The best ski resorts, accommodation and service providers of 2024

The 2023/24 ski season is now on its last legs, and, as is customary around this time of year, we’ve compiled a list of the ski industry’s best performers as voted by you, our readers. There are plenty of new names on the list thanks in part to several new awards categories: Japan’s best ski travel agency, Japan’s best tour operator and Japan’s best real estate agent.

This season was, thankfully, the first without any COVID-related travel restrictions since the pandemic emerged in 2020. Both Japan and South Korea saw Chinese tourists return in force, while China’s ski resorts were finally accessible to foreign tourists after several years of border closures. Incredibly, Japan welcomed more than 2,734,000 inbound visitors in December 2023, the most ever during the last month of the year. This influx of tourists was felt strongly in Niseko, where the number of food trucks has now ballooned to around 50 to accommodate the increase in numbers.

Unfortunately, the mass return of tourists wasn’t the only challenge for ski businesses this season. El Niño also made its first return in five years, bringing with it warmer temperatures and below average snowfall to much of Japan. Several resorts bucked the trend, however, including Furano, which has accumulated almost 8 metres of snowfall to date – its best return since 2016.

All in all, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate yet another successful ski season, and we hope you’ll find some value in seeing the best of Asia’s ski industry laid out in a single page.

2024 Ski Asia Awards

Japan’s best ski resort (overall)

Winner: Niseko Hanazono

Hanazono has in recent years undergone a rather sleek makeover, adding a 10-person, leather-seated gondola in 2021 and a slopeside Park Hyatt in 2020. It is now a legitimate destination resort with a growing reputation for luxury – just this year, it hosted a Louis Vuitton pop-up store, while ten of its gondolas were also decorated with LV branding. The world-class skiing on offer is, of course, still the highlight.

Niseko Hanazono

Niseko Hanazono. Image:

Highly Commended: Lotte Arai

Last year’s winner, Lotte Arai resort, has once again earned a spot on this list thanks to its reputation for world-class powder (18+ metres per season), epic terrain (70% ungroomed) and state-of-the-art facilities. The resort, which famously spent 11 years in a state of abandonment, was rescued in 2017 by the Lotte Group, who have since transformed it into one of Japan’s premier destination resorts. It now features an abundance of luxury facilities including a fully-refurbished hotel, a generous selection of restaurants and bars, plus a 1,500 metre-long zipline – Japan’s longest.

Lotte Arai ski resort

Lotte Arai Resorts. Image:

Japan’s Best Family Resort

Winner: Niseko Hanazono

Last year, Niseko United was awarded ‘Best Family Resort’ for the third time in the awards’ history. This year, Niseko Hanazono, one of the four ‘united’ resorts, has earned individual recognition for its family-friendly slopes, facilities and services. The resort boasts one of Niseko’s best international snowsports schools in NISS, who run a full-day program for kids including lunch. Hanazono’s off-slope facilities, which include a kids adventure area, a tube park and a snow rafting operation, are also a big part of its family appeal.

Niseko Hanazono

Niseko Hanazono. Image:

Highly Commended: Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU

TOMAMU is one of Japan’s most impressive destination resorts, boasting some truly extravagant facilities including an ice village, an open-air spa and an indoor beach equipped with Japan’s largest wave pool. TOMAMU is also famous for its expansive green and blue runs to suit riders at the beginner/intermediate end of the spectrum.

Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU

Image supplied by Hoshino Resorts TOMAMU

Japan’s best ski resort for powder

Winner: Lotte Arai

Unsurprisingly, Lotte Arai resort claims its fifth consecutive win in this category, which it has dominated since the Ski Asia Awards’ inception in 2019. With the season yet to finish, Arai has already seen almost 12 m of snowfall, an impressive figure by almost any standard except perhaps its own – the resort averages 18 m per season. Arai’s success as a powder destination can also be attributed to its minimal grooming approach, with 70% of its trails left unpisted including 10 avalanche-controlled free riding zones.

Lotte Arai ski resort

Lotte Arai Resort. Image:

Highly Commended: Geto Kogen

Geto Kogen is a mid-sized ski resort in Iwate Prefecture, best known for the onslaught of powder it endures each winter. The resort comprises 14 runs, 5 lifts and several designated tree skiing zones, which are rated on a 10-degree scale of difficulty. As of March 28, the resort had already reported more than 18 m of snow for the season despite the warming effect of El Niño that has plagued resorts elsewhere in Japan.

