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Seems to me that everyone has something they want from a resort. There are so many different types of customer, most by definition different from yourself.

 

I don't believe that Arais main market is the hardcore. It is families, who stay at the hotels.

 

I don't know why the new hotel has been part closed down, or even if that is true - it will be good to hear some kind of confirmation of that from the resort.

 

Anyway its interesting whatever!

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I hear that Kashimayari in Hakuba has some sort of new bunk bed accomodation for 2,000 yen. Also they've introduced on-piste onsen and 500 yen noodles. I heard this from a drunk the other night and the details were slurred.

 

But I guess those bastards at Kashimawotsitcalled read my article about the New Resort and thought they'd cash in. The more I hear about that place, the more I want to go and have a look. It's close too.

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Interesting chat. Just got back from a 4 day stay at arai - 2hrs ago. Did the 700+km hike from Takamatsu with 2 kids and 2 other adults. All in all a great time considering the season so far.

A few comments re. above thoughts.

Looking around the set up at Arai, I'd say there would be NO WAY they could open early. The logistics of all operations dictate pretty set schedules. And if there was no snow and had many bookings, what would they do? Good question. Late opening???

Arai is expensive when compared to quite a few other resorts. We were lucky and got a good "shoulder package" at the Inn with 2 meals a day allowing for free choice of restaurant every night, discount lift tickets, discount kids school, unlimited free use of the onsen etc. All this was at 60% of normal price, but a big jump on Saturday as the long weekend kicked in. Still even if we lived "closer" we couldn't afford to visit there as staying guests often. Offering another "lower" level of accomodation seems the way to go, but converting part of the existing complex may be a difficult pill for the owners to swallow. I'm surprised there aren't heaps (or some) cheap pensions etc within 5mins. of the resort. Maybe there are and I didn't notice them.

Re. the terrain/course options, us being at intermediate and above levels, we felt comfortable (and challenged) with what was open, but I agree I'm not sure what many of the beginners or lower level riders/skiers were doing. Perhaps over risking it on already reduced courses. And in the fully opened season I think 3-5km runs for beginners would be pretty daunting.

But for those who like off piste, it certainly looked the place to be from January onwards. How many resorts in Japan offer such off course freedom, but still within the resort confines? And safe management of that(avalanche control etc.) I guess is another cost.

The kids school/facilities were superb. Professional kids instructors/carers who were enthused about their job and the kids. Ratio of 1 leader to 1 - 3 kids speaks for itself. My daughter had a 1 - 1 situation (for skiing lesson - not all day). What can I say! 9,000 sounds expensive, but hey from 8:30 - 4:30, all inclusive, lessons, lunch etc. etc. it's value. Also they have a mamma/pappa plan,whereby if your kids are enrolled you can get discount lessons. So we 3 adults enjoyed a 2hour private lesson with 2 instructors ( I think one joined us because she's new to the game) for ¥10,000 for 3. Top folks who were so helpful. I was from the "I don't want/need to have lessons" way of thinking before. Changed me.

So, Arai doesn't focus on everyone and meet all peoples needs, and perhaps it will need to broaden it's outlook in the future to remain viable. However, in general over 4 days couldn't fault the place. Friendly approachable staff everywhere, good skiing up high on UNcrowded slopes - lucky lucky - and the 5 0f us had a real holiday. Will we go again? I'm sure! How often? Now there's the cut, but definitely can reccomend if you've got some spare change and spare time. \:D

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Just returned from a romantic 5 days on my robinson cruisoe at Arai myself.

 

Snobe - I probably passed you in the halls of the Inn!

 

Blair and his colleagues are nice chaps. It was refreshing to find that this resort isn't a 'factory' where you stay, pay and leave. These guys were attentive to their clients. It was nice.

