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Niseko: The Sassy Mama Guide By Chi Guillemette

TravelPost Category - TravelTravel - Post Category - By CountryBy Country

Chi Guillemette has loved Niseko since her first visit almost a decade ago. She shares with us her top tips for enjoying this beautiful place during all seasons.

Describe Niseko in 3 words
Natural outdoor paradise.

Best hotel or place to stay in Niseko when travelling with kids
I am going to have to be biased and say The Chalets at Country Resort.
The 2, 3 and 4 bedroom chalets are spacious and comfortable with lots of outdoor space for kids to run around whether it’s in winter or summer – something we don’t readily have in Hong Kong or Singapore apartment living. The shuttle bus and concierge service also makes everything so easy for families.

Your favourite place to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner? Why?
BreakfastSeed is a little bakery that sells just bagels but you have to be careful – if you don’t get there before 9.30am all the bagels will probably have been sold.
LunchGraubunden is a little café/cake shop in Izumikyo. Great sandwiches and the cakes are just heavenly. More, more, more!
DinnerKamimura. The chef is wondrously innovative and the food is off the charts amazing. The only draw back is that even with the smallest tasting menu they pretty much have to roll me out the door afterwards. Having been there so many times I have come up with a pretty good eating strategy – don’t eat the bread. Well, I say that, but not once have I been able to resist it.

What is your favourite thing to do with your kids in Niseko?
Whether it’s summer or winter, we are outside nearly all day and that is our favourite thing. The air is so fresh, so much room to run around and play. In winter obviously we ski, sled, horse ride, build snowmen and even do a bit of tunnelling – the hours a child can spend with a shovel in the snow…they only come indoors for some hot chocolate, a bit of food and the bathroom. They don’t even feel the cold!

In summer, I just send them outside and they wander about looking (and picking up) insects, flowers etc. They ride their bikes, jump for hours on the trampoline, run to play with other kids they’ve made friends with – the kind of simple and carefree childhood we want for them. This past summer we tried just about every single playground in the area. We also made ice–cream, bagels, glass jewellery, leather bracelets, etc at different classes. We even picked strawberries, cherries, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, eggplant etc. There is nothing like biting into freshly picked fruit and tasting the sunshine in it.

Favourite spa
I don’t actually go to a spa there at all. However, I do go to numerous onsens (hot springs), such as Niseko Annupuri Onsen Yugokorotei – this is one that my team go to a lot. I also get a foot rub at the foot rub place at the Alpen Hotel.

Who I have on my speed dial and why…
Concierge at The Chalets at Country Resort – I can’t live without them. They dig my car out after a snowstorm, find the keys that I have dropped in a metre of snow, book impossible to get in restaurants and entertain my kids for me sometimes too.

Best place for sushi, yakitori and burgers?
Sushi: Hanayoshi in Niseko Town.
Yakitori: Enya in Kutchan Town.
Burgers: Pelican Burger in Kutchan Town.

Best outdoor activity
I have so many “bests”! Watching the kids play in the snow for the first time; Skiing on a powder day; catching butterflies and picking strawberries and eating them straightaway.

The three shops I can’t live without are…
Seicomart – on the corner of the main intersection;
Milk kobo – best yoghurt, cream puffs and other dairy related products; and Homac for homewares.

Your favourite souvenirs
Japanese noren (half curtains for doorways) and Royce chocolate.

An unforgettable moment?
I have 2 pretty funny ones: Going snow shoeing when I was pregnant and falling waist deep in snow and not being able to get up by myself…
Having my youngest daughter ski between my legs when she just turned 2 and then she fell asleep on her third run down the bunny slope – while standing and sort of slumped over between my legs.

Can’t live without…
Onsen, onsen, onsen

Don’t miss…
The Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival and any opportunity for onsen.

Favourite time of year in Niseko, why and what do you love to do?
I am so torn. Obviously I first fell in love with Niseko after coming there in winter but since then I have been coming in summer with my family and love that perhaps a bit more. I have to say it is the sense of freedom that we get there – kids can roam around outside, ride bikes, play in the stream, pick fruit and experience a really “outdoorsy” life that we just don’t get in HK.

What advice would you give families visiting?
Prepare to relax, and leave the watch at home.

Of all the tourist spots Niseko has on offer which would you try not to miss?
Lake Toya in summer, getting that rare moment of Mount Youtei without clouds in winter, hiking to the top of Mount Yotei in summer.

Tell us one thing about we don’t know about Niseko.
Summer is the best kept secret. Shhh….

Chi Guillemette
Chi Guillemette has loved Niseko from her first visit almost a decade ago, and has since spent many seasons in the natural outdoor paradise. Chi grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and moved to Hong Kong in 2001. She worked in law until family life took over, and in 2007, she turned her hand to development. Currently Chi lives with her husband and two daughters: Jillian and Leah.

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