The last and final leg of our 3 weeks long holiday and the most luxurious part of our trip is finally here at Tomamu Ski Resort. We intentionally saved the best for last, and as a result, our expectations were a little higher than the other places we’ve been to so far. However, it’s not the first time that we’ve been to Tomamu Ski Resort. In fact, we were here about 3 years ago (just before Ethan was born), just for a single day trip as part of our longer ski trip to Furano not too far away. Part of the reason why I came back here was because of the fantastic memories of the off-piste skiing through trees without any guilt (as it was perfectly allowed as long as we registered). 3 years later, we are here again with a 3 years old, and this time, staying on mountain at Risonare tower (part of Hoshino Resort) at Tomamu marketed as a “family resort”. We knew we didn’t get to see everything that Tomamu had to offer in that single day trip, so that’s what we came back here in order to experience the rest!
The arrival experience was pretty ‘grand’ compared to all the other arrivals we have experienced so far. Our luggage were whipped onto a bus for us (at the Tomamu train station), and before you know it, we were at the resort greeted by what looked like 20 staff members. Before we knew it, we were checked into our room. And I must admit.. after two weeks of lower budget accommodations, this one blew us out of our mind.
I can’t remember another hotel I’ve stayed in, where it included a built-in sauna, and a spa with a view of the ski slope. The room itself is very big too. Thinking about it now, I am pretty sure the whole room is bigger than the unit we stay in Singapore! As for Ethan, it didn’t take long for him to discover the rather posh fireplace at the lobby (pictured lower left above). He had discovered a little ‘track’ roughly his waist height, perfect for his toy police cars! For the next 5 days, it became routine to spend at least a couple of minutes (usually 10-20 minutes) to just hang by the fireplace while he runs around it!
As the hotel is so nice though, we spent most afternoons just lying around and enjoying the view and using the facilities within the room itself. We were quite lucky to get snow fall just about every day that we were there. So when we weren’t skiing, we were in the room!
The other nice feature of the resort is the regular shuttle buses that whipped us around to other parts of the resorts to keep us busy. Our 5 nights here almost seemed too short as there were plenty of restaurants and activities to do, namely:
Mina Mina Beach
Apparently the largest indoor “beach” in Japan. It did feel a bit weird at first, when it’s clearly snowing outside, and we were in our board shorts and bikinis just floating around like it’s summer. They’ve done a very nice job heating up a VERY large shed to make you feel like you are at a beach!
Restaurants / Cafes
There were enough restaurants & cafes around the resort that we had the opportunity to try different ones just about every day and every meal. Breakfast buffet can be found at a couple of locations, but the food is more or less the same. However, some have better views (like the top of Risonare tower) than others. The more memorable dinner I had, was probably at the Buffet Dining Hal where we get to have “unlimited” snow crab, and the steak at Camaro (Hotaru Street).
For lunch.. the chirashi-don I had at OTARU Kaihourou（小樽海宝樓）was pretty memorable. The cake on offer at Farm Designs (Mina Mina Beach) were pretty good too. And I even fell for the rather gimmicky “cloud” dessert (it’s just floss with a few pieces of cake in it) at Tsubaki Salon.
And I should mention that, there are cafes at the resort that offers free popsicles with various flavours, plain coffee/tea and even dessert wine in the evening. Don’t forget to check that out!
Of course there’s the skiing. Problem with staying at an integrated resort like this is that skiing is just one of the activity to do. For us, skiing is typically a half day affair, and I was the only one skiing (actually snowboarding) consistently every day. It’s a ski-in/ski-out resort too, and most days I just got up early, had breakfast and head straight out just before the lifts open. On the single day where I tried to get Ethan to go skiing.. I failed miserably.. AGAIN! It’s the second year I tried to get Ethan into skiing. He seemed interested at first as he was happy to put on ski gear and all. But sadly, by the time we hit the slope itself, he just refused to get on skis. Even with a specialist instructor for kids, he still didn’t want to give it a go. So, I had to cancel the 1 hour lesson I booked for him.
At least he was ok with getting onto the gondola to get to the top of the mountain for a few photos. Marshmallows settled him down after the long ride, and we managed to do a little bit of tobogganing as well. That pretty much ended Ethan’s “ski” season.
I did get a day (well.. like 3 hours) of skiing with wifey alone without Ethan for one day. It’s the only few hours where we left him in the child care centre (admittedly, a bit reluctantly). We probably picked the best day for me and wifey to go skiing though, as it dumped a fair amount of snow the night before. We only did a couple of runs together, before we split to do our own runs. The snow was too good off-piste to miss out, and wifey was happier doing green/blue runs through pine trees. I absolutely loved the slope, and remembered it to be as good as it was the last time I was here!
I’ve been to quite a few ski slopes in Japan, but have to admit, this is one of the better ones with a LOT to offer outside of skiing. Things have changed quite a bit since I’ve been married with a kid. Whilst I would have gone all out skiing and everything else secondary.. this one is definitely the right one for those coming with family. Come to think of it, it’s the only resort where I’ve actually been to twice in Japan (so far)! Not sure if I’ll come back third time, but the three of us left this resort with plenty of smiles on our face!