Escape to the Karuizawa Prince Hotels and Resorts For A Classy Getaway Near Nature!

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For the second half of my trip, I made my way off Hokkaido onto the main Japan island of Honshu. After journeying via Shinkansen through Aomori, Morioka, Sendai and a pit stop at Tokyo, I took a short escape to Karuizawa in the Nagano prefecture to soak in some nature at the Prince Hotels and Resorts. Karuizawa is an upscale resort town located at the foot of Mount Asama. With the resort situated about 1000 metres above sea level, my stay there was pleasantly delightful as Tokyo welcomed a much warmer and drier weather. Access to the resort town is also relatively easy from Tokyo as the Hokuriku Shinkansen that services the town completes the entire journey in slightly under 90 minutes. The resort is a popular place to be at as various outdoor activities are made available throughout the year. From tennis, hiking, cycling, golf to even skiing and ice skating, this is the destination for those wanting a trip to Japan but also to escape to a refined solace and some classy ambience.

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The JR Karuizawa Station. The Prince Hotels and Resorts group also has an internal shuttle circling the various properties. It might be a good idea to hop onto one to get to your hotel.

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On the road to the hotel.

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For this trip, I stayed at the Karuizawa Prince Hotel West, one of four major Prince Hotel properties in the entire complex. Located a short 5 minutes walk from the Karuizawa Prince Shopping Plaza, the Prince Hotel West offers a comfortable stay with a mix of affordability thrown in. Apart from being surrounded with vast greenery, the hotel also features a range of banquet halls and space for that special occasion.



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Compared to The Prince Karuizawa and the Karuizawa Prince Hotel East, the Prince Hotel West has a wonderful souvenir and essentials shop located in the lobby.

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The hotel features two guest room options – the Twin Room and the Junior Suite Room. Simply but comfortably designed, the twin room boast an idyllic green scenery through the windows. Although the furnishing and bathroom show signs of wear, the room is decently equipped for that night’s rest before embarking out the next day.

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Cozy

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For meals within the hotel, there are four restaurants to choose from. There is the Japanese Restaurant Karamatsu, Chinese Restaurant Tohri, Restaurant Kobushi and the Buffet Restaurant New York. The Lounge Marron is also available for some cake during tea or cocktails in the evening. That evening, Brian and I settled for a Kaiseki meal (approximately 4000 JPY per person) at the Restaurant Karamatsu.

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Two options were available – the Tempura course or the Sushi course. Both of us started off with some fine Japanese Tofu glazed with a touch of shoyu and topped with sea urchin and radish. Delicate and refined, this set up the expectations for the evening.

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The tempura course quickly arrived on the table as a spread of Japanese tofu fish cake, tempura seafood and vegetables, pickles, rice and miso soup. While the dishes were generally decent, I would gather that having dinner at the Karuizawa Shopping Complex might be a little more satisfying. Instead, the kaiseki dinner simply showed a glimpse of what the restaurant chef can actually achieve.

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Brian’s sushi course was simple and tastefully presented. Generally, the sushi was good. While we were not expecting the extreme freshness from the port cities in Hokkaido, it was the liberal use of wasabi in almost every sushi piece was a surprise. That said, out of the two options, I would recommend going for the Tempura course if available.

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Desserts were a combination of Warabi mochi and fruits. Light and easy on the palate, these were good to end the entire meal with.

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Breakfast at the Buffet Restaurant New York was adequate to kickstart the day. The variety is limited but sufficient to quickly let you make a decision.

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Brian had a set of spaghetti, wedges, Chinese dumplings, sausages and tofu.

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For me, I decided on Japanese rice, eggs cooked differently in three styles, tofu, grilled mackerel, Chinese dumpling, cherry tomatoes, sausages and tofu. A glass of fresh milk accompanied the meal.

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The hotel’s charming vicinity

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Before I touch on a little about the other properties located within the resort, I have to first mention that adjacent to the hotel resides the Prince Shopping Plaza. For those who seek a little retail therapy, these outlet stores provide last season’s items at marked down prices. If you are not at Karuizawa to shop, simply walking around and soaking in the beautiful atmosphere would be as pleasant.

