A Must-See For People Who Want To Both Ski And Tour! Lotte Arai Resort Offers Free Ride Skiing And Great Access To Tourist Sites
A Special Experience At A Great Mountain Resort
The Lotte Arai Resort, which celebrated its grand opening in Myoko City, Niigata Prefecture, on December 16, 2017, is a unique mountain resort that features a slope of non-compacted snow where you can enjoy free riding and Asia’s longest zip tour (1,501m). In addition to the excellent skiing and snowboarding environment, there are many tourist sites within a one-hour drive that can be enjoyed in all seasons.
The friendly hotel staff and the chance to make friends with other guests participating in the same events provides opportunities to meet people in a way not possible elsewhere.
This time we talked to two people who work at the resort about ways they recommend to enjoy it and their thoughts about their work.
Check out the article about experience of staying Lotte Arai Resort here!
Lotte Arai Resort
（from the left）
Tatsuya Ito: Sales & Marketing
Takumi Iwashita: Marketing team ACE Part
The Luxury Of A Mountain Resort Surrounded By The Grandeur Of Nature
- When we talk about skiing, the famous places to foreign tourists are Niseko in Hokkaido or Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture, but what are the characteristics of Myoko in Niigata Prefecture compared to Nikose or Hakuba?
Iwashita: We have powder snow here as well, but the characteristics of the snow are very different from that in Hokkaido. Niigata Prefecture has the highest snow accumulation in all of Japan and it can even completely cover trees that are over 10m tall. That means every day there are track-less slopes that no one has skied down yet.
Ito: Backcountry skiing where you climb and ski down mountains with natural slopes has lately become popular overseas. Since those areas are not managed, there is a risk of injury or getting into trouble, so it doesn’t have a major following in Japan.
The Lotte Arai Resort, however, has free areas with non-compacted snow called free riding zones and account for 84% of our slopes. So while the environment is the same as that for backcountry skiing, the slopes are patrolled and carefully managed. This allows guests to safely enjoy Japan’s powder snow, no-track slopes, and the grandeur of the natural setting.
- You mentioned that care is also taken with safety, so what are the hotel points you can recommend to anyone?
Ito: The resort is designed so that even guests that stay a long time will not become bored. In addition to the skiing area, at 1,501m our zip line is the longest in Asia and we have a tree adventure set in trees with a height of 2 to 10m, tubing where you can slide down a 192m hill, and other activities for enjoying nature. And inside the hotel there are several restaurants and bars, a hot springs bath, and an indoor winery as well as other activities, such as bowling, trampoline, and a fan wall. A spa, pool, and fitness center also opened in December 2018. The guest rooms are also large enough that even the smallest twin room has enough space to lay open large suitcases. All of the facilities have more features than can be described in a word.
Iwashita: The Shiga Kogen Highlands in Nagano and the Nozawa Hot Springs and Hakuba as well are within a two-hour drive by car from Lotte Arai Resort. It is an irresistible area for fans of winter sports.
Shiga Kogen Highland
Only Enjoying Skiing Is A Missed Opportunity : There Is Tourism To Enjoy Throughout The Four Seasons Of Japan
- Being able to also visit neighboring ski resorts is irresistible to skiing enthusiasts. Other than skiing, what tourist spots close to the hotel do you recommend?
Iwashita: There are many tourist sites that can be reached in less than an hour by car from here! Nojiriko Lake in Nagano Prefecture offers a variety of activities year round including canoeing, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP), wakeboarding, and smelt fishing.
In the winter, as the name implies, there are many hot spring baths in Nozawa hot springs in Nagano Prefecture that can be enjoyed, so the area is also great for hot spring bath hopping. The hot spring town even has 13 free community hot springs baths. If you bath hop all 13 baths, you can get a towel with the names of all of them on it.
