Japan Travel

Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU: Our Most Memorable Winter Vacation

Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU is a very popular ski resort that you must book months in advance especially for its winter season. This all-season integrated resort is located at the center of Hokkaido, 90 mins away from New Chitose Airport and approx. 2.5 hours from Sapporo. Our recent 4D3N stay made us fell madly in love with the resort. Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU is truly an outstanding place for the most memorable winter vacation.

After we checked-out from Ibis Styles Sapporo, we boarded the Hoshino Resort Liner to Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU. Good thing is that the pick-up location was just 10 mins walk from our hotel. The bus departed at 8am, picked-up some passengers along the way, and arrived at Tomamu around 11am. It was a comfortable journey with one toilet break in-between.

As we were approaching the resort, something striking unfolded before us. We saw four colourful towers standing in the middle of a beautiful snow-capped mountain range. It was such a beautiful sight, I quickly jumped up from my seat to take a picture of it. “Look! This is the ski resort we’re going to stay!” 😍 I told Edison excitedly and he went “Wow! Sooo nice! Which one?” Hahah! At that point, I didn’t know which Tower 2 was yet. Later, I realized that it is the grey one.

As the bus turned into the resort, everywhere was a beautiful winter wonderland. After all the ooh’s and aah’s, we reached the lobby of Tomamu The Tower. It was still too early to get our room key. So, we checked-in, left our luggage in the Baggage Storage and went for our lunch. At this time, the lobby was full of visitors – some checking-in, some checking-out, and kids were all excited with the piles of snow outside. 😀

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

I used to think that ski resort will be out of business in summer. Hardly! Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU is an all-season resort. It’s winter season is from Dec to Mar, and summer/green season is from Apr to Oct. In winter, it’s a ski-in ski-out resort offering 25 ski courses and a wide range of winter activities for guests of all ages including banana boat, snowmobile, snow sledding, ice-fishing, Ice Village, Terrace of Frost Tree etc. In Summer, there are UNKAI Terrace (Sea of Clouds), Farm Lounge, forest picnic as well as fireworks. Mina Mina Beach, the largest indoor beach in Japan, and Kirin-no Yu, an outdoor bath, are available in both seasons.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
All masked-up! Can’t help it as it was SO COLD!

First of all, Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU has two main hotels:

  • Tomamu The Tower: Two towers in green and grey that are conveniently located at the center of the resort. Tower 1 is in green and Tower 2 (which we stayed) is in grey. They are closer to major facilities and ski slopes. Price wise, they are cheaper too.
  • RISONARE Tomamu: An all-suite hotel (also has two towers) that stands tall in the coniferous forest, with all rooms over 100m² and equipped with jet bath/sauna. More upmarket and exclusive, hence higher price too.
Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Tomamu The Tower & covered walkways

Tomamu The Tower is well-connected to the restaurants through long covered walkways (best in winter – you don’t need to walk in the cold!). Convenience mart, winter wear shop and ski rental are located near the reception too. All the guests can take the complimentary shuttle bus that runs frequently between the two hotels, restaurants and facilities such as Mina Mina Beach and Chapel on the Water.

Accommodation

During check-in, we were given tickets for the Gondola ride to Unkai Terrace, entrance passes to Mina Mina Beach, breakfast vouchers (can be used at four restaurants) and the room key. We stayed in a Family Triple Room in Tower 2 on the 6th floor. The room size is 32m² and it has a separated living area with sofa and TV, a sleeping area with two futon-style Japanese beds and a bunk bed, as well as a shower room with bath tub. Kids will surely love the bunk bed, you can imagine how excited Edison was! 😀

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Family Triple Room

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

There is a coffee/tea making corner, a mini fridge, a wardrobe and flip wall mounted coat rack to hang all your winter coats. It’s also equipped with a humidifier – a must-have for winter nights when the air is so dry. Overall, it was a very comfortable room – clean, spacious and new as it was renovated not long ago.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
View from our room

Oh, have I mentioned that the room has a spectacular view? This was what we woke up to every morning – pure white snow and pine trees. It’s hard to imagine life being any perfect than this. Don’t you agree? 😀

Activities & Attractions

What I loved most about the resort is that it has a plethora of activities even if you don’t ski. Welcome to our no-ski skiing holiday LOL. Skiing is not our thing. Thus, we were pleased to see that GAO Outdoor Center offers a variety of outdoor activities at reasonable costs and most do not require advance reservation.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Snow makes the BEST bed!

