Winners are determined by votes cast by key players in the ski industry (executives, travel buyers, tour operators, agents and media) as well as ski tourism consumers. Kitzbuehel managed to knock France’s Val Thorens from the top spot which it had held onto for the first two years. 

Here are the major winners of the World Ski Awards 2015:

World’s Best Ski Resort 2015: Kitzbuehel, Austria
World’s Best Ski Hotel: Stein Eriksen Lodge Deer Valley, USA
World’s Best New Ski Hotel: Nira Montana
World’s Best Ski Boutique Hotel: The Vale Niseko, Japan
World’s Best Ski Chalet: Bighorn, Revelstoke, Canada
World’s Best New Ski Chalet: Sirocco, Switzerland

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