Sure, there are lots of ski resorts around the globe that offer great snow, great programs and great progressive terrain, but how many offer the chance to hit a mega wave pool complex afterwards? Tomamu does, and if you are looking for the x-factor in selecting your next family ski destination that could well be it reports Carmen Price.
Before we go for a swim, let’s take a swing round the core snow part of the equation. Convenience is king when it comes to taking kids skiing anywhere, especially overseas. Having everything pretty much fall-out-the-door accessible is a huge advantage, and Tomamu is purpose built as a fully self-contained resort with exactly that in mind.
From the heights of the twin Tower hotels, which are family friendly (as are the Risonare Towers, a bit more upmarket option open main season only), the empty slopes are just an elevator ride away.
The super friendly kids’ program staff and instructors in the Kid’s Academy, and the excellent facilities don’t leave much for parents to worry about it. After a huge buffet breakfast (how about burgers made to order?) the kids will be ready for a big day.
Tomamu’s Adventure Mountain offers two options: Nipo Town, a kids only area for those too young to ski or board with all day combo programs with on snow and indoor activities and lunch; and Chokkari Mountain, which caters to kids with some experience. Nipo Town features a storyline complete with locations and characters, with the good guy mascot (pictured here) outwitting the bad guy.
The GAO Kids Activity Club offers all day and shorter sessions, and a 9am – 7pm nursery facility that’s ideal for those with small children.
The mountain layout makes it pretty easy for parents to drop back and see how the kids are going, or if your kids are good then they can access the bib & free helmet sign in for the off-piste areas.
There’s plenty of non-ski on-snow options for all ages at Tomamu’s Polar Village centre, including snow mobiles, snow rafting, banana boating, a sled park, ‘sledge cabbin’ (a large towed sled with a windscreen so you can comfortably take toddlers), and snow shoeing.
Tomamu’s Ice Village is not just for kids – there’s an Ice Bar (complete with some tempting local saké from a 115 year old brewery), Ice Chapel, Ice Restaurant and, of course, an ice rink.
But Tomamu’s family x-factor is not the big chill, it’s the Mina-Mina Beach and indoor wave pool complex, one of Japan’s largest, and a novel experience when it’s dumping outside. Adjoining hot pools and massage/spa facilities mean while the kids are having a splash you can have some relaxing treatments.
Put all the above together with the fastest transfer time from New Chitose Airport of any major Hokkaido ski resort and the abundant sunny weather plus good snow in a more protected central island location and it adds up to one of the best family ski options in Japan. You won’t find hordes of fellow western guests, or hear lots of English, but enough of both for you and your kids to make friends easily.
Tomamu is only 90 minutes on the Hokkaido Resort Liner express bus from New Chitose airport, and easy day tripping distance to Furano and Sahoro for more variety.
To Stay: The Tower’s twin 37 storey blocks have a great location and host of facilities on site or via the connecting covered walkway network. Alternatively Hoshino Resort Risonare Tomamu offers a more luxurious hotel experience in their twin towers, also on snow but a little further from the resort centre. Check www.snowtomamu.jp/winter/english
or major Japan ski tour operators.
Specials: Season Pass holders at any Australian ski resort from the 2014 season get FREE skiing at Tomamu with a 7 night or more Tomamu hotel accommodation package with the resort. Tour operators have great short stay packages also check www.skijapan.com www.deeppowdertours.com www.travelplan.com.au www.mogulski.com.au www.snowcapped.com.au from UK www.skijapan.co.uk