 

Regarding the much discussed price: The cost of the accom. per day was approx. equal to the cost of transportation for a day trip. So although not at the cheap end, I effectively just did 5 days of consecutive day trips (price wise). I don't bat an eyelid when paying for a day trip (by shinkansen) from tokyo, it is the cost of playing the game - you are either in or out, if you are in then no point complaining. This is what I use as my 'fair price guide'. If the per day cost of a multi-day trip is greater than the cost of a day trip then I start to question the economics of the deal.

 

As to the future of the resort... can't really comment as I just don't know. But I speculate this: that place is a polished product that seems to me to be the result of a good business plan. Any good business plan has a number of phases and the guys at Arai have just finished phase 1. I suspect that if they are clever and are able to generate cash flow to fund the next phases of the business plan then a lot of the short comings listed here will be addressed.

 

As for 30% closure of facilities - didn't notice. But many lifts and runs were shut anyway due to little snow lower down. Given this I was still very happy to find that I didn't queue ONCE the whole time.

 

Regarding 2m snow to groom - perhaps this is the amount needed to cover the trees? don't know myself, but I do know that to groom only 50cm of snow you need pretty smooth and desolate topography. Unless this occurs naturally you would need to bulldoze the runs in summer, which isn't so nice for the natural environment (which some resorts like to market themselves on in summer). This is all speculation.

 

It isn't Arai's fault, but I had the displeasure of getting on a chair lift in the rain and dismounting when teh snow was falling. As you rode down the falling snow turned back into rain.

 

% snowboarders: there were plenty there, but notably less 'bratish' than at H47. I did note that 95% of the racks around the mountain were designed to take skis and not snowboards.

 

The accommodation: I am unusual in my industry in that prestige doesn't mean diddly to me, so the accom. was above what i would have been happy with. It was great, no complaints. I was very happy that i could wear my boots right up into my room. Nothing would peeve me more than having to change before reaching for teh elevator button. Being in a shower within 5 minutes of leaving the snow was a great thing.

 

regarding the course: it was nice to get away from what I call the 'linear-sterile' setup. This being where you catch a lift up then ride down next to it. So far in the very limited resorts that I have been to in Japan the runs have been very 'up and down' as though a no-curves 4 lane highway was cut into the trees from the top to the bottom - boring. However, there are some tough looking black runs at Arai that I wouldn't attempt plus a few narrow green runs. This left only a small selection of blues. I think the resort would benefit from more runs for when the conditional terrain is closed. I would also hate to see it busy as at teh top there is only one quad chair lift.

 

Regarding 'other' terrain: there is a whole lot of mountain at the top that is un-groomed and very open which is designated as 'conditional', ie they open it when avalanche conditions allow. If that were open then it offers by far the most open terrain that I have seen so far on offer (ok, from my study of course maps, not real experience).

 

Regarding opening early: this place is an integration of a snow sport facility and an actual resort (in the true sense). As outlined in the article, there would in this case be more involved than turning on a few lifts and getting someone to come in and 'cook' some dog poo curry for the punters. Those types of 'resorts' (a misnomer) should be able to open early much more easily. Being a true resort, Arai is far more three dimensional than say H47 and thus more integrated planning required. whether this is a justifiable reason I don't know, but it appears to be fact.

 

patrol: the patrol are certainly very visible. I saw a patrol person every run. There were even a few on snowboards. They were all pretty cheerful, although every time I stopped half run to give my skinny legs a break and take in the view with a ciggy one of them asked if I had hurt myself. I suppose an indication of being attentive, an certainly a good bunch to have around if I did actually hurt myself.

 

All up I was very happy with my xmas present to myself, the snow was a let down though. I enjoyed not having to worry about anything, not shaving or even brushing my hair for 5 days.

 

I will return, however I would also stay in lesser accom. if it were available. All I need is a heater, my own toilet/shower and a comfy bed.

 

I should probably cut and paste this into a resort review.

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As for sking I like Arai. I wish more resorts opened the terrain they do.

Patrol and staff are also good and proactive.

Thats not what I have been saying at all.

 

Terrain about 60% high level. And that 5 km run eats up a lot of %age.

