I took a day trip to Rusutsu from Niseko the other day. I had heard good things about the resort and as I've been riding Hirafu for 3 days in a row, a change of scene was due plus a bit of overnight snow had been forecast. When I arrived I found 5-10cm of fresh snow and that the slopes seemed to be in better condition than Hirafu.
Anyway, here are my thoughts:-
The good things:-
1 The trees! I love tree runs and Rusutsu didn't disappoint! My favourite sections were on Mt Isola, namely around Heavenly Ridge and Steamboat B. Both had about a foot of fairly soft, fresh snow and were relatively untouched. The trees were nicely spaced and although other people were skirting the edges and I saw the odd track here and there, I didn't meet anybody else in there during a few hours of riding.
2. The trees!
3. Have I mentioned the trees!
The bad things:
1. It's spread out. The resort is divided into 3 mountains -in ascending order, West Mountain, East Mountain and Mt Isola -but, so far as I can see, you can only access Mt Isola (the biggest and best) from East Mountain, and East Mountain from West Mountain. It therefore took me 45 minutes to get from the hotel ticket office at the base of West Mountain (where the bus stops) to the top of Mt Isola. This didn't really matter as it was so quiet but I'd have been really hacked off if it was a busy powder day.
2. The lack of vertical. Not really a problem if the tree runs are good but it may be a bit boring without decent snowfall.
& the quirky:-
1. The main ticket office feels like a hotel reception area......because it is! You buy your ticket and then head up the escalator to the ski area. All very civilised.
2. It's not often that your gondola rides pass an amusement park, complete with full-on roller coasters. Oh, and there's a merry-go-round ride next to the ticket office in the main foyer! Surreal but no doubt great for kids!
I liked Rusutsu! I had a great day and only explored half of the place (Mt Isola). Not sure what it'd be like to stay there but it wasn't much of a hassle to get there from Hirafu. Overall it gets 5 stars from me and I'll be heading back there next season!