A Chance Encounter With a 2-Storey Carousel
We first stepped into Rusutsu Resort by chance. During our Hokkaido trip in Dec 2016, we took the airport shuttle bus from Niseko en-route back to New Chitose Airport, and it made a quick stop at this resort to pick up passengers. We took the chance to come down and stretch our legs but what greeted us left us awestruck – a two-storey high carousel (free for in-house hotel guests) complete with a warm, inviting, almost Disney-like ambience. I was so intrigued that I made a mental note to bring the kids to experience Rusutsu Resort when we next return to Hokkaido – and we did!
10 Reasons Why We Would Return To The Rusutsu Resort In a Heartbeat:
1. Direct Shuttle to and From New Chitose Airport
For many families with no clue (and no time) to plan a comprehensive ski vacation, and for those who would rather not take the risk of self-driving in Hokkaido’s unpredictable wintry weather, we would recommend you stay at Rusutsu Resort. What we did was to hop off the plane at New Chitose Airport, take a leisurely walk to the Airport Shuttle waiting area, and hop on the BIGRUNS Bus (New Chitose Airport <=> Rusutsu Resort) which took us direct to Rusutsu Resort, in 90 minutes! Fuss-free and hassle-free! We were able to relax in the bus and enjoy the scenery outside.
Once we arrived at Rusutsu Resort, the porters assisted with the luggage and we’re off to check into our rooms. I was very happy that this trip, I didn’t have to fuss with collection of cars, setting the GPS, navigating the snowy, icy roads to drive to the resort ourselves then parking and returning the cars. Here, we just checked in and we were ready to explore all the fun the resort offers.
2. Everything Under One Roof – Restaurants, Carousel, Games Arcade and Shops:
This is such a boon – for the uninitiated, most ski resorts in Hokkaido are isolated and located apart from restaurants and shopping venues. This means that if you wish to go from one place to another, you have to trudge in snow, queue up and take the shuttle buses or self-drive to find food, groceries or ski school. These are herculean tasks, which zapped your energy especially when travelling with young children.
At Rusutsu Resort, everything, yes EVERYTHING is under one roof. There is virtually no need to venture out into the wintry cold just to grab a quick snack, a warm drink or to do some souvenir shopping. The range of food options is comprehensive, ranging from fast food to fusion Japanese cuisine to fine dining and those delectable Hokkaido cream puffs.
The wife was happy to discover that there are shops selling cute Japanese souvenirs, well-loved Japanese food products (same price as airport and shops outside), winter wear, winter gear and even toys. Best of all, we enjoy tax refund as tourists. This means that she can shop to her heart’s content, claim her tax refund here, pack the loot neatly into our luggage and checked them in for the flight home. Apart from food and shopping, there is even a huge indoor wave pool (with slides), onsens, rock wall and a ski park right outside the hotel lobby! In short, Rusutsu Resort is PERFECT for families who want a hassle-free, fuss-free winter holiday.
Check out the dining and shopping options from the resort guide here.
3. Crayon Shinchan Kids Ski School:
The Crayon Shinchan Kids School deserves so much credit for its impressive beginner-friendly ski lessons for children as young as 3 years old! The activities are systematically carried out, according to each child’s abilities. In typical Japanese style, the kids are very well taken care of, from suiting up to get ready for skis, to warm ups with Crayon Shinchan Mascot, to mastering basic ski skills indoors first before venturing outdoors to try the real thing. Even water breaks and toilet breaks are methodically factored into the lessons.
We couldn’t have been more impressed with how Crayon Shinchan Kids School introduces skiing to the young ones, first capturing their interests then instilling them basic techniques, allowing kids to experience success and building on the kids’ confidence to ski independently, in small incremental steps.
At the end of each ski class, the kids received a booklet containing feedback on which skill they have mastered and which are those that need more work. This affirms the children on their progress and gives us, parents useful information on how our kids fared. An incredible kids ski school with dedicated and responsible ski coaches, worthy of commendation!
4. Ski and Snowboard School for Older Kids, Teens and Adult Skiers:
Apart from young kids, older kids, teens and adults can also take half-day or full-day ski lessons with its in-house Rusutsu Resort Ski & Snowboard School. The ski slopes at Rusutsu cater to skiers of all abilities, from Green and Yellow runs (Beginner to Intermediate Skiers) to Red and Black runs (Advance to Highly advanced skiers), these runs are right in front of the resort.
While Buddy was having his first ski lessons at the Crayon Shinchan Kids Ski School, Dana spent an afternoon with her private Aussie coach Matt Clarke. He worked with Dana on her parallel turns (an essential skill for experienced skiers.). He also guided her to gave her to improve her body posture so that she can ski while looking forward and not always looking down at her skis.
In addition, he taught her about mountain safety and how to avoid collisions. He upped her skills by bringing her on mostly red runs (for advanced skiers) on East Mountain where Dana skied from the elevation of 868m – the 2nd highest peak in Rusutsu! We were so proud of her for taking on the Red Runs, despite it being only her 2nd ski season. She is indeed going places where her parents have not. Well-done Darling!
