Early Jan 2016
During the beginning of this year we travelled to Madarao mountain Resort to ski for a week. We went with another family - in total we were 4 adults and 6 kids. Hisae arranged for each family to stay in an apartment at the resort that was separate from, but attached to the main hotel in terms of services. Each apartment had a separate tatami room with futon bedding for 3, two single beds, a dining table, kitchenette with fridge, stove and microwave and a big bathroom/drying room. It was perfect! We could ski in and out, and there was a shuttle connecting us to the main hotel and other transport every 15 mins during the day. The apartment building had its own front desk staff, onset, shop, games room and restaurant.
The meals at the restaurant weren’t always to everyone's taste - we were travelling with people with dietary restrictions - but the kids LOVED the breakfast buffet and with the kitchenette we were easily able to feed any fussy eaters at the apartment.
We hired all our gear at the hotel, which was super convenient - it all got added to our hotel tab and we just paid at the end with our bill. It was also very good in terms of ease of return.
The snow dumped down on about day 4, and the powder was excellent. All the kids had private lessons most days - which Hisae organised for us - and had excellent teachers. The littlest kids who were 3 and 4 had 2 lessons with gorgeous teachers who were super patient and went above and beyond (buying them snacks, helping with toileting). The snowboarding teachers were some of the best teachers we’ve ever come across - and the kids have had lessons every year since they were 2.
The mountain itself is quite small and intimate, we felt totally at ease to let our oldest children (9 and 10) traverse some of the runs by themselves. Even though the mountain is small, it is attached to Tangram (another resort) and has a good range of challenging runs.
Heide restaurant sits at the bottom of the valley and is a great spot to wait for other family members and to have lunch. They also have REAL coffee, which is something that seems hard to come by!
The best thing probably for us at Madarao - besides the actual snow and accommodation - was the hotel manager, Toru. Hisae had told him about us in advance and he came and greeted us as soon as we arrived and made sure we were checked into our apartments. He helped us buy our ski tickets and hire the gear we needed, and explained anything that might have been difficult for us. Toru recommended and booked restaurants in Iiyama for us, helped us with the buses and printed out numerous bus timetables for us. He arranged a driver for us one day when we wanted to go and see the snow monkeys and see a little of the surrounding valley. The day we were due to leave there were no taxis to be found because of a public holiday, and our luggage was too enormous to take on the bus, so Toru used one of the hotel’s shuttles in his ’spare’ time to take us to our shinkansen in Iiyama! Toru was there whenever we needed him (we actually asked him if he ever slept!) and was very generous, sweet and kind. As our Japanese is pretty limited and Madarao is fairly sparse in terms of English speakers, our holiday was made so much easier by Toru, and we are very grateful for to Hisae for setting us up with him!
All in all we would recommend Japan Snow Accommodation - Hisae is such a professional and goes to great lengths to make sure everything is amazing and smooth. She also has lots of information about other things - transport, attractions etc that she very kindly gave us to make our trip even more special. Many thanks!