Japan’s hidden pocket of perfect powder is now home to a family-friendly ski resort.
Lotte Arai Resort is tucked into a secret valley on Japan’s Honshu island, close to the Olympic ski powerhouse of Nagano.
The resort has an unthinkable average of 18 metres of snow each year with a base of 329 metres – far more than the much-frequented Niseko with smaller crowds.
And it’s only two hours from Tokyo. Catch the Hokuriku Shinkansen to Joetsu Myoko station and Lotte Arai’s free shuttle bus will meet you there.
The brand new five-star ski-in, ski-out resort is one of the most luxury hotels on the Japanese mainland. But it’s still affordable for Australian families, especially when you compare it to the price of Australian snow lodges. Here you will get far more bang for your buck – and far more snow.
“Lotte Arai is ski heaven, no matter whether you are a beginner or advanced,” Shuzo Kameda, CEO says.
“Skiing Japan is easy, it’s affordable, the quality of the snow is exceptional and this hotel really is a level above anything Australia or New Zealand can offer.”
Lotte Arai is the only luxury ski resort in this Myoko valley, which is essentially a huge powder bowl. It boasts Japan’s biggest in-grounds off-piste skiing. Up to 84 per cent of the 212 hectares of skiable terrain is ungroomed. Just imagine smashing through powder all day.
It has an impressive 951 metres of vertical descent (1100m if you hike the ridgeline up to Mt Ohgenashi and Mt Kogenashi).
For little learners Lotte Arai also has 14 groomed runs and a beginners slope right in front of the hotel. The longest run is 5200m in length. It also has an international ski school with experienced English-speaking instructors.
When the kids begin skiing in Japan, you can be sure they will pick up the sport extremely fast. Falling in powder snow is a lot more fun than falling on ice in Australia or New Zealand.
Lotte Arai resort also has childcare. So parents can get some time on the slopes together.
The on-site ski rental shop “Salomon Station” stocks all the major brands and will fit you with the right gear for your skiing style – beginner through to advanced.
Inside the 257 room hotel, guests are spoilt with convenience and luxury. Lotte Arai Resort offers 18 different room types including basic twin rooms, family rooms, and suites. Each features “he:on” beds – an original brand designed for the hotel’s global chain to ensure guests get a good night’s sleep, free WiFi and incredible views of Okenashiyama and the surrounding area.
At the end of a full day’s skiing, you can soak your tired muscles in the indoor or outdoor onsen, the pool or spa. Or simply relax with a good book in the library cafe.
If like us, you need a coffee before you hit the slopes, you’ll be glad to know the resort has a take-out café at the bottom of the gondola station.
Guests can choose either western or Japanese style breakfast each day. We highly recommend trying Japanese breakfast while you stay.
For lunch and dinner, Lotte Arai also offers Italian fare. We know that all kids crave pizza or spaghetti bolognaise at some point on a ski holiday. Two more restaurants are located on the slopes.
Relax after skiing in a lounge bar or belt out some tunes in the karaoke bar after dinner.
If you need a break from skiing, Lotte Arai has the longest and highest zipline tour in Asia. Start from the mountain side of Zendana Station and feel your heart race as you slide above the treetops.
It also has the biggest Japanese “big-scale” tube park – just outside the resort and the number one bouldering (rock climbing) route in Japan.
That’s if you can drag yourself away from the amazing powder on the slopes.
For more information on Lotte Arai Resort head on over to their website – LotteAraiResort.com/en.
Want to head to Japan to ski? Check out our Family Travel Japan page for ideas and inspiration. Combine a ski trip with Tokyo, Disneyland or Osaka and your kids will love it.