Here’s the link to the ski trails at Rusutsu (Dana skied down the mountain in the middle, East Mt.):
5. Winter Activities for the Entire Family – Indoors and Outdoors!
Yes, you read it right. There is a host of exhilarating activities where no one will be excluded (who says a winter vacation is all about skiing only?). We started with a dog sled experience. It was exciting to say the least and even Buddy, our 3 year-old took to the dog sled gamely accompanied by the handler. Later on, we had a go at the snowmobiles where Dana had the chance to drive her own snow mobile (she was beyond stoked!). At Rusutsu Resort, kids as young as 9 years old can drive their own snowmobiles (under the tutelage of an experienced guide). We drove our snowmobiles into the snow-laden Rusutsu forest while the sun was setting. The experience was magical beyond words.
To end the day on a high, we signed up for a round of snow rafting as we sped thru the snow-filled forest around Rusutsu. It was a first for our family and absolutely unforgettable experience. A winter vacation at Rusutsu Resort is so much more than skiing. If time permits, you can also participate in rock climbing, ice fishing, horseback riding, snowshoeing etc. for a fee. If you prefer to stay indoors, you have a whole range of culinary and craft activities to pick from. The wife had a hard time deciding between making natural scented candles, natural flower key holders vs making waffle and ice cream, cheese, fresh caramel or Japanese potato cake. The diversity of activities offered to guests is mind-boggling!
To find out more about the snow activities:
http://www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/en-gb/winter-activities/winter-experiences and http://www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/en-gb/winter-activities
6. Pristine Snowscape, Golden Sunset:
If there were another reason to visit Rusutsu, it would be to witness the pristine snow-laden landscape especially around 3:30 – 4:30pm in winter, when the sun begins to set. Seeing the golden glow of the evening sun set against the pristine white of ‘Jap-pow’ (the term used by skiers to describe Hokkaido snow – Japanese Powder Snow) is truly surreal and breathtaking. If you ever visit Hokkaido, you must stay at Rusutsu Resort at least once.
7. The Westin Rusutsu Resort –Vacation with a Touch of Luxury
The name of Westin is synonymous with luxury. The Westin Rusutsu Resort was awarded “#1 Ski Hotel in Japan” in the World Ski Award 2017, sealing its reputation as the ideal ski hotel for families seeking luxury and exclusivity in Rusutsu.
The duplex room that we stayed for one night is clean, comfy and luxurious. The master bedroom is situated at the top-level while the kids’ room below had two foldaway beds, next to a compact living room and a small kitchenette. With a vista that allows guest to take-in the sight of the unspoilt beauty of the Hokkaido forest, staying at The Westin Rusutsu is a treat. Situated within a short in-house monorail ride from the main resort hub, there is virtually no horde of tourists here, which made our stay very exclusive and pleasant.
8. The Rusutsu Resort Hotel – All the conveniences of a Ski Vacation Under One Roof
Within the North and South Wing of the Rusutsu Resort sits the main Rusutsu Resort Hotel & Convention. Flanked by a host of facilities and amenities, the Rusutsu Resort Hotel is THE perfect choice for families who wants the convenience of dining, shopping and winter activities all virtually right at your doorstep. The junior suite room we stayed in is huge, comfortable and clean, offering ample space of parents and kids to sleep, rest and play adequately.
It came with a room for the kids with two super single beds. The main king-sized bed sits in the open area that links seamlessly with the living room. Bathrooms and toilet in the suite are spacious and offers the high level of hygiene we’ve come to expect of a Japanese hotel. What we loved most about our suite was the commanding view of the falling snow and the beautiful snow scape as far as the eyes can see!
Breakfast for guests is at the resort’s buffet restaurant ‘October Fest.’ The range is quite diverse, with Hokkaido fresh ingredients coupled with some western cuisine choices. Service is brisk and the ambience is welcoming and warm. For one of our dinners, we decided to try their fine dining restaurant ‘Sekkatai’ at the North Wing near our room. The dinner turned out to be one of the best we’ve had. Absolutely ocean-fresh sashimi, which simply left us craving for more. Coupled with its quiet Japanese-styled interior, ‘Sekkatai’ offers a really authentic Japanese dining experience.
9. Crayon Shinchan Kids Park
Kids will love this exclusive winter playground packed full of fun features and exciting activities. In winter, the park offers a range of family friendly activities in the snow, from reindeer rides to sleds and other games in the snow. After paying the entrance fee, everyone can use the snow escalator to enjoy unlimited tubing, snow bikes and many more fun activities all day. We spent hours here making snowballs, building snowman and accumulating so many beautiful memories of a holiday well-spent at Rusutsu Resort.
10. Magical Winter Lighting at Stardust Ave
When nightfalls, the entire Rusutsu Resort compound is illuminated with magical Christmas lighting, it’s absolutely mesmerising to say the least. Our 3 nights’ stay was simply too short. So we promised ourselves and the kids we’ll be back!
Where is Rusutsu Resort located?
How to Get Here
Rusutsu Resort Hotel & Convention (North & South Wing)
13, Izumikawa, Rusutsu, Abuta, Hokkaido 048-1711
Tel: +81-136-46-3111 Fax: +81-136-46-3229
The Westin Rusutsu Resort
133, Izumikawa, Rusutsu, Abuta, Hokkaido 048-1711
Tel: +81-136-46-2111 Fax: +81-136-46-2225
Is rusutsu or tomamu better for kids? I understand Tomamu has a slope in front of the hotel lobby to play own sledge. Does Rusutsu has this too?
