Review: Learning to Ski at Rusutsu Resort (Hokkaido)

Editor’s note: Glo and her hubby picked Hokkaido for their family’s first ski trip. She shares with us the family’s experience learning to ski at Rusutsu Resort. Though Glo and her daughter decided skiing was not quite their thing, they found plenty to keep themselves entertained, too. Read about the family’s experience here.

Learning to Ski at Rusutsu Resort

Hubby and I decided to take the kids on a ski vacation during the school holidays of December 2013.

learning to ski at Rutsusu Resort

My son was then ten, and my daughter, five.

We decided to visit Hokkaido on our first ski trip.  So far as we know from research and from friends, Hokkaido’s biggest ski resorts receive an abundance of snow.  They do not depend on manmade snow even at the start of the ski season.  Some ski resorts in central Japan do, especially at the beginning of the ski season in early December.  Due to it’s geographical location, the snow quality in Hokkaido is known to be mostly very DRY – that is powder-quality snow; we wanted to experience all that.

Upon further research, we decided that learning to ski at Rusutsu Resort would be a good choice.  The self-contained, all-in-one Rutsusu Resort in Hokkaido offers everything we were looking for – its own ski field, a ski school and onsite equipment rental, a small village with a wide variety of dining options. We booked two nights here.

(Read too: Natalia and family prefer staying at a “Ski Village” such as Niseko; check out her story on how to go about organising a ski trip to Niseko, with tips on where to book accommodation, ski gears and ski lessons too.)

First: the Skiing at Rusutsu Resort

This being our very first ski trip, we arranged for a private instructor with the ski school when we booked. Do note that if you need an English-speaking instructor, you will need to request and arrange for it before arriving.

The son and hubby signed up for 2 half-day, morning ski lessons.  The instructor was a young Swedish guy.  My son enjoyed the lessons very much and had lots of fun learning to ski at Rusutsu. In fact, both my husband and son are now hooked on skiing!

Perhaps because she was still young when we went to Rusutsu (only 5yo), my daughter did not enjoy skiing as much. She attended the junior group class for one day, and preferred not want to have more ski lessons the next day, preferring to play and hang out with me instead.

I found the ski runs at Rutsusu quite steep for beginners!

we learnt to ski at Rusutsu Resort

The Slopes

There are three mountains to ski here, but only one has slopes suited for the real beginner.

If you are learning to ski at Rusutsu resort, you will be skiing on the West Mountain, which is where the ski school was located.  The ski map can be downloaded from Rusutsu website here.  The other runs on the other two mountains are mostly red or intermediate slopes, with some blacks too. I think to truly enjoy the ski terrain Rusutsu has to offer, one needs to be, at least, an advanced beginner or an intermediate skier.

Other Activities for non-skiers at Rusutsu

I decided not to ski, but that was fine as Rusutsu offered lots for activities for non-skiers too.

One of my favourite was Rusutsu’s onsite onsen. I loved the traditional Japanese hot bath located in the hotel’s new wing.  Hotel guests have complimentary access to the bath and it was lovely.

My daughter and I went sledding while the boys were skiing the second day.  There was also a forested area within the resort, and we went for some light hiking too.

Non-skiers can also take the gondola ride up Mt Isola to enjoy the vast and beautiful view. From Mt Isola, on a clear day, you can see the blue Lake Toya.

There are many winter activities offered at Rusutsu – you can ride a snow mobile, go dog sledding or snow-shoeing too. So even if you don’t ski but just want to enjoy a snowy vacation with the kids, you’d find things to do here.

a view of mt yotai from rusutsu resort

A view of Mt Yotei from the resort. Mt Yotei, often termed as Hokkaido’s own Mt Fuji, is spectacular.

Dining at Rusutsu

There are quite a few restaurants in the resort, offering buffets, Italian pizzas and even an ice cafe etc. One of the dinners we enjoyed was a delicious king crab buffet, price at around $40 to $50 per pax. It’s a seasonal offering, and was very good 😉

I also liked the little food outlets located within the resort. There was a cafe that sells Tonkatsu, or traditional pork chop, that I liked very much. The tonkatsu don was very nice, the pork soft and tender. And it was cheap too – at about $10 per bowl for lunch!

For more choices, you could walk out to Rusutsu Village.

Our accommodation package at Rusutsu resort hotel was inclusive of breakfast. Breakfast here is served buffet style, and consisted of a good spread of western choices.

Accommodation at Rusutsu

Rusutsu Resort Hotel offers quite a variety of rooms. There are family rooms, triple rooms, as well as double and twin rooms. As my daughter was under 6yo when we visited, she could share our bed. We booked a triple room, which worked out perfectly for us.

