Going to the ski resort for a winter vacation is literally one of the coolest things you can find yourself doing at the end of the year. Puns aside, it’s clear that many others have also set their eyes on these destinations during the cold winter months and for good reason. Ah, just imagine the cold winter winds blowing into your face as you ski down the steep slopes of the mountains or even enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in a picturesque lodge as you bask in the views of the snowcapped mountains — obviously an experience you can’t get out of if you’re in Singapore, duh.
The real question is — what is it like at the ski resort when summer glides in? At first mention, you’d picture a resort that’s completely deserted, with disembodied voices echoing down the empty hallways. Well, basically you’d assume it to be something out of The Shining. Even just the mere thought of it sends chills down my spine.
But look, that’s where you’re wrong. Recently, I jetted off to the land of the rising Sun — more specifically, to Hokkaido — to get a first-hand experience of what Club Med Tomamu has to offer in the summer — and I must say, it was absolutely breathtaking.
THINGS TO DO
First things first, let’s clear the misconception that ski resorts aren’t habitable in the summer. As a matter of fact, if you’re one who can’t take extreme temperatures, then visiting a ski resort in Hokkaido during the summer season (June to September) might just be the perfect destination for you. Reason being: 1) the average temperature in Sapporo is around 18°C, 2) you don’t have to brace the cold icy winds, and 3) you won’t have to deal with the sweltering heat. Now if that isn’t perfect, I don’t know what is.
Besides the amazing weather, there were a ton of activities for guests to enjoy too. I mean, considering the fact that the resort’s nestled away from the city area, you’d expect a few activities from this getaway. Located in the hamlet of Tomamu — neighbouring Hoshino Resorts Tomamu — the resort is an hour and a half away drive from New Chitose Airport — a blissful ride that whizzes you through the mountains of Hokkaido and deciduous trees. You can still explore the city of Sapporo by taking a public transfer bus over at Club Med Tomamu which takes around 2-3 hours to get to. But if I had to be honest, I’d save the city for the last day, before catching your flight at New Chitose Airport. Trust me — you’d save so much more time.
‘ Nuff said. From taking on an adventurous bike trail to attending an eco-green festival, there were more than what I had expected of a ski resort in the summer. Ahead, are some of the unique activities that I got to try during my stay here at Club Med Tomamu.
1. GREEN BEATS FESTIVAL
One of the main highlights of the trip had to be the Green Beats Festival that Club Med Tomamu had organised, with a slew of other conscious activities. Held annually every year in September, the Green Beats Festival first started as a green initiative to provide an eco-conscious experience for guests — celebrating the beauty of nature with stellar performances by international acts from across Asia.
SPECTACULAR LINE-UP OF PERFORMANCES
At first, you’d be picturing something along the lines of an outdoor festival that’s staged on the grounds of the resort. Rain or shine, hot or cold, dust or mud, the festival goes on as scheduled. But here at Green Beats, it’s anything but the usual festival you’re used to seeing.
Staged at the Main Bar itself (otherwise known as the Unkai Bar), guests get to enjoy a day filled with activities — from building your own microscope for the kids to indulging in some of Hokkaido’s wine and cheese fondue — while grooving to the beat of the performances.
Swooping up the room with irrepressible energy, charisma and versatility, are none other than this talented line of DJs. Tokyo-based DJ, Chris SSG, helmed the decks with an explorative take on techno beats while other acts including Japanese rock band Cro Magnon took centrestage with some of their crowd-favourite tunes.
You know the drill. It only feels second nature for all festival-goers to have some form of glitter on their face when it comes to festivals. Coachella, Tomorrowland, name any festival and you’ll see a bunch of girls showered in glitter.
But, over at the Green Beats Festival, they took it up a notch by introducing something that’s a little more eco-conscious. Yes, eco-glitter. Basically, the difference between eco-glitter and your normal glitter is essentially their biodegradability factor — of which it also raises awareness of the plastic pollution issue that we’re currently facing, with the hopes of spreading across a message to reduce our carbon footprint as a whole.
As part of the programme, we also had the chance to pick up a few tips on photography from the maestro himself, National Geographic photographer, Jayaprakash Bojan.
Now, I’m not the best at when it comes to photography so I knew that it’d be handy if I honed my photography skills during the workshop itself.
During our trail, we headed out to the nearby lake located right beside the resort, and we tried taking a few shots of the picturesque landscape — which, of course, got us really inspired. Unfortunately, we didn’t manage to see any wildlife while we were out and about, but nevertheless, we still managed to have a productive afternoon out with our camera (in my case, my trusty iPhone).
2. MOUNTAIN BIKING AND HIKING
The most epic bike trail adventure awaits!
Now if you’re looking to satisfy your inner adrenaline junkie, or just a nice morning out with your bike, then look no further than mountain biking here in Hokkaido.
We explored the nearby park, where we rode through the lush greenery and small hills — making a few photo stops when we encountered some amazingly scenic landscapes (peep the beautiful sunflower garden). Not to mention, we also discovered a petting farm where we found some goats, horses, sheep, and other farm animals that were roaming around too.
