Through Sept 1, you may cancel your spot at any time and receive a full refund. After Sept 1, the following cancellation fees apply:
For cancellations received from September 1 - October 31, $500 fee. For cancellations received from November 1 - November 31, $1000 fee. After December 1st, 2014: no refund. These fees apply regardless of other SKI BUMS trips for which you are signed up or would like to sign up, and regardless of our wait list status. We urge to buy travel insurance.
Buy travel insurance. We cannot stress this enough.
A travel insurer can provide a refund even when SKI BUMS cannot. Just in case you need to cancel your trip because of work or health reasons, you should purchase travel insurance within 30 days of your initial trip deposit.
Even if you purchase travel insurance after this date, some coverage is much better than no coverage at all. Our cancellation policy is strict, and after cancellation fees kick in, a travel insurer may be your only chance for a full refund.
There are many travel insurers. We especially recommend travelinsured.com, and suggest you add the sports package to cover skiing & snowboarding activity.
Late payments are subject to a 5% late-payment fee. It is up to you to submit your payments on time. You may always pay early.
You may pay with any major credit card, cash or check. We use PayPal to process online credit card payments. PayPal is the internet's most trusted online payment portal, and you do not need to be a PayPal member to submit a payment.
If you would ever like to use PayPal to send a manual payment (from a smartphone, for example), our account address is: payments (at) ski-bums.org.
(*most of those traveling from the USA will depart on Wednesday, January 28 and arrive on the 29th. Be sure to see our flight scheduling details below)
TOKYO We're returning to the classy and comfortable Strings by Intercontinental hotel, which hosted us in 2013. Its got a beautiful open atrium, an English-speaking staff and a tasty Western breakfast. It's an upscale property that primarily caters to global business travelers. It's efficient, clean and well-appointed. Plus, it's located right beside the Shinagawa train station, which makes getting around Tokyo a breeze.
NISEKO We're booked the entire Kimamaya hotel, just as we did in 2013. The BUMS adored it and demanded that we return; it's a sleek, chic, boutique hotel, run by a friendly team of Aussies. It sits in a great location within the Hirafu Village area, within easy walking distance to cool bars, delicious restaurants, gear shops and more. It's marvelous to have the place all to ourselves; the lobby and lounge become like a big living room where we get to relax and hang out in the evenings. It adjoins The Barn, a swanky restaurant and bar that will serve us a delicious Western breakfast each day.
SAPPORO We've added a one night stay in Sapporo, to partake in the excitement of the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival, one of Japan's most exciting festivals. Our hotel has a new name: the Hotel Emisia Sapporo. The hotel features straightforward, recently-renovated rooms, an English-speaking staff, with on-site spa, gym, restaurants, etc. The biggest festival area is just 25 minutes away by subway. Best of all, it's easy to catch a direct train to the Sapporo New Chitose airport for your departure on Sunday February 8.
Your trip includes a five day lift ticket for Niseko United.
Note: If you or your travel partner do not ski or snowboard,we can remove the lift tickets from our package; contact us to make arrangements. (See "non-skiers," below.)
Each of our hotels include hot western breakfasts each morning. The food is especially good in Niseko; the Barn is a popular French bistro by night.
We're also including four pre-paid dinners: one dinner in Tokyo (on Friday) and three dinners in Niseko (on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday). For each of these dinners, food is pre-paid -- you'll just be buying your own drinks. We choose excellent, top-quality restaurants for all our planned meals.
Beyond these pre-paid meals, we'll have a few dinner reservations where you'll simply pay for whatever you order. Other nights are 'free nights' where you're encouraged to dine out with your new friends. The food variety in Japan -- and Niseko in particular -- is astounding. See a cool video >
As with all SKI BUMS trips, space is limited, and this trip is now sold out.
You must be a registered member to join a SKI BUMS trip; only those who sign up via the SKI BUMS website may join us.
We are happy to arrange roommates for you. Typically, half of our participants ask us to match them up with a roommate. We'll ask a few easy questions and accommodate your preferences.
There are three different occupancy categories.Contact us to check on their availability.
CATEGORY A: Double occupancy in Tokyo and Sapporo, Quad occupancy in Niseko: most participants will have loft rooms in Niseko, which feature traditional beds on the first floor and two high-quality tatami beds on the upper loft. Each loft comfortably sleeps four people. These participants will receive standard double-occupancy rooms in Tokyo and Sapporo. The price is the same for Category A and Category B.
CATEGORY B: Double occupancy in all three hotels:a select number of participants will have double occupancy rooms for all three hotels. You may have the rooms prepared with one bed or two. The price is the same for Category A and Category B.
CATEGORY C: Single occupancy: a single occupancy room in all three hotels. Contact us for single occupancy supplement pricing.
About half of our participants rent skis or snowboards -- in part to avoid traveling with extra bags. Rentals are not included in our trip price; you should budget about 230 USD for a 5-day rental. We recommend Rhythm Snow Sports, a very well-equipped shop located right in town. No advance reservations are necessary.
