Despite running late for our buffet dinner (included in hotel’s price), we took a break at an observation area which was directly opposite the action and buzz of all the other Lake Toya resorts and hotels.
As it was close to dinner time, this place was.. empty; but I like it this way. The temperature dipped as the sun sets and we were pretty much braving the wind as we walked around the area. We also spotted a helicopter which probably offered bird’s eye view tour of the vicinity. The gift shop/restaurant at that area was not open too.
After a few wrong turns and detours, we finally reached our five-star hotel – The Lake View Toya Nonokaze Resort. It is currently the #1 hotel on Tripadvisor in its area and I’m telling you that the price is worth it (despite paying almost $200/person for a “family” room – Twin Beds + 2 tatami mattress).
1. Beautiful Scenery as seen from the lobby – high ceilings with full glass panel windows.
2. Minimalist Decor in the Lobby
3. Contemporary furniture and fittings in the lobby with a state of the art branded speakers (can’t remember the brand)
4. Buffet Dinner & Breakfast is included in the price. Quantity and Quality highly assured. You’ll be spoiled for choices and wish that you had two stomachs.
I love how they have plates that allow you to take 9 items and plate them separately. Unlike just having a round plate (typical at most buffet settings), This split-9 square plate/tray will prevent the mixture of sauces and tastes between different items. There is no limit to any item in the buffet (unlike our hotel in Asahidake) and there’s a huge variety of international cuisine alongside the Japanese favourites.
In summer, there’s a fireworks display at approximately 2045. You can choose to watch the fireworks from the dining area (where the lights will be dimmed), from the comfort of your lake-facing room, or take a few steps and walk out of the hotel to the pavement by the lake, which is the most popular option.
Standby your tripods and cameras and snap away. Not much photos from me as I choose to concentrate on the show since I already had photos taken in my previous trips.
It was an approximately 15 to 20 minutes display – nothing too spectacular nor too shabbily done.
We visited the onsen close to 1am and it was almost empty when I reached. Don’t forget to visit the onsen at this beautiful resort as the outdoor portion was an “infinity onsen”.
Found some photos online:
As I visited very late at night – I was the only person in the outdoor onsen (which feels really great as it seems like it was my own private outdoor onsen). Imagine your head feeling cool and breezy but your body is warm and fuzzy. Being alone makes you concentrate on the lapping of water, staring into the sky searching for stars, reflecting upon some issues in your mind and appreciating the silence of the night. There was a few splashes of water next door (the other gender) but besides that, it was pure peace and zen. I even got bored and started lapping the length of the area, using my hands to support my floating body.
Not wanting to stay too long (I think the recommended onsen session is 20-30 minutes) and with the absence of a clock in the outdoor area, I retreated back down to the indoor onsen after 15 minutes (there was a clock at the indoor area). The indoor onsen was completely empty when I returned. When I entered, there were 2 people bathing (to exit). If you had to choose between indoor and outdoor, just go for the outdoor one and forget about indoor.
Well, my friend only entered the onsen area during my exit bathing so we didn’t had any awkwardness between us =p Sometimes (or rather most of the time), it is more awkward being in an onsen with a friend compared to strangers.
This onsen experience is like AAA+ compared to my solo experience back in Oedo Spa in Tokyo earlier this year. That onsen was filled with people and had negligible scenery but this onsen was like “private” and scenic.
If I don’t recall wrongly, the spa closes between 2/3am till 5/6am, where they will do washing and switch the gender between the two. If you want to see two different spaces (best of both worlds), you will have to go for a night and morning dip.
If you are very shy and want to enjoy a “private” spa experience like mine, try visiting the last hour before it closes and pray that there are no like-minded individuals. Otherwise, just put on a straight face and enter the spa and remind yourself it is the norm in Japan/Korea to be naked and comfortable inside a spa.
Anyway, I woke up to take a photo of the sunrise and scrambled back to bed. Don’t think that the sunrise is worth waking up for at Lake Toya as it is usually cloudy. For my previous trip, I didn’t even catch a single glimpse of sunlight.
Continued sleeping but still woke up early to fulfill our long-procrastinated run. We all brought running shoes for this trip and they planned to run for many mornings but each morning run was pushed back to the next morning as we always sleep very late the night before.
Since it was the last day in Hokkaido and we had no more excuses to deny a scenic morning jog around the lake.
Despite being naturally unfit and unenthusiastic about exercising, I managed to jog for 3km for the first time in a cold(er) country. It is kind of interesting to run in a cold and less humid environment as you don’t feel as sticky as compared to Singapore. The occasional cool wind makes you feel good while you run. Nevertheless, I was glad to enjoy this running experience and I hope to be exploring this running option in my future trip(s) as it can be very refreshing (and somewhat achievement unlocked) to run in a scenic place.
Here we go.
Spotted this random tracks running into Lake Toya and my friend suspect it kind of inspired “Spirited Away” sea train but I googled a lot but still can’t find a single clue about the purpose of these tracks.
(Update from 2017: I believe these tracks are used for boats to enter and exit the water.. Well, we do know that boats have wheels too right?)
After the run, it was time to eat a hearty and delicious breakfast! As we were later than most people, we did not get a seat in the more scenic main area.
We were brought over to this other side room which did not have a cool air-conditioning, remembered it significantly as I was feeling so hot after that morning exercise.
Delicious options once again! Don’t forget to grab a cup of fresh apple juice.
If only I could eat more for breakfast..
After breakfast, it was bathe, pack and checkout! My friend took a second dip in the onsen but heh I was too shy to visit it in the day =p
Check prices of the hotel here!
Spotted these white windmills on our drive from Lake Toya to New Chitose Airport.
That’s it for the end of my 6 nights itinerary in Hokkaido.