Interview with Kees Albers

The mind behind the great business of indoor snow parks

 

Unlimited Snow is the first company that provides all services for indoor snow parks and ice experiences.

Every step of the way, from planning to actual fulfillment, Unlimited Snow proved to be a real one-stop shop for anything concerning snow and ice. Besides being a great mind, Kees Albers – Founder, Chairman, and former CEO of Unlimited Snow – is also a phenomenal ski instructor, freestyle ski athlete and coach at the Olympic Winter Games. He founded Unlimited Snow back in 1995 and since then, the company has been providing snowy environments for any country, and it really doesn’t matter if it’s a tropical one or not.

We have reached out to Kees and asked him a few questions regarding his work and the partnership with Red Raion for his Miko and the Spell of the Stone, the immersive custom-made movie around his snow marmots’ IP.

 

What made you think of establishing such a company as Unlimited Snow?

I founded my first company in 1976 and became the largest jeans production supplier in the country. Around 1990 I thought it was time for a change.

As a hobby, I was involved with winter sports most of my life as freestyle skier, trainer, coach, technical delegate, organiser, founder of freestyle skiing and snowboarding in the Netherlands, member of the Dutch Ski Federation Council, president of the European freestyle association, 15 years representative in the International Ski Federation including the Olympic lobby for freestyle skiing, etc. This all meant that making winter sports my career focus was the most obvious choice. So, I started to get into sponsoring, TV production of winter events and writing marketing plans for ski resorts.

In 1995 it became possible to produce snow at any temperature and I produced snow for events and the first indoor ski dome in Europe the same year. This seemed to be an interesting niche market so Unlimited Snow was established and it gradually evolved from making snow to become the only one-stop-shop for indoor snow & ice parks in the world including architectural, engineering, theming, attractions, technical installations, operations and franchise. With the parent company Unlimited Leisure we now have a wide range of brands including TapeMyDay, TheExperienceTicket.com, HollandWorld and Unlimited Experience Development (full service for snow parks) as a total solution for the leisure market.

 

What makes you the perfect company to provide snow solutions in countries where snow is not even contemplated?

Like in countries with a cold climate creating indoor water parks, countries in warm climates are also looking for what is not naturally available: snow experiences. Our typical kind of clients want something out of the ordinary, something new and specifically designed for their location and target groups and that is what we are known for. Also, they appreciate the full-service package, whereby they do not need to be bothered by some 50 different consultants and suppliers, but have Unlimited Snow take care of it all as to give them total peace of mind.

 

What’s the request for snow parks in the industry of fun?

There are a few important factors, such as the right size and content for any particular location to have an optimal return on investment. Most importantly, there are 4 aspects that one cannot do without (not only for indoor snow parks):

  • Visitor friendly operations from start to finish
  • Creating a WOW factor like beaming the visitors in a truly different themed world
  • A sufficient variety of fun attractions to generate repeat visitors
  • Making sure of an in all aspects safe environment

We presently experience a steadily growing demand from all parts of the world, ranging from huge facilities in highly populated areas in China to more compact snow parks in other parts of the world.

 

What made you target the Middle-Eastern market?

We are basically active around the world and the most constant demand comes from mixed use projects in the Middle-East, China and other countries where snow is an exotic commodity. At first, we thought theme parks were our main target market, but it actually proved to be mall developers that were looking for additional leisure and entertainment to drive visitors to their malls. During the early days the focus was on indoor skiing as a sportive activity, while nowadays amusement related indoor snow parks or a mixture of both have become more popular. For this reason, we have added some 60+ possible snow & ice attractions to choose from over the years.

 

What’s the story behind your marmots’ IP?

We were first looking for external IP and actually had an agreement for using the “Ice Age” IP, which we were quite excited about. When the new management at the IP provider did not want to pursue this any longer, we decided to create our own IP and possibly one of the best decisions we have ever made. Considering most clients want to have an Alpine themed environment we were looking for a fun Alpine related character and found the Alpine marmots to be most enchanting. In the meantime, we have further developed these characters and their other animal friends, had a fun 3D animation story and film produced by Red Raion. Then we developed a story-based attraction, dedicated music, apps, games, merchandising and so on. We are now ready to also offer our clients a complete snow park related IP package on a franchise basis.

 

How was working with Red Raion during the production process of Miko and The Spell of the Stone, your first CGI movie based on your IP? What do you think about your first movie?

Working with Red Raion went very smoothly. They had great ideas for a story and were very much willing to accommodate our input. The final result being that anyone that has so far seen it is equally excited about it.

 

 

After the first movie around Miko, what do you think the future holds for our little marmot friend?

Continuing to develop more marmot’s attractions including AR and VR. Our highly ambitious aim is to build the brand with Miko and friends becoming increasingly popular and pleasing kids of all ages around the world. Eventually also leading to full feature length films in the footsteps of Ice Age, Happy Feet and Frozen. A bit the other way around as the major animation film producers. The marmot’s adventures are just as much fun.

There is a lot of work ahead!

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