SKI BUMS designs our season for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, but we make specific recommendations for each trip. On ALL SKI BUMS trips, we begin by dividing into skill level groups so you can identify those who enjoy the same terrain that you do. See how our groups work > Beginners:We do not recommend this trip for beginner skiers or beginner snowboarders. The powder conditions which are common at Niseko can be challenging, and we expect very few beginners on this specific trip. Therefore, we encourage beginners to consider other SKI BUMS trips as an alternative.
Intermediate:If you have never been skiing or riding in powder, you may be a bit mystified at first. When falling down is fun, skiing and boarding become an entirely different experience. A lesson is a good idea; it'll help you learn the new techniques & stances to help you steer through all the fluff.
Advanced:We very strongly recommend this trip for advanced skiers and boarders. The powder conditions of Niseko are famous worldwide, and it's for a good reason: you can experience one of the most ideal snow surfaces imaginable. The terrain of Niseko United is varied and fun, with virtually no distinction between on-piste and off-piste. When the powder's falling, you'll be in heaven. Expert:It's time to finally make the trek to Japan that you've been hearing everyone talk about. It's helpful to know that Niseko is not terribly steep; if you're looking for a pitch that reaches toward 45 degrees and beyond, you'll want to schedule a backcountry tour. On our 2013 trip, our experts were very happy in-bounds at Niseko, but also got a big kick out of their backcountry excursion into more extreme terrain. SKI BUMS will help coordinate guided backcountry visits for those who have previous backcountry experience and training.
If you would like to book additional nights at the Strings by Intercontinental or our other hotels, contact the hotel directly. SKI BUMS cannot assist with trip extensions, and we cannot provide roommates for those who are booking additional nights on their own. We do encourage you to coordinate with other trip participants, and our Facebook page is the most enjoyable way to do so.
Air transportation is not included. Read these recommendations closely before buying airfare. This trip requires international airfare to Japan, plus domestic airfare in-country from Tokyo to Sapporo. Tokyohas two major airports, and you can fly into whichever one is most convenient for you. Narita (NRT) welcomes more international flights than Haneda (HND) does, but Haneda is considerably closer to downtown.
Sapporo's New Chitose Airport (CTS) is where you'll fly when we transfer to Niseko.
Most SKI BUMS will travel through Narita for the international flights, then travel through Haneda for domestic flights, but see the next section for recommendations and considerations.
PLANNING YOUR AIR TRAVEL
You'll want to be smart and methodical about buying your airfare, especially if you're flying from the United States. For many Americans, you'll get much better fares if you buy your entire flight itinerary at once; Star Alliance airlines (partnering with ANA) offer discounts on domestic fare if it's part of a multi-city itinerary that also includes your international fare.
In other words, resist the common-sense thinking that you should buy your international flights first and buy your domestic flights later. TOKYO |ARRIVAL: Plan to arrive anytime on Thursday Jan 29; our itinerary officially begins with a cocktail meet & greet reception in the bar of our hotel at 7:30 PM, followed by dinner at 9 PM. After landing, allow about 2.5 hours to get through customs, get your luggage and check in at the hotel. IMPORTANT: those traveling from North America will lose a day while flying over the international dateline. Select a departure date of Wednesday, Jan 28. | DEPARTURE: Plan your departure with enough time to transfer from Sapporo, especially if you'll need to get between Narita and Haneda. You may find that it's easier (and cheaper) to fly directly home from Sapporo without connecting in Tokyo.
SAPPORO | ARRIVAL: Plan to arrive at Sapporo's New Chitose Airport (CTS) on Sunday February 1 by 12 PM noon. We'll meet as a group in the food court of the arrivals area, then take a ground transfer together* to Niseko, departing at 2 PM. | DEPARTURE: Book your departure for anytime on Sunday February 8th; we'll have spent the night of February 7th in downtown Sapporo, about a 30 minute ride by train to CTS.
Sapporo Tips: We recommend flying via ANA (which partners with United Airlines and other Star Alliance members) or Jetstar (a jetBlue-esque low cost Australian carrier affiliated with Qantas).
TOKYO | Transfers from the airports to our hotel are not included. If this is your first time in Tokyo, we recommend booking a shared bus transfer . If you've been to Japan before -- and you're not bringing a lot of luggage -- the train may be preferable. See below.
SAPPORO | It's about a 2-hour drive from Sapporo to Niseko, and *we'll be traveling together in a chartered bus. For this reason, it's important to plan your flights to / from Sapporo with our transfer times in mind. We'll depart from Sapporo CTS airport at 2 PM on February 1st. On Saturday February 7th, our transfer will take us directly from Niseko to the Sheraton Sapporo.
NISEKO | It's easy to walk around Niseko, and there are convenient public buses and taxis to get between the different resort base areas.