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My first time trying Godiva’s Ice Cream. Their chocolate variant is luxuriously creamy, sweet and well scented with their signature cocoa.

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For those of you who are feeling a little peckish, stop by the Food Court for a break. The day’s lunch included White Miso Ramen (if I don’t remember wrongly) and some Yakisoba.

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Guests with small children will perhaps find the pop up playground useful. One thing that struck me about Karuizawa is the number of children being rolled around in prams. And if you notice, there are dogs being rolled around in prams too.

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The Prince Hotel Karuizawa East is the slightly more upmarket hotel located within the resort. When I stepped into the lobby, this distinction becomes clearly noted. A simple but classier ambience, this would be the place to stay if you really need to be close to the Karuizawa Prince Hotel Ski Area (opens in Winter). For accommodation, the hotel features a range of Twin Rooms. Guests staying at the Prince Hotel Karuizawa East also get complimentary usage of the onsite Forest Hot-Spring. Visiting guests from other hotels will have to pay a token surchage upon entry.

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Both Prince Hotel East and Prince Hotel West feature their own range of cottages for rent, targeting groups that are approximately 4-8 persons. These humbly furnished houses are the choice for families or friends who wish to relax at their own pace in a more private setting. The only point to note is that these cottages can be a distance from the Shopping Plaza, and would require a good 15 minutes walk if necessary. Else, it would be one more option for large groups to consider.

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The Prince Villa Karuizawa is part of the flagship The Prince Karuizawa. Hence, these houses are a distinct notch above the cottages previously mentioned. Nested within deeper shrouds of greenery and painted in evoking colours of black, each villa provides a special degree of hospitality for the most discerning of guests.

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The electric vehicle that brought Brian and me around as we toured the property. For this villa visit, we checked out the Maisonette Spa – a house that boasts a 2 story layout with hot spring and for up to 8 guests.

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When I first stepped into the villa, the rich, warm colours struck me. It was deeply enchanting with a decor that melts into your entire self. Also, the villas are brimming with a tender, wood scent that further relaxes the mind. A large living room adorns the first floor. For an added fee, call in a private chef to prepare a special in-room meal that range from French cuisine all the way to sushi and barbecue.

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The second floor bedroom.

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The royal, automated chamber pot.

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The Jacuzzi and the Outdoor’s Hot Spring Bath (a little small if you asked me).

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The Prince Karuizawa is the flagship hotel in the area. This hotel provides a very intimate living experience with a deeply relaxing space. It is located directly next to the golf course and features views of Mt. Asama from all the guests rooms. Executive Twin Rooms and Executive Suite Rooms are part of the choices for stay in the hotel.

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Once again, the higher the hotel’s accommodation grade, the more luxurious the lobby.

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For meals, the hotel has the Dining Room Beaux SDejours. Boasting a lake side view of Mt. Asama, tuck in to a selection of French cuisine and partake in the hotel’s choice of vintage wines.

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The twin guest room.

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Although my trip was short, it was still an experience to discover the relaxing getaways provided by the Prince hotel group at the Karuizawa resort. I did not manage to take my hand at some of the sporting facilities or try to hike up a Nature route as I was scheduled to return to Tokyo the very next day. As such, this is one place where guests should stay for at least 3 days to fully get a sense of the area and explore the surrounding vicinity. The Karuizawa resort is a destination meant for a wide range of visitors, and the choices for accommodation largely reflects that variety. However, what remains available for all is the wonderful scenery that dots the landscape. Throughout the four seasons in a year, I can only imagine how the picturesque scene will change. From Spring, to Summer, to Autumn and Winter, the four seasons in Karuizawa will definitely provide a exciting range of experiences that is always a little different from the last.

Thank you The Prince Hotels and Resorts group for hosting us.

The Prince Karuizawa : http://www.princehotels.com/en/the_prince_karuizawa/
Karuizawa Prince Hotel East : http://www.princehotels.com/en/karuizawa-east/
Karuizawa Prince Hotel West : http://www.princehotels.com/en/karuizawa-west/[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]