Billed as the “powder capital” of Japan, Hokkaido has plenty of wintry fun to offer. During the colder months, abundant, consistent snowfall drapes the mountains in dry, fluffy snow that is perfect for skiing and snowboarding. Après ski means soaking in an outdoor onsen, and dinner is feasting on the freshest seafood and premium cuts of beef. It’s no surprise that this white powder paradise is home to over 100 ski resorts, including Club Med’s three resorts: Tomamu, Sahoro and Kiroro Peak.
With Club Med’s signature all-inclusive programming, everything is taken care of, from all-day gourmet meals and drinks to ski and snowboard classes, lift passes, after-ski entertainment, and even childcare—taking the hassle out of vacation planning so you can enjoy a fuss-free getaway. On the property, all you need is your Club Med digital bracelet, handed to you on arrival, to open your room and ski lockers as well as make purchases.
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An eight-hour flight from Singapore to New Chitose airport (with a layover at Haneda airport) and a 90 minute bus ride will bring you to Club Med Tomamu, a sprawling 145-hectare property. The scenic drive to the resort, with exquisite mountain landscapes and pine forests blanketed in deep snow, present a stunning prelude to a magical ski experience.
Designed by architect Jean-Philippe Nuel, the contemporary chic resort has 341 rooms and suites. Interior elements inspired by the four seasons add to its refined charm; outside the picture window in my room, a pristine winter wonderland beckons. With a good mix of beginner, intermediate and expert runs, the powdery white slopes cater to skiers and snowboarders of all stripes. Looking for off-the-slope adventures instead? Have a go at snow-sledding, ice fishing, or hop on a shuttle bus and visit the Ice Village, open exclusively during winter. Go ice skating, roast some marshmallows, sip on cocktails served in glasses carved out of ice, and watch the fireworks show at night. If you’re after a warmer option, stop by the nearby Hoshino Resorts-operated Mina-Mina Beach that boasts Japan’s largest indoor heated wave pool. I opted to unwind at the Kirin-no Yu traditional outdoor bath within the complex, which offered a comforting reprieve from the cold.
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The main buffet-style restaurant Itara serves up lavish regional specialities on rotation—perfect for families with picky eaters. The Haku Specialty Restaurant offers a farm-to-table yakiniku experience, with Hokkaido and wagyu beef as well as fresh seafood options. A post-prandial Japanese whiskey or sake by a cosy fireplace at The Nest makes for a relaxing coda to the evening. Otherwise, head to Unkai, which combines a bar and theatre, where you can enjoy free-flow drinks and shows by the friendly staff—called Gentils Organisateurs or G.Os for short—who not only hold regular roles (such as receptionist or ski instructor) but are also hosts and friends to guests.
If your prefer to be surrounded by peace and quiet, book the smaller and more intimate Club Med Sahoro, set against the backdrop of the magnificent Hidaka mountain range. Novices on the slopes can take a ride on the Magic Carpet, an outdoor moving walkway that brings children and adult beginner skiers to the top of the training slope, and Club Med’s first ever Ski Simulator designed to simulate real movements and improve ski skills. After your session on the slopes, thaw out and relax sore muscles with a soak in the outdoor Canadian bath, an open-air hot bath with a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains, and share a warm traditional nabe (Japanese hotpot) with the family at the Mina Mina Specialty Restaurant. The resort also offers activities such as horseback riding and a rock-climbing wall.
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While both resorts offer winter skiing, Club Med’s third and newest resort, Club Med Kiroro Peak, is the only Club Med mountain resort in Asia to offer spring skiing. With a longer ski season that extends till May, it offers 23 courses for different levels, off-piste slopes and picturesque vistas for avid snow bunnies. The 2.1-hectare resort also houses Club Med’s first traditional Japanese onsen containing 100 percent hot spring water, and a spa and wellness space. Open to guests aged 12 and up, Club Med Kiroro Peak is suited to couples or multi-generational families with teenagers.
Like Club Med Tomamu and Sahoro, lift passes and lessons are included in the rate. Thanks to Club Med’s Easy Arrival Service, my rental ski gear was already waiting for me in my locker. I joined the beginners’ class that covers the basics of positioning, stopping and turning on the baby slopes. Under my English-speaking instructor’s excellent tutelage, I was ready for my first runs by my second lesson. Before I knew it, I was off the chairlift, taking in the breathtaking sights as I carefully zigzagged my way down the mountain. After a long day on the slopes, I return to a spread of international and Japanese cuisine at restaurant Otaru, followed by free-flow drinks at The View Bar that transforms into a theatre in the evening for nightly live entertainment by the G.Os.
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Club Med Kiroro Peak offers plenty of alternatives besides skiing or snowboarding. Join a cultural workshop or activities such as snow trekking or yoga. Pay a visit to the nearby Otaru Coastal Town, a port city known for their glasswork and oil lamp factories, music boxes and sake distilleries just 40 minutes away, where you can wander along the canal, try your hand at a glass-blowing workshop, learn how to make sake, or taste locally brewed beer.
Regardless of which Club Med property you stay at, one thing you can expect is its trademark hospitality—within a day or two, you’ll be well and truly settled into your home away from home, and the genial staff feel like family. When I checked out on my last day, a group of G.Os were waiting outside in the freezing cold. They sent us off with the warmest of goodbyes that banished the chill, true to the Club Med spirit.
Photos courtesy of Club Med