Cover Story
Winter Escape
Lavonne Cheah 
Club Med Beidahu boasts the highest operating vertical drop in China
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Club Med Beidahu, China

What: This wintry Club Med boasts 176 rooms including two family suites and one presidential suite. They are complemented by three restaurants and bars, a gym, a spa with a hot tub, as well as an array of sporting facilities such as archery, dartboards, table football, table tennis and air hockey. It also boasts an entertainment room with a dance floor to boogie the night away.

Why: Club Med Beidahu is located in Jilin province to the northeast of Beijing. It is situated in the heart of Changchun where the Asian Winter Games 2007 was held. Only 90 minutes away from Changchun airport, this hidden gem boasts spectacular sceneries of rime ice crystals.

This all-inclusive resort boasts a vertical drop of more than 800m – said to be the highest operating vertical in the country – and its 19 pistes stretch across 26km at a height of 525.8m to 1,403.9m, promising endless adventures for ski enthusiasts.

There are also ski runs ranging from adrenaline-pumping cross country and alpine trails to aerial skiing style platforms and snowboarding options for the thrill seekers. Not forgetting the little ones, there is also a dedicated kid’s ski room and snow garden.

When you have had enough of snow, head indoors where there is no shortage of activities. Pamper yourself with a bespoke treatment at its luxurious spa or relax in the Jacuzzi. Alternatively, challenge your mahjong skills in the room dedicated to this beloved Chinese tile-based game. Don’t worry about the kids as they will be in good hands – and happily occupied – at the Mini Club Med and the Club Med Passworld.

Website: www.clubmed.com.sg/r/Beidahu/y

Niseko Village, Japan

What: In 1963, Niseko in Hokkaido was designated as a protected zone within the Niseko-Shakotan-Otaru Kaigan Quasi-National Park. The area is characterised by ancient caldera lakes, serene rivers and undulating farm fields. Lying close to the Sea of Japan and Uchiura Bay, Niseko also enjoys an abundance of fresh seafood.

Why: In the 1990s, Niseko underwent a transformation into a skiing Shangri-La. Today, it is internationally recognised as a picturesque snow haven for outdoor enthusiasts, nature lovers, adrenaline junkies and gourmands.

The Niseko Village boasts a combined 886.6ha of skiable terrain and is strategically located at the base of Mount Niseko Annupuri that also boasts award-winning hotels, an onsen, a dining and retail village hub, and an international snow school.

One of luxury accommodations to look out for is Kasara Niseko Village Townhouse, operated by YTL Hotels, which comprises eight luxurious three-bedroom townhouses that redefine alpine living. Each townhouse accommodates up to six people complete with a tatami-style dining room that can be converted into an additional bedroom with futon bedding for small children. Other services include guided tours, private skiing and snowboarding lessons, and outside gym facilities.

As for food, you’d be spoilt for choice. There is an abundance of traditional Japanese cuisines to be found in the village, alongside fusion and international fares. The locally produced sake, Hokkaido wines and brewed beers are also not to be missed.

Website: www.niseko-village.com

  
Chalet Gingembre, Switzerland

What: Perched on Haute Nendaz, Chalet Gingembre, which is part of The Hideaways Club Classic Collection, takes the private cosiness of the traditional chalet and gives it a modern twist, offering lavish hotel frills such as concierge service and an in-house chef.

Why: This is an alpine retreat with a distinctly rustic chic vibe. With room for 12 spread over five bedrooms, the chalet also houses an outdoor hot tub, a sauna, a wide selection of board games and a library to keep one suitably entertained indoors.

But why stay in when there are magnificent views of the Alps to breathe in? Chalet Gingembre is located in the hamlet of Les Clèves in Nendaz, at the heart of the 4 Valleys, one of the most spectacular ski regions in the world.

With access to more than 412km of pistes, it is suitable for all skiers, be it professionals, amateurs and beginners. The chalet itself is very close to the Nendaz’s Tracouet gondola that takes you right to the top of the 4 Valleys.