Niseko United is the name of four adjoining resort areas, all of which stretch around a giant cone volcano mountain, Mount Annapurri. It's much larger than it looks on a trail map (in 2013, we all felt like there was more than enough terrain to keep us busy). The skiable acres are comparable to Telluride, CO. Each base area has its own feel; we'll name one resort area per day where we'll ski and ride together.
Niseko is Japan's most famous international ski destination for a big reason: the snow. More than 600 inches of dry, fluffy powder blankets these slopes each year. The New York Times called Niseko"Japan's St. Moritz," with "snowflakes large enough to cast shadows" and a contagious energy that brims with the excitement of a true global destination.
Our 2013 trip instantly became the coolest trip we've ever hosted, and the demand to return is high. While we can't wait to head back to our great hotels in Tokyo and Niseko, we've also added an day & night at the world-famous Sapporo Snow Festival. The timing couldn't be more perfect.
This trip probably isn't the best choice for non-skiers / non-boarders, but any chance to visit Japan is inherently fascinating, and there are a decent number of other things to do in and around Niseko. If you've got a partner who doesn't ski or ride -- and they're cool doing their own thing during the day while we're on the mountain -- we say go for it. Contact us to remove lift tickets.
We want to make it easy to connect with other SKI BUMS members who have signed up for trips -- or are thinking about coming. We've got specific Facebook groups dedicated to each major trip, and they're open to anyone. If you're curious about this trip -- or want to see who's coming:
Our main Facebook fan page is a fantastic way to keep an eye on all the fun we're having. Our Twitter and Tumblr will keep you up to date on the latest news. We host cool trip videos on Vimeo and pics on Flickr. And on Spotify, we curate fun-loving playlists that are perfect for the slopes!
Trains are an efficient, clean, safe, way of life for traveling in Japan. While in Tokyo, we'll be relying on the JR metro lines (and others) to get around town and visit the nearby historic sites of Kamakura. It's incredibly easy, with signs & announcements in English. You'll wish every city had such a great public train system.
If you're a seasoned world-traveler and you're not intimidated by seeking out occasional help in English, you may want to take the train from Narita to Shinagawa (directly beside our hotel). It's rather simple, but it might be tough if you're bringing skis or a board.
+ Four dinners and ten breakfasts + Three night stay in Tokyo at the Strings by Intercontinental + Six night stay in Niseko at the Kimamaya Hotel + One night stay in Sapporo at the Sheraton Sapporo + Round-trip ground transfer shuttles between Sapporo and Niseko + Five days of lift tickets for Niseko United + SKI BUMS professional trip leader
+ Air transportation + Ski and snowboard equipment rental + Lunches, some dinners, alcoholic drinks + Entry fees or visa fees (where applicable) + Taxis / subway fares + Event tickets at the Sapporo Snow Festival (most sites are free) + Travel insurance (very highly recommended)
Of course, weather is impossible to predict, but SKI BUMS plans our trips with an eye on weather history. Niseko is world-famous for being one of the world's snowiest resorts; it often sits at the #1 spot for the annual snowfall amounts for all major ski resorts worldwide, with more than 600" of powder. Sunny days are rare; it's far more likely for it to snow every day from January until March. During our 2013 trip, it snowed about 10 cm each day -- and that's very normal here. Powder skiing is what Niseko is famous for; snow storms blow in from Siberia and deliver the perfect fluffy snow that skiers and snowboarders crave. The first week of February is an ideal time to visit.
Thursday night through Saturday evening, the SKI BUMS trip leaders will design a fun-filled itinerary with group outings to famous sights and extra time to explore the city on your own. Highlights include the historic temples and shrines of Kamakura, the whimsical fashion of Takeshita street, the stores of Ginza and the ex-pat hangouts of Roppongi. We'll visit the gay bars, too. They're fascinating.
Sunday February 1st, we fly to Sapporo then transfer to Niseko. While here, the focus of our trip is the skiing and riding; we'll be hosting trips each day to enjoy the Niseko United ski areas. We'll name lunch and après-ski spots each day where everyone gathers as a group, and for three nights during the week, we'll host pre-paid dinners.
Departing in our own chartered bus, we'll arrive in Sapporo early afternoon on Saturday February 7th, with enough time for you to explore the main exhibit areas of the Sapporo Snow Festival. On Saturday night, we'll host a final party to say goodbye to your fellow BUMS!
You'll be free to depart Sapporo anytime on Sunday, February 8th. See air recommendations, above.
Our rooms in Tokyo are guaranteed after 3 PM on Thursday January 29th. You'll visit the Front Desk and check in under your name, just as you would at any hotel. If you arrive early, the hotel can store luggage until your room is available.
Our trip officially begins with a meet & greet welcome reception in the bar of the Strings by Intercontinental hotel at 7:30 PM on Thursday, January 29th. We'll dine together that evening at a nearby restaurant, at 9 PM.