The first day of December 2016 was the start of winter in Japan’s northernmost prefecture, and our plane descended from cruising altitude to reveal a beautiful mountainous landscape smoothly coated in snow. Following a long flight made delightful thanks to Japan Airlines and its excellent in-flight services and top-of-the-line amenities, I arrived at the winter wonderland that is Sahoro, Hokkaido with a gleeful spirit – ready to soak in what I knew would be an unforgettable adventure.
The trip from Obihiro Airport to our destination was a one-hour drive through a quiet highway during heavy snowfall – quite the experience when paired with snow-covered hills, small towns and farmsteads we passed along the way. We turned uphill to a narrow road that cleared into a wide opening – and there we saw it – Club Med Sahoro Hokkaido, standing radiant in a valley clasped by a natural fortress of snowy mountains.
As our shuttle made for the hotel’s front entrance, we were greeted by the resort’s chef de village (general manager to you or me) and nearly two dozen GOs – spirits undamped by the besetting winter – with hearty smiles and energetic welcoming gestures that instantly warmed our hearts. GOs are ambassadors of the Club Med spirit. Individually, they are passionate, friendly and positive personas with seemingly endless energy; collectively, they are the pillars of Club Med, bringing top-notch service with a bright attitude. One of Club Med’s intuitive policies is to have multinational GOs so that every guest can experience the full extent of the brand’s hospitality and feel right at home regardless of where they come from.
As far as hotels go, Club Med is by leaps and bounds different from the mainstream in that it offers a hands-on, all-inclusive experience. Upon completing a reservation, guests are entitled to far more than just spacious, homey accommodation. Instead, the full-on Club Med experience awaits them, which includes lavish meals, all-day entertainment, parties à la Club Med every single night, and free-flow drinks from the bar, among many other things.
My typical day at Club Med Sahoro Hokkaido started off with a dose of buffet breakfast at The Daichi, the hotel’s primary dining venue, before heading out into the hills in single-digit temperatures wearing full gear and learning how to ski. After several hours of wedging and trying not to fall too many times, lunch followed, joined by GOs who would offer helpful ski tips or listen to my not-so-glorious skiing stories. Having had my fill of delicious Japanese and international cuisine, I would head out and ski some more until sundown.
For someone who’s only seen the sport on television, my skiing experience at Club Med Hokkaido Sahoro was nothing less than super fun and exciting, thanks to the resort’s well-organised team of professional instructors who were both patient and brilliant in showing the ropes to beginners like myself.
Following a delightful dinner, I would head to the bar area to kick off the night’s party with some crazy signs – a ritual in which GOs and guests alike would participate in this energetic dance, Club Med style. After quenching my thirst with some beers and cocktails from the bar, I would join the crowd in the adjacent indoor theatre area for the night’s special show. The performance would range from musical parodies to talent shows and slapstick comedies, all of which were family-friendly, entertaining, and guaranteed to be full of laughs. Afterwards, the party didn’t have to end, since another session of crazy signs would commence back at the bar, followed by some hearty mingling over drinks.
One of the things that impressed me the most were the fantastic personalities of the GOs as they tirelessly committed to primary duties around the hotel while engaging every guest whenever and wherever they could, and providing quality, curated entertainment after hours. The setup of Club Med Sahoro Hokkaido, and every other Club Med in the world, is perfect for families, couples, groups, even solo travellers, who will definitely bring home more than just an excellent staying experience and awesome new friends.
I stayed at Club Med Sahoro Hokkaido on the season’s opening day, and felt truly at home among the resort’s 196 cosy Japanese-style rooms and suites and the majestic mountains they overlook. Just about every guest from four years old can take full benefit of an all-inclusive Snow Package, which includes everything you need to enjoy – or learn – skiing and snowboarding. Other facilities available to guests include snow trekking, indoor swimming pool, outdoor Canadian bath, fully equipped fitness and dedicated yoga rooms, squash, and a tranquil Zen area.
To sum up, Club Med Sahoro Hokkaido offers an entirely different dimension of hospitality, and with an all-inclusive experience and the signature Club Med spirit shared by everyone, it is the ultimate leisure retreat if you’re looking for a unique ski resort destination while immersing yourself in the hip and enigmatic Club Med cultural fad.
Karikachi Kogen, Shintoku-cho,
KamikawaDistrict, Hokkaido 081 0039,
T: (+81) 156 64 6667