RISONARE Yatsugatake: Luxury skiing close to Tokyo
Australians have been flocking to Japan in recent years for skiing holidays in the northern climes of Hokkaido, but there is a ski resort in the mountains only a few hours’ drive away from Tokyo. RISONARE Yatsugatake‘s Italian architect created a hotel complex that now serves as a ‘wine resort’ managed by Hoshino Resorts.
Expansive rooms and suites are especially sought after by the families who come from Tokyo for the weekend or longer to enjoy the pine-scented mountain air, the night sky full of stars, and the relaxed feel away from the big city. The wine theme may convey the idea that RISONARE Yatsugatake is an adult-oriented place, but it is young Japanese families with small children that seem to constitute the majority of guests. Foreign guests here are exotic creatures yet are warmly welcomed and looked after by the staff. Several unique experiences await those visitors who venture here, an easy two-hour train ride from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station. There is a self-service wine bar with many different wines on tap, literally. Simple slide a credit card into the slot, choose small, medium, or large serving, and watch your glass fill. Repeat as often as desired. The wine influence extends to the spa, where grape oils are used in the relaxing treatments administered by experienced therapists. An on-site activities centre keeps both children and adults busy with various things to do. Among the most popular is turning wine bottles into lamps; the addition of colourful glass discs to the bottle gives off many colours when illuminated from the inside.
Food is a major consideration by the management of RISONARE Yatsugatake. Guests enjoy excellent Italian cuisine at Otto Sette, the resort’s premier dining venue. There are Italian wines to accompany the food, but wine connoisseurs should venture to try the little-known but fullbodied Japanese wines made from grapes grown in the region. RISONARE Yatsugatake guests can have private visits to a local vineyard with winetasting conducted by the very gracious Mr Konaki, a former sommelier at The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo who loves wine so much he wanted to have his own vineyard. Not for commercial profit, but merely for the love of wine.
For those who care to experience a winter sport that is all the rage at the moment, RISONARE Yatsugatake has a curling rink to practice aiming the handled stones and sweeping the ice. The curling rink is located (in winter only, of course) along the resort’s promenade lined with small shops and a surprising variety of eating establishments from a gelateria to a traditional soba restaurant, with a French café and local food market thrown in for good measure.
As an antidote the winter weather, RISONARE Yatsugatake has an enormous indoor pool called Il Mare where swimming and frolicking are options when finished practicing curling or toasting marshmallows in the outdoor fireplaces. Not that the
fun is limited to the winter season; RISONARE Yatsugatake is open throughout the year and attracts visitors who want to experience the mountains in different seasons. Special events on the calendar such as Halloween and Christmas see the main promenade decorated in the spirit of the holidays.
When tired after a day out enjoying any or all of the above, retreating to one’s accommodation here is another treat. Spacious and airy, the various categories of rooms, suites, and townhomes can accommodate couples and families in comfortable surroundings.
Hoshino Resorts’ portfolio of deluxe properties extends outside Japan to Bali, where the high standard of Japanese quality is amply demonstrated at Hoshinoya Bali in the tranquil hills of Ubud.