Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Korea in Winter Day 8: Alpensia Ski Resort

We checked out of Lotte Hotel at 8am and got directions to the pick up point outside Jamsil subway station Exit 5 where Mummy's research indicated we should catch a three hour bus ride to Alpensia Ski Resort at 8.40am. We got the kids up at 7am and determined to make it on time to the pick up point but when we got there, we could not confirm if we were in the right place as none of the locals seemed to know anything about it. We were worried that we would end up missing the bus as we also had no clue how the bus looked. Thankfully, we met another two 'lost' families who had made reservations for the bus transfer. Mummy managed to contact the bus operator using the number provided on their reservation receipts and found out that the bus had left after waiting at another location just a few hundred metres away and would have to loop back to our location. By the time we had loaded up on the bus it was already more than a half hour later than expected.

Our bus from Seoul to Apensia can be pre-booked online at http://funtastickorea.com/shop/alpensia-resort-seoul-shuttle-bus/. Adults are 17,000 won and children above 24 months are 14,000 won one-way.Shuttles to and from Myeongdong are also available. Adult ticket would be 22,000 won while child ticket would be 19,000 won.

After an hour, there was a 10 minute stop-over at this rest area. There were numerous cafes and food outlets here, as well as sports and outdoor goods stores, a small supermarket and of course, toilets.

We arrived at the Holiday Inn Welcome Centre around noon but since our rooms were not yet ready, the concierge held on to our luggage while we explored the amenities and surroundings, hoping to find a nice warm lunch to counter the cold wind. Although not as cold as expected, it was much windier than Seoul and we could feel the chilly difference. There are many restaurants to cater to the high season crowd at this time of the year, but it was lunch time and we had to wait for a table. The kids busied themselves having fun in their first encounter with real snow!

Celebrating our first snowball together!

Snow angel in the making?


There had not been snow fall recently and the snow on the ground had already clumped together into blocks of ice.

According to regular visitors, the entire resort is usually covered in snow by this time of the year. They said that last year during this period, you could not see any hint of greenery on the ski slopes.

To counter the effects of the cold, we opted for hot and soupy Korean dishes. The kids were hungry and made quick work of their dumplings with dokkpokki or noodles. Dishes were priced very reasonably around 6000 won to 8000 won while the stew were around the price of 30,000 won for sharing between 2 persons or more.

Kimchi soup

Ginseng Chicken Soup

Beef Rib Soup
Toppoki with dumpling soup

We checked into our rooms on the third floor right next to the amenities village after lunch and spent some time unpacking and making ourselves comfortable. We booked an apartment in the Holiday Inn Suites, which is a two bedroom apartment complete with two toilets, a fully functioning kitchenette and a spacious living room. A housemaid comes in before dinner to do a general cleaning of the rooms each day too.

For the first time this holiday the four of us will not be squeezing on one bed!

Spacious living and kitchenette area.

The toilet adjoining the kids' bedroom and the living room.

The master bedroom toilet

The kids' room appears empty, and they will be sleeping on mattresses on the floor.

Another view of the dining and kitchenette.

Being close to the amenities area meant that we had less exposure to the cold wind as the restaurants, convenience stores and ski facilities and gear rental were just located in the opposite block. There was a round the clock GS25 store that had everything from convenience items, snacks and drinks, microwavable meals to fresh ingredients for cooking and hot food. We made a stop here to top up on snacks and drinks before heading to the Ski House to check out the equipment rental and book ski lessons.

The staff at the Ski House were helpful, but since it was the high season, lessons were heavily booked throughout the week and we settled for a 6.30pm-8.30pm slot. Mummy would have loved to join in, but the largest group for one instructor was four, and we had four kids who were keen already. They did advice us that the younger ones may find it a little more difficult to master the techniques but we decided to let them have a shot anyways since they had been looking forward to it long before the holiday even began. After a sandwich and additional layers, we made our way to the equipment rental and suited up before the instructor arrived.

Buy your tickets for the rental first before collecting your equipment. It is a good thing that hotel guests get 30% discounts because we have so many people in the group. 
As it was our first time, we signed the kids up for a family private lesson. For 4 kids, we pay 260,000 won for 2 hour slot. The price for the Kids Group lesson is by per pax (100,000 won per pax) so it was more worth it to take the family package for us. 
Measuring the size of your feet is only an indication to the actual shoe size you need. Some of us ended up getting 2 sizes up while it was accurate for the rest.

Helmets can be collected at the counter just beside the ski school counter. Helmets for kids are free while it costs 4000 won for an adult helmet. 

