As you enter iSkate from the glass door, you can feel the temperature drop; and the chill giving you goose bumps. And then you see Santa Claus appropriately, in the icy hall. Unveiled on the 18th of December, this one-of-its-kind ice skating rink, opened on the 6th floor of the Ambience Mall. It opened its doors to the public with a Christmas bash. Especially flown in for this grand opening was a Santa Claus from Finland. He was seen enjoying himself, taking pictures, and giving away bags full of goodies to the kids.
India’s first ice skating rink and cafe, iSkate is spread over 15,000 sq.ft. It is an all-year rink, open all days of the week, from 10 am to 10 pm. It gives you an opportunity to experience skating on real ice, that is maintained at 2 degree Celsius; and to enjoy the thrill of ice sports – like curling, ice hockey or broom ball. This new concept of entertainment has been brought in by The Bird Group, under its Birds Hospitality Services (BHS) vertical. They plan to open 10 ice skating rinks and cafes over the next five years; the second one opens in December 2012 at the Ambience Mall, Vasant Vihar.
This unique leisure spot, has 500 skates on shelf, accommodating over 200 people – both kids as well as adults. Richard Rowlands, former 7 time World Figure Skating Champion, and the Operational Manager at iSkate says, “For the first time, we have penguin aids to walk on ice, for kids below 10 years of age. For adults or amateurs, we have a team of professional coaches and trainers, to assist and teach you. If you have earlier been on roller blades, you should have no problem skating on ice. Roughly, it takes people about 15 to 20 minutes to get used to being on ice; and then you are good to go. Also, we have marshals all around the rink, who are constantly looking out for you. And the large screens situated all around the rink have do’s and dont’s and great skating tips, that will help you learn better.”
But if you are not on the ice while your friends are skating, you will definitely not be bored. There are several other entertainment options available at iSkate. The ice skating rink is surrounded by lamp seating, where you can sit back and have a clear look at the skaters, from the see-through barriers. You could also try your hand at ice curling or broom ball – which will definitely make you love the ice; or opt for a session of karaoke, at the karaoke lounge situated on the first floor. The first floor also sports a party room and an F&B corner, where you can have private parties – or throw yourself a birthday bash.
With fancy laser lights and LED lighting, the skating rink can be transformed into a disco ice skating zone. And that’s not all! In a few months, you may find yourself rolling in foam parties at the rink. This fun and unique rink also has a cafe and bar, where you can pick from an extensive menu option. Soon to be opened is also the ice cream kiosk, to complete that chilled out experience. Also, if you want to pick up a souvenir or get that professional look, iSkate has its own retail outlet – featuring its merchandise and branded gear.
“Besides the fun factor, ice skating also has health benefits. It’s a great stress reliever, and you can burn 400 to 1000 calories an hour – depending on the intensity. It also uses all the muscles of your body, and works on your core muscles. The only other sport I can compare it to, with its health benefits, is swimming”, informs Richard Rowlands.
To add to your entertainment, and to encourage ice sports, the iSkate will soon be opening the Penguin Club – where kids can learn to skate on synthetic ice, before trying the main ice rink. This will enable them to gain stability and dexterity on ice.
Ankur Batra, Executive Director, Bird Group concludes, “We are very excited to bring this unique concept to India. iSkate combines the aspects of sports, entertainment, leisure and well-being. It is a one-of-a-kind entertainment retail model in the country and through this project we wish to open avenues for people to enjoy ice sports in India – all year around. We are very confident that, in the long run, iSkate will contribute to India increasing its representation in the Winter Olympics. We are already getting a tremendous response, with many people wanting to take up ice skating and figure skating professionally. Also the Ice Hockey Federation and Ice Skating Federation of India are keen to practice on this venue. ”