Geto Kogen, Japan

Geto Kogen. Image:

South Korea’s Best Ski Resort

Winner: YongPyong

YongPyong is South Korea’s biggest and oldest ski resort, last year celebrating its 50th anniversary. The resort spans 29 km, with 28 marked trails on offer including those used for the slalom and giant slalom events at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in 2018. YongPyong’s Dragon and Tower Plazas provide the ultimate destination resort experience, with a huge range of facilities including restaurants, bars, a food court, a bowling alley – even a dinosaur and marine exhibit.


Yongpyong. Image:

Highly Commended: Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park is another Pyeongchang-based ski resort, popular for its slopestyle courses, terrain park and half pipe, all of which featured at the Winter Olympics in 2018. Like YongPyong, the resort offers more than just skiing, with facilities including a waterpark, bowling alley, arcade, karaoke rooms and a pool table room.

Phoenix Park

Phoenix Park. Image:

China’s Best Ski Resort

Winner: Silk Road

A newcomer to the winners list, Silk Road ski resort is an hour’s drive from Urumqi in Xinjiang, an autonomous region in the far northwest of China. The resort benefits from some of the best natural ski conditions in the country thanks to a long winter season (October to May) and an abundance of snowfall. It also boasts the highest number of double black diamonds and some of the steepest gradients in China, though beginners are also well catered for.

Silk Road International Ski Resort

Silk Road International Ski Resort. Image:

Highly Commended: Beidahu

Beidahu is a two-time winner in this category, having beaten out Yabuli in 2022 and Genting in 2019. The resort is spread over two peaks and spans more than 1,000 vertical metres – the most elevation of any ski resort in the country. Beidahu is one of three Club Med ski resorts in China, and, as to be expected, the facilities available to hotel guests are extensive.


Beidahu. Image: Club Med Beidahu

Japan’s Best Ski Hotel

Winner: Lotte Arai Resort

Lotte Arai resort reclaims top honours after losing out to Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono in 2023. Comprising four buildings and more than 200 guest rooms, the hotel offers direct access to one of Japan’s best powder destinations. Its crown jewel is a presidential suite that features a private jacuzzi, four poster bed and grandfather clock, plus stunning views of Okenshiyama and the surrounding ranges.

Lotte Arai Resort

Lotte Arai Resort. Image:

Highly Commended: HakuVillas

HakuVillas is a lavish condominium hotel within 200 m of Niseko’s Grand Hirafu Gondola. It is one of two properties managed by HakuLife, whose commitment to the luxury experience includes a ‘white-gloved airport welcome to a bottle of Dom Pérignon chilled at precisely 7.2°C upon arrival’. The property comprises four luxury villas, each with its own outdoor private onsen and massage room, plus an indoor golf simulator, a fully-equipped gym and a 12-seat steakhouse.


Hakuvillas. Image:

Japan’s Best Ski Lodge / Chalet

Winner: Moiwa Lodge

Moiwa Lodge is a budget-friendly option for solo travellers and families, featuring dorm rooms, communal spaces, and slopeside access to the deep powder of Niseko Moiwa. The lodge also operates its own restaurant and bar with both Western and Japanese home-cooked dishes on the menu, plus drinks and snacks from 4pm.

Moiwa Lodge

Moiwa Lodge. Image:

Highly Commended: Tsubasa Chalet

Tsubasa Chalet, NISADE’s newest property, opened last year at Hanaridge, a luxury residential development within a 2 minute drive of Niseko Hanazono. The property sleeps 12 guests and features 5 bedrooms, indoor and outdoor onsen baths, a spacious gym, and floor-to-ceiling views of Mt. Yotei.

Tsubasa Chalet

Tsubasa Chalet. Image:

South Korea’s Best Ski Hotel

Winner: Dragon Valley Hotel

At the foot of Pyeongchang’s YongPyong ski resort, Dragon Valley Hotel is a large-scale luxury complex, offering ski-in ski-out access to South Korea’s oldest and largest ski resort. The hotel features several restaurants and bars, an indoor lap pool, Finnish-style saunas, a spa and fitness centre, plus many more options for food and entertainment at the nearby Tower and Dragon complexes.

Dragon Valley Hotel

Dragon Valley Hotel

Highly Commended: Intercontinental Alpensia

The 5-star Intercontinental Alpensia is a repeat performer in this category, having won last year and finished runner-up in 2022. This European-style alpine hotel is the most luxurious of three IHG-managed properties at the base of Alpensia ski resort. Facilities include a kids club, spa, fitness centre and several international restaurants.

