Early February 2014 Madarao is a great Resort, it has everything from good beginner runs, thru blues to steeps and unlike most other resorts, they have a number of treed areas open for skiing.We virtually skied these areas all week and the snow was still great when we left. Admittedly it did snow all week and kept things topped up.There are no lift lines mid week and certainly not crowded even on weekends, I don't know how Madarao has kept out of the spotlight so long. (Don't tell too many people)
Fox Alley was good accommodation, the owners were very helpful and friendly, they provided "western style" breakfast and a traditional Japanese meal when we stayed in for dinner. Our rooms were "western style" beds and bathroom / toilet very clean and comfortable. Both hosts spoke quite good English and the woman is attending classes to improve further. ( not really necessary in my opinion but she is very keen to learn, she helped my Japanese and I her English)
They dropped me at the station in Iiyama when I left and drove us to restaurants a couple of nights. I'm not sure they could do the restaurant bit for everyone if they had more guests.
The only downside to Fox Alley is it's location, access to the lifts is OK, a short (2/3 min) walk in the morning and a ski down to the lifts, and same getting back, a short ski /skate and short walk. It is however, a 20 min walk to get to the restaurants (which are excellent by the way) but a bit of a drag if it's a windy , snowy night. All things considered though not a bad choice, I would certainly stay there again, we had fantastic week.
The service from JSA was first class you answered all my e-mails and questions promptly and came up with accommodation that satisfied my needs, you offered some general advice about what to expect in these less frequented locations.
Below are some images of our trip.