First thing we did was snow sledding! You can sled anywhere as long as there’s a slope. I don’t see any free sleds around, but you can purchase one at the convenience store (priced at ¥1,500 each). Thanks to our friend who passed us her sleds, we saved some moolah to buy a snowball maker instead. Hahah! I lost count of how many rounds of sledding Edison had, he enjoyed it SO much. We made snowman together for the first time and had a snowball fight! 😆

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Unkai Gondola

Then, we took the gondola to Unkai Terrace. The ride took about 15mins and when we reached the Terrace of Frost Tree, OMG we were totally blown away by the unbelievable all-white scenery. The pure white trees covered in snow glistering with the backdrop of Hidaka Mountains are SO beautiful that we couldn’t believe our eyes.

Terrace of Frost Tree
Terrace of Frost Tree

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Despite our merino base-layers, it was freaking cold up here, but we couldn’t stop taking pictures of this magical landscape. There’s a small café serving hot drinks but the main thing that attracts visitors was the camp-fire next to it LOL. Toasting marshmallow over the camp-fire was pretty fun but guess what – I’d rather toast my freezing hands. 😆

A reminder to you is that the operation of Unkai Terrace is weather dependent. If too windy, it may stop operation. Hence, you should go up on your first day in the resort! You can ride as many times as you want during your stay. So, we went up again the next day in the evening to see the Frost Trees Light Up. It was even colder than the day before. This time, the surrounding of the Cloud Walk at Terrace of Frost Tree was all lighted-up. The sight of the frost trees illuminated by light was too beautiful for words. Too bad I didn’t manage to take a picture as my GoPro lens was fogging up.

Mina Mina Beach
Mina Mina Beach

We also visited the Mina Mina Beach, an indoor heated wave pool. This is the largest indoor beach in Japan! I’d say this is the most comfortable place in the entire resort. Heated at 30°C, we can finally remove our layers and plunged into the water LOL. Waves are generated every half an hour to mimic those ocean feels. Funky fun floats are also available for rental.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Edison’s favourite is the giant beach cyber wheel. It’s like a huge tire that you must keep moving to get it going – super FUN! This is one of the free-of-charge activities that are offered at specific timing of the day. You can check the timing at the towel and float rental counter.

You can also access the adjacent outdoor hot bath “Kirin-no Yu” from here. It’s not a hot spring onsen though – just an open-air hot bath overlooking the beautiful snow. Free lockers, towels and bath amenities (hair dryers too) are all provided, hence you don’t need to bring anything from your hotel room except your swimming costumes of course!

Ice VIllage
Ice VIllage

Now, let’s talk about Ice Village! It’s a very special attraction like none other (only in winter). It’s opened in mid-December usually between 10th to 15th depending on the weather. The temperature must reach -30°C. You can imagine how cold it is. Everything here is literally made of ICE – Ice Chapel, Ice Hotel, Ice Bar, Ice Café, Ice Rink, Ice Shop and Ice Slide. The slide is made entirely of ice and it’s one of the most popular spots in the Village. Edison loved it to bits! 🤩

Ice Village

Ice Village

Admission is free for guests staying at the resort. For guests on 1-day return trip, you can purchase the admission ticket for ¥500 at the hotel front desk. I’d highly recommend that you visit the Ice Village. Don’t forget to wear one more layer before you head there!

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Snowing!

Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU has many family-friendly activities such as snow sledding, snowmobile, banana boat, guided snow tour, pond fishing, snow picnic, hiking, cookies making, etc. You can check the list of activities on their website HERE. Even though we didn’t ski, we had so much fun with the other outdoor activities.

Dining Options

I must say that dining is the BEST thing in this resort. There are more than 10 restaurants – each serving different cuisines to cater to a variety of tastes. There’s Buffet Dining hal, the main restaurant near The Tower where a scrumptious breakfast buffet was served every morning. The breakfast spread here was the kind that gave you a reason to smile and filled your morning with happy thoughts. Besides hal, breakfast was also served at Tukino, Mikaku and Forest Restaurant Nininupri.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Buffet Dining hal
Breakfast at Buffet Dining hal
Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Breakfast with a view

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

At lunch, we tried out the various restaurants at Hotalu Street. This is a unique ski-in ski-out eatery street in the resort. You can see skiers walking around in their ski attire! It offers some famous Hokkaido cuisines such as soup curry, Genghis Khan grill and Wagyu shabu-shabu. In case you didn’t have a chance to try out the famous GARAKU soup curry in Sapporo, you can try it here.