The kids were fitted out with boots, skis, ski poles and helmets. In our ignorance as first timers, we did not bring waterproof pants, but we managed to borrow a pair from our helpful cousins.

All ready and waiting for our lesson to begin!

Our instructor was an enthusiastic and patient young lady by the name of Yong. Patience was extremely important as the four kids spent the almost an hour slipping and sliding as they attempted to find some form of balance on the slippery ice. There were falls every minute, and Yong patiently helped them to their feet and kept them together as she taught them how to recover themselves from a fall, how to do the up-slope crab-walk, and finally how to glide down a gentle slope and put on the brakes. The wind was strong and the adults accompanied them for a while until we were told that we could not be on the ski slopes as we were not wearing boots. After almost two hours, there was some resemblance of skiing although we could not confirm if they were actually under control.

Learning how to put on and take off our skis.

Practicing the technique of getting back up after a fall was not as easy as it appears.

Walking uphill using the side-stepping technique.

Enjoying the night time skiing.

The youngest member of our group wanted to follow his older siblings out onto the snow so we allowed him to don a helmet and plod along with a pair of ski poles... 


It looked like the kids were being tested out there. Like learning to swim for the first time, I believe they will never again take for granted the gracious moves of an expert as they 'fly' down the slopes. It was a good start when they responded positively and when we asked them if they still wanted to go out an ski tomorrow, they were quite sure they would give it another shot.

The youngest member of our crew found skiing so therapeutic that he fell asleep on the ski slopes. His daddy carried him back into the warmth of the food court.

The kids were ready to warm up in the room after returning their gear and we got some instant noodles from the convenience store for dinner. Our cousins topped it up with beer and pizzas, and before you knew it, we found ourselves crowding around the living room sofa watching cartoons and snacking on post-dinner potato chips. Isn't it nice to be on holiday without any thought of having to wake up early to catch the school bus tomorrow morning?

We're so happy to be travelling with cousins. Without them, our day might have ended uneventfully after the instant noodles. More snow tomorrow!!

13 comments:

  1. Hello, thanks so much for your useful blog. Can I ask whether it is necessary to pre book the private lesson in advance? Or should just book when we get there? Thank you

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    Replies
    1. Hi. We booked the private lesson upon arrival. It is first-come-first-serve and the night slot was the only available slot that fit our needs that day. I would assume the earlier you book the more options you would have.

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  2. Hi! I am travelling to Alpensia with my children in Dec and would like to enquire how many layers of clothings your children had and where did you buy them?
    TIA!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Linda. Our kids had at least three layers:

      1. Thermal wear: should be warm and comfortable; we got pretty effective ones from Universal Traveller
      2. Sweater
      3. Down Jacket - We got these from The North Face and Columbia. They are those that are 2 in 1, outer layer is waterproof so they can roll around on the snow and still be dry and warm.

      For the shoes, good to have water-proof ones so that they do not get wet in the snow. Ski gloves are good because the kids play with e snow a lot so the normal wool ones will get soaked very fast. They are available at the resort too.

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  3. This is wonderful. Thanks a lot for information in details. We plan to go skiing in Alpensia next week.

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    Replies
    1. Glad you found the information useful! Enjoy your trip and let us know how it goes.

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  4. Hello!
    May I know if the price for the ski lesson included anything else (equipment rental, clothing rental, lift etc) or was it purely just for the lesson?

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    Replies
    1. Hi Mavis. I believe rental and lesson are charged separately. This allows you to rent the equipment for a periods outside the lesson.

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  5. Thanks for your article, it's nice to know that the children are comfortable during winter in Korea. My family plans to go there this year during winter, and my most concern is whether the kids could bear the cold, since we are from a tropical country (Indonesia).

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  6. Hi,

    May I know how the pricing for ski resort stay

    Thanks

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    Replies
    1. Hi. We booked it off the holiday website (http://www.alpensiaresort.co.kr/EnHousSweetIntro.gdc) and you may need to email them for the updated rates. I realise that the website no longer shows the rates.

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  7. Hi! I chanced upon your blog as I was searching for information on Alpensia resort. Can I ask if the resort will have snow in early December?

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    Replies
    1. Hi. We stayed there in the middle of December and experienced an unusually late winter, so there was only one day of snowfall. It's hard to predict when snow will fall so if you're bent on seeing everything snow-covered, it may be safer to go even later. However, the ski slopes are topped up with artificial snow overnight so the winter sports can go on regardless of snowfall.

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