For non-skiers, try one of the clearly marked snowshoe paths that take you through some real-life winter wonderland.

Website: www.thehideawaysclub.com/properties/classic/chalet-gingembre

 

Bighorn Revelstoke, Canada

What: Bighorn Revelstoke has been voted the World’s Best Ski Chalet at the World Ski Awards for three consecutive years, and it’s not hard to see why. Nestled at the base of Revelstoke Mountain Resort, this extraordinary mountain lodge delivers an unparalleled combination of luxury and adventure.

Why: A mountain retreat like no other, Bighorn is both a helicopter-ski lodge and a luxury ski chalet. It accommodates up to 16 guests in eight well-appointed guest rooms with balconies overlooking the stunning mountainous landscape.

Bighorn, one of the recommended properties by Lightfoot Travel luxury tour operator, is the only ski resort in the world to offer lift, cat, heli, and backcountry skiing from one village base. For guests who wish to tour the surrounding wilderness, book a helicopter to catch the spectacular sights of ski powder bowls, glaciers, and forests blanketed in champagne powder.

After a long day of skiing, retreat to the chalet for a dip in the hot tub or get pampered at the spa. Bighorn also provides a personal chef to whip up a satisfying meal. Bespoke itineraries are also available upon request.

Website: www.lightfoottravel.com/property/bighorn-revelstoke

 

Chalet Marmotte Courchevel, France

What: Chalet Marmotte in Courchevel is a 5-star chalet where relaxation is always the order of the day. Nestled in the trees in a quiet and isolated hamlet called le Belvédère (1,750m altitude), the chalet is discreet and ideally situated on the slopes, offering the ultimate ski-in, ski-out luxury. It also sits close to the Trois Vallées, making it easily accessible for ski enthusiasts.

Why: The abode’s elegant simplicity is absolutely charming and welcoming. The use of light colours and large windows that let in plenty of natural light give it a cosy and homely vibe. It may be quaint but it comes well-appointed with such luxuries as a sauna and a steam room.

For something even cosier, check into its sister abode, the Petite Marmotte. Formerly a hay store, it is now a plush residence. Both abodes share such facilities as the ski room, personal concierge, bowling, go-kart as well as the spa and the gym.

Website: www.lightfoottravel.com/property/chalet-marmotte-ski

 
Fuji Marriott Hotel Lake, Yamanaka, Japan

What: The Fuji Marriott Hotel Lake Yamanaka opened recently at the foot of Mount Fuji. Apart from the spectacular view of Japan’s most well-known peak, it is also the perfect base from which to explore the area’s many shrines and natural attractions.

Why: The smallest of Marriott’s five new properties in Japan, it has only 105 guestrooms but with the option of the traditional Japanese tatami or the modern Western-style accommodations. The premium rooms even come with their own private hot spring baths. Fret not if your room doesn’t have one as there is a communal onsen on the property.

While the hotel may not look like much on the outside, it more than makes up for it with an elegant interior. Plus, its location along the largest lake of the Five Fuji Lakes in Yamanakako Village is simply magical.

Lake Yamanaka is shaped like a whale when viewed from the air and due to its high altitude and relatively shallow depth, it freezes completely in the winter. During this time, visitors get to go ice skating on the lake; ice fishing for wakasagi (Japanese pond smelt) is also a popular activity.

Other sights include the Oshino Village, famous for its scenic Oshino Hakkai ponds, which are fed by melted snow from Mount Fuji, and the city of Fujiyoshida where you can visit a Shinto shrine dedicated to the spirits of Mount Fuji.

If you don’t fancy travelling too far, embrace the local onsen experience at one of the public hot spring baths around Lake Yamanaka. One of the recommended baths is Benifuji no Yu that prides itself on a nice warm soak in the company of a fantastic view of Mount Fuji.

Website: www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/mmjfj-fuji-marriott-hotel-lake-yamanaka/



This article first appeared in Focus Malaysia Issue 261.