The Rusutsu Resort which is located on the other side of Mount Yotel , close to the Toya Lake can be considered as one of the best resorts located in Hokkaido. The area for skiing is considered as large as it covers three mountains with each of them having different long runs which include tree runs, groomed trails and great powder. This consists of 37 courses with a combined run of 42km. Super advanced skiers as well as beginners can find his/her course which is suitable for them.
There are two hotels at the base of the ski slopes, the North and South Wing Hotel and the Westin Rusutsu ( a highrise)) . There are multiple attractions here besides skiing, which include shops, restaurants, hot spring baths, pool facilities and more. There are options of activities like golf or the amusement park with 8 roller coasters and more than 60 attractions. The average snowfall here is around 14 meters due to which we can look forward to exciting experience in skiing. The powder being dry , skiing without any resistance is possible.
Lifts and Terrain
Rusutsu is ideal for snowboarding and powder skiing. This is considered as a large resort when talking about the Japanese standards. The total area for skiing is 1700 hectares, containing 37 runs with a large amount of room left for off-piste fun which is permitted here. There are two sides from which we can ski, The West Mountain which is ski-out, ski-in Rusutsu Resort and the East Mountain which can be accessed via a gondola from the Rusutsu Resort Hotel or even the chair lift from the Rusutsu Tower Hotel.
The West Mountain area includes the beginners terrain, kids area, terrain park with a few advanced or intermediate runs with a small bit of tree skiing.
The East Mountain is ideal for strong beginners and intermediates. The Mt Isola, adjacent to this East Mountain is a larger area which can work well for the tree runs and powder runs.
The infrastructure of the lifts here includes 18 lifts, 6 high-speed quad chairs and 4 gondolas. The resort has magic carpets for the kids and six of the lifts have hoods which can save us from the cold. Though the tickets for these lifts might seem a little expensive but the ‘value for money’ factor is guaranteed. There is an option of night skiing here in the peak season if we are not satisfied with the runs during the day.
The Rustusu Terrain works ideal for skiers of the intermediate level. They have almost 40% of the available piste. The powder stashes which are deep on the sides of the piste work well with those intermediates who wish to experience this for the first time. The rest of the ski resort can be explored by beginners who are confident.
The average snowfall here is more than 14 meters due to which Rusutsu Resort works out an absolute heaven for powder hounds, be it experienced or learners. There is also an option of tree skiing here and with the powder being on the dryer side we can say the experience got in skiing here is bliss. Beginners can enjoy the piste which is groomed and can also be enjoyed by the intermediates. The tree skiing of the fall-line which can be directly accessed from the lift with minimum traversing can be considered as the ‘highlight’ of the experience here. This place works ideal for learners as the powder runs do not have drop-offs or steep pitches. If not wanting to opt for this skiing, we can move without any effort through the dry powder only for the joy of this.
Regardless of what information is given by the sources, on the snowfall here, it is important to know that overnight dumps of 20 to 40 cms are most common here, with the powder being dry and light due to the extreme cold temperatures. The snowfall here is due to the Siberian weather and this also brings down the temperatures to minus 20 degrees. Dressing warmly is essential to enjoy skiing in the powder snow. It is advisable to opt for thermals, with a hat and also a face protection which includes a helmet.
Accommodation and Resort Services
The main accommodation here is the two hotels, namely The Rusutsu Resort Hotel and the Rusutsu Tower Hotel. Besides which we can look for other accommodations which are available at a close distance and include pensions and cabins.
Talking about the Rusutsu Resort Hotel, this is considered as one of the main hotels which is at the ski-lits base with over 530 rooms. It is a 4 star hotel which is located at the base of the West Mountain. This hotel has a ski-out and ski-in access to the mountain slopes including the beginner slops and also the kid’s area. This hotel has different rooms which are styled configuring the Japanese and the Western style. The complex consists of different restaurants, around 16 shops, and for the kids we find Disney-esque things. Besides this, we find the indoor pool for relaxation and the Japanese onsens. This hotel can be considered as family-oriented.
The Rusutsu Tower Hotel ,which is now called the Westin Rusutsu Resort is an all-suite hotel with 24 storey. The accommodations here can be considered of an ‘upscale quality’. This provides easy access to the ski slopes with a mono-rail ride required to return to the West Mountain and to the Rusutsu Resort Hotel, to get to the East Mountain a lift-ride is required. During summer the golf course can be accessed easily. With 231 rooms this hotel has a number of restaurants and shops catering to the different requirements.
Shiroken Chalet is a 3 bathroom and 4 bedroom houses which can cater around 10 guests at one time. This located at around 800 meters from Rusutsu Resort.
Budget Accommodation in Rusutsu
If on a fixed budget, there are options of multiple pensions which are inexpensive and run by the Japanese families. This can offer an experience of the Japanese culture.
The Pension Sky Be offering a simple two room accommodation with a shared bathroom can be an option which works well within the budget. This takes around 5 minutes from the ski resort.
