For those who love powder snow, Club Med’s newest ski resort is an absolute paradise located on the island of hokkaido beach in Japan.
Mladen’s face was a picture of joy, despite being mostly covered by an ice-covered snood and helmet, as he descended the perspex chairlift, shielding us from the falling snow. My instructor said, “Would you like to try some powder, Mike?”
Overnight, Kiroro received an abundance of snow, transforming the mountains and forested hills in this hokkaido beach region into a picturesque winter landscape. It was only mid-December, and in a day a metre of the white stuff would pile up. Kiroro receives an incredible 21 meters of snow on average at its 1,180-meter peak because of its closeness to the Sea of Japan. That’s over seven times what most of the French Alps average.
The northern island of Japan is a skier’s paradise if they are looking for wild powder conditions. It may also be able to lay claim to being the world’s friendliest ski resort. Where else is it typical for the typically grumpy ski lift attendants to grin broadly and say “konnichiwa” (hello) when you board and “arigato gozaimasu” (thank you) when you get off?
Under the skilled guidance of Mladen, the snow conditions the day before—a traditional “fresh layer on firm base”—proved ideal for mastering both long, fast carve turns and short, bunny hop-style turns on the steeper parts of the resort’s 23 runs. By comparison, today was crazy. Thick powder would give way to smoother sections, then change again, making it difficult for me to maintain control of my skis. With the -15C temperatures and persistent snowfall, our progress was much slower. I had an absolute blast, even with the occasional face plant.
Going back to the Club Med Kiroro Grand for our last chairlift ride, Mladen tried to give us one last tip on turning and almost poked another skier in the face with his pole. It was exactly what I needed to get better at my craft—his unbridled enthusiasm.
I returned to the Kiroro Grand’s ski room in a matter of minutes, locked up my equipment, and took a long soak in the onsen before leaving. There are countless traditional hot spring baths in Japan, and Club Med Kiroro has its own, complete with outdoor pools. It’s customary to bathe naked and there are designated areas for men and women. It’s a really soothing after-ski ritual that prepared me well for the more customary (at least for us Europeans) apres-ski in the hotel bar, where we share stories from the slopes over a beer, mulled wine, or cocktail as we watch the snow fall outside.hokkaido beach
The Kiroro Grand’s central hub is the main bar, lounge, and entertainment area. During the day, it’s the ideal spot to unwind on a sofa with a good book while taking a break from skiing. Evening events include a range of performances that cater to all age groups, including magicians, comedians, singers, DJs, and gymnasts. hokkaido beach Club Med employees, also referred to as “genial organisers,” frequently make an effort to make guests feel comfortable and make their stay as hassle-free as possible.
The essence of the Club Med offering is “easy.” Everyone knows how difficult it is to get rest and relaxation during a holiday, especially if you are a parent of small children.hokkaido beach Club Med is designed to make sure adults leave with precisely that. Children as young as four can take ski lessons, and the hotel’s kids club doubles as an excellent daycare for kids two years old and up, complete with games, books, and soft play.
When it comes to dining, the skilled chefs at the Kiroro Grand prepare a wide variety of dishes that are remarkably good for an all-inclusive resort that is family-friendly. Yoichi, the main buffet restaurant, is where you’ll spend most of your time. It serves a combination of Western and Asian cuisine. Make-your-own ramen, sashimi, and katsu curry, as well as giant Hokkaido crab and delicious dim sum, are among the Asian options. hokkaido beach There’s also a large assortment of salads (the beetroot carpaccio with goats cheese and spring onions is particularly tasty) and kid-friendly European fare like pasta and pizza.
Along with the extensive menu, the restaurant’s four dining areas reduce the likelihood of the overly familiar feeling that comes with all-inclusive resorts toward the end of the vacation. With your wristband, you can also eat at The Ogon, an Asian specialty restaurant that specializes in hot pots, and The Kaen, which serves grilled meat, as well as Ebisi Sushi restaurants, for an additional fee.hokkaido beach
It’s fittingly named the Kiroro Grand. The 11 stories that house the 281 rooms look down on a vast atrium. The rooms have the distinctive décor elements of Club Med, such as oak paneling, lovely prints, and sofas and carpets in pastel shades. Yamaha was the original builder of the hotel hokkaido beach remnants of its previous incarnation can still be found in the tastefully detailed sheet music detail on the lift doors and the pianos scattered throughout the premises. It is also distinctly Japanese (hey, vending machines and heated toilet seats!). Many of the rooms are designed in the classic tatami style.
Despite the allure of staying inside the cozy resort, it is highly recommended to spend an afternoon exploring the neighboring city of Otaru. In addition to being a hub for glassmaking, the picturesque canal in the historic seaside city is a popular destination for boat cruises. The Sankaku market and its numerous craft stores and museums are just ten minutes’ walk from the canal. As you exit the quiet street and enter the market, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a different world, complete with bustling seafood stalls and lines of locals waiting to eat at little sashimi restaurants.
In addition, even though Japan is thought to be pricey for visitors from the UK, a favorable exchange rate allows you to have a great lunch and pair it with a bottle of sake or a beer for less than £20.
Though the journey is lengthy, this winter sports enthusiast’s dream trip is to experience Japan’s distinct culture, which includes amazing food and unrivaled hospitality. The trip will be divided between a week spent exploring Tokyo and possibly one or two other endlessly fascinating cities in Japan, such as Kyoto, Nara, and Yokohama, and the snowy mountains of hokkaido beach.