Sun, snow and the great outdoors are plentiful at Grandeco Snow Resort. Located in western Fukushima Prefecture, this family-friendly resort is just three hours from Tokyo Station, offering a nice balance of creature comforts at the resort's luxury hotel and outdoor activities at the many lakes and forest trails in the surrounding Bandai-Kogen Highlands.
The snow season at Grandeco is quite long compared to other resorts in the area, starting in late November and running until the national Golden Week holiday in early May.
The resort boasts four covered high-speed quad lifts, so visitors can do as many laps as their legs will allow. The highest peak is 5,216 feet, and offers a long, cruisy 2.2-mile runfor children and beginner riders, with a smattering of more challenging courses for more experienced skiers and snowboarders. There are also great views and trails for snowshoe and cross-country skiing tours right in the area.
After all that snow fun, visitors can relax in the hotel's indoor and outdoor hot springs or even take a swim in the indoor pool (the outdoor pool opens from July to September). The 103-room hotel also has five restaurants and bars - great for family dinners or late-night escapes for parents. There are also plenty of fun activities for the whole family, such as volleyball tournaments and treasure hunting.
Grandeco Snow Resort
Address: Arasunasawayama Hibara, Kitashiobara Village, Yama District, Fukushima Prefecture
Season starts: Late November until early May
Hanami Hiker: Kannonji River & Bandai-Asahi National Park
In late April to early May, visitors can catch the cherry blossoms blooming along the Kannonji River, where they can enjoy some hanami (cherry blossom viewing) festivities with friends and family before or after a day on the slopes.
A great destination in every season is Bandai-Asahi National Park. During the warmer months, travelers can enjoy playing in and around Lake Inawashiro, grabbing a stand-up paddleboard or getting in some wakeboarding across the clear waters of Japan's fourth largest lake.
The gondola at Grandeco also continues to run during the green season, and takes hikers to the start of a three-and-a-half-mile mountain trail that takes visitors to scenic Lake Hibara. Experience a constant change of scenery during this two-and-a-half-hour hike, including the Dekodaira Marshlands, Hyakkan Shimizu Spring and Nunotaki Falls. Nature tours with friendly English-speaking staff are also available.
If hiking isn't really your style, there’s a cruise that takes guests around Lake Hibara and offers stunning views of Mount Bandai, a 5,958-foot-high dormant volcano.