For ski enthusiasts, Japan is one of the most sought-after destinations in the world thanks to its dry and plentiful ‘Japow’ (Japanese powder).
By far its most popular resort is Niseko, which can be found on the northern Hokkaido Island. Whilst undeniably the skiing in this resort is fabulous, it’s notoriously difficult to reach from Australia and is certainly a path well-trodden, with lengthy lift queues. And if you’re shelling out your hard-earned money on a ski escape, you want to, well… ski.
Well stop the press, because we’ve found the next Niseko with none of the queues. With an average dump of 18 metres of Japow each ski season, this hidden gem gets the deepest powder in Japan – and best of all? It’s actually not so hidden, just a two-hour bullet train away from Tokyo in Myoko. With less of the queues and plentiful snow, visitors to Arai can really get their money’s worth and ski the slopes all day long.
One of the most luxurious ski resorts in Arai (and in fact all of Japan) is Lotte Arai, a newly-opened resort with an impressive array of facilities.
If you’re a first-time skier or looking to travel with family, Lotte Arai is an ideal choice. Unusually for Japan, it features an English-speaking ski school with international instructors, meaning the whole family can hone their skills on the slopes.
It’s a notoriously difficult balance to find a resort to satisfy both adults and offspring, but Lotte Arai meets the challenge in fine form. Countless activities including zip-lining, rock-climbing, trampolining and more will keep the kids entertained, whilst grown-ups can treat themselves to a dip in the Hoshizora natural hot springs (onsens), go night skiing, sing their heart out with a sake in hand at the karaoke bar and indulge in a romantic dinner of charcoal-grilled Wagyu beef at Arcobaleno.
And most importantly, what about the skiing? There’s plenty of runs for beginners to tentatively try their hand (or feet) at whilst even the most discerning of ski enthusiasts will be satisfied, with Japan’s biggest in-bounds off-piste ski area and some above-treeline terrain in wide open powder bowls.
Not everyone in the family may be an avid skier, but there’s plenty to keep them occupied besides. The resort’s Spa Manna lends itself to lazy days with its dry sauna, mist sauna and open-air spring overlooking the mountains, while three nearby sake breweries offer tours to uncover how this traditional Japanese rice wine is made.
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