Ito: That gives you a sense of achievement. But be careful not to make yourself ill by trying to bathe in all 13 baths in one day. (Laughingly)
Iwashita: In the spring you can enjoy the Takada Koen Park, which has one of the three largest nighttime cherry blossom viewing areas in Japan. I also recommend climbing Mt. Myoko in fall while viewing the colorful autumn foliage. Although it is a little farther away, in summer you can enjoy on of Japan’s top three fireworks displays at the Nagaoka Fireworks Festival in Niigata Prefecture.
Takada Castle Ruins Park
Nagaoka Fireworks Festival
Ito: In addition, you can visit the Joetsu Aquarium Umigatari in Joetsu City during any season, and farther south in Nagano Prefecture there is the Zenkoji Temple that enshrines the oldest Buddhist statue in Japan. The Umigatari building was completely renovated in June 2018, so now there are more locations from which it is easy to photograph the dolphins, penguins, and other animals. The Zenkoji Temple has a 1,400 year history and is said to be a temple that will get you to paradise even if you only visit it once in your lifetime.
Joetsu Aquarium Umigatari
- Wow, there are really many famous tourist sites! What locations do the two of you like that are not well known to the general public?
Iwashita: The Tsubame Onsen is good. It is about 20 to 30 minutes by car from here and has a free open-air hot spring bath. If you climb the mountain for about 10 minutes, you will come to hot springs surrounded by rocks. One of the hot spring baths is separated by men and women, and a little farther in is a mixed bathing open-air bath. The baths are closed in the winter due to snow, so you should go there in the spring and fall!
These Experiences Can Be Provided To Quests Because The Staff Is Also Having Fun
- So what brought you here?
Ito: I’m from Hokkaido, so I have been to Niseko and some overseas ski areas. Since I was in junior high school, I have come to Myoko to ski. When I was in Hokkaido, I saw the news regarding the merger of two of the industry’s major brands in Lotte Holdings and the former Arai Resort and was interested in that when they contacted me and I decided to come here.
Iwashita: I’m from Kagoshima Prefecture (where it rarely snows) and went skiing for the first time when I was 21 when my friend took me, so that’s when I started liking skiing. I wanted to move somewhere where I could ski more often, so I lived in Hokkaido for 5 years. About a year after becoming interested in the Lotte Arai Resort, I got an opportunity in July of last year to join and started working here. I’m fortunate now to live about 10 minutes by car from 4 or 5 ski areas, so I’m living my dream!
- What do you do at Lotte Arai Resort?
Ito: I plan day trip products, prepare for events, and set the skiing and activity related prices among other things.
Iwashita: I work mainly onsite and am in charge of the three sections of General Activity Operations, Information, and Winter Sports Rentals.
- What memorable incidents have you experienced so far and what is fun about your work?
Ito: I did all kinds of work in a big hurry during the short 6 months we had to get ready for the opening. When I saw my work take form and the guests arriving on opening day, it moved me to tears.
Iwashita: It brings me joy to see the part-time staff I oversee grow to where they have fun interacting with the guests.
- Even after the opening you are involved with some trial and error while running the resort, so is there anything new that you want to try?
Ito: I like skiing so much that I did alpine skiing for 20 years, so I have a private dream of holding events and providing services that utilize the slopes. I would be happy if I could help make a way for people who like the slopes to gather together.
Iwashita: I have the impression that many foreigners and Japanese alike have the image of Lotte Arai Resort being just for skiing, so I want to create something that can only be experienced at Lotte Arai Resort during a season other than winter. No matter how good our products are, if the customers don’t use them, it is nothing more than self-satisfaction. I want to think of new things to do while enjoying the process.
- What is a “resort” to you?
Iwashita: It is a place the guests can enjoy because the staff themselves are having fun. I think it is because we are having fun that the guests can enjoy themselves, so I tell the staff that first I want them to have fun. I am also trying to make sure I’m always having fun.
Ito: Is everywhere in the facility a place that will entertain our guests? The resort is a place for people to gather for something they like, such as skiing or associating with people, and then providing it to them. I want to create an even better “like cycle” by providing entertainment at every opportunity, such as at the ski area, during activities, at the front desk, and in the hot spring baths.
Lotte Arai Resort
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