For avid skiers, Japan is one of those must-ski places on the bucket list. And, of all the mountains and resorts in the country, it’s Hokkaido that everyone wants to head to. We visited in summer, skeptical that it wouldn’t have the same magic about it. We were wrong, it was just as beautiful. Partly because we stayed at one of Hokkaido’s most gorgeous resorts. Here’s what we thought of Hoshino Resorts Tomamu.
Located in the centre of Japan’s northern island Hokkaido, Hoshino Resorts Tomamu is a great base for exploring the island. It’s just a 90-minute drive from New Chitose Airport, or you can take the Hokkaido Resort Linerbus service which offers great value. Super Express trains run from Sapporo 11 times a day and take close to 100 minutes to Tomamu station, where the resort’s shuttle bus will meet you.
Why we stayed
Many Australians travel to Hokkaido to play in the snow, but we were keen to check out Japan’s most northern island in the summertime. We’re so glad we did. Before we visited Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, we drove around the island admiring flower fields and eating too much soft serve (they are obsessed with ice cream in Hokkaido!). When we got to the resort we wish we had booked for longer – it’s a great summer location for families.
The resort comprises of two lofty towers – Risonare Tomamu and Tomamu The Tower. The two buildings loom over sprawling fields, which are covered in powdery white snow in winter and lush green grass in summer. Risonare Tomamu is a luxury all-suite hotel, positioned on an elevated site with great views in all directions. All the rooms are at least 100 square metres and have a sauna and a spa. This is where we stayed and it was hard to leave, especially because the best view is from the spa – yes, we got in before we even unpacked. Tomamu The Tower has many room configuration options – including family rooms – and is in a more central location. There are great kid spaces in both towers.
People travel from far and wide to view the ‘Sea of Clouds’ from Unkai Terrace, which is essentially a panorama of overcast layers of clouds that transpire as a result of trade winds and are visible only from places at high elevation. Regrettably, during our visit we didn’t get the surreal effect we were hoping for, but it’s still a great experience to go up there. It’s a 13-minute gondola ride up to the peaks of mountains of Hidaka and Tokachi. Head up early in the morning to people watch, have a coffee and admire the views below from the multiple viewing areas.
The farm is another great experience for families. There’s a lounge area surrounded by hay, hammocks and hay beds for you to relax in while admiring the farm animals. Our daughter wasn’t into laying down (toddlers…), but she adored being in such close proximity to sheep and lambs.
Mina-Mina Beach – Japan’s largest indoor beach – is another must visit at the resort. The 80-metre long, 30-metre wide pool is popular with all guests. There’s a wave pool, kids pool with colourful balls, relaxation area and, obviously, plenty of space to swim. Come nightfall, the indoor beach is lit up and transformed into a romantic area.
Another destination that is magical at night is the chapel on the water. The otherworldly beauty of the cross with the trees behind it is almost eerie together with the still reflections under a sky flooded with stars. It’s particularly special admired in silence, so one for the older kids.
It’s all about the great outdoors at Hoshino Resorts Tomamu, with summer activities covering everything from river rafting and horse riding to hiking and hot air ballooning. There’s a section on the company website where you can filter activities by selecting the ages of the children in the family and the month you will be visiting. We went on a hike this time and when our daughter is older I’d be keen to return and go on a river rafting escapade.
Food & beverage
Choice, choice, choice! There are around 20 eateries spanning everything from casual cafes to huge buffet restaurants to fine dining establishments. We didn’t get to try even close to all of them, but Forest Restaurant Nininupuri stood out for me as a firm favourite. The buffet restaurant has a forest-like feel with high ceilings, plenty of woodwork and large windows through which you can see the forest of Tomamu. Although it’s a buffet, there are plenty of options that can be cooked to order, with a focus on signature meats.
The best bit for us was its family-friendliness. Parents with babies can put their tot into a moveable chair that acts as both a high chair and a food tray. This is the first time that hubby and I did not have to take turns going to get food at a buffet restaurant since our daughter was born.
Family travel tip
The resort embraces nature and many of the activities – both in summer and winter – are designed to help children learn about and appreciate the natural world. The Summer Family Forest Adventure is one such example, where kids can learn about trees and insects while going on a short walk.
Naka-Tomamu Shimukappu Yufutsu Hokkaido, Japan
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When you travel every day is different! You get to experience different cultures, meet new people, get lost, find cool laneway bars, try weird and delicious foods, snorkel with sea lions, fly over mountains carpeted in grass, laze about in hammocks immersed in Windex-blue water, horse ride alongside gauchos, call sleeper trains, igloos and yurts home for a night, cycle past giraffes, dance with Masai warriors, play with local school children.