Winter Getaway: Where To Ski And Snowboard In Asia In 2019
Immerse yourself in a different culture at Japan’s number one ski destination, made up of four interconnected resorts—Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and An’nupuri. The terrain is suitable for skiers across levels, with other activities such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing, heli skiing and cat skiing. Known for its bountiful snowfall—averaging to 15 metres of snow every winter—and quality powder snow, Niseko has earned a loyal following of locals and skiers across the globe. The area is also foreigner-friendly, so you’ll find English menus and a wide variety of cuisine to satisfy your palate. What makes Niseko so different from its European counterparts is the rural beauty, heritage and culture of Hokkaido. Indulge in after-ski activities like the locals do—with a soak in the onsen, and a hearty Japanese meal packed with flavours and colours.
Where to stay: Hakuchozan
A luxury seven-bedroom chalet nestled in the heart of Hirafu Village, Hakuchozan is a home away from home. Perfect for families across generations, the property comfortably accommodates up to 16 guests, and is designed to be child and elderly-friendly. The expansive living room, furnished with a fireplace is perfect for cosy gatherings, while children can have fun in the game room that boasts Xbox, Apple TV and a foosball table. For the men—a ‘man cave’ bar with championship shuffleboard table will keep them occupied, while the ladies can take a soak in the outdoor jacuzzi overlooking breathtaking view of Mount Yotei. Guests are also under the care of a dedicated chalet manager, butler, driver and private chef throughout their stay, for a stress-free vacation.
Tatler Tip: Experience Niseko’s vibrant dining scene during your stay. The region is especially known for fresh seafood and farm produce. For authentic Japanese cuisine, visit Niseko’s izakaya or sukiyaki, udon and shabu-shabu restaurants.
Hakuba Happo-one, Japan
On the island of Honshu in the Japanese Alps of Nagano is Hakuba Happo-one, one of Japan’s biggest ski resorts and the most famous amongst the other ski resorts—there are 11 in total—in Hakuba Valley. With plenty of snowfall, powder-chasers are guaranteed to enjoy the fresh and bare tracks. While there are varied trails for skiers and boarders across difficulties, intermediate to expert athletes will especially be kept occupied exploring the terrain. The resort played host to the 1998 Winter Olympics, where it was the site of the alpine skiing downhill, super giant slalom, and combined slalom events.
Where to stay: Hoshino Resorts Kai Alps
If you are not looking to crash the slopes everyday, Hoshino Resorts Kai Alps is a great place to spend your vacation, with close proximity to the slopes of Hakuba, as well as landmarks to take in the beautiful sights of Nagano. The hot spring inn immerses guests in the authentic Japanese experience, with yukata provided for guests to lounge in, and Japanese cuisine served for every meal. The inn also offers foreigners the opportunity to experience rural Japan—by sitting in a traditional sunken hearth and enjoying heated sake with grilled snacks.
Tatler Tip: While Hoshino Resorts Kai Alps offers both indoor and outdoor baths, take a dip in the latter to enjoy breathtaking views of the nearby mountains. Cool off at the Yuagari Lounge after your bath, where you can sip on tea while gazing out upon the clear streams.
Yongpyong, South Korea
Once a little-known ski destination catered mainly to the domestic market, Pyeongchang stepped into the spotlight of the world’s winter sports scene when it hosted the 2018 Winter Olympics. One of the most outstanding resorts in Pyeongchang is Yongpyong, South Korea’s biggest ski and snowboard resort where some of the country’s widest slopes can be found.
Here, you’ll find 28 extensively varied slopes for skiers of all levels. The Rainbow slope is the highest, towering at 1,210m, while The Rainbow Paradise is known to be the longest at 5,600m. Meanwhile, the 700-metre Mega Green has a gentle slant at only 12 degrees, making it an ideal spot for beginners.
Where to stay: Dragon Valley hotel
Located at the foot of Mt. Balwangsan—only a few steps from the main lift—is the main hotel in Yongpyong ski resort, offering spacious accommodation options, featuring a spa, sauna and hearty Korean cuisine for those looking for a homelike environment to unwind after earning their turns.
Tatler Tip: Go for South Korea's version of après ski while you’re in Yongpyong, which means chugging soju instead of schnapps, replacing fondues with barbecued meats and soaking in jjimjilbang (Korean bathhouse).
See also: 5 Luxury Ski Destinations Loved By Asia's Elite
A hidden gem in the Indian Himalayas, Gulmarg boasts the world’s highest gondola to the summit of Mount Apharwat at 3,979m. Located in Kashmir, the northernmost region of India near the Pakistani border, Gulmarg ski resort makes the ultimate under-the-radar ski destination for powder hounds looking for untapped off-piste slopes.
With lift-accessible descents in endless bowls for skiers to conquer, the lesser-known terrain of Gulmarg could rival any heli skiing terrain. And given the heavy snowfall, you’ll almost never repeat the same track and experience plenty of fresh powder minus the crowds.
Where to stay: The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa
Nestled in the Himalayas, The Khyber Himalayan Resort & Spa is a haven of pampering 2690m above sea level, combining luxurious spa treatments at The Khyber by L'Occitane, fine local cuisine and vintage style cottages with astounding snow mountainscapes.
Tatler Tip: Keep an eye out for foot prints of snow leopards on the slopes—you might even spot one of the elusive wild cats if you’re lucky.
Just 30 minutes from Almaty city centre in the mountain range of southern Kazakhstan, Shymbulak is the largest ski resort in Central Asia—an off-the-radar destination that attracts even the most discerning skiers (Prince Harry has been spotted on the slopes of Shymbulak).
Rising above sea level at 3200m, the resort boasts the third-longest gondola in the world at 4.5 kilometres. Adventurous skiers should look into the option of private heliskiing to take advantage of the lonesome mountains and untouched slopes. Well-to-do Kazakhs and expats living in the region are frequent visitors of the resort, thanks to its exceptional selection of dining, lodging and entertainment options for skiers and holiday-goers.
Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty
Steeped in the culture of an ancient Silk Road city with a sense of the vibrant city where it is placed, The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty features 145 spacious guest rooms and suites. Stop by the sophisticated Sky Lounge and Bar on the 30th floor for a drink complemented by sprawling views of the Kazakhstan's largest metropolis and Tian Shan Mountains.
Tatler Tip: The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty can arrange a ski butler for those who need advice on selecting and renting equipment and recommendations on the best mountain slopes to ensure a hassle-free skiing experience.
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