BERLIN'S SURPRISING TROPICAL RETREAT
BERLIN hardly springs to mind when talk turns to tropical escapes, but pleasure-seekers in their thousands flock daily to the Tropical Islands Resort that's 60km south of the city to revel on its sands, swim its waters, bask in 26 degrees warmth, and walk its dense rainforest.
And they do so even in winter, when around them there's snow as far as the eye can see…
For this amazing Resort has been created inside one of the largest buildings on earth, a monstrous 360 metres long, 210 metres wide and 107 metres high, and originally built seventeen years ago to house the huge CL160 CargoLifter airship. But CargoLifter went bankrupt before a single airship saw its interior, and the hangar was abandoned.
Then in 2003 Malaysian entrepreneur Colin Au bought the hangar for Euro17.5m (AU$26m,) and inside created a "tropical sea" covering 4,400 sq metres and a "Bali lagoon" of 1,200 sq metres for swimming, with vast sandy beaches alongside both, several other swimming pools, plus fountains, whirlpools and waterslides.
He also added the world's biggest indoor rainforest with 50,000 trees and plants, a novelty golf course, and a stage for evening entertainment, and let loose flamingos, quail, pheasants and other birds to stride and fly the resort, and turtles and fish to live in its waters.
And finally a dozen bars and restaurants offering Asian, European and American fare, accommodation blocks for overnight stays or longer, shops and boutiques, and Europe's largest tropical sauna and spa complex, many housed in structures replicating the architectures of Thailand, Borneo, Bali and Samoa.
Tropical Islands Resort is open 24/7 and can cater for up to 6,000 visitors a day. For details including entry fees, additional optional costs inside, and overnight accommodation, go to www.tropical-islands.de
 TROPICAL Islands Resort has beaches and bars, spas and shops, a rainforest and guest accommodation, all housed in this vast hangar from a failed one-time airship venture near Berlin. (Pic: Tropical Islands Resort)
 WHILE guests frolic in the "tropics" inside, it could be snowing outside. The vehicles outside give an idea of just how vast is this building. (Pic: Tropical Islands Resort)