Anyone familiar with the UK's swelling ranks of indoor ski slopes knows that they can be far from atmospheric - more akin to sliding around a refrigerated aircraft hangar than cruising through mountains. It's a problem that owners of the £31 million Chill Factore, the UK's longest real-snow indoor ski slope, have been determined to address.
Real snowflakes are produced here every night (using a mix of compressed air and water), thus ensuring a crisp covering of around 16 tonnes of fresh snow on the slopes each morning.
It may be just across from the Trafford Centre, but the ambience of the place has been as carefully controlled as the climate, with a series of themed 'mountain village' restaurants lining the centre's Alpine Street, although the range on offer - JD Wetherspoon's, Costa Coffee, Nando's - are really only as alpine as their wood-panelled decor. Shops fare better: Snow+Rock, the North Face and Quicksilver are all credible snow-brands.
But it's the facilities here that will impress the most: as well as all that snow, the main slope, coming in at a 15-degree rake and 180 metres long, is suitable for experienced skiers (it's equivalent to an outdoor red run), while a 40-metre nursery slope, 60-metre luge and supervised snow-play crèche, not to mention a packed programme of ski and snowboard lessons, will help any would-be skier improve their runs.
The cost of maintaining this sub-zero installation means that hour-by-hour skiing is priced higher than even the priciest of Alpine paradises at roughly £25 per two-hour session. But, of course, it saves you the price of a flight - and the environmental impact.
And though snow-making is never going to be green, Chill Factore is at least trying to be responsible, using environmentally sound refrigerant, plus renewable energy sources.
Pre-booking, particularly at evenings and weekends, is recommended.