Hey gang, this is Andy. I think I’m going to start prefacing posts with who is writing, so you don’t think BG Goddard is simultaneously jet-setting all around the world while also living in Japan.
After our so-so stay at the Intercontinental Tokyo The Strings, we boarded a mid-morning award flight from Haneda (HND) (booking Japan Airlines using BA Avios) to Sapporo (CTS), which is about a 2 hour flight. What I didn’t fully realize when I was planning the trip, was how far from the airport the ski resort is. I read that a taxi there would cost $60-80 one way, so we decided to take the train, then catch the complimentary shuttle to the resort. The train from Chitose to Otaru-chikko station is about an hour, then the shuttle (which only runs until 17:55 to 18:25 depending on the season) takes about 45 minutes. So by the time we got to the resort, it was dark.
I booked this stay using SPG points. It costs only 7k SPG points per night, whereas it costs over $400 per night, so we were getting at least 5 cents/point value, which is an absolute steal! Right next to the Sheraton Kiroro Resort is the Kiroro, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, which on paper is a nicer stay, but I chose the Sheraton for three reasons.
First, the Sheraton is literally right on the slopes of the ski resort, while the Kiroro takes a short 5-10 minute shuttle ride to get there. Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, one of the benefits of having the Amex SPG business card is complimentary access to the Sheraton Club when staying there, either on cash or points stay (H/T to OMAAT for this tip). This means free breakfast at most Sheratons; however, at this particular Sheraton, the club serves “snacks” during every meal, which meant practically full meals. I think our whole time at the resort we only paid for meals twice!
Now, actually having them honor that privilege took quite a bit of cajoling. They understandably don’t see many non-Japanese people here, and therefore not many people carrying the Amex SPG business; as a consequence, no one at the front desk knew of this benefit. They eventually had to call the main manager to confirm that this was indeed a valid perk. At the same time however, I was hitting up @SPGassist on Twitter, and they were ready to go to bat for me. It all worked out though, and to be clear, while the front desk staff were not at first aware of this perk, they were incredibly gracious for our whole stay and made us feel like family.
We got booked to a mountain view room, and here was our view as we walked in:
The couch was clutch as our 5 year old son, who can sleep anywhere, was with us. The room was somewhat cramped, but very comfortable and warm, and the internet was quick considering we were at a snow-covered resort on a mountaintop in the middle of a remote island closer to Kamchatka then Tokyo. The bathroom was also very cramped, so only one person at a time, but thank goodness, a washlet!
Here was our view from the room, as you can see, very good proximity to the slopes:
And here was a pic from my first run. I was amongst the first on the lift, as I was ready to go at 8, but the slopes don’t open until 9:
Overall, the skiing was great, the resort was really nice, if a little smallish if you’re used to Colorado and Utah resorts. It snowed the last couple hours of our last day there, and I got to experience Hokkaido’s legendary powder first-hand. I’m a pretty good skiier, but I’d never experienced powder like that before. Let’s just say I was thankful that I didn’t have to walk much for our trip back, because I wouldn’t have been able to!
The staff there was lovely, which is a constant theme throughout Japan. The Sheraton Club was more than adequate for meals and beverages for the whole family, and overall we had a great trip. My son Sterling finally went skiing for the first time, and can’t stop talking about going again. The value you get here for SPG points is amazing, and we’re already planning our next trip here!