Angie. S says
Thanks for visiting our blog. Both Tomamu and Rusutsu have its own distinct appeal and both are equally kid-friendly with lots of free spaces to play your own sled. For Rusutsu, there’s an open snow field right outside the Rusutsu Resort Hotel (North & South Wing). You can also play at the Crayon Shinchan Park. For Tomamu, lots of kids play outside the lobby. The difference is that in Rusutsu Resort, all dining and shopping options are housed WITHIN the hotel compound like an integrated resort (you don’t have to step out to look for restaurants via any shuttle buses). For families with young kids travelling in super peak ski seasons (i.e. Dec), we think that makes a more convenient option (as shuttle buses can be full and we’ve had to carry our sleeping 15kg toddler up and down the buses etc.). The beauty of Hokkaido will keep drawing you back so you can bookmark both resorts for separate trips. Both resorts are also beautiful in Spring and Summer!
Maybe i will try rusutsu! Thank you for your reply. The sharing of Hokkaido in your blog save my time in doing research. Very detailed and the photographs were so beautifully captured! Love the smile of your family. God bless your family.
Thank you for your encouragement and blessings. Safe travels! Do tag us in your photos and share your experience in Hokkaido!
DAVID G says
May I know which week in Dec the ski season starts?
How’s the snow condition?
Angie. S says
the ski season in Hokkaido starts first week of Dec, peaking mid-Dec to March but you can start ski classes in the powdery snowfall from mid-to end November yearly. The snow is powdery and can be knee-deep even in 1st week of Dec, when we were there. That’s why skiers from all over the world, even the Europeans and Australians fly to Hokkaido to ski.
May i know if the westin and the hotel & Convention share the same facitilies eg ski facilities, amusement rides etc?
Angie. S says
Thanks for dropping by our blog. Yes they share the same facilities as they are all under ‘Rusutsu Resort’ group. Guests who stay at the Westin Rusutsu have to take the monorail over to the Rusutsu Hotel & Convention to access these facilities (as mentioned in our review). Both hotels are excellent but the latter is more convenient for families with young kids.
I read your blog about other skiing resort like Ki Niseko and Hoshino Resorts. Planning a trip next end Feb with my 5yo son to let him experience the snow and skiing. May I know which is recommended? Which one is more economical? My worry is that he may end up not liking to ski and hence how many days would you recommend the stay to be?
Hi thanks for visiting our blog. Each of these places do offer skiing and other snow-based activities and each have their merits. For Rusutsu, everything is under one roof while Hoshino resorts offer a wide range of diverse activities. Niseko is a town that offers lots of eatery options and activities but they are largely all over the town. If you want a more ‘controlled’ environment then perhaps Rusutsu may be good for a first time as eateries and activities are all within the same premise (literally under one roof). As for number of days, I would think that for learning to ski you’d need about 3 to 4 days at one venue. For a comprehensive trip perhaps stay two to three nights in Sapporo to enjoy the city. To mitigate the risk of missing your flight due to heavy snow, we would advice to stay one night in Sapporo (or close to the airport) before your departure rather than coming straight to the airport from the ski resort. Hope it helps.
Anna tai says
Thank you for sharing this post & it does give me some ideas for the next holiday trip with the kids! We went Hokkaido for our honeymoon 10years and we look forward to bring our kids there one day.
I chanced upon your blog and find it very clear and informative. I would like to plan a family holiday to Hokkaido in December with my boy who’s 13. It’s our first time and would like some comments on where to go and how long etc.
thanks a lot!
Angie. S says
Hi Stephanie, thanks for dropping by and thanks for your encouragement. There’s lots to do in Hokkaido – from visits to the zoo, to visiting small towns and also skiing. May I know what comes to mind first? Do search our blog under our ‘Hokkaido’ and you’ll find a whole host of experiences we’ve done. Do let us know your preference and we can help give you some insights. Cheers!
Mui Muar says
Your blog brings back memories if my first experience with snow as I was there in early Dec two years ago. Did not try skiing then. Hope to be back for the ski experience!
Thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading your post. If you don’t mind, can you share what was the estimated cost incurred?
Hi Shinwee, we’re glad you find our post helpful. The price for the rooms and activities are on their websites and may differ from season to season. Do check the websites for updated prices, including the activities. As for the food, there are different eateries all within the same resort, they range from inexpensive snacks to more established restaurants. Do email the hotel with your queries for the necessary info to aid you in your planning.
Love your blog on Rusutsu Resort! Make me feel like going to Hokkaido too!
Can you share your F&E itinerary with us?
Hi May, thank you for your affirmation! Our itinerary is quite simple really – Airport to Rusutsu and within there we spent time skiing for two days and also some snow sports and activities – pretty much what you read on our blog. We didn’t do ‘much’ activities but chose to have quality experiences with each activity e.g. Snow Mobiling and Snow Rafting took us almost the entire afternoon but we had real good fun! Bear in mind also that it gets dark around 4pm in Hokkaido during winter so…some outdoor activities may stop closer to 4pm. The beauty of Rusutsu is that everything is either under one roof or close-by and therefore very convenient to choose. You won’t get bored I can assure you!