Accomdation high end only.

Far away.

 

It is hard for a resort like this to make money and they are not period.

Change a little bit to open it up to everyone or they will keeping stopping at shiga kogen or Hakuba.

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Hi there

 

I've done my fair share of sleeping in cars/buses/planes/ships/camp sites all over the world - to be honest, I grew tired of it.

 

I now like to stay in places that are clean, safe, friendly, functional and warm while at the same time offering me personal privacy when I need it.

 

The guys that camp in the car park have the price of their lift ticket subsidized by those persons staying in the hotels - this was quoted to me by ski course designer Mr. Mike Larson.

 

Such a quote is applicable all over the world in a general sense; That is, the 10% of boarders/skiers that are hardcore are supported by the other 90% that aren't.

 

One group isn't any better than the other in my opinion, but each obviously has different priorities.

 

ARAI does not target one particular group of people - Instead, we welcome all to come and have a good time.

 

Take a look at our disabled program - it doesn't matter if somebody is a skier/boarder - they just need to want to enjoy themselves.

 

Yes, ARAI did close down some of it's operations last season due the macroeconmic fallout from 9/11.

 

Yes, ARAI did close some of the hotels this summer which is normal for a resort that derives the majority of it's business during the white season.

 

Quite simply, alot of people come to ARAI and manage to enjoy themselves without stepping near snow.

 

We are by no means a perfect company and realize this - which is always a good first step in my opinion.

 

Thank you very much for all of your comments - both positive and negative.

 

Blair.

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Blair:
Hi there

Take a look at our disabled program - it doesn't matter if somebody is a skier/boarder - they just need to want to enjoy themselves.
I was very thrilled to see a skier with "blind skier" printed on their pullover vest being guided down the mountain by an Arai guide wearing a two way radio headset.

I also saw some physically disabled people on the slopes using special equipment and again being assisted by Arai guides.

It may sound corny, but I was impressed by the gusto that these people had to get out there on the snow and the fact that Arai offers them the facilities to do so.
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I agree that the make up of riders is tilted to the less skilled thats part of what I said.

Need more mid level runs.

 

Does Arai offer good service? Sounds like it does.

 

I dont want to sleep in the parking lot. I dont mind paying money. If you go to any good resort you get a range of price and other services but at Arai its all high end. I am in the middle.

I just think that to get more people out the resort needs to change. Did 9/11 really have anything to do with it? I think thats pushing it.

 

Wizz dont get personal, I never did.

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Now don't go with all your insults there Wizz, you naughty boy.

 

Fattwins, your words encourage that kind of response so you can only expect it. It was hardly a huge offensive comment that Wizz came up with, merely emphasising a truth.

 

Anyway, a good discussion - I for one give Arai a nice thumbs up and look forward to going there.

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I will now ask Blair to prove my point by translating the letter that was handed outin arch of last year. If you read that you would understand that Arai has a problem.

 

Blair please do so.

 

I like Arai as a mountain, let that be known.

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Blair:
The guys that camp in the car park have the price of their lift ticket subsidized by those persons staying in the hotels - this was quoted to me by ski course designer Mr. Mike Larson.
Does this mean Arai's lifts make a loss? And/or that they are incapable of breaking even without assistance from the hotels?
For all the "subsidies", the lift tickets are not significantly cheaper than those at comparable resorts, a good number of which have no official hotels providing another income stream. Do such other resorts make a loss as well?
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The A4 brochure for Arai that's in a lot of snowboard shops focuses mainly on the hotels and only has a little map of the hill. Without looking at it properly it's hard to judge how big the resort is and what the trails are like.

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Dear Fattwins

 

ARAI as a company sends out many letters.

 

Please try to be a bit more specific concerning which letter you are talking about.

 

Please also confirm exactly which point it is that you are trying to prove.

 

If you can give me some relevant information concerning the above two items, I will then be in a better position to comply with your request.

 

Thank you

 

Blair.

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