Alexander John Key, his wife Jacqueline Renee Cohen and son Nathaniel (4) and daughter Saskia (3).
The family booked their trip to Niseko, Japan with Holly at Mercury Travel. China Air offers direct flights every Wednesday and Saturday to the New Chitose Airport in Sapporo. The flight was a mere four hours and the drive to Niseko is approximately two.
Located on the northern island of Hokkaido, Niseko is the perfect year-round getaway for skiing and snowboarding. The area is famous for its fresh seafood and local produce. Summer travelers can pick their own fruit at a local farm.
Families should stay clear of Hirafu, because of its nightlife and bar culture. Instead, the family recommends the Niseko Country Resort (www.nisekocountryresort.com) as a safe and quiet place to stay. Their concierge can help you rent a car or book the Sky Bus shuttle that takes you to your chalet door.
The family followed a daily routine. In the morning, they would head to the slopes, either dropping the kids off at ski school or spending the day with them on easy runs. A good workout on the slopes was followed by a light lunch; the kids usually enjoyed Japanese rice balls. In the evenings, Jacqueline prepared dinner in the chalet kitchen. Once the kids were tucked in for the night, Jacqueline and Alexander would either go night-skiing in Hirafu or enjoy a dinner for two at a local restaurant. Everyone went to bed happy and exhausted every night.
The Best Part
The family loved Niseko for its fresh air, nature and amazing food. The kids are already asking to go back. A lovely collection of chalets offers a stunning view of the mountains, an inactive volcano and one of the most picturesque rivers in Japan. The supermarket offered a range of healthy choices, such as sushi, fried fish, noodles and rice dishes, meaning dinner was always quick and easy for the kids. Unlike Tokyo, Niseko has reasonably priced restaurants.
This Japanese town is very family-friendly and the kids loved being outdoors. English is widely spoken by the locals and ski classes were taught by Australians and English-speaking Japanese.
At Niseko Country Resort, in-chalet dining is available upon request; they also have an excellent concierge service. Guests should inquire about the Family Onsen room – a private room for families. The concierge also had great recommendations for dinner and a free shuttle bus takes visitors into town, just five minutes away. Alternatively, families can opt to rent a car with car seats for the little ones.
The best ski school for kids is NISS at Hanazono. The easiest runs are the Community Chair Lift at the Hilton, the Family Chair Lift at Hirafu and the Green Run at Anapuri. Niseko is famous for its soft powder, so spills on the slopes aren’t scary. Fun snow activities include dog sled rides, skimobile trail riding, and snow shoeing.
Stock up on snow gear before you make the trip. At Niesko, adults who plan on skiing a lot should purchase an all-mountain pass for 50 hours. Accommodation can be more affordable if you share a chalet with another family. If you plan on renting a car, you must have an International Driving Permit. You need to obtain one from your home country, as they’re not issued in China.