It was really easy to hotel hop between the Sheraton and The Kiroro, both of which are now managed by Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), as I was able to leave my luggage with the reception desk on check-out and they transferred it to the Kiroro automatically. After a day of skiing, I just hopped into the shuttle bus and checked in at The Kiroro. The reason I stayed at this hotel was it had been branded as a Tribute Portfolio property which is also the newest brand by SPG, and I wanted to check it out to see how it fared compared to the Sheraton.
Unlike the Sheraton, The Kiroro does not have ski-in or ski-out access and you can either walk about 10 minutes to the hotel from the slopes or take the shuttle bus which runs until around 9:30pm at night. That makes it less convenient if you want to be first up on the mountain.
There was a grand lobby atrium in this hotel and it seems to be marketed as the higher end hotel though the furnishing of this property seems to be stuck in the 1980s. The check-in was another quick experience as my luggage has been sent up to the room and I received my key immediately with information regarding to the hotel’s dining options and SPG benefits. Since I was already introduced to them on my previous stay at the Sheraton, I need no further clarification. Both properties share the same facilities and guests could charge their dining at the restaurants to either hotels when staying here.
Room No: 5603 Category: Corner Suite
For this stay, I was assigned a room on the corner and had been upgraded to a suite. Fortunately, the corner suite was close by the elevator as the elevator lobby all overlooks the central atrium.
Entering the suite for the first time, there is a spacious foyer with a wardrobe and luggage bench. For a ski trip, this space becomes very useful to store all your ski gear without cluttering up the rest of the room/suite.
The suite itself comprises of a large combined space for the bedroom and living space. The living room has a sofa and an armchair along with a small pantry and minibar area on the corner where there is an espresso machine that uses illy coffee capsules. There are also 2 bottles of mineral water as is the norm for SPG members.
Placed on the other end of the room was a King-size bed with 2 nightstands. While the suite was certainly spacious, it was not the best in terms of layout since there is no separation between the bed and living space with only one TV. It also does not make it easy to watch the TV from the bed as it faces the sofa. The bed here is also a bit softer and has a European setup in that the King bed is actually 2 double beds placed side by side.
There is also a work desk and chair in the suite and for a recent re-branding, the hotel has worked hard as they have supplied new stationery and guest folders in the drawer with the Tribute Portfolio branding.
On the left side of the room, there is a very spacious bathroom, and this was once again compartmentalized like the bathroom at the Sheraton Kiroro. The vanity counter is in the main bathroom, while a separate room houses the glass-covered shower area that also has a separate bathtub. However the bathtub and shower area was quite dark compared to the rest of the bathroom.
Another separate cubicle houses the Japanese automated toilet that is standard in most hotels in the country.
The bathroom actually has wall mounted Shiseido-branded shower amenities in the bathroom. Suite guests are also provided with an extra plastic wrapped set of Antica Farmacista amenities that has a grapefruit scent. These are quite interesting as I have never been to a SPG hotels that have these amenities.
Other special features of the suite includes an air purifier which I doubt many would need in the mountains since mountain air are always fresher. There is also a humidifier that is useful since mountain air is drier, especially during the winter.
Since I checked into the room after skiing, it was already quite dark outside. But the room faces the courtyard and restaurant area. This was opposite to the mountain view where the ski area is located at.
The Kiroro also differs from the Sheraton Kiroro in that there is a paid onsen (hot springs) bath in the complex. I believe it is because this is a natural hot springs bath compared to the one in Sheraton which is smaller and is just a hot water public bath. I paid a rate of ¥900 (~$8.70) and it was an enjoyable experience thus the large bathroom was again not very useful. The hot spring bath area is located in the courtyard section where the rest of the hotel facilities are located at.
Beside the hot springs reception, there is a games arcade since The Kiroro seems to be geared more towards families with children.
Like all Japanese resorts, there is a gift shop selling all kinds of Hokkaido specialty snacks and gifts. It is worth noting the gift shop in The Kiroro is much larger and there is also another convenience store in the hotel lobby.
During my stay in Kiroro, I had both my dinner in The Kiroro restaurants as they have more selection. For the first night I had the shabu shabu set at Syunsai, and for the second night, I had a Japanese BBQ dinner at Yanshu. There was one other Japanese restaurant in the hotel, a buffet restaurant and an Italian restaurant. Suffice to say, I don’t think one would be bored with the selection even if staying here for a week. However the food was not that great considering the prices are what I deem to be ‘resort prices’. That means prices are slightly higher than eating in cities/towns with no significant increase in quality.
The downside to staying at The Kiroro was that there was no club lounge here and thus I had to choose either the points or a free breakfast which is a continental breakfast set. Since it was just a continental set, I figured I would just have some snacks in the morning before checking out the next day and have brunch at Otaru instead.
Checking out of the hotel was a simple affair and I even had time to spare before the shuttle bus boarding the shuttle bus once again to Otaru Chikko station. My next destination was actually for Niseko Ski Area and there does not seem to be any direct means of transport between these Kiroro and Niseko aside from an expensive taxi ride. The concierge in the hotel was not of much help either with this regard. Service within both hotels were on par like many Japanese hotels and the upgrades in The Kiroro was very much appreciated. In both nights of my stay, I paid a rate of 7,000 Starpoints for a free night as The Kiroro falls under the same category like the Sheraton Kiroro.
However if I am returning to the area again, I would rather opt to stay at the Sheraton Kiroro for the newer rooms and more comfortable beds. The proximity to the ski lifts and the ski-in/ski-out access are just the priority in my opinion for a ski resort, and an upgrade is just but a nice thing to have.