Big mountains, big luxury: Japan’s best-kept secret resort

Lotte Arai Japan

Japan’s newest ski resort combines big mountain free ride skiing and snowboarding with ski in ski out luxury not far from Tokyo. 

Lotte Arai resort ‘soft opened’ last winter and created an underground buzz amongst powder ski and snowboard lovers thanks to the resort’s avalanche controlled lift accessed back country style terrain. 

As airfares get cheaper more and more Aussies are heading to Japan every year to bury themselves in powder and sample slopeside ramen. But if you’re keen on immersing yourself in a more peaceful Japan skiing experience, with all the creature comforts and yet no lift lines and no crowds, Lotte Arai is for you.

A mere two hours outside of Tokyo, Lotte Arai (or Arai as those in the snow call it) is buried under metres and metres of snowfall in the winter with one metre snowstorms the norm and up to fifteen metres a season. 

Lotte Arai is a resort that’s essentially brand new, originally a run down abandoned resort that was closed in 2006. The Lotte Group purchased it in 2016, fully renovated the resort to a luxe standard and re-opened in December 2017. The hotel rooms and facilities are still shining from their opening a year ago.

How to find it (shh, don’t tell anyone)

Lotte Arai is nestled amongst the mountains of Myoko – you can get there by bullet train from Tokyo, or by car from Niigata Airport in two hours. When the weather’s clear, you can even take in ocean views from the top of the mountain.

Where you’ll ski

There are 14 official runs on the mountain, accessed by five lifts – but there’s a lot of off-piste area to explore in 8 patrolled zones and the best part is that it’s all in-bounds, so you don’t need touring gear to still access the best powder. 

The resort’s longest groomed run is 5.2km of gentle pitched terrain, and the mountain’s off piste is steeper than Japanese resorts tend to be, while still offering a variety of terrain – so the learners and little ones will enjoy their groomer time just as much as the powderhounds who have 90% advanced terrain to explore.

Keen skiers and boarders will want to wait for the peak to open and hike about 30 minutes from the top of the Zendana lift, dropping into the Daishamen bowl for powder that may literally make you cry tears of joy. Consider yourself warned.

There are also Salomon rentals available, a ski school with English and Japanese-speaking instructors (Myoko Snowsports have set up here) and a tuning shop plus day care for the kids. 

Where you’ll sleep

The resort has 257 Western-style rooms, all of which have been freshly decked out with the best of everything; plush bedding, fluffy bathrobes and free wireless internet. Choose from anything from a Superior Twin Room to a Presidential Suite Room with a private Jacuzzi, dining room and kitchen.

What you’ll eat

When it comes to any Japanese holiday, one of the most important elements is food – and Lotte Arai hasn’t forgotten about this.

There’s a high-end Japanese restaurant with all the bells and whistles along with an Italian resort in the resort, along with more casual fare available on the mountain at the top of the gondola or in the food court at the base (including our beloved ramen).

The hotel has a bakery for a quick lunch, breakfast or snack. Our tip is to hide away in the Library Café with your favourite book and sip on a seriously decent coffee.

What you’ll do when you’re not skiing

At 1501m, Lotte Arai happens to have Asia’s longest zipline, and it runs even throughout the winter. That’s right – layer up, pack your gloves, don a helmet and go flying through the air as you take in the surrounding views of the mountains.

Looking for a little less of an adrenaline rush? Go for some laps in the tube park, try out the treetop adventure course or go bouldering in the indoor playground. The trampoline and climbing wall is out of this world.

When it’s time to rest those weary ski legs, try out the beautiful onsen with both indoor and outdoor options, do some laps in the pool or visit the day spa. There’s even a wellness cafe.

Karaoke anyone? Head to the resort’s whiskey bar for some liquid courage before grabbing the microphone in your own private karaoke room.

Then sleep, eat, repeat.

The deal

Stay at Lotte Arai resort from Yen 22 000 a night. Check out their site for more deals.

All you need to know about Japan's new Lotte Arai ski resort

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