InterContinental Alpensia

InterContinental Alpensia. Image:

China’s Best Ski Hotel

Winner: Hyatt Changbaishan

The Hyatt Regency Changbaishan is one of two Hyatt-branded hotels at the base of Changbaishan International Resort in Jilin Province. This large-scale luxury hotel also featured in last year’s winners list, earning runner-up to Club Med Yabuli, 500 km to its north. The Hyatt Regency boasts an impressive list of facilities including a 25 m indoor pool and fitness area, a traditional Chinese spa, plus several high-end restaurants including the very exclusive Regency Club, reserved for ‘club level’ guests.

Park Hyatt Changbaishan

Park Hyatt Changbaishan. Image:

Highly Commended: Club Med Changbaishan

Also facing the slopes of Changbaishan International Resort is Club Med Changbaishan, this year’s ‘Highly Commended’. The Changbaishan branch is the newest of Club Med’s three ski hotels but offers a similarly impressive all-inclusive package, which includes full board, a bar and snacking service, plus lift ticket and group ski or snowboard lessons.

Club Med Changbaishan

Club Med Changbaishan. Image:

Japan’s Best Snowsports School

Winner: Myoko Snowsports

Myoko Snowsports is a perennial winner in this category thanks to its long-standing reputation for exceptional service and experienced staff. The school, whose flagship branch services the Akakura Kanko/Onsen resorts, is also the official snowsports school for Lotte Arai Resort, a 40 minute drive from Akakura.

Myoko Snowsports

Myoko Snowports. Image:

Highly Commended: Rhythm Rides

Rhythm Rides is a Niseko-based operation run by Rhythm Japan, best known for its snowsports stores that serve some of Japan’s premier ski resorts. Since its expansion in 2021, the company has offered private lessons, resort and lift-accessed guiding, remote backcountry tours, plus a range of kids’ Future programs.

Rhythm Rides

Rhythm Rides. Image:

Japan’s Best Backcountry Guiding Operation

Winner: Hanazono Powder Guides

Hanazono Powder Guides is Niseko Hanazono’s official backcountry guiding service. It offers both in-bound and backcountry tours, with a ‘First Tracks’ guarantee thanks to the company’s exclusive early access to resort lifts. Tours are fully customizable and can be tailored to skiers of all abilities.

Hanazono Powder Guides

Hanazono Powder Guides. Image:

Highly Commended: Japan Outdoor Institute

Japan Outdoor Institute offers a comprehensive range of training programmes and tours that include Avalanche Safety, Wilderness First Aid and backcountry tours. The company operates across Tokyo, Hakuba, Myoko, Nozawa, Yuzawa, Hachimantai and Hokkaido.

Japan Outdoor Institute

Japan Outdoor Institute. Image:

Japan’s Best Ski Travel Agent

Winner: Japan Ski Experience

Japan Ski Experience is a “one stop shop” for all ski services, providing tailor-made itineraries with a best price guarantee thanks to its partnerships with some of the world’s most luxurious accommodation providers.

Highly Commended: Mountainwatch Travel

Mountainwatch Travel is a Queenstown-based travel agent with expertise in Japan as well as Canada, the USA and New Zealand. The company, led by Director Quentin Nolan, specialises in ski, snowboard and music festival travel.

Japan’s Best Ski Tour Operator

Winner: Alpine Backcountry

Alpine Backcountry Guides boasts 40 years of guiding experience in the Central Hokkaido region, now with bases in both Furano and Tomamu. The company provides equipment rental and lodging in addition to its range of backcountry guided tours, led by Samuel Morrell, the son of ABG’s founder.

Alpine Backcountry

Alpine Backcountry. Image:

Highly Commended: We Are Sno

We Are Sno is an international training provider specialising in ski and snowboard instructor internships with an employment guarantee. Its Japan-based programs operate out of Niseko and Furano, and are designed as a fast track into the snowsports industry.

We Are Sno

We Are Sno

Japan’s Best Ski Real Estate Agent

Winner: H2 Christie’s International Real Estate

H2 Christie’s International Real Estate is a Hokkaido-based operation, boasting a two-decade legacy in Niseko and Furano. The team, led by CEOs Simon Robinson and Michael Chen, is the largest of its kind in Niseko and the sole international real estate team in the growing Furano market.

H2 Christie’s International Real Estate

H2 Christie’s International Real Estate. Image:

Highly Commended: NISADE

Originally based in Niseko but now with properties throughout Hokkaido, NISADE Real Estate is responsible for some of Japan’s best-known luxury ski hotels including Niseko Kyo, The Vale Rusutsu and Fenix Furano.


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