Home' Traveller : Scoop Traveller WA 018 Contents June-December 2010 Scoop Traveller 81
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who has an office in Sydney. SkiJapan.com
manages both Snow Crystal and Alpen Ridge,
and owns the Niseko Base Snowsports (NBS)
ski school and ski rental shop near the chair lift
in the Alpen Ridge building. This was a great
place to get organised: SkiJapan.com can help
with your entire Niseko experience, including
accommodation, equipment, ski school, ski
rental, flights and transfers before you arrive.
We stayed at Snow Crystal, a brand new
luxury apartment block located just 30m from
the ski school and chair lift. The apartments
themselves were spacious, with two large
bedrooms (three-bedroom apartments were
also available), a modern kitchen, two large
bathrooms and a laundry. Locker facilities
downstairs meant getting ready and hitting the
slopes was a five-minute exercise. There were
two apartments on each floor – ask for the ‘01’
apartments (as opposed to ‘02’) because they
have a slightly larger living area.
Alpen Ridge had similar style apartments,
offering residents true ski in/ski out facilities
and the benefit of having the ski rental and ski
school in the same building. Otherwise, the
difference was minimal.
Right next door and offering ski in/ski out
facilities was The Vale Niseko. The apartments
were more varied, but similar in style. On the
ground floor was a very cool hotel bar and
restaurant, plus a beautiful communal Japanese
bath and heated pool for guests. Some rooms
had a balcony with private outdoor heated bath,
which is the epitome of luxury after a day on
the mountain. There were plenty of other much
cheaper accommodation options in Niseko, but
if you have the budget, nothing beats a luxury
apartment adjacent to the chair lifts.
Having lived in Hokkaido for almost two years,
I have the advantage of speaking Japanese.
However, if you have a good sense of humour
and are up for a challenge, this is a beautiful,
off-the-tourist-track place to visit and a chance
to experience a bit more real Japan.
Sapporo is a city of 1.9 million, but it doesn’t
feel like it. It is easy to find your way around
because the city, designed by an American, is
one of a few in Japan built on a grid system.
However, if your inner-GPS isn’t reliable,
taxis are the easy option for getting from A to
B. When to visit? If you can get your timing
right and book well in advance, visit during
the Sapporo Snow Festival, which takes place
over seven days in February (7-13 in 2011) and
is a magical display of lights, ice sculptures and
more, right in the centre of the city.
For places to stay, the JR Tower Hotel
Nikko Sapporo is primarily a business hotel.
The rooms are small and have few facilities
for kids, but its location on top of Sapporo
station is convenient and the top-floor bar and
restaurant are excellent. Another benefit is that
the surrounding buildings, department stores
and never-ending boutiques are connected
via underground arcades, so it’s a shopper’s
paradise with tonnes of fun for the kids. The
Mercure Hotel is less central, but has bigger
rooms, so comes recommended. If you like zoos,
the Maruyama Zoo in winter is a wonderful way
to while away a half day with the kids.
village from the slopes.
Ski-in/ski-out from Alpen Ridge
onto the Ace family run.
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