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Snow Time! Skiing in Niseko, Japan (review of the Annupuri Village Chalets)

Today was a very exciting day for my nearly four year old.  We are back for a visit in my hometown of London and Daisy got to play in snow for the first time.  Living in Hong Kong, snow doesn’t often/ever cross our path!  It made me remember how much fun I used to have going on snow holidays pre-kids and how I can’t wait to introduce my snow bunnies to the slopes. To celebrate this auspicious day, it’s time for a snow holiday review!  My awesome friend Sally who recently relocated from HK to Bangkok, upped her brood to the powdery slopes of Niseko for the second year in a row:

Who:  3 adults, 2 children (nearly 4yo and 2yo)
When:  Early Feb 2013
Where:  Annupuri Village Chalets, Niseko, Japan

Chalet Booking
We booked our chalet ‘Mountain Ash’ direct through the website.  The staff in the office are excellent and we arranged most things pre-arrival so I was in touch with them a lot.  They arranged transfers, shopping delivery on arrival, lift passes, equipment hire, babysitters, restaurant reservations, any shuttle bus transfers we required throughout our stay (complimentary).

Transfers from Hokkaido Chitose Airport
These weren’t included in chalet booking.  The chalet company offers several transport options.  Last year we used their shared minibus (which we had to ourselves), which tied in well with our flight arrival time.  This year it didn’t, so we used the public coach and they booked our tickets for us.  The coach is not direct to chalet but the chalet shuttle met us at the drop off point which is a nearby hotel.  It was ideal and cheaper. Private taxi option is very expensive (it is 2.5-3 hrs from Chitose Airport to Niseko)

Mountain Ash OutsideThe chalet – Mountain Ash
This was a very clean, comfortable 3 bed self-catering property.  It is newly built (alpine style detached chalets) and fully furnished with everything we needed, including a lovely open fire.

Kids Facilities
We rented a cot and I noticed a list of other baby kit you could hire direct from the chalets if required.

There is a Children’s outdoor play area at Annpuri gondola.  Tube/sledge hire available.  Hanazono ski area has a good dedicated area for children’s tubing/sledging and generally messing about in the snow

Leisure facilities
We were there in winter so obviously spent most of our time skiing.  There are also other snow related activities on offer.  There are many onsens (hot springs) in the area for apres-ski relaxation. We would love to go in Summer, when I understand there are plenty of outdoor activities available.

Dining
The restaurants are plentiful and delicious!  Although admitedly not so much choice in Annupuri Village but many more available in Hirafu town which is a 10-15 min drive.

Flo at Ski SchoolSki School
We used NBS Ski School in Hirafu which had been recommended by a friend.  Very good English speaking instructors.  A friend booked my daughter (age 3) in for the morning lessons.

In conclusion…
We liked that Annupuri Village Chalets were in a quieter area than the main town – something that some people might not want.  Plenty of space and a lovely detached alpine building with beautiful views.  Location means a few more short journeys to get to any restaurants in Hirafu, or if using NBS but we just skied from there each day instead of from Annupuri (the ski areas do connect although not if in bad weather).  If we were in Hirafu after the last shuttle at night we took a taxi home.  There is also a public ski bus service connecting all 4 Niseko ski areas which we did use once last year.

The Annupuri ski area lifts/gondola very close to chalets to ski from, a couple of minutes drive, plus a little outdoor children’s play area/cafe there.  There’s a good company I used for private lessons last year (booked by chalet office).

Friends have stayed in Hirafu in apartments – there’s lots of choice – which are convenient for the ski school we used, and bars/restaurants and grocery shops.

We will definitely return to Annupuri Village, this was our second visit!

Mountain Ash 2

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