I went to Shymbulak hopeful to enjoy some good skiing, I was so disappointed. Here is a list of my experiences shorted to bullet points;
-resort ski rental equipment is out-dated and damaged
-check all equipment before renting as you will be charged if it breaks (most skis have been snapped and repaired, some even have screws in them)
-I rejected 5 pairs of skis before finally settling on a terrible pair and they were two different skis grouped together as a pair
-rental staff are terrible and extremely rude and not interested to help you
-rental system is confusing and disorganised
-no touring or off-piste skis available
-locker facility is great; you will need it
-rental and ski pass is cheap
-2 chairs open in 3rd week in Feb! After skiing from top to bottom over and over and over again it became boring
-despite lack of runs to ski there was a nice run reserved for race training, which is fair enough as the resort was very quiet mid-week.
r />-resort restaurants are very good. I tried many and the food was good in all of them
-resort toilets facilities are very clean but don’t try using the bathrooms in Medeo. They are down 4 (could be more) flights of concrete stairs hidden in a car park. Then there are only 2 dirty cubicles! If you can hold it for 40 minutes best wait till you get off the gondola.
-taxis, taxis, taxis……… OMG! Basically there aren’t any. You finish your days skiing then look for a taxi back to Almaty. No. If you are lucky you will find one, if not you need to wait in the cold, take the bus, or pay someone to take you back who is there with a car, I also tried calling my hotel to ask them to arrange a ‘city’ car. They did but it picked up someone else. Basically, no transport infrastructure in place other than the bus.
In short; I liked Shymbulak a lot and it has real potential as a ski destination for UAE residents alike when it offers a superior service and product. Damaged equipment, a lack of organisation, friendly staff and no way to get home are all deal breakers for me. I won’t go back unless it’s a private ski tour or climb which doesn’t require Shymbulak’s services.
Contrary to Shymbulak, the surrounding areas are fantastic for climbers. So much to offer. And, Almaty itself is a great city. I will be returning later this year; just a shame I won’t be skiing.