THERE are many ways to escape the abhorrent humidity here in Singapore. One of our favourite destinations is Hokkaido with powder snow that’s perfect for skiing and snowboarding. But everyone knows the allure of the Japanese island, so its ski resorts are always bound to be at capacity. The towns of Niseko, Furano, and Tomamu are the typical tourist resorts one would first look at when planning a trip to Hokkaido.
Enter Kiroro, a little-known destination located in the heart of Hokkaido’s Golden Triangle that has long been the choice resort for professional skiers with its consistent powder and an unusually long season.
If you need a little push to start getting your plane tickets, here are some reasons why your first holiday of 2019 should be a ski trip to Kiroro.
The consistently dry powder snow and long winter season
In any ski resort, the snow is what makes or breaks it. Kiroro has consistently received some of the most snowfall—21 metres each year—in the entire Hokkaido region. Niseko in comparison gets about 14 metres on average during the peak season. The snow is powder light and dry – both experts and novices will enjoy the experience.
The period of snowfall at Kiroro is also unusually long when compared to other resorts. The season starts early in November and only tapers off around May, so you have plenty of time to plan your /vacation. With almost six months of snowfall resulting in a more even spread of visitation, you can rest assured that you won’t be queuing up for hours just to get on the ski lift, nor will you be jostling on the pistes with other skiers.
The many 5-star accommodations to rest up after a day on the slopes
It’s always nice to come back to a warm suite after a long, productive day out on the slopes. Kiroro, thankfully, has no shortage of luxury hotels that are more than willing to welcome you as their guests.
One option is the Sheraton Hokkaido Kiroro Resort. The Sheraton is one of the better resorts in Kiroro for serious skiiers, as they provide ski-in-ski-out access to 22 snow trails. Amateurs who don’t have their own ski gear can also rent it hassle-free at the main Kiroro mountain centre that happens to be attached to the Sheraton. It’s also an academy that offers classes for beginners.
When you’re done with the snow activities, retire to one of the 140 guest rooms and suites that are spacious and well-lit. Remember to request for a room with the views of the mountain. If your muscles are tensed up after a day of working the slopes, or you just want to try out an onsen, the Sheraton has a Tokiwayu Bath in the spa. You can choose to soak either in the outdoor hot tub or the cold water bath before heading into the sauna to open up your pores and sweat out the toxins.
Another option in Kiroro is The Kiroro, part of Marriott’s Tribute Portfolio Hotels and Resorts. If you’re after something a bit more traditionally-designed, The Kiroro is the mountain resort for you. Here, you can enjoy sweeping views every morning of two peaks, Asari and Nagamine. Getting to the Kiroro ski area requires a three-minute ride on the free shuttle bus that runs between The Kiroro and the Sheraton.
We’d dare say that the spa amenities at The Kiroro are some of the best currently in the resort. They have just refurbished the “Kiroro Onsen” for a more contemporary, modern vibe while still staying true to the Japanese public bath traditions. The baths at the onsen are only filled with mineral-rich hot spring water from the Akaigawa Village, and the sauna is made of cedar wood that’s more comfortable and cooler to sit on. There is also a new stone sauna, which is another name for the infrared sauna on The Kiroro’s premises.
For the holiday home seekers
There is also the upcoming Yu Kiroro private residences that will breathe some new life into the accommodation options in the Kiroro region. The award-winning luxury condominium will be the first time a private property has ski-in-ski-out access to the slopes in Kiroro, which would definitely attract all the ski aficionados looking for a home in Hokkaido.
If that’s not enough to convince you, there is also an in-house ski valet, all-day dining, an indoor and outdoor onsen, plus an “Owner’s Lounge” for you to mingle with your neighbours after a day out in the snow.
Yu Kiroro has 108 fully-furnished units ranging from 1-bedroom to 3-bedrooms. There is also a 4-bedroom penthouse that boasts its own private outdoor onsen. The residence is slated for completion in December 2019, and the apartments start at ¥70M (S$850,000).
It’s not just about skiing at Kiroro
Sure, Kiroro might be primarily a ski town, but that doesn’t mean that’s all it has to offer. There is a myriad of other activities you can partake in because your body deserves a break after skiing for a few days.
You can arrange to have a tour of the snow-covered forests either on foot or on one of the snowmobiles that resemble monster trucks. If you’re up for a sub-zero adventure, the tour is also conducted at twilight and at night, so you can experience a true winter wonderland in the chilliest weather possible. No, the popups at Gardens by the Bay don’t count.
If you have more time, the picturesque port city of Otaru is just a quick 30-minute drive away. What was once a former major trade and fishing port filled with warehouses and office buildings has transformed into a quaint town with artisanal shops. Those same warehouses of old have been turned into museums, and they line the main canal that meanders through the city.
Flights from Singapore to Sapporo (Hokkaido) operate daily on Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, ANA, and Scoot.