The view from our room was quite spectacular.

learning to ski at Rusutsu
Other then the hotel, the resort also offers some chalets and standalone cabins.

learning to ski at Rusutsu resort in Hokkaido

Getting there

Getting to Rusutsu is easy and very convenient. From Chitose International Airport, there is a direct shuttle service (the BIGRUNBUS) that takes you to the resort. Or, take the complimentary shuttle bus (for guests of Rusutsu Resort or Rusutsu Amusement Park). from Sapporo City, at designated pick up points. You need to pre-book your seats and can check out the hotel website for more details

Overall we thought it was a good choice, learning to ski at Rusutsu.  It is more than just a ski village, and I found that the whole resort was very well organised.  It is a big resort with lots of activities for non-skiers too.  As it is self-contained and located far from other attraction or towns / villages, others might find it limiting, as you are “stuck” at the resort. But that worked fine for us, as everything can be organised easily and activities, if we wanted, can be booked centrally. Also the ski field here is not crowded, which is good for learning to ski at Rusutsu Resort.

We spent two nights, and felt that a three-night stay would have been more ideal to enjoy the resort.

I’ve heard that Niseko Annupuri, another self-contained resort in Niseko, Hokkaido, offers good gentle slopes too, with less crowd. We’d love to try that on our next trip to Hokkaido :)

For now, we are looking forward to our snow and ski holiday in South Korea :)

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21 Comments on “Review: Learning to Ski at Rusutsu Resort (Hokkaido)

  1. Being a citizen and resident of a South-East Asian country, being in snow and learning how to ski would definitely make the experience memorable. It’s good that there are other activities available for non-skiers at Rusutsu.

  2. learning to ski has been on my list for a long time but I am still saving to go vacation to ski. Looking at the pictures I am so attracted to them I feel like I am there. Good to know you bring your daughter along, my sons are aged 9yrs old and 4yrs old. I hope someday we can go learn to ski together.

  3. I’ve always wanted to visit Hokkaido and ride a gondola or try the onsen for the first time. Given the place is so cold, the onsen will be perfect! I hope I get to visit Japan sometime, Hokkaido will be at the top of my list. :)

  4. I feel like I’d have to be an adrenaline junky to enjoy skiing! I guess I’d have to really learn how to ski from a really good teacher, otherwise I’d be having panic attacks on the slopes.

  5. Wow such a beautiful setting and even better to enjoy with your family.
    I am advised not to ski due to health reasons, however I sure would enjoy some of the other activities, possibly sledging like your daughter. Read enjoyed the read.

  6. I will forever wonder how it feels like to try that kind of sport. Or maybe not, If someday I’ll be able to visit a snowy land — I’ll for sure try this one!

  7. I don’t have any edge to try anything which has much to do with speed. Though I am particularly entertained by such sports like skateboarding, skiing for I watching those players or participants taking death defying kind of activity like skiing.

  8. I’ve never tried skiing before. The place looks calm and relaxing, I’d love waking up to that view.

  9. Maybe this could be part of our itinerary if and when we can get to visit Hokkaido. We are visiting Tokyo early next year, maybe Hokkaido can be our next Japan destination if things turn out fine.

  10. Hokkaido looks so scenic and this year my son wants to go there. Hopefully we can visit this place.

  11. My sister was based in Hokkaido some years back; and she ad once told us how beautiful that place is.. To visit it is okay with me but to try skiing is another story.

  12. Pingback: Planning a Free & Easy Hokkaido Winter Trip - Essential Travel Tips - Bumble Bee Mum

  13. Pingback: Travel Guide: Niseko Skiing Trips | Kids On Board

  14. Nice to know so many enjoy the short write up.
    Yes Hokkaido is a nice place for ski-ing, will pick up with my girl when she is ready :)

  15. Hi, bumblebee mum, im planning for my winter trip to Hokkaido by 22/1/17 – 4/2/17 . it is a 2 weeks holidays with my family . I have planned for schedule in hokkaido, and im seeking for your second opinions as ill be travelling with 2 little childrens 3yo & 6yo so hopefully my trip will be smooth and easier.

    23/1/17 – 10am arriving Sapporo (Chitose) Airport, heading to tomamu ice village resort, stay a night.

    25/1/17 – From Tomamu to Noboribetsu, will go to Bear Park and stay one or two nights in Noboribetsu. Any place to recommend here?

    26/1/17 – From Noboribetsu to Rusutsu Ski Resort, stay 2 nights. Any near by cheap hotels to recommend? if i stay outside is there any bus, taxi can take us to rusutsu ski resort?

    28/1/17 – From Rusutsu to Otaru Sankaku Market + Otaru Canal, stay a night in Otaru.

    29/1/17 – From Otaru to Asahiyama stay 2 nights, will go to Asahiyama Zoo Penguin Parade.

    30/1/17 ~ 4/2/17 Any good recommendation? Thanks

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