Hello! Could you share where you got your winter wear from and how many layers the kids wore outdoors? Thanks!
Hi Persis, our kids wore a few layers. Base layer is Uniqlo Heat Tech, then a thick shirt , a thick sweater (Uniqlo and various brands) finally a thick water resistant / wind proof jacket – Brands are various including Gap, Marmot (very good) and Uniqlo. Gloves are waterproof gloves (so they can play with snow – which is water) and pants are water-proof pants. Some ski resorts allow you to rent these waterproof jackets and pants so you don’t need to buy them. Best to ask first. If you can rent then you can wear non-waterproof outer wear when you’re not skiing or playing in snow, then change to the waterproof rented ones when you are out at the snow. Hope it helps! Do leave a comment on our blog if you can. Cheers!
Hi Angie, David,
your blogs are fantastic, very informative and well organised. I have been reading up on your Hokkaido trips as I am currently planning the itinerary(Dec 2018) for my family of 4 ( son aged 18, daughter aged 10). This is our first time to Hokkaido. Can I seek your advice based on your experience on the following
Currently we are planning to spend
– 3 nights in Sapporo
– 1 night in Otaru
– 3 or 4 nights at a ski resort
– 3 more nights in Tokyo
1. If our preference is a more self contained resort , least crowded, which would you recommend ? My children are not serious skiers but would probably just want to play in the snow and have variety of activities to occupy them. Not easy to find common interests for aged 18 and 10 🙁
2. We were attracted by the photos you took in Otaru and were thinking of staying one night there to soak in the atmosphere of the quaint town instead of doing a day trip. Would it be worth the effort given the logistics with the luggage .
3. Given we are planning to go probably week of 11th Dec, would you recommend we go to the ski resorts first before coming back to Sapporo ?
Thank you very much in advance.
Angie. S says
welcome to our blog, thanks for your commendations! It’s comments like yours that keep us blogging each time we travel. Hokkaido is such a beautiful destination in all seasons, you’ll definitely visit it more than once. For a start, here are our personal thoughts:
1. Ski Resort first or Sapporo first – It all depends on the availability of the accommodation. From experience, the ski resorts tend to get more pricey in mid to late December (closer to Christmas), it also means the more crowd. So it might be advisable to go direct to the ski resort from New Chitose Airport (using their direct shuttle bus service) then end your stay in Sapporo before connecting to Tokyo.
2. Otaru – Otaru is really a very small quaint town. In fact, we toured it in half a day, with young kids (9 and 3 years old). Your family can spend a leisurely day there, then take the train back to Sapporo for dinner, to visit the German Christmas Market and to view the Winter Illumination. Free and Easy. It doesn’t warrant an overnight stay and you don’t have to switch hotels multiple times.
3. Self-contained Ski Resort – Since your kids are older and more independent, both Tomamu and Rusutsu Resorts fit your needs. Both have lots of outdoor winter activities like Snow-Mobiling, Snow-Rafting, over and on top of Ski Classes. For Tomamu, we really enjoyed the excursions out to the rural farm house to bake cookies. They also have a whole range of indoor hobby lessons which you can sign up. There are also more food options in the Hotalu Street at Tomamu now. The key advantage of Rusutsu, as mentioned in our blog post, is convenience, with everything under one roof (i.e. food, shops, carousell, a mini games arcade etc.) We didn’t have enough time to explore the entire Rusutsu resort but if we do head back for skiing, both resorts are definitely highly recommended!
Angie, Thank you so much for your prompt response !
MARCUS LU says
Thank you for sharing your detailed blog!! It has saved me time and opened a heaps more options for our family holiday!
shirley Chin says
Thank you for all the details! Your blog never fails me with all the useful information. l will efinitely plan one family trip to Hokkaido again and this time to Rusutu Resort.
We love Hokkaido!
Lim Kian Peng says
Hi Angie & David,
Really great to chance upon your blog and video clips in Youtube on Hokkaido trip. Last year, we were in Hokkaido in Dec for our family first ski trip. The kids were so excited and wanted to go back again this year Dec from 5 Dec to 18 Dec. We did our ski in Furano but this year we want to try a new place. We saw your write up on Rusutsu and we loved it a lot. We want to give it a try but need some advice from you. Hope you can help us.
(a) I see that you have advised to head straight to the Rusutsu Resort right from New Chitose Airport which is really easy with the bus. I am toying the idea of heading straight to Hakodate when we reach New Chitose Airport and spend 3 nights, then proceed to Rusutsu. I am still trying to figure out the transport from Hakodate to Rusutsu. Is it possible to get some advice on which option is better?
(b) When we were in Furano in early Dec, activities such as snow mobile rides, banana boat ride, dog sledding, etc. were not available till later part of Dec. We saw you did all these which kids really love it, will it be available from 5 Dec onwards?
(c) From Rusutsu, is it possible to have day trip to Lake Toya and Noboribetsu?
(d) I see that there is a amusement park with thrill rides. Is it open during winter?
Thanks for reading my queries.
