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Maisonette w/onsen
April 24, 2016 by
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Maisonette w/onsen

Liked:
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Food
Amenities
Room

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Room
Maisonette w/onsen

Perhaps the reason why no international hotel chain has made inroads in the mountain tourist city of Karuizawa is because the Prince Hotel chain has such a strangehold on the market, with its gynormous resort right next to the Karuizawa bullet train station. Containing the most convenient skiing option from Tokyo, a huge outlet shopping mall, and many other dining and leisure facilities, it has something for everybody..with the exception of luxury accomodations. The hotel buildings (Karuizawa East, Karuizawa West, The Prince Karuizawa, and the surrounding cottages) were constructed in the 70's and 80's to Japanese tastes, meaning that they are very small on top of being old. The cottages offer some additional room for larger families, and are not without their charm, but are also quite spartan.  Even the "The Prince" luxury brand doesn't have much to offer, with rooms barely exceeding business hotel level.

Recognizing this as a weakness, the cottages near the East building were demolished, 20 luxury villas were built in their place, and The Prince Villa Karuizawa was launched in July 2014.  Last month we finally plunked down the cash to try it out.

 

Check In

The Prince Villa Karuizawa has a special area called the Center House, which serves as the reception desk and a special club lounge for its guests.

You get to relax and enjoy a nice welcome drink during the check-in process, which was very smooth. The Prince Villa staff are on a whole other level from the rest of the hotel, very friendly and always willing to assist with anything.  We arrived a little after noon, and although the regular check-in time is 3pm, then escorted us to our villa right away, in a charming electric car.

Room

There are three types of villas: 10 single story terrace villas that accommodate up to six guests, and 10 two-story maisonettes that sleep up to eight. In addition, five of the maisonettes also come with a private outdoor onsen bath.  We chose to splurge on the best that they had to offer.

The villa is quite stunning, and a quantum leap above the regular Prince Karuizawa cottages.

The refrigerator comes stocked with a large variety of drinks, including beer, that is all free of charge. There is a full kitchen that you can use to cook whatever you like...or you could pay one of The Prince Karuizawa Villa chefs to come to your villa and prepare a meal for you right there.

There are two bedrooms downstairs, one of which also contains a small living room area, and one upstairs, each with two very comfortable beds (much more comfortable than the beds in the rest of the hotel)

All rooms come with a big jacuzzi bath and a television.

And as mentioned earlier, this villa also comes with its own private onsen bath. Please be a good foreigner and wash yourself before entering.

My favorite little perk of this hotel was being able to start a fire any time I wanted just by turning a switch on this stove:

Service

There are a lot of perks available for Prince Villa Karuizawa guests. Some of these change depending on the season, but during our stay we received free ski lifts, free bowling (shoe rental costs extra), and free access to the nearby onsen.  There is also free Wii U rental available, but these cottages are understandably very popular with families with children, so it may not be easy to secure one of these (we had to wait until the seconds night of our stay to get ours) During wamