Where to find fun for the whole family this winter
Family friendly resorts have come a long way. Many Japanese resorts now have designated areas for children, day care service, family lifts and ski courses, kids’ ski and snowboard lessons, outdoor winter education programs and events and festivals guaranteed to make a magical winter vacation.
Parents can either join in the fun with the kids or leave them in trusted hands, free to go off and explore the mountains. OJ takes a look at some of the resorts that have gone out of their way to create great family snow zones.
While mom and dad are experiencing Niseko’s famed powder, the kids can enjoy tube rides and play in oversized outdoor toys at Niseko Annupuri’s “Kids Land.” The resort has a kids ski school and there are daily winter activities such as making igloos and snow lanterns, snow shoe and nature tours with guides at Niseko Outdoor Center.
Kids Land: December 2008 – April 2009: 9:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Kids Room (3 years – elementary school): December 2008 – March 2009: 9 a.m. – noon and 1:30 – 4:30 p.m., 1-day: ¥3,500. (Reservations must be made by 6 p.m. the previous day.) Tel (0136) 58-3311
Niseko Outdoor Center: Tel: (0136) 44-1133. Web: www.noc-hokkaido.jp
Tel: (0136) 58-2080, Web: www.cks.chuo-bus.co.jp/annupuri/winter
Access: By train, 120 minutes from Sapporo Station. to JR Niseko Station, then shuttle bus direct to Niseko Annupuri. By bus: Buses go direct to Annupuri from Sapporo Station. and New Chitose Airport. By car: Approximately two hours from Sapporo and New Chitose Airport.
Club Med Sahoro
With the slopes at your doorstep, indoor pool and onsen, restaurants, Japanese and western-style accommodation, and an abundance of supervised kids areas and activities, Club Med Sahoro guarantees you and the kids will be pampered this winter.
Skiing for Children: Club Med provides a safe learning environment to young skiers. Drop off your kids as total beginners and after a full day of supervision, they’ll be flying down the mountain. Junior Club for ages 11-13; Mini Club for ages 4-11 and Petite Club for ages 2-3.
Transportation Packages: For easy access, why not purchase one of Club Med’s great transportation packages, which include return flights and all transfers. Check their Website for details.
CLUB MED SAHORO
Tel: (0156) 64 6667, Web: www.clubmed.com
Access: By train: 94 minutes from New Chitose Airport. By bus: 15 minutes from Shintoku Station (reservation required). By car: three and a half hours from Sapporo.
Tomamu Alpha Resort
Tomamu Alpha Resort is not just a ski resort with courses geared for all ages and abilities; it’s also a family winter wonderland. Family Park, Kids Park, snow rafting area, spa house and a world class ice village are just some of the amazing temptations at Tomamu.
Ice Village: Live out your illuminated dream at Tomamu’s Ice Village. Mom and dad will enjoy the Ice Bar and Ice Hotel. Get crafty with the kids and make your own ice glasses at the Ice Café.
Viz Spa House: Not a snow lover? No problem. Play in the surf in Tomamu’s wave pool, enjoy a luxurious open air hot bath, let the kids splash around in the kids pool and enjoy “Aqua” buffet style dining with the whole family.
TOMAMU ALPHA RESORT
Tel: (0167) 58-1111, Web: www.snowtomamu.jp
Access: By train, catch the special JR “Tomamu Sahoro Ski Express,” the stress free way to get to Tomamu. See Web for details. By car: Approximately two hours from Sapporo or New Chitose Airport.
Appi Kogen Resort
Tohoku’s Appi Kogen is a great family resort with long, open runs, a nice selection of restaurants and on-site hotel. The kids can enjoy daily events and activities, snow education programs, the kids ski school, a kids room, and even a “Kids Ski Day” once a month.
Kids and Family Land: Kids up to elementary school must be accompanied by a guardian. Dec. 20 – Mar. 29, 9:30 a.m. – noon and 1 – 4 p.m.; One-day: ¥800 (3 years and older); Snowmobile Ride: ¥320.
Snow Bunny Kindergarten: Kids (3-6 years) can experience outdoor snow education with experienced counsellors. Dec. 20 – Mar. 29, 10 a.m. – noon and 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. One-day: ¥4,500 (Reservations required by 5 p.m. the previous day).
Kids Almost Everyday Theatre: Appi’s kid’s theatre is free for all. Dec. 20 – Mar. 29, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Kids Room: Dec. 20 – Mar. 29 (Appi Plaza 2F). Dec. 20 – Mar. 29, 1-10 years-old. One-day: ¥3,700 (Reservations start from Nov. 29).
Kids Ski Day: From December to March, every third Sunday of the month is Appi Ski Kids Day. Eight-hour lift tickets are half price for elementary and junior high students.
APPI KOGEN RESORT
Tel: (0195) 73-5010, Web: www.appi.co.jp
Access: Train, Appi Kogen Station, 60 minutes from Morioka Station. to Appi Kogen Station. By Bus: 60 minutes from Morioka Station. By Car: 15-20 mins. from Matsuo-Hachimantai I.C or Ashiro I.C on the Tohoku Expressway.
Other ski resorts offering kids activities and services to help you enjoy your family vacation:
WINTER KIDS CAMP
Discover Japan: www.discoverjapan.co.jp