Rusutsu is a powder purists dream; perfectly groomed pistes and tree lined gullies. It’s also a family favourite full of kitsch quirks and gentle slopes. Three mountains (West, East and Mt. Isola) inter-link with a well-oiled lift system to create a playground for beginners and experts alike. 14m of snow falls here each year and with crowd-less slopes and next to no lift lines it feels like you get the place to yourself – something you won’t find in Rusutsu’s noisy neighbour Niseko. It’s easy to see why those in the know consider Rusutsu to be one of Japan’s best kept secrets.
The Rusutsu Resort Hotel & Convention Centre provides the ski in, ski out accommodation and the quirkiness with the talking tree, Michael Jackson’s Neverland replica Merry-go-round and the banjo playing bears, not to mention the arcade that fills the air with pops, crackles and pings, the Parisian/Venetian shopping arcade and wave pool.
The Hotel is situated on West Mountain and linked to the resorts other hotel, the Westin Rusutsu Resort (East Mountain), by monorail making up the majority of Rusutsu base. There is also a small village with a couple of bars, restaurants and pensions. All over shadowed by the theme park with roller coaster corkscrews jutting over the mountains – an unfamiliar snowy sight.
Rusutsu itself is only a 40 minute drive away from Niseko, giving you the perfect opportunity to ski two of Japans finest resorts in one ski holiday.
Skiing in resort
A fantastic reputation for powder-filled, people free tree runs, and if off-piste skiing is your thing, this is definitely the place for you. Wide open courses interlinked with white birch populated pristine powder fields. It’s fantastic whatever your level, with a brilliant ski school to the exceptional side country parks – a snowy forest full of specially designed terrain features. Perfect for powder lovers who want to experience freestyle in a more natural setting.
The ski area covers three mountains connected by an efficient lift system. The West Mountain is the smallest, great for beginners and offers a few runs of amazing tree skiing. For extra novelty, one of the runs goes right through the resort’s theme park, which is closed in the winter. Skiing past a big wheel is a slightly surreal experience.
There’s also the East Mountain and Mt Isola, which are pretty much one mountain as getting between the two is seamless. Mt Isola is the largest and where you’ll find the most powder as well as the most phenomenal tree-lined routes. You can ski everything within the ropes which means ducking into the trees or cruising down the pistes everyone will meet at the lifts, no worrying about getting lost.
The wonderful thing about skiing in Rusutsu (other than the empty slopes) is that mostly people tend to stick to the groomed runs, which means the powder, off-piste, rarely gets tracked so you can easily find fresh lines all day along with some short and sweet steeper descents.
As with the resort itself, Rusutsu's après is a fairly laid back affair. There are around 11 different restaurants between the hotels and a handful of local restaurants dotted around the village as well as a couple of bars, so there is the option to venture outside of the hotel but still they’re not open late.
There’s also a real family focus off the slopes, with plenty to do including snowmobiling, horse riding, dog sledding and air boarding (a bit like tobogganing but on an inflatable) so it’s a great place to bring the kids!