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:
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