The secret isn’t out yet, but it might be soon. Palcall Tsumagoi resort is rapidly growing in popularity amongst Japanese skiers and snowboarders – families in particular – but to foreign skiers it remains relatively unknown. Part of the reason is that Palcall is not your typical Japanese ski resort. It doesn’t get the vast quantities of snow that have put the likes of Niseko and Hakuba on the map; instead, it offers wide, perfectly-groomed runs, a world-class terrain park, a ‘sunrise’ gondola, and a number of other features that will make it a hit with family groups (some of which we’ve detailed below).
In recognition of Palcall’s latest Kids stay free offer, we’ve put together five reasons to take a family ski trip to the resort before it’s ‘discovered’.
Wide, beginner-friendly runs
If you have young children, beginners or even intermediate riders in your travelling party, then there are few better places than Pacall for skiing or snowboarding. While the attention in Japan often goes to resorts that get huge amounts of snowfall every winter, Palcall is a bit of an anomaly, with a focus on premium grooming over powder.
23 of the resort’s 24 runs are green (beginner) or red (intermediate), and many of these are wide with consistent gradients – perfect for young kids or beginners who will feel more comfortable with the extra space.
Better still, 80% of winter days in Palcall are sunny, which means fewer days with poor visibility and fogged up goggles – a nightmare when skiing with kids.
24-hour jib park
Palcall has put a huge amount of effort into the creation of its Magic Park, which is the largest in Japan and features a traditional slopestyle course and an innovative transition park – both of which have been designed by some of the best in the industry.
For kids, however, we can’t think of anything better than the 24-hour jib park, which sits right in front of the hotel and will keep them entertained at all hours (you might have trouble bringing them in for dinner!). Perfect for all levels, whether they’re hitting a jump for the very first time or dialling in their rail skills.
Palcall Tsumagoi sits roughly 200km to the north west of Tokyo, and the trip requires a relatively simple Shinkansen ride followed by a free shuttle bus – roughly 2 hours in total.
From there, it gets even easier. The hotel at Palcal offers skiers genuine ski-in ski-out access to the resort; you won’t need to step a foot outside to get to the main gondola station, which is connected.
In addition, you’ll find all the rental, shopping and dining facilities you need inside the main resort centre, so you can forget trudging around in ski boots with kids in tow.
Snow monkeys and other day trips
Palcall is well positioned for day trips, which is a great chance for families to see a different side of Japan in between days on the snow. The nearby Kusatsu Onsen is a must visit – a traditional onsen town that is home to gorgeous natural hot springs, Japanese restaurants and cultural attractions. A soak at one of the public baths is highly recommended, but if that doesn’t interest the kids then you can opt to sit in on traditional dance performance at the Netsu-no-Yu bath house or take a stroll down Sai-no-Kawara street, where you’ll find shops selling traditional sweets.
A visit to Japan’s famous Jigokudani snow monkey park is also an option for Palcall guests, though it will require a little more effort if you plan to do it via public transport. Take Palcall’s free shuttle to Karuizawa Station, then a train to Nagano Station, before getting on an express bus to the park. If it’s too much to manage in a single day, then you may wish to add it to the beginning or end of your trip.
Kids stay free
Book a stay at Pacall Tsumagoi for the 22/23 season and you’ll receive a free stay for your child, with a second child’s stay at just 50%.
Plus, if you book three nights or more, you’ll save 15%, with prices during the ski season starting from JPY24,480* (∼US$165) per night including breakfast and a lift pass.
*Based on 2 adults and 1 child in a Standard room.