SEA OF SNOW

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight, Not a footprint to be seen, A kingdom of isolation, And it looks like I’m the queen.”

Yes, the song ‘Let It Go’ from Disney’s Frozen that haunted every household with kids for over a year managed to make a jolly U-turn in my head as I glazed towards the snowy Tomamu Mountain from the contented bus that picked us up from the New Chitose Airport, Hokkaido, with the novel Club Med Tomamu as our destination. The ride took a mere 1.5 pleasurable hours and was really packed with snow on both sides.

Docking at the trendy-looking resort, the Club Med staffs, aka G.O., already lined up to offer a warm welcome in Club Med style. “Welcome home,” they said and yes, I could sense at the very moment this place could easily be home away from home. And with their outstanding hospitality, I was sure I could even feel like a queen!

Settled down in the posh lobby, sipping the refreshing welcome drink, the check-in process was very organised and done in a snap. A G.O. came by and bound my wrist with a silky ribbon that shouted, “Ride a different wave,” interwoven into a cool plastic plate. Not a welcome gesture like those done in Northern Thailand, but the plastic plate plays a major role here, as it is a key not only to assigned accommodation room, but the key to all the fun elements around the resort that are awaiting!

THE ACTIVITIES

The booklet provided in the room gave a depiction of the ski experience here as “Airy powder snowscapes regarded as the ‘best quality snow’ by skiers worldwide, provide skiers with a spectacular view of Tomamu mountains at Club Med Tomamu Hokkaido. A seamless ski adventure awaits with Club Med’s all-inclusive, ski-in ski-out feature.” And that very quote got me up from daydreaming by the window overlooking the grandiose view to get changed into my ski outfit and let Club Med’s professional instructors do their magic in teaching me how to ski.

Oh, did I tell you that the key tied on your wrist also opened your personal locker, which was equipped with everything you need for skiing as per the pre-arrival arrangement? Skiing here was a really hassle-free experience as everything is all-inclusive. The time on the ski was nonpareil for me and a tumble or two, or even ten, did not matter on this powdery snow. Non-skiers could also opt for snowboarding, snow sledges, trekking or snowmobile. Whatever your choice is, the abundance of snow and the pristine view of the perfect powdery snowscapes is yours.

THE ATTRACTIONS

Irresistible is the glorious Tomamu Mountain that sits at a grand altitude of 1,239 metres and is accessed by the gondola. The all-white experience up there is one of a kind. It is recommended you head up there, minus the snow equipment for once, and imbue the frosting beauty of nature at its best. As you step out of the gondola station, the Terrace of Frost Tree is on your right. Be cautious when walking down the slippery slope to reach there, but the panoramic view of entire white from that spot is worth all the effort.

On the left-hand side is Tenbou Cafe – the only café around the peak. Apart from postcards and a variety of hot drinks, you could purchase marshmallow, sausage or bacon at Y300 each to BBQ in front of the cafe. It’s true bliss and an experience of a lifetime to ease the trembling atmosphere. Toudai Deck, Cloud Master’s Chair and Shore of Cloud are also there to lure your spirit to the max.

After hours well spent whirling over fresh powdery snow, you would not imagine that it is possible to have a break by a warm beach right here amidst the all-white scenery! Mina Mina Beach, Japan’s largest indoor wave pool in Hokkaido, sits right opposite Club Med Tomamu and is the place where you could slip into your favourite swimsuit and make a splash while being steps away from a snow platform. Mina means smile in Ainu (ethnic people of Hokkaido) language, and its name depicts the sense of happiness that generate smiles on each and everyone in the family holidaying here. Daytime in Mina Mina Beach means summer fun, from floating, swimming, paddle boarding to all sorts of water activities, while peaceful respite takes over the scene after 8pm when the entire place is lit up with romantic lights and sound for a lunging ambience to offer a perfect relaxing end to the day.

A stone’s throw away from Club Med Tomamu is the magical Ice Village, which operates only during the winter season and where the temperature could drop to as low as -30˚c. The entire village is crafted from ice and features several attractions for visitors to enjoy. Arriving at the Ice Village and after a mere five minutes’ walk through winter wonderland, I reached the cluster of ice igloos in which sliding down an ice slider is required to access the property. There are altogether around ten igloos, each with a different activity, such as bar, flower shop, lounge, cafe, etc.

My favourite one was the IceLab where you could catch the falling snow on black paper, pick the perfect one with a touch of a paintbrush and move it onto the plastic sheet. After you’ve got as many as you want and you’re satisfied with it, the staff will put a ‘secret’ formula on it – freezing the snowflake on the plastic sheet which would be later put into a frame as a keychain. An awe-inspiring idea to take Hokkaido snow back home indeed!

THE RESORT

As an all-inclusive resort, staying at Club Med Tomamu was a real bliss as I could engage in any activity hassle free, and under professional supervision with cutting-edge proper equipment. This also applies to the gondola ride up to the peak of Tomamu Mountain which I enjoyed tremendously.

Likewise, the dining experience here is topnotch as the diversity was amazing and everything I tried was delectable and premium quality. The Club Med signature night party still did the magic of getting all guests to participate in the joy of the entertainment which, for definite, leave a memorable mark on this snowy journey.

Text and Photos by Urasa Chittamvanich
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