Club Med is set to expand its footprint in the snow-covered slopes of Hokkaido.
Could there be a conspiracy theory behind how Club Med finds their GOs (Gentil Organisateur) - you know, that ever-cheerful multi-national bunch who greet you the moment you step into any of its 70 resorts worldwide and whom you strangely keep bumping into throughout your stay?
Our take is they're not just applicants who aced the interview process with their bubbly personalities.
We bet they were kids who once stayed with their families at a Club Med resort and liked it so much liking it so much they ran away from their parents and stayed behind until they grew old enough to become GOs.
Their chirpiness is infectious and in line with founder Gerard Blitz's philosophy of being happy in life - right here, right now - and there is no denying their smiles brought some much-needed warmth to Hokkaido's sub-zero temperatures during a visit to Club Med Sahoro last month.
Opened in 1987, the resort was the brand's first foray into Japan; and going by the accents we heard around the property, it is a hit with families from Singapore.
Like all Club Meds, the all-inclusive price guests pay means a hassle-free vacation where you can leave the wallet at home because meals, drinks and activities are covered. (At Sahoro, that translates into ski-all-you-want and free-flow Hokkaido milk at the international buffet spread).
Not only that, the Kids' Club will keep children occupied with activities under the supervision of the GOs; so even though it might be a family holiday, the adults in the group can look forward to having their own me-time.
The Sahoro property is accessible via both Sapporo's New Chitose Airport or Obihiro Airport; Hokkaido's extra-long winters keep it operating until early April before it reopens again for summer in July.
The powder snow is world class - hardly a surprise considering the resort sits on the site where the Sapporo Olympic Games took place in 1972 - and the main activity is, you've guessed it, skiing and snowboarding.
Regardless whether you're a novice or expert, there are classes for everybody including children; and the ski-in ski-out access allow guests to hit the slopes right at the doorstep.
The ski runs cover a distance of 25km and there are seven black, five red and nine green trails.
Club Med Sahoro also offers non-skiing outdoor activities like ice fishing and horse riding, in addition to indoor ones like yoga and swimming for those who are not fans of the cold.
There is also in-house spa Pirka to sooth tired muscles and an 'onsen' (public bath) to unwind in after a day on the slopes. (For something a little different, try the outdoor Canadian Bath in winter!)
In the evening, guests retreat to the family-friendly Wakka bar (which serves mocktails for Junior) after dinner; while the GOs - some whom you might recognise as your ski instructors from earlier in the day - put on a different variety show everyday of the week in the theatre as part of the nightly entertainment.
Club Med Sahoro's popularity - it won Tripadvisor Hall of Fame's Certificate of Excellence for five years in a row from 2011-2015 and was voted Traveller's Choice last year - saw full occupancy this past winter and to cope with the demand, the brand is set to open its second Hokkaido resort at nearby Tomamu at the end of the year.
It promises a different experience - one that is upscale and targeted at a hipper, trendsetter crowd - with award-winning French architect Jean-Philippe Nuel behind the project to put a twist to modern Japanese chic.
The design will be inspired by the four seasons of Hokkaido.
Besides the soft powder snow which promises fun over 22km of ski runs (four black, 14 red, 10 green and one beginner), Club Med Tomamu will also boast nearby attractions like a bar made out of ice at the Ice Village and Japan's biggest indoor wave pool Mina Mina Beach.
For those about to tie the knot, the picturesque Chapel on the Water by world-renowned self-taught Japanese architect Tadao Ando will turn any wedding into a fairy tale one.
That should be enough to put a GO-worthy smile on the faces of the bride, groom and guests; and make Blitz proud that 67 years in, the Club Med magic continues to work wonders wherever it goes.
The writer was a guest of Club Med Sahoro. For reservations and rates, check www.clubmed.com.sg.
"Even though it might be a family holiday, the adults in the group can look forward to their own me-time."
This article was first published on Apr 08, 2017.
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