A simple inn, the Ohisama House, offers two rooms with a bathroom ensuite. There is a free shuttle to the ski area and also from this. This is close to the izikayas and the restaurants not in the resort. Besides this, there are other options like Pension Lulla Huset with a combination of Japanese and Western rooms, Pension Clydesale with facilities like a Wi-fi, LCD television, free parking, free shuttle and a restaurant.
Rusutsu Shopping and Rental
The shops are mainly located in the two resorts, namely the Rusutsu Tower Hotel and the Rusutsu Resort Hotel. The Rusutsu Tower has around ten shops with the Rusutsu having around twenty shops. The sports shops in these two hotels are not too large but are comfortable if we are looking for a new hat, a pair of gloves, some boots or other accessories. Rentals from high quality Atomic and Burton and Salmon can be a good option. These provide the required snowboard equipment at affordable prices. Clothing is also rented out, like the top to toe gear. There are 3 outlets renting out the requirements for skiing.
Rusutsu Grocery & Food
The Rusutsu Resort Hotel has multiple shops for specialty foods. We can also find a big convenience store selling sundries and simple fare. Besides this, the Seven Eleven and the Seicomart convenience store which are located near Pension Lilla Husset, across the Rusutsu Resort Hotel can help in the shopping of bare necessities. These offer alcoholic beverages and a wide range of Japanese snacks at affordable prices. It is known that Rusutsu does not have a ‘real’ grocery store and we have most of the people dining in one of the restaurants here. We can find a small supermarket which is run by the Farmer’s Association close to the Town Office. Besides this, seafood and fresh vegetables can be got from the Rest area 230 Rusutsu, which is a 30 minute walk. There is a possibility of the Lake Toya bus making a halt here.
Rusutsu Snow Schools
There are a number of schools here offering courses in skiing and language does not cause any problem as there are instructors speaking in the English language. The aim we are looking for can be achieved with the training courses offered here. This includes training for the first time skiers and even seasoned enthusiasts. There is fun and adventure to look forward to with the snow schools in Rusutsu. There is a choice of opting for 1 to 1 classes or even group training. The lessons given here are ideal for families, friends and individuals.
For personalized attention and personal feedback the one to one lessons are ideal. This can be tailored in accordance to your requirement, in other words, the starting time and break times beside the starting point can be chosen. The evening lessons are for those on a fixed budget and for beginners learning gets easier in a group environment.
The information on buses can be got from the bus desks in the resort. There is also an option of Taxis to town. This 40 minute distance can be covered by walking if inclined. Bus transfers work as the most efficient and economical or for non-Japanese residents, there is an option of the International Rail. The JR Rail passes can be bought online either for 5 or 10 days.
Food and Night Life
The laid back atmosphere in Rusutsu adds to the comfort of dining here. We are exposed to a lot of the local culture. There are multiple restaurants here offering a variety of cuisine. If the accommodation is the Resort, the dinner can be included in the package. The German Oktoberfest , a restaurant in Rusutsu Resort Hotel offers Japanese and German buffet feasts for the dinner as well as for breakfast. The other options available in this resort are the izakaya, an Italian restaurant and some Japanese Restaurants. There are also options of simple meals available in a ‘village’ close to the resort.
Informal dining is catered to in the Daniel Street, which has joints for hamburgers, pizzas ice-cream or baked items.
Rusutsu is a simple place and if desired we are supposed to manage our own parties by depending on the duty-free alcohol. A few of the izakayas down the ‘strip’ can bring us into a festive mood in the Japanese style. Enjoying a drink is comfortable at Rodeo Drive which opens at 4pm and includes a ‘happy hour’ where the drinks are cheap for 2 hours.
Culture and Ambiance
The Japanese culture can be termed as ‘traditional’ but with a number of tourists flocking Rusutsu there is an exposure to different cultures from all around the globe. Though traditional in one way, Japan can be considered as a society in a continuous state of rapid changes, with the fads shifting constantly and technology taking leaps to be more advanced. The people in Rusutsu are proud of their culture and would love to share the same with the international crowd flocking here. Besides which, there are multiple restaurants and other places which cater to only Japanese food and items so that the visitors here can get a real feel of the place.
Due to the popularity of the ski resorts in Rusutsu there might have been an increase in the prices here. The multiple facilities offered in the resort here might make the accommodation a little more on the expensive side. There is a choice between the high-end hotels which offer the luxuries required for a 5* holiday and the budget accommodation available here, which works well. This budget accommodation includes the pensions which are at a short-walking distance from the resort and quite a few of these offering some basic facilities required for a comfortable stay.
A luxurious hotel like the Rusutsu Resort, with all the facilities works out to almost Rs. 16,861 per night, while the Westin Rusutsu Resort works out to Rs.15, 005 per night. This seems to be reasonable for all the facilities offered along with the luxury.