Hi Kian Peng,
Thanks for dropping by and for your affirmation. Here are our responses:
a) Hakodate is much further than Rusutsu and hence I think if you like it may be a good idea to do Hakodate then enroute back to New Chitose, visit Rusutsu. That said, we have not ventured to Hakodate yet however from our experience, its the unpredictable snowfall that is a concern. I did a self-drive on our first trip and safety was a concern, especially when you’re travelling with your family alone and with young kids. During our 2nd trip I opted to take a bus as I’d rather leave the driving and contingencies to the professionals. On that note also, we think it’s always good to spend a night near the airport. This way it forms a natural buffer against any contingencies be it a landslide, heavy snowfall or cancelled flights.
b) Likewise, in Rusutsu and other surrounding resorts, the snow activities would officially begin from mid-Dec when the peak season starts. However for us, we did venture to ask if there’s a possibility of having it early and was glad that unofficially they had started. If you’d like to REALLY take these rides and experiences then perhaps planning the trip close to mid-Dec would be more ideal.
c) Both these locations require some driving and, like I mentioned in point ‘a’, you may have to contend with the snow and driving conditions. In my opinion, it would be good to spend at least a day each at Lake Toya and Noboribetsu, bearing in mind that nighfall starts to set in around 3:30pm and by 4 – 4:30 the roads are very dark already. You wouldn’t see much in any location. So best to travel early, reach around noon and seize the daylight to enjoy the place before moving on the next day.
d) The Rusustsu amusement park is closed during winter for safety reasons. But I understand it is a main draw during late spring and summer.
Hope these help. Have a happy and safe travel! Cheers!
Kian Peng Lim says
Hi David, sorry for the late respond. Really appreciates your valuable sharing and tips for me to do start working on the planning.
Have a nice day!
No problems! We love to share. Have a great trip!
Addy K says
Such wonderful blog! Dont stopping blogging please!
Need your kind advice:
Our family of 5 pax, youngest 8YO, oldest 13YO. 1st time to Hokkaido =) Would like to check which ski school would you recommend for us, 1st time skiing. Crayon Shinchan or GoSnow?
We are planning to head to one of the ski resorts (direct from airport) for 3-4 days then to Lake Toya for 1 day and Sapporo for 2-3 days and head to airport straight on the last day.
Is that feasible? Any nice shopping places at Hokkaido?
We are thinking of renting a car to pick-up from the resort then drive to Lake Toya, after that, Sapporo.
Is that ok?
So sorry, 1st timer, really in a mess over the planning!
Hi Addy, thanks for your compliments, really spurs us on! Both ski schools are good the difference is that Crayon Shinchan will have some familiarization sessions indoors first before heading out and that helps to overcome some initial fears however Crayon Shinchan is more suited for 12 and below but if your 13 y/o doesn’t mind then its ok. For GoSnow, its full on outdoors right from the start which my daughter did very well at. However for GoSnow, you’d have to travel to the ski school from wherever you’re staying in. For our first trip we stayed at Ki Niseko, which was really near. While in Rusutsu, everything is under one roof and very near. Rusutsu itself has a ski school where the instructors can coach your older kid like how they did for my eldest who did the advance run.
As for your itinerary, it sounds possible however driving in heavy snow can be quite risky. Please read our other Hokkaido post on self-drive Hokkaido and our DIY Hokkaido Itinerary. That should give you an idea on where to stay in Sapporo and what to do as well. We recommend visiting the Winter Illumination night market in Sapporo for some unique shopping experience.
Finally, we strongly advice for families travelling with young kids that, due to the unpredictable snow conditions (read: road closures, plane delays etc…) , NOT to drive / bus directly to New Chitose from the resorts. In fact, do plan to spend one night in Sapporo before flying off. That can greatly help you to manage and mitigate the risk of flight delays and even inability to travel due to heavy snow. At least in Sapporo if your flight back is stalled, you have larger selection of accommodation, food etc, amenities and facilities…and nearer the airport should these unpredictable delays arise. Hope it helps!
Addy K says
Sweet! Hokkaido we shall go!
Thank you David!
Have became one of your ardent readers :))
Thank you for your support!
Hi David, love this sharing! Your videos and photos are so helpful!
I am planning for a family trip with my 3 boys (3YO/6YO/10YO) next March during the school break.
Do you know if the snow activities eg dog sledding, snowmobile, snow rafting, ice fishing will be available in March?
Also, I intend to book the Westin but saw that you also stayed in Rusutsu Resort.
Which hotel would you recommend?
The boys will take some ski lessons (I read somewhere that we could rent the equipment from Westin and bring it over to the Rusutsu Resort ski grounds).
Angie. S says
thanks for taking time to leave your compliments! Really make our day.
Since your youngest boy is only 3 years old (about the same age as our son Alexander), we would recommend you try to stay at the main Rusutsu Resort’s Main Convention Hotel itself to save the hassle of taking the monorail to get to the ski lessons. That way, your son may want to just pop up to the room for afternoon nap whenever he is tired. All the snow activities will still be available in March (subject to weather changes of course). In fact, March is a good time for snow play as the weather conditions are not as harsh. You can more clear days for outdoor play!
There is a ski rental store right in Rusutsu Resort Main Convention Hotel itself (everything under one roof) so you don’t have to rent from Westin and lug them over.