For those who’d prefer not to cycle, guests can also opt for a mountain hiking expedition which takes on a similar route around the park too!
3. DINE AT ITARA AND HAKU
After staying at the resort for 4 days, it’s safe to say that you’ll never go hungry here (keyword: never). Food options grow aplenty here at this food haven with aperitifs in between buffets all day long. Just a word of advice: if you’re planning a trip to Club Med Tomamu, you’d best believe to sign up or even keep that membership of yours in Singapore — you’ll need it once you’re back.
Savour international and Japanese delights over at Itara (which is also known as Club Med’s main restaurant) or treat yourself to a wine and dine experience over at Haku (Club Med’s speciality restaurant) if you’re looking to indulge in some fresh yakiniku off the grill.
Just look at how juicy and tender their meat served at Haku is! Take one bite and you’ll be sent straight to heaven and back — no lie, it was one of the best Japanese meals I’ve had in a very long time.
4. THE NEST — ZEN BAR
Fancy a tipple to end your night with? Head over to the Nest Bar here at Club Med Tomamu to get yourself a quick fix. This isn’t just any ordinary bar nestled within the resort. In fact, over at the Nest Bar, you’ll be able to try your hands on some sake tasting! Let’s be real here — a trip to Japan isn’t complete with some sake in hand, don’t you agree?
Here, I tried their most basic sake tasting package which was pretty affordable, in my opinion — it was probably around $28 for the full set! Alternatively, you can also opt to try some of the other premium Japanese whiskeys (and sakes!) that they have decked on the shelves of the bar itself.
5. MINA MINA BEACH
Mina Mina Beach — as the name suggests, you’d expect a pristine white beach landscape, blue waters accompanied with the symphony of crashing waves. But that’s where you’re wrong. Although this beach shares similar ideas of a beach (well, sort of), it’s actually an indoor swimming pool that also houses the iconic Japanese onsen! “A dip in the pool, a trip to the spa, endless days in my chaise, the whole world according to moi,” my inner Sharpay Evans was screaming!
Otherwise known as Japan’s largest indoor wave pool, Mina Mina Beach is actually not a part of Club Med Tomamu — it is, however, located a stone’s throw away from the resort’s entrance itself. Nevertheless, guests at Club Med Tomamu will also enjoy free access to the pool itself as you’ll be given a card which permits entry to Mina Mina Beach upon arrival.
ROOMS AND FACILITIES
Now if you’re unfamiliar with how Club Med works, they’ll usually give you a tag upon arrival, of which you have to wear it on throughout your stay here. What it does is that it essentially works as the key to your room, and your personal wallet where you can make any purchase in the resort with the tap of your wristlet without the hassle of bringing your physical wallet with you!
As for the rooms, I stayed in the Family Superior Room (although there was only a party of one: me). Rooms in Japan are known to be really small, so when I first stepped in mine, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it’s considerably a lot more spacious than I thought it would be.
Home cinema system? Check. Ski locker with shoe dryer? Check. A sofa couch, on top of the king-sized bed overlooking the mountains? Check, check, and check!
The room is also fully equipped with bath and shower facilities which also comes in handy if you’re looking to soak yourself in a hot and decadent bath at the end of the day.
If you’re all about the ‘gram then this one’s just for you. Aside from offering a ton of fun-filled activities within the resort, you can also expect to see photo ops at every corner too! Here are some of the spots you can look out for here at the resort.
2. CHILDCARE FACILITIES — PETIT CLUB MED, MINI CLUB MED AND CLUB MED PASSWORLD
For families, on the other hand, who are travelling with little ones, you’d be glad to know that Club Med Tomamu also has their own childcare facilities — Petit Club Med®, Mini Club Med® and Club Med Passworld®, catering to kids of different age groups, from 2 to 17 years old!
IS IT WORTH IT?
My overall opinion may be a little biased considering that I’ve never travelled to Hokkaido before, but based on my first experience, it was definitely one for the books. From the start to the end, I saw myself enjoying every bit of my stay here at Club Med Tomamu. With an extensive range of food options to choose from, an intensive line up of entertainment and activities, there was never a time where I had to worry about anything — well, apart from running to and fro the different classes located at different regions of the resort at least.
But to be treated with such amazing hospitality, you’d best believe that this package would come with a hefty price tag. Prices tend to range from $1,000 onwards per pax (scaling up to double the price during peak season AKA winter where ski resort resumes its operations with more guests coming in for their ski programmes). To justify it, it also includes all-day dining and the use of the other facilities within the resort itself.
So would I recommend it? If you’re travelling with little ones and/or if you’re willing to splurge a little more on a good vacay, then yes. Sure, Hokkaido may be known for its heavy snowfall, but give it a chance in the summer and you’ll see the true beauty of Hokkaido like never before.
Find out more about Club Med Tomamu and their travel packages on clubmed.com.sg/r/Tomamu-Hokkaido/s.