Thailand’s Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi, whose brewing empire helped him build a $10.6 billion fortune, is reportedly pursuing a far more whimsical venture. The country’s third-richest man wants to build an indoor snow park in steamy Bangkok.
The 54,000-square foot “snow town” will cost around $32 million, according to Thai news outlet Khaosod. And as ambitious as it is to create a slice of Switzerland in a city where the temperature rarely drops below 70 degrees Fahrenheit, getting to the icy enclave is every bit as bold.
The facility will be accessible via a cable car spanning Bangkok’s Chao Phraya river from the Asiatique outdoor shopping mall, a development also owned by Charoen that opened last year. The proposed cable car system—modeled on one that stretches across the Thames in London— would be more than 100 feet tall, nearly a half mile long, and supported by foundations anchored in the Chao Phraya, a waterway that sees substantial boat traffic and often floods surrounding areas.
The snow park is reminiscent of Ski Dubai, the park inside an Emirati shopping mall that opened in 2005. That facility not only offers skiing, snowboarding, and sledding facilities, but also houses penguins. Should Charoen’s project come to fruition—he is currently in talks with investors—Bangkok’s alpine escape will open next year.
Maintaining a ski slope in Bangkok won’t be kind on the municipal electricity supply. A report earlier this month from the International Energy Agency noted that Thailand’s electricity demand is on course to double by 2030. With few domestic energy resources, the country’s power needs will be met by costly fossil fuel imports and, especially, a ramping up of coal-fired plants. To lessen the potential impact on pollution and utility bills, the agency recommends that the government renew its commitment to boosting energy efficiency, which comes at an awkward time for Charoen’s power-hungry winter wonderland.