Have fun with the trip planning and remember to book your airport shuttle bus transfer!
Ruer C says
Dear David and Angie,
Thanks for sharing your faimily’s great holiday memories. They’re both inspiring and helpful to all. I enjoy reading your blogs a lot! 🙂 I’m planning for a family trip to Hokkaido in Dec. After reading your blog I am sold that Rusutsu is the right place as the first ski resort experience for my family of 5 (kids age 6, 8 and 11). As this is going to be the kids’ first ski experience, I intend to enrol them into the ski school. Sinchan ski school looks intereing enough. I have a few questions regarding the ski lesson:
– Do we need to make prior booking for the ski lessons (for both Sinchan and the Rusutsu ski school)? If yes, how far in advance?
– For first timer kids with zero ski experience, would 1 lesson be suffice to get them started?
– What is the lesson fees per kid at Sinchan ski school, as well as teen/adult lesson at Rusutsu ski school?
Thanks in advance for your kind advice!
Angie. S says
thanks for dropping by the blog. We are excited that you are planning your year end trip to Hokkaido!
I’ve emailed Rusutsu Resort on your behalf and here are the replies:
1. Do we need to make prior booking for the ski lessons (for both Sinchan and the Rusutsu ski school)? If yes, how far in advance?
This year’s reservations start Oct. 1st. Please book in advance to avoid disappointment.
2. For first timer kids with zero ski experience, would 1 lesson be suffice to get them started?
This depends on the situation/age of child/athletic ability etc. Kids normally learn quickly, however, the first lesson aims are to help kids enjoy their experience and learn the basics. Eg standing on the snow with ski equipment, slowly slide down straight. (Most of the first timer kids can’t stop by themselves.) 1 lesson will give children skiing experience and help to cover the basics. However, normally we recommend kids take multiple lessons to learn to ski safely. It normally takes a few lessons to learn how to stop, turn etc.
2. What is the lesson fees per kid at Sinchan ski school, as well as teen/adult lesson at Rusutsu ski school?
We haven’t pubulished 2018-19 Winter information, but please refer last years web page. The lesson fees will be same as last year except for Crayon Shinchan lesson schedule B (will increase 500JPY).
Crayon Shinchan ski school https://www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/en-gb/lessons-rental/crayon-shinchan-kids-school
Rusutsu ski school https://www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/en-gb/lessons-rental
Hope the above info helps. All the best in your trip planning!
Hi Angie and David,
Thank you for your wonderful blog. Just wondering if skiing season starting on mid November and last till end of March as i am trying to avoid high season Dec and Jan.
Hi Vickie, skiing season typically starts mid-Dec. To avoid the high season crowds and prices, we went in early Dec. and left before Dec 12 / 15th where ski season kicked in. Prices and crowd then were substantially different and was quite pleasant. Our hotel shuttle could even drop us at the eateries (not so during ski season). We are not familiar with End Feb and March but we hear that it is even better – the skies are also clearer. December has heavy snow fall. Hope it helps. Thanks for visiting.
Hi, can i know for rusutsu resort did you have to bring your own sled to play at the open area or the hotel has one to rent? Thanks
Angie. S says
thanks for dropping by our blog. You can buy the sled at the resort’s souvenir shops. It costs about USD10 each.
Thank you very much for the comprehensive travel blog that you have documented. It has served as an invaluable source of information planning for my ski holiday at Rusutsu and in Sapporo.
A big thank you once again and will definitely refer to your guide for future travel!
Hi David, thanks for sharing! I have 2 young kids (2 and 4) and would love for them to learn skiing. When the kids go for their ski lessons, do parents usually accompany their children? If no, is it safe to leave them there without any supervision? I would love to have some time for myself and my Husband to learn skiing too.
Angie. S says
thanks for dropping by the blog. Most ski schools will only take in children from 3 years and up. So I think you and your husband have to alternate yoru ski class to take care of your 2 year old toddler. Some hotels/resorts may offer babysitting service for a fee, do call or email them to enquire.
Thanks for your advice
Mei Ly says
Hi David and Angie,
My family (2 adults and 2 sons, age 5 and 10 years old) will be planning to go to Hokkaido this Dec 2019. We will be taking public transport and Hokkaido Rail Pass and does not have experience to drive at snowy road. At first, I am planning to go to Niseko but after reading your blog (very informative), change to Rusutsu which is very convenient and accessable and all facilities are under one-roof. Your blog post give me an idea what to do in ski resort.
Our itinerary will be like this, can I seek your advice based your experience?
Day 1: New Chitose – Rusutsu (2 night stay), will be doing snow activities.
Day 3 : Rusutsu – Sapporo (1 night stay)
Day 4 : Sapporo – Noberibetsu (2 night stay)
Day 6 : Noberibetsu – Hakodate (2 night stay)
Day 8 : Hakodate – Sapporo (3 night stay)
Not sure the above itinerary will be hectic for us.
– For Hakodate, I am not sure whether it is worthwhile to go?
– Is it Ok to take day trip to Noberibetsu?
– As I check SQ direct flight to New Chitose, it is very high price. Not sure whether SQ will have promotion on this route?
Sorry for so many question as this is our trip to Hokkaido.
Hope to hear your recommendation.
