The grand opening of Club Med’s newest venture in Hokkaido, the Kiroro Peak resort, introduced a spectacular hotel amid a divine mountain location, decorated perfectly with touches of elegance and local culture. Metropolis Japan had the opportunity to attend the opening event, and interview Rachael Harding, Chief Executive Officer of East, South Asia and Pacific, and Marc Letourneau, general manager of Japan and Korea, to understand the story behind the opening of this impressive resort.
Rachael Harding has been CEO of East, South Asia and the Pacific for eighteen months, and is enjoying the success of Club Med resorts in this area. But, she says, Kiroro Peak has a special vibe that encapsulates the beauty of the local landscape and luxurious atmosphere of the Club Med brand. Harding lets us into her business secrets that have enabled Club Med to double their presence in Hokkaido, and she highlights one of the superpowers of Club Med. That is the team, made up of Gentle Organizers (G.Os), organized with customer comfort in mind, and in any Club Med resort G.Os can speak up to thirty languages, meaning that all customer desires can be met, and a feeling of calm and homeliness is created upon entering Kiroro Peak. Harding seems enthusiastic about the future of Kiroro Peak, and the glamour of the opening event will be transferred into the boutique feel of the mountain resort.
We also heard from Marc Letourneau, a talented skier himself who relishes the chance to ski in the famous powder snow in this region of Hokkaido. Letourneau is passionate about the summertime experiences too. The atmosphere of Kiroro Peak is one of wellness and health, and this is echoed through the abundance of classes on offer, the exclusive spa and gym, and the outdoor onsen with lush mountain views. He tells us that 35 million people visit Hokkaido each year from Japan and abroad, and that the once well-kept skiing secret is now being shared globally, meaning that the Kiroro Peak customer base will continue to expand. With this in mind, Letourneau is eager to encourage the opportunities outside of snowsports that are offered at the resort. From morning yoga and Pilates classes to guided snow-trekking and mountain biking and hiking in the summer, there are so many new activities to explore and try out at this luxury all-inclusive resort.
As the third Club Med resort in Hokkaido, Kiroro Peak offers a tailored experience for couples, friends, and families with children over the age of twelve. There are twenty-three ski and snowboard runs within 30km, and the ski-in and ski-out facilities enable guests to have world-class powder snow on their doorstep. Harding explains that what makes this resort different from other Club Med resorts, Tomamu and Sahoro, is the fact that there is the most snow and the most diverse runs, meaning that all abilities can enjoy snowsports at this unparalleled location.
This balance between wellness and the ability to enjoy the mountains sets Club Med resorts apart, explains Harding, who is excited by the increase of inbound tourists and sustaining of Japanese domestic travellers, many of whom discovered Club Med during the pandemic when they could not leave Japan. Letourneau is also excited by the opportunity for people to discover new passions at the resort, and although the focus of this mountain resort is snowsports, with the annual fall of 21 meters of snow each year in Hokkaido, the ease of everything included in one package price at Kiroro Peak allows customers to dip their toe into new activities, or maybe even a pair of new snow boots before a snow trek.
Club Med Kiroro Peak offers a trusted and wonderful experience in the mountains, but the excursion package offered is also a chance to explore local communities in Otaru or Sapporo. The whiskey distilleries or infamous glass factories that offer tours to customers allow a day trip from the resort and a safe and exciting way to experience life beyond the mountains. The Kiroro Peak resort carries its personality through the hand-painted artwork and decorations, and exquisite locally produced food that is offered at both the Japanese and Western dining rooms where breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffets are offered. The dinner buffet is special and locally sourced tuna sashimi to delight your appetite after a long day of skiing or trekking. There are also two specialist restaurants opening in the hotel, including a yakiniku restaurant for those who want to do it themselves, and enjoy something different. That said, the array of food offered at all mealtimes means that customers probably would not eat the same thing twice, and Harding herself admits that this is what excites her about the buffet each night.
Even with the sublime success of the Kiroro Peak opening, Club Med is continuing to expand and plans to open Kiroro Grand in 2023-2024 Winter season This will be a bigger hotel with the same ski facilities and extended private restaurants, and an array of activities for younger families. The Club Med exclusive and sun collections are also key elements of the Club Med brand, and Japan continues to be a culturally rich and diverse landscape for new resort opportunities. Both Harding and Letourneau are keen about the transformation of Kiroro Peak and can see that the vibrancy, vitality, and life that has been brought to the resort represents the quality of the snowsports and excellent facilities that are on offer at Kiroro Peak.
Club Med has been a trusted brand in Japan for forty years, but the customer base is still growing. And with this, the development of Kiroro Peak and its duality as a winter and summer resort collates all the best qualities of a Club Med experience. At the heart of this, Harding explains, is the maxim of Club Med founder: ‘The purpose of life is to be happy, the time to be happy is now, and the place to be happy is here’. Kiroro Peak is a luxurious place where new passions can be found waiting in the mountains of Hokkaido.