For our final night in the Shizuoka area before heading to Tokyo for our flight back to Singapore, we decided give ourselves a treat and booked a night’s stay at Gotemba Kogen Toki No Sumika, a resort popular with the Japanese. Gotemba Kogen Resort is ideally located in the valley at the base of beautiful Mt. Fuji. This huge resort complex offers five themed hotels with specific guests in mind.
- Hotel Tokinosumika – A hot springs hotel with views of Mt. Fuji in every room and access to all 17 hot springs within the premises.
- Hotel Brush-up – A business hotel with only single rooms, fully equipped with meeting and convention facilities.
- Gotemba Hotel Kogen B.U. – Good for weddings, conventions and entertaining overseas guests with views of Mt. Fuji in every room and entertainment outlets on the uppermost floor.
- Slow House Villas – Round-shaped themed villas for relaxation with family and friends.
- Blueberry Lodge – Ideal for group and family getaways.
Gotemba Kogen Resort has something for everyone – from restaurants, cafes, souvenir shops and boutiques to hot springs, spa and even a pet hotel. It even has its own brewery. Outdoor activities range from tennis, ice skating, swimming and golf to a stadium for soccer. Indoors, there are badminton courts, a games room for billiards and table tennis and a special arena for the magnificent night time Water, Illumination and Projection Mapping Show.
We had originally secured a reservation weeks before to stay in Slow House Villas with a Peter Rabbit theme, but had to cancel because of a change in our itinerary. By the time we were ready to become Peter Rabbit’s guests, his burrow was already full and we had to make do with a night’s stay at Blueberry Lodge instead.
It was pouring with rain by the time the free shuttle service pulled up at the resort. To make matters worse, we alighted at Hotel Brush-up, mistakenly thinking that it was the only drop-off point for all five hotels in the resort. We ended up having to walk about half a kilometre in the downpour, dragging our luggage across the car parks, passing shops, restaurants and the soccer field before finally arriving at the Front Office Reception for Blueberry Lodge and Slow House Villas.
Blueberry Lodge consists of a row of double-story country-like houses made up of four units to a cluster. Named after the blueberries that grow on the trellis in the courtyard, the lodges are accessible through a flower-lined covered walkway.
Each lodge is quite spacious with a kitchen/dining area, a living room and a balcony. We stayed in a two-bedroom unit – one with a typical Western-style design with twin beds and the other, a traditional Japanese tatami room equipped with futons that can be rolled up and stored during the day. All the rooms echo a blueberry theme with blue headboards on the beds, blue curtains, blue-on-white wallpaper, a blue front door and blueberry prints on the drinking mugs.
I must admit that after sleeping on futons during my first six nights in Japan, it was nice to sleep on a bed where I didn’t have to wake up feeling pain in my hip bone every time I turned on my side.
We took a short walk to Slow House Villas to see what we had missed out. The thousands of tiny lights gave me a feeling of entering a fairy-tale world of giant mushrooms in a magical garden. The first round house we came to belonged to Peter Rabbit himself. His neat little garden was decorated with rabbit figurines.
Besides the villas with Peter Rabbit themes, some rooms carry the Little Prince theme as well as the resort’s newest addition in 2015 – the Bear theme.
These villas are a popular choice among locals and can accommodate up to six persons in a room. For the young children, it’s a dream come true to break free from the corners of a standard room and stay in a round room instead. Next to the villas is the Big Bang playground that is lit up in the evening to resemble a wonderland, adding to the fun factor for kids.
Buffet breakfast was served in a nearby hall right next to a church. The menu selection was really wide, with appetising servings to cater for both Japanese and Western palates. There’s a huge ceiling-to-floor window at the end of the hall, offering stunning views of Mt. Fuji. I didn’t get to see anything as the whole mountain was covered in mist and clouds that day.
The weather was really unkind to us for most of this trip. The only time I managed to get a brief glimpse of Mt.Fuji was from the Front Office car park when we were about to check out of the lodge.
As if by clockwork, it started to rain very heavily again as we made our way to the shuttle stop. As there was no shelter available, some of my friends took refuge in the earlier breakfast hall, while I stood in the church next door. By the time our luggage got loaded inside the shuttle, everyone was already soaked to the skin!