Updated with some more feedback from friends on 14 March 2017
Last December, we travelled to Hokkaido to Club Med Sahoro on an epic ski trip with a couple of friends. There were 21 of us in total, kids included.
Since I found it hard to Google any info and their website was so not informative, I’ve written down some simple things that might be useful to anyone. I mean, for the price you pay you’d think they could put a little more effort into their comms for trip planning? Thankfully while I was still in Singapore trying to figure things out, a friend was already there posting her photos on FB, so she answered many of my questions and gave me lots of tips, many of which I have also included here.
- Club Med Sahoro is a full ski in ski out resort, meaning you can start skiing right from the moment you step out. Our previous trip we had to deal with a bus ride while fully geared, and I personally wouldn’t advise that for newbies like us. It was just so tiring!
- All group ski classes are free, but of course different instructors have different styles, so naturally some instructors are more suitable than others. My friend’s advice was to take a group lesson the first day then private lessons thereafter after sussing out the instructors.
- Here is a slightly blurry photo of ski rental prices. It is not cheap but everyone says the equipment is very good. I just wish they hadn’t given me such long skis and regret not having gone back to change it for the second day instead of falling all over the place. Real classy.
- We were there in late December, over Christmas, and the slopes were not crowded at all. There was hardly a queue for the ski lift. I have heard that other slopes can have a 30minute wait just for the ski lift. No thank you!
- A friend suggested mittens instead of fingered gloves for skiing; we used touchscreen gloves under regular gloves in case you want to take photos on your phone. But do remember to keep the phone warm! Heat packs for the hands are also a good idea.
- There is no night skiing.
Not exaggerating about chaos.
- For the kids ski club, do label all of your child’s belongings as it can get pretty chaotic and things get lost and found every day. They do not necessarily need a water bottle as water is provided, but I do think the staff could do a better job with reminding the kids to stay hydrated. I also had a large bag to keep their gear and spare items, or you can give each kid a small bag each.
- To be fair, the kids ski area is pretty well organised, and skis, ski boots and helmets don’t get lost easily. Small items do, though!
- Although it is well organized, at the end of each day you should retrieve your items, make sure they are all there, and lay or hang them out to dry. The Kids Club will only take responsibility for their own stuff (boots, skis, poles), so your things might still be soaking wet the next morning if you don’t lay them out to dry.
- Lunch is supervised by the kids club and the kids will eat in a separate section of the main restaurant, so you can see or spy on your kids during lunch time.
- The kids ski area has a magic carpet, which makes it going up slopes so much easier by a billion times. Do not attempt ski lessons without a magic carpet please thank you arigato.
- Another thing about the kids ski lessons – the quality varies by instructor. On the first day I saw one of the instructors engaging with the kids and having fun with them. I think that this is particularly important for the young ones, and kids who are skiing for the first time. On the last day, unfortunately, there were something like 2-3 instructors to 2 groups of students, which was maybe around 16 kids, and I didn’t always see 3 instructors around, which is why there were “2-3 instructors”. The instructors looked like they were waiting for the school bell to ring, and one instructor asked my 4 year (and 3 months) old to “use your heel”. I’m not even sure she knows where her heel is, dude. I ended up helping her and encouraging her and after a while I thought that it was pointless to continue as I didn’t want her to get frustrated and dislike skiing. Thankfully neither happened and she is looking forward to skiing again, but I will be much more discerning about the instructors next time.
- On a few occasions I found the kids indoors still in their ski jackets – I’m not sure if anyone ever asked if they were too warm. I’m just glad they didn’t overheat or get a heat rash or something!
- Every level of ski group has a name, with a different coloured jersey so it’s easier to keep track of the kids. The kids are also aware of the names, which starts from Flake 1, Flake 2, etc. Every other day (Or something like that) there is a very nice awards ceremony. The kids love it! It was a great motivator.
- If you have younger kids, you’d be interested to know about the Petit Club. The regular kids club is from 4 years old onwards. Kids who are 3+ are allowed to participate in the ski lessons for the older kids, but out of ski time they have to return to the Petit Club. One of our friends’ son who was 3+ loved the skiing but didn’t like being with the babies. She says she would have rather delayed the trip until after he was 4, if she had known earlier!
- There is a small gym and they do have a few sessions of aerobics (I think it was Zumba?), and I saw some people following the class barefoot since not everyone might have brought their trainers. A friend of mine, who is a certified yoga instructor herself, said she really liked the afternoon yoga session, although I could never find the energy not time to attend the class since I was always so tired out from the skiing and we were usually busy with the kids at that timing.
- There is a spa onsite which I didn’t try. My friend did, and said that it was quite good, except she didn’t like them trying to upsell her all the time.
