Club Med Sahoro delivers what Australian ski fiends have come to expect from Japanese ski resorts – an abundance of “Japow” and culinary nirvana
Do you want to do the race?” asks my snowboard instructor. Race? It’s not a question you expect upon first setting foot on the slopes of a new resort. The dude has never seen me board and he’s asking me if I want to race? “Why not, let’s do it,” I reply, hoping my voice doesn’t betray my apprehension.
Perhaps I should have been ready to receive such a challenge. After all, this upmarket resort on Japan’s northern-most island of Hokkaido was the site of the 1972 Sapporo Winter Olympics. That knowledge serves only to deepen my fears as I find myself at the top of the steep launch platform of the famous Slalom course. This is not what I signed up for, I think as the timekeeper shouts, “ICHI, NI, SAN, GO!”
I launch myself off the platform with all my might as I proceed to gun down the drypowder run as fast as I possibly can. The first flag is upon me before I know it. I just manage to negotiate that one, clipping it with my shoulder as I pass, before I have to throw my weight backward to clear the next. My quads feel like they’re on fire as I blast down a mountain faster than I’ve ever done before.
By the time I reach the final gate I’m gassed and relieved. Then I see my official time flash up on the big screen and feel a surge of exhilaration. I call out to my instructor: “Let’s do it again!”
I’LL ADMIT I HAD an outdated perception of Club Med, picturing a youth-oriented company stuck in a Nineties culture of hardcore partying. After a tough day on the slopes I expected I’d have to dodge obnoxious 20-somethings slamming down Jägerbombs at night. How wrong I was.
The first thing you notice is the lack of congestion on the slopes. Despite the resort being at full capacity, the atmosphere is pleasantly laidback with no queues at the lifts. This is a godsend, because with over 20km of terrain and seven tasty black runs, skiers and boarders of all levels can enjoy the renowned dry powder in peace.
To get your bearings, start by taking the gondola and head straight to the 1030m summit, ideal for beginners and kids, but with plenty of scope for thrill seekers looking for more challenging terrain. It’s a snapshot of the variety that has made the resort a magnet for Aussie skiers, who’ve trebled in number since 2006.
“Sahoro is well known for their down-to-earth consumers who come back year after year for very consistent skiing and a
comfortable stay,” says Vincent Ong, Club Med’s vice president of marketing.
NURSING BONE-WEARY LIMBS I stagger over to the neighbouring man-made Ice Village come nightfall. It’s a sight to behold with an ice rink and cluster of illuminated igloos completing a stunning winter wonderland. Each igloo has a different purpose; there’s a florist, an ice cafe, a mini bar and even a stationery store.
The nightlife and dining options are a standout. I kick things off at Daichi, the resort’s buffet serving dishes made from fresh local produce. From the beautifully cut Maguro lean