Thank you very much
Angie. S says
Hi Mei Ly
thanks for dropping by the blog. Seems you’ve done very extensive planning for your trip. I think your itinerary is do-able. We’ve not been to Hakodate so we can’t comment but definitely love to visit one day. I think Noberibetsu is worth 1 night’s stay, we visited the marine park and caught the Penguin parade (so cute!). SQ’s direct charter flights to New Chitose are very pricey and they are always very quickly booked up so I doubt they will have any promotion. That’s why till now, we’ve never flown SQ or direct to Hokkaido!
Have a most memorable and fun trip!
Hi! It is such a relief to have come by your site as soon as my husband and I decided to spend our holidays this year in Sapporo! You have comprehensively listed down all your itinerary and experiences that it’s now so much easier to choose our activities for our 8-day holiday in the Hokkaido region. THANK YOU and KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK! 🙂
A few questions though:
1. Did you do your booking directly at the hotels’ websites? I’m looking into booking through booking.com and the hotel websites but they have not opened reservations yet for 27th Dec 2019-3rd Jan 2020. Just so excited and frantic because I heard rooms get booked so quickly during this time.
2. It’ll be our first time to explore this region so I wanted to divide our 8 days by staying 4 days in Sapporo and 4 days in Niseko. But seeing your post about Rusutsu makes me think otherwise… I will be travelling with my husband, 10 and 7 year old and our 70 year old parents. I am deciding whether to just stay at the Hoshino Resorts or Rusutsu for the convenience factor. But I’m torn because you had such good reviews on Ki Niseko and Go Snow. Any thoughts about this?
3. Would it be possible to go to Asahiyama Zoo from the resorts? Is it worth it? I’m thinking of just hiring a van and driver for this so it’d be more comfortable and convenient for the group.
4. I also read about the Hanazono Park and Grand Hirafu Kids Park…are these accessible and easy to go to from any of the resorts?
Thanks so much in advance. Hope to hear from you soon!
Angie. S says
thank you for the compliments on our blog, it’s readers like you who keep us going!
1. Booking hotels – Yes I try to book the ski resorts and hotels directly on their official website. For the year end dates, I sometimes give the hotels/resorts a long distance call to make my room booking in advance. They may not have released the dates to 3rd party agents but they are already accepting reservations internally.
2. 4 days each in Sapporo and Niseko/Rusutsu sound wise and not too rushed. As you are travelling with your 70 year old parents during super peak ski season (27 Dec to 3 Jan), Rusutsu might be less taxing for them as all F&B are under one roof. For Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, you need to walk a distance and wait for crowded internal shuttle buses to get you to various restaurants within the resort. Ki Niseko provides an in-house shuttle bus to bring hotel guests to restaurants within Niseko but you need to make advanced reservations for the restaurants (they are often fully booked). To conclude, each resort has its pros and cons so aim to try a different resort each time you come to Hokkaido!
3. We travelled to Asahiyama Zoo from Sapporo using public transport (https://www.lifestinymiracles.com/2017/05/hokkaido-asahiyama-zoo/). I also found out that there’s a busliner from Hoshino Resorts Tomamu to the Zoo: https://www.snowtomamu.jp/bus_18w/index_en.html
4. If you stay in Ki Niseko, you can get to Hanazono Park via the shuttle bus. But it’s not necessary because Rusutsu also has its own kids park. So does Tomamu.
All the best for your trip planning! So many decisions to make, but it’s gonna be worthwhile. We love Hokkaido!
Hi Angie and David
Thank you for sharing you lovely family photos and the ski resort information!
I will be flying to Sapporo from Tokyo. It will be the first time for me and my family. My stay will be about 8 days in Sapporo Hokkaido.
Can you recommend the must visit sightseeing places? I also intend to learn ski at Rusutsu resort with my kid age 12. Do you know if ski lessons are available in the week of 8 Dec? My plan is to fly back to sg after Rusutsu. Will there be enough time to travel from Rusutsu to airport?
Hope to hear from you soon. Thank!
Angie. S says
Thanks for dropping by the blog. Glad you found our Hokkaido posts useful.
Regarding sightseeing in Sapporo, you can refer to this post: https://www.lifestinymiracles.com/2017/07/hokkaido-diy-holiday/
Regarding booking of ski lessons in Rusutsu Resort, here’s the link: https://www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/en-gb/lessons-rental?page_id=306092 Lessons should be running from end Nov/early Dec, so Dec 8 is good. You can take the BIGRUNS Shuttle Bus direct from Rusutsu Resort to New Chitose Airport (2 hrs journey). Book here: https://www.hokkaido-rusutsu.com/en-gb/from-chitose-airport-summer
Have a most memorable and enjoyable vacation!
Hi Angie and David,
Chanced upon your wonderful and informative blog while researching for our upcoming trip to Hokkaido this mid December. We will be with our 6 and 2 year olds and are planning to stay 2 nights in Tomamu or Rusutsu resort (finding it hard to decide!)
Am planning to let my 6 year old try skiing for the first time. May I just check how many lessons did your son take at Crayon Shinchan? I’m thinking of 2 nights will be sufficient.
Because we have our 2 year old with us who is still too young to ski, I’m guessing having a wide variety of other snow activities will greatly help – between the 2 resorts, which will you say your family had more fun and magical time in engaging in non-ski activities?