- There isn’t an onsen but an orufu, which is basically a hot bath onsen style. It was better than nothing having a hot bath at all! There is also a heated pool, and you can bring swimwear for that, but we did not have any time or energy to go there.
- I didn’t get to doing any other activities other than skiing because it was a tiring holiday! It was wake up – change into 20 layers – eat breakfast – gear the kids up – have a 5 minute break and a hot tea – get myself geared up – ski lesson – lunch (usually too damn tired to eat too much) – ski lesson – short break – pick up kids – dinner – shower – show – sleep. REPEAT!!! In the future we will try to have more free time in between, perhaps even a non-skiing day. But in Club Med since everything was already paid for, it felt like a waste if we didn’t go skiing.
- Club Med shares Mt. Sahoro with the Sahoro Resort Ski Area awhere locals can drive to and ski from during the day.
- With a ski pass you can take the gondola up to Mt. Sahoro and take it back down without skiing.
- A few blogs wrote that you can wear summer clothes inside the resort. The main restaurant and theatre can get pretty warm. But during the period we went, the temperature outside was between 3 to -14 deg, so some parts of the resort are obviously a little chilly. Or like very chilly. Only a handful of people were really ever in their summer wear.
- You could bring extra shoes to wear around the resort, my kids wore their crocs often but I wore my snow boots all the time. You can even wear slippers if you like, but don’t forget that other people are wearing shoes and boots so that could be a painful lesson.
- From our previous experience with Club Meds, i did not have high hopes for the food at the main restaurant, and thought we’d be sick of it by day 2. Overall we felt the food was very decent. Have you ever seen a whole tuna head in a restaurant? That’s an opportunity that’s hard to come by! The chef said one was 73kg and hailed from Kagoshima in Kyushu. I don’t have many photos of the food because I ain’t gonna pretend I’m a food blogger.
- There are two restaurants and the second smaller one, Mina Mina, requires reservations. It is included in the package but if you wish to have the beef or king crab options you have to top up a lot more. We didn’t top up and we felt that the dinner was a disappointment. We had dessert at the main restaurant to console ourselves.
- There are washing machines and dryers available, the washing machine costs ¥200 and dryer ¥100. Bring your own detergent unless you want to buy it at the shop there and be fleeced to wash your fleece. Ha! Since much of the fleece and thermals dry quickly and can’t be tumble dried, I decorated our room with the laundry and used the desk fan to help it dry. I would do laundry after skiing at around 3-4pm, so the machines were not crowded and most of the clothes were able to dry by morning.
- The resort is now around 30 years old, and the rooms are in a very typical Japanese style, with the toilet a brownish cabin look and had very very little counter space to put anything! Overall the room was clean and comfortable. We had a deluxe room with a king sized bed and a tatami area which slept 3, so the room was perfect for the 5 of us. It also came with a 4litre humidifier. Our room was a little drafty in some areas near the window, and the room temperature can be a little hard to control. We had to alternate between minimal heating and minimal cooling.
- Although there was a humidifier, it was still really dry. I didn’t moisturize enough and had an extremely bad bout of eczema on my hands when we returned. It took a long time for it to heal. I don’t think I’ve seen so much of my dermis before. You know, when the epidermis peels off and you can see the inner layer of skin? I wouldn’t mind it if I had baby soft hands now but I don’t. Darn it!
- All Club Med resorts will have some kind of nightly entertainment put up by the staff, and our previous experiences were pretty so-so, but the ones at Sahoro were really good! Having said that though, between the skiing and the nightly entertainment, we were so busy all the time, I wasn’t sure if it was a holiday at all!
- The shop in the resort is not well stocked and doesn’t sell any OTC (over the counter) medication. At least not that I remember.
- Here is some final information, some of which would actually be useful to know BEFORE you go.
We really enjoyed our time at Club Med Sahoro and it was a fantastic holiday especially for first timers like us. It was definitely my most memorable Club Med holiday. Will we be back? Now that we are more acquainted with Hokkaido and skiing, we will probably follow our friends who are ski regulars to try somewhere different.
We stayed at Club Med Sahoro for 5 nights, which was not too long. We wouldn’t have minded staying longer, and taking a break between the skiing days. Also a friend advised that if you’re on a break day you can go swimming and have the pool to yourself since everyone is out skiing! After the kids have had ski lessons for 2-3 days, you will also be able to go skiing as a family which is fantastic!
We reluctantly departed the resort on a cold morning for the airport on the transport arranged by the resort. The bus passed by lots of beautiful wilderness, and even managed to see some wild deer roaming about! as well as the Tomamu ski area, where Club Med are working on a new resort. Don’t forget – be prepared for delays! And snowstorms. I packed extra clothes on our carry on cabin luggage just in case we would have to be stranded somewhere 😀
If you do have any other questions, do leave me a comment and I’ll try to add in the information!
This is NOT a sponsored post.