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We took taxi to New Chitose Airport from our hotel in Chitose (about 15 minute ride from New Chitose), in order to catch a bus to Rusutsu Resort. (I made a reservation for this bus called The Big Runs about 2 weeks prior.) The Big Runs bus ride from the airport to Rusutsu Resort lasting about 2 hours was scenic and pleasant. From the bus window we could see a beautiful mountain, Mt. Yotei (the Hokkaido Fuji) from several angles, and a beautiful lake (the Shikotsu Lake). Most of the place names in the central and northern Hokkaido are in the language of Ainu (the indigenous people of Hokkaido). When we arrived at Rusutsu Resort hotel we were surprised to see a huge, multi-colored merry-go-round near the entrance. Rusutsu Resort hotel North and South Wings (a ski-in and –out establishment) seems to cater to families, particularly children with their colorful, kitschy Disneyesque mechanical moving animal-characters playing music and somewhat garish décor around the reception area. And we did see many high school students who were at Rusutsu for their senior trip. On the second night when we saw a group of night skiers with numbers on their fronts and backs through a hotel restaurant window we initially thought there was some competition going on, but it turned out that they were the high school students wearing numbers in order to avoid losing them.

On the first day at Rusutsu when we moved up to our floor we saw an Australian or New Zealander who was in a wheelchair, and slightly later a blond middle-aged woman on the clutches. These sights made me somewhat concerned about the difficulty of the slopes at Rusutsu, but this apprehension disappeared soon when we traveled up to the lift on the second day. The snow was that famous powder and the terrains were perfectly flat and well- groomed on the West Mountain. Since I ski only on the green runs I was happy to encounter the long beginners’ slope that was wide and perfectly groomed. This run was named as Shiroi Koibito (White Lovers) and one couple in wedding costume plus ski jackets were seen having a picture session. I believe this couple was the same one in wedding outfits that I saw the day before. (On a second thought they might have been merely models for publicity photos for the hotel complex or a Hokkaido sweet called Shiroi Koibito.)

Rusutsu Resort consists of three mountains, the West Mountain, the East Mountain, and Mt. Izola. One electronic ticket covers all the lifts on these mountains, unlike those at Niseko and Hirafu. I consider the lift tickets very reasonable. The runs tend to be long and well groomed on the West Mountain. The runs on Mt. Izola were more like Whistler slopes with occasional rough terrains, according to my husband. All of my family enjoyed skiing/ snowboarding at Rusutsu Resort. We rented the equipment except for the helmets, jackets, goggles, and gloves.
The Rusutsu Resort complex offers many restaurants and cafes, from buffet (“Viking”) restaurants to Chinese, French, Italian and Japanese restaurants. The costs for the meals are reasonable. The quality of the meals was at times quite good. For instance, we had a so-called anti-aging course which contained many vegetable dishes at the French restaurant called Belle Vue, and found them delicious. However, perhaps the most popular restaurant at the resort was a Viking restaurant called October Fest for the morning buffet. Since we saw a very long line waiting to get into the restaurant on the first morning (we immediately gave up and went to the Japanese restaurant there) we went there quite early (I believe slightly before the restaurant opened); but again we saw a line of people waiting. It was a little embarrassing to see people rushing into the restaurant but I guess people want to have good meals before heading for the slopes.

An onsen (spa) and a wave-making swimming pool were also available. Although we did not try them we saw many Aussies (I believe) coming out of onsen.

Night time at the Rusutsu Resort was full of illuminations; it was as if every day were Christmas at Rusutsu. I also thought the hotel complex was cognizant of the guests’ need: they offer free large lockers after checking out, a free bus service provided by the Big Runs between the hotel and Sapporo station and coin laundry facilities.

On the whole, our winter family vacation at Rusutsu Resort was great. Perhaps getting there is a little daunting, but the slopes and other services made up for such difficulty.