Comparing the 2 resorts, which is prettier at night? Understand there’s the ice village in Tomamu to go to after dark. What about Rusutsu – anything open or places to explore after dark?
Thanks so much!
Angie. S says
thanks for your compliments on our blog posts. It’s indeed very time consuming to plan the finer details of the trip. I’ll try to help as much as I can from our experience.
1. For your 6 year old, I think 2-3 days lessons will be a good introduction to skiing. Crayon Shinchan is absolutely the best for this age group.
2. Since you have a 2 year old, I think Rusutsu Resort would be more suitable. Rusutsu has indoor carousel, indoor pool, indoor arcade, snow park right outside the hotel, lots of F&B choices, all under one roof. For Tomamu, you need to walk a distance to the different F&B outlets, on an uphill terrain, which may be tiring for the toddler.
3. There’s an ice village in Tomamu but it’s only fully complete closer to end Dec/early Jan. There are fairy lights sculptures at Rusutsu at night. It’s pretty magical.
You can try both resorts if you have more time in Hokkaido. Both have its unique selling points. Have fun planning!
Hi there! I chanced upon your video on YouTube and came over here to read in detail. Thank you so much for all the effort in writing out so clearly and making us newbies’ jobs easier! My big family and I are heading to Japan in early Dec, will be in Hokkaido around 8-11 Dec. I would like to stay a night or two in a ski resort and after looking at your pictures and experiences, I am very much excited to choose Rusutsu over Niseko. Also, for a family with a1 year old baby and another 3 year old, which hotel would u recommend? I love The Westin but with a baby, I might want to choose practically. Would love to hear your views. Thank you!!
Angie. S says
Thanks for your compliments on our video and blog posts. We are heartened whenever readers find our travelogues helpful.
We will be in Hokkaido around the same period this year but we are trying out another new resort this trip so we can share it with all of you.
With two yound kids below 3 years old, convenience and safety are key considerations. Based on our experience, we would recommend the main Rusutsu Resort Hotel. The Westin Rusutsu might be newer (looks nicer in photos) but all its rooms are duplexes, this means you have to constantly watch over your kids as all active children love to climb up and down the stairs. You have to take the monorail to get to the main Rusutsu Resort Hotel for ski class and other activities (e.g. Carousel, Sledding, Reindeer Rides, Shopping, F&B etc.) The monorail ride itself is not long but the wait during peak hours (at peak periods) can be long. My family loves the rooms in Rusutsu Resort Hotel that face the snow park. The fairy lights on the trees light up in the evenings, creating a magical sight. The airport shuttle buses also pick up and drop off at the main lobby of Rusutsu Resort Hotel, extremely hassle-free. Enjoy your winter vacay!
York Han says
Hi Angie and David,
Good afternoon . Been reading your blog since last year , really well informative, lot of efforts. Thai year we finally decided Hokkaido winter trip 2/12/19 to 12/2/19
Would like to seek your advise on following,
Family of four with two teenager boys 15 & 13 gg Hokkaido Rusutu resort on 3/11 to 6/12, already arranged with Rusutu resort transport from airport on 3/12 and Resort to Sapporo hotel on 6/12. Half board package stay.
Are we able to ski & snowboard on 4/12 ?
Do we need to rent jacket and pant for winter activities on 5/12 such as snow mobile and snow rafting and are these winter activities available on this date as noticed from Rusutu website only available mid December .
Lastly , any Christmas light / market available at Sapporo street during our stay 6/12 to 12/12/19 .
Thanks in advance for the help . Appreciate
Angie. S says
Hi thanks for your encouragement! We are glad that our sharing helps. As for skiing / snowboarding on 4 Dec, do check with the hotel when their ski season starts. From what we know it should be ok. This goest for the snow mobiling and other activities. Snow mobiling may be tricky as it requires quite a bit more snow as too much gravel etc…is not good for the vehicles. Typically snow mobiling starts mid to end Dec due to the amount of snowfall. Again, please check with the hotel. From our experience, you are able to rent the required jackets and pants for the duration however if you intend to do so, try to reserve them early. Likewise for shoes. Also, a ProTip: rent your jackets, shoes , gears the day before you intend to ski / use them so that the next day you won’t have to contend with the crowd – just pick, wear and go!
Sapporo winter illumination should be on, it’s quite nice with many Christmassy stalls with some coming from Europe. Not to be missed! Hope these help and have an excellent trip!
I’ve read your blog about Rusutsu & Tomamu. Based on your experience, which one is better to visit for first time? Thanks in advance for your help.
Angie. S says
Thanks for dropping by. We have good experiences at both resorts. I think if your kids are younger (preschool age), Rusutsu might be better as everything is under one roof, including its excellent Crayon Shinchan Ski School. Tomamu will be suitable for families with more independent kids. Have a good vacation!
Hi! Found your site by chance n love your write up! There is a new resort in Rusutsu now, Vale. It looks so good. Wondering if that will be a great stay whilst we walk to the amusement park n playground in Rusutsu Hotel lister here. Picking from your experience as just in case!
We have a 2.5yr old toddler travelling with her n want it to be best experience for all of us!