Hotalu Street
Hotalu Street

Dinner time is my favourite! We indulged in the buffet at Buffet Dining hal and Forest Restaurant Nininupuri. As you know, Hokkaido has the most famous seafood. Buffet Dining hal offers the most irresistible Crab Buffet (priced at ¥5,400 for adult and ¥3,900 for child, limited to 90 mins). Pretty much everything we had was SO delicious, but special mention has to be made for the awesome Crab and Beef Teppanyaki. The snow crab was so meaty and sweet, the more you eat, the more you want LOL. I almost passed out of happiness thanks to that dinner alone. 😋

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu
Snow crab and beef teppanyaki

Forest Restaurant Nininupuri, on the other hand, serves Meat Buffet with 4 kinds of meat. Oh, imagine slices of beef, mutton, chicken and pork grilled to perfection and placed on top of your favourite rice bowl. I can’t describe any further because it’s making me very hungry. There are also many seafood items. Priced at ¥3,800 for adult and ¥2,600 (no time limit) for child, I find that it’s reasonably-priced too.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Between the two buffet dining restaurants, Nininupuri (located at RISONARE) is bigger and has a large open glass structure which opens to a beautiful pine forest. It’s a lovely place for breakfast and dinner. Buffet Dining hal is near the Ice Village and The Tower, which also has a view of the pine forest. I’d highly recommend that you dine at both restaurants during your stay.

Getting to Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU

In my opinion, the easiest way to get to the resort is by Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU Busliner. There are various route lists such as Sapporo / New Chitose Airport, Obihiro Airport, Asahikawa Airport, Furano, Asahikawa, Sahoro and Niseko / Rusutsu. We took the busliner from Sapporo to the resort, and from the resort to New Chitose Airport. It’s totally fuss-free!

Alternatively, you can also take a JR Train. There are 11 express trains daily from Sapporo. From JR Tomamu station, you’ll need to take the free shuttle bus to the resort (5 mins).

My Verdict

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

After spending 4 days in paradise, all I can say is that Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU has been truly spectacular in every way. It’s definitely one of those places I’ll never ever forget. The facilities are well-maintained, the rooms are spacious and there are a lot of family-friendly activities to keep you and your kids occupied (even if you don’t ski). The resort is also self-contained, thus it’s suitable for first-timers and beginners to learn skiing.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

Suffice to say, our winter experience at Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU turned out to be far better that what we could have possibly dreamed of. It was the BEST of days filled with magnificent sceneries we’ve not seen in our entire life, relaxing walks in the snow, fun snow sledding, delicious food and amazing pool time.

Hoshino Resorts Tomamu

For my upcoming Hokkaido summer trip, I’m so tempted to stay at the resort again. My heart is screaming YES, but my wallet is crying in advance. Hahah! 😀 Before I go off, I want to share a few tips with you if you’re planning to book your winter vacation here.

  1. Start stalking the resort’s website as they are opened for booking several months in advance. For winter season, it’s best to book at least 6 months in advance. This report is very popular among China, Hong Kong and Taiwan tourists, not to mention Singaporeans and Malaysians. In fact, if you’re a long-staying guest (over 11 nights), you can book one year in advance.
  1. Early-bird plans for winter seasons are usually opened 8 to 9 months in advance. For our trip, I booked in late April for stay between 19 to 22 Dec 2018.
  1. Winter stay starts from 1 Dec and from 15 Dec onwards, the price will increase quite steeply. As the Ice Village is typically opened around 10-15 Dec, you have strategize your travel plan to get the best deal out of the ski resort.

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Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU
Nakatomamu, Shimukappu-mura, Yufutsu-gun 079-2204, Hokkaido
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Maggie

How many days will you recommend staying here? Is 3 days enough?

June

Thanks for the detailed write-up.. I’m planning to visit Hokkaido this December.. will start checking their website now.

Judy Wong

how early did you book your hotel here….I just tried looking for Dec 2019 and it’s all booked?