Kiroro Resort - Japan
This year-round alpine resort destination is a hidden gem located in the heart of the Hokkaido Golden Triangle, and is great for families looking for a quieter holiday away from the crowds. It’s also convenient to get to; it’s about one hour’s drive from Sapporo, and you can go via self-drive, bus, train or taxi.
What to expect: Kiroro boasts more than 20 metres of snow every year, the most in all of Japan and more than most ski regions around the world. This makes for perfect powder, ideal for both avid skiers and first-timers. The resort, which offers all-inclusive ski-and-play packages for the whole family, features 22 ski runs, a terrain park and more outdoor activities.
Indulge in a hot bowl of ramen or sizzling steak at one of their many restaurants and bars and soak in a natural onsen with spectacular views of the forest. The port city Otaru is also just 30 mins away, perfect for a day trip!
The kids will love: Besides ski and snow-boarding lessons for children as young as three years old, little ones will also love building snowmen in the resort’s expansive Snow Park, or going on a snow banana boat, buggy or raft ride on the open snow fields.
Where to stay: Choose from hotels or private residences from the Sheraton Hokkaido Kiroro Resort (which has 140 guestrooms and suites and is nearest to the ski slopes) to The Kiroro, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel (with 282 guestrooms with mountain views). Or be the first to stay at the Yu Kiroro private residences (pictured above) that’s scheduled to be completed this year end, complete with ski valet, onsen, club house and a 24-hour concierge. Go here for more information.
Photo courtesy of Kiroro Resort
Club Med Beidahu - China
Opened in December 2016, this ski resort located in China’s north-east Jilin province is great for new skiers and young families. It’s a one-and-a-half hour drive from Changchun Longjia International Airport, and the resort can help you arrange flights and airport transfers.
What to expect: There are 19 ski runs, known as pistes, from adrenaline-pumping cross-country and alpine trails to aerial skiing style platforms and snowboarding options. The ski runs suit all ability levels and ages. After being out in the snow, check out the many fun-filled indoor activities, including group yoga classes and spa treatments. The resort also has two restaurants,which serve a variety of cuisines.
The kids will love: Sign them up for skiing or snowboarding lessons with qualified instructors. There’s also a snow garden for them to play in. Little ones automatically become members of the Club Med Kids’ Club. Mini Club Med, for four- to 10-year-olds, includes access to dedicated rooms for recreation, art and music. Older kids up to 17 years have access to other facilities, such as the interactive video game lounge.
Where to stay: The Club and Deluxe rooms sleep up to three and four people respectively, while the Suite is perfect for up to six guests. The resort has 176 rooms. Go here for more information.
Chilly Powder - France
Chilly Powder is located in the picturesque alpine town of Morzine, in the Franco-Swiss region of Portes du Soleil, about an hour’s drive from Geneva airport in Switzerland. Situated directly opposite the main gondola lift to Avoriaz, you won’t need transportation to get to the slopes.
What to expect: The area is famous for its ski resorts and offers 650 km of pistes, linked by 228 ski lifts. The extensive and varied landscape caters to all ages and ability levels. There are also snowboard parks with jumps, obstacles and half-pipes. The 60 snow cannons ensure that the runs to the resort remain open until the very end of the season. The town offers a mixture of traditional and modern shops, a weekly market, restaurants, cinemas, a play park, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and an ice-skating rink.
The kids will love: Chilly Powder has its own ski school for kids aged four to 15 years. Or you can sign your children up for lessons at other ski or snowboarding schools in Morzine. There are also many outlets from which to rent equipment.
Where to stay: Chalet Au Coin Du Feu features 17 luxurious bedrooms, including 11 specially designed family rooms. All have en-suite bathrooms. The chalet houses a creche run by a team of qualified nannies (who will accompany them to play in the snow or entertain them indoors with various games and activities), a restaurant, games room, plus a sauna and outdoor hot tub. Go here for more information.
Cardrona Alpine Resort - New Zealand
Cardrona is located in the Southern Lakes region of New Zealand, and is within easy driving distance of both Queenstown and Wanaka. Daily bus and shuttle services are also available to Cardrona from Queenstown and Wanaka.
What to expect: Half of the runs on the mountain are suitable for beginner and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. There are also many different ski lifts so you can move from one section of the mountain to another with ease. Facilities at the resort include a general store, cafes and restaurants, ski and snowboard rental services, and a medical centre.
The kids will love: Private and group skiing and snowboarding lessons are available for your little ones, as well as rental services for clothing and accessories. The two-hour First-Timer Ski or Snowboard Lesson is ideal for skiers aged five to 14 years, and snowboarders aged seven to 14 years. The group lesson is designed to introduce kids to sliding on the snow for the first time and getting them acquainted with the basics of each sport.
Tubing has also been introduced at the resort. This involves sitting in a large doughnut-like contraption called a tube. No skiing skills needed – just buy a tubing pass, collect your tube and helmet, make your way to the top of the slope, and slide down.
The Cardrona Kids’ Club is a dedicated facility for five- to 14-year-olds. Drop the children off for a half-day or full day, where they can new friends and work on their snow skills. Kids under five years can have fun at the nursery or kindergarten while you ski.
Where to stay: Cardrona has 15 on-mountain apartments, from studios to four-bedroom apartments. The Studio, for up to four people, has one king-size bed and two single beds, a fully equipped kitchen, a lounge area, bathroom, and shared laundry facilities. Go here for more information.
Whistler Blackcomb - Canada
One of the largest ski resorts in North America, it’s located in Whistler, a town 121 km north of Vancouver, British Columbia. The resort was one of the venues for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
What to expect: The resort has numerous parks, each offering different terrains for various activities, such as The Big Easy Terrain Garden on Blackcomb Mountain, which has smaller rails, rollers and mini-hits designed for beginners. Skiing aside, you can also go mountain biking, hiking and tubing. Whistler Village has over 120 restaurants and cafes, more than 200 retail shops, and numerous parks and lakes.
The kids will love: The Kids Ski Adventure Camp is a fun and intensive programme for children of various age groups. For seven to 12-year-olds, for example, there’s the three- or five-day camp, during which they get to explore the mountain and improve their skills through fun and games. Also available: private, group and family skiing and snowboarding lessons for all ability levels at the Snow School.
If your kids don’t feel like skiing, they can check out Magic Castle on Blackcomb Mountain and Tree Fort on Whistler Mountain. Both are fun adventure play-lands for children to explore.
Where to stay: Choose from a range of luxury hotels, ski-in/ski-out condos, bed-and-breakfasts, and even townhouses. The Hilton Whistler Resort & Spa, in Whistler Village, is a full-service resort that provides immediate access to both Whistler and Blackcomb mountain gondolas. The self-contained Whistler Junior Suite at the Hilton, ideal for families, features a well-equipped kitchen (no oven), breakfast bar, fireplace, sitting area and balcony. Go here for more details.
Photo: @robinoneill via @whistlerblackcomb/Instagram
Keystone Resort – USA
This resort is located in the Rocky Mountains, about 50 minutes from Denver, the capital of Colorado. Colorado Mountain Express shuttles are available at Denver International Airport and the ride to the resort is about 90 minutes.
What to expect: The resort has three mountains, including the largest in the area, offering 12.5 sq km of skiable terrain, 20 lifts and two gondolas. The A51 Terrain Park is one of the country’s best, boasting over 100 features and a park-specific lift.
Keystone also has plenty of dining, shopping and wellness options, and non-mountain activities, like ice-skating, dogsled tours and sleigh rides.
If you’re looking for an activity the whole family will enjoy, try the Mountain-Top Snowcat Tour, which offers an exclusive glimpse of Keystone’s high-alpine bowls and breathtaking views of the Continental Divide and surrounding mountain ranges from the comfort of a heated snowmobile.
The kids will love: The Keystone Ski & Ride School conducts lessons for children aged three years and over. Childcare services and a playschool are available for babies and toddlers, and kids aged three to six years who don’t want to ski.
If you book your stay with Keystone Resort and stay for at least two nights, kids who are under 12 years get to ski for free.
Keystone’s Kidtopia offers free activities on and off the snow, every day of the week during the winter season, which ends on April 8, 2019. Check out the Saturday parade and fireworks, build your own snowman, catch a movie matinee at Kidtopia headquarters, march in the village parade, and more.
Where to stay: Choose from numerous accommodation options. Riverbank Condominiums offers mountain and wetland views, and is within walking distance of the ski lifts. It also provides shuttle services within the resort. For more information, visit www.keystoneresort.com.
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Text: Sasha Gonzales, Additional reporting: Elizabeth Liew
This post was updated on December 19, 2018.