For Christmas last year I got Josh a weekend ski trip!
This is how the story goes…
We went to this event where we had wine and cheese and learned about the different ski resorts around Japan.
Just to give you a little context, I was relatively new to Japan at this point and not only was I bad about knowing how far away things are, but the names of places went over my head also.
So, I found this great deal where we could both stay overnight two nights and ski two days and be home for the week ahead no problem. I was so proud of myself for coming up with the Best Hubby Christmas Present Ever!! It was for the “Grandeco Resort Hotel & Ski.“
Over the next month or so, whenever I would tell a Japanese National where we were going they would look at me with big eyes and say “Oooooh!” … if you have experience with Japanese Nationals you know this is their way of saying “You’re crazy but Im trying to be nice and not tell you how crazy you are.”
I couldn’t figure out why for the life of me!
Then someone made a comment about coming back with three eyes or something and then informed me that this is the area that had the Nuclear Disaster in 2011… So there is that. But the hotel looked nice, and had an Onsen (like a hot spring)… so we went anyways! Ha ha!
Another minor glitch in my plan is that the resort is over 4 hours away. It’s not a deal breaker, but something that should be known beforehand!
All that said, here is my review of the Grandeco Resort Hotel & Ski:
- The black diamond runs are not like Montana or Colorado black diamonds… In that they are more like blue square runs… maybe with moguls.
- The weekend we went there was powder, but the best run of the day was down the chair lift, which may or may not have been roped off.
- Free hot chocolate at the bottom!!
- There is a pizza/pasta place mid-mountain that has good food for about 1200 yen
- Standard Japanese bed set-up (two “double” beds that are more like American sized single beds)
- A GREAT onsen! The men and women are separate and they have outside and inside pools.
- A good price if you look for a “campaign” – around Christmas and New Years they have a lot of different “campaigns” which are like sales for specific dates and activities.
- They will pick you up from the train station and bring you to the hotel in a van, that is, if your insane enough to ride a train in Tokyo with all your ski gear.
- Dinner is EXPENSIVE… think 5000 yen / person (about $50), so we brought our own!
Our classic skiing dinner of summer sausage, cheese and crackers!
Here we are in our robes for the Onsen! This was our first time at the Onsen, so it took us awhile to figure it out. Bring your towel from your room and any shampoo you want to use. Swimsuits are NOT ALLOWED so, don’t even bring yours. Just come in your robe and store all your other belongings in a basket, walk in, shower off while sitting down (important that you sit) on a stool and then get in the Onsen and enjoy! The outdoors Onsen is so, so beautiful.
Ok, now time for the CRAZIEST story!! The second day that we were there, we woke up to howling winds. The snow was all drifted and packed but we got DUMPED on the night before so there were several feet of new snow. We were like “Sweet!” (not about the wind but about the snow) and decided to head out first thing after breakfast. We had the breakfast buffet included with our “campaign” tickets, and it was all inclusive and good – it had both an American and a Japanese side.
After breakfast we went over to the front desk to see what time the lifts open, and there were big signs plastered over everything!! We kept getting the “NO” symbol from everyone (arms crossed in front of their chest in a big X as they shake their head side to side). It turns out the lifts were closed due to the winds! So sad! We then decided to head back early after learning that this storm was huge and it was going to be hard to get home.
This is us trying unsuccessfully to get on the expressway for about the 5th time.
OH MY GOODNESS it was craziness!! They closed down all the expressways and only had the unplowed “highways” open. Not to mention we are in our front wheel drive Toyota Vitz , which is like a mini Toyota Yaris. Basically we couldn’t stop or else it was game over. It took us over 9.5 hours to get home, but we only got stuck once and made it in one piece! I don’t think the same can be said for the oncoming traffic… there was a semi stuck on a hill that backed up traffic for over 3 miles… causing many, many other cars to be stuck. They weren’t getting home anytime that night. I cannot tell you how glad I was that we weren’t in that lane!!!
That’s my brave Hubby having a good attitude!
Lessons learned: Try Nagano next time. Get some snow chains that fit. Don’t stress when your husband is trying to drive in sketchy weather (this one is hard for me)… It was good practice for 9.5 hours to tell myself “You know what? We probably won’t die of hypothermia or starvation. We are going to make it out alive eventually, and that’s all that matters!” It was good practice not to sweat the small stuff… like getting stuck or minor collisions… it all comes out a wash in the long run.
So, I DO recommend the Grandeco for decent skiing if you are willing to drive 4.5 hours North. We were just unlucky to get stuck in the one big snow storm last year. Here is their review on Powderhounds… and DEFINITELY check out the Onsen, message chairs and Ice cream vending machines on the first floor.
What is the best Christmas gift you have ever gotten your Hubby?! I need ideas for this year!
Also, please share your Japan skiing experiences below! We’re always looking for new places to try!