Have you ever heard about that über-fancy ski resort in North Korea? Yes, you read correctly—the secretive and poverty-stricken country opened a multi-million dollar luxury ski resort in 2013, despite the fact that the population of skiers in North Korea is around .02 percent.
North Korea’s Masik Pass ski resort joins a slew of other unusual-yet-luxurious travel destinations around the globe. From a five-star underwater resort in Fiji to an indoor man-made beach in Japan, here are 8 of the most surprising.
The first indoor ski resort in the Middle East comes complete with five runs, a ski lift and three football fields worth of real snow year-round. It’s also home to the largest indoor snow park for kids, themed restaurants like the St. Moritz Café and, most impressively, snow penguins, who entertain during their daily ‘March of the Penguins’ performance.
The Zhang Laffitte Chateau Hotel
Chinese real-estate developer Zhang Yuchen was so taken with Château de Maisons-Laffitte, a Paris landmark, he decided to build one for himself. The $50 million hotel and seminar center is an exact replica of the one in Paris, built using the manor’s original blueprints and 10,000 photos of the property.
Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa
Guests at Anantara Dubai are transported from the Middle East to Thailand in a matter of minutes. The luxury hotel features 293 Thai-style rooms and villas. Longboats float through lagoons on the property and serve tropical beverages, while three-wheeler tuk-tuks transport guests around the resort.
A Chinese real estate development company recreated Austria’s Hallstatt village, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, in Southeast China. The city features high-end residential housing, an evangelical church and an exact replica of Hallstatt Lake.
San Alfonso del Mar
San Alfonso del Mar resort in Algarrobo, Chile is home to a 3,324-foot long lagoon, dubbed “the world’s largest pool” according to the Guinness World Records. Its location? Just steps from the Pacific Ocean. The pool is frequented by kayaks, sailboats and scuba divers.
Located 40 feet underwater, the property (which has yet to open) has everything you’d expect from a five-star resort: 25 suites, a spa, gym, dive shop, two fine dining establishments and even a conference room that doubles as a wedding chapel.
Seagaia Ocean Dome
It’s summer all year long in Miyazaki, Japan, thanks to Seagaia’s Ocean Dome. The world’s largest indoor beach contains artificial sand, palm trees and 13,500 tons of salt-free water. It can accommodate 10,000 tourists at once.
Tokyo Station Hotel
The luxe 150-room hotel, which reopened in October 2012, is located in a 1914 red brick train station that remarkably survived World War II firebombing and a deadly earthquake in 1923. Besides its red-brick exterior, the hotel’s a stand-out for being three stories high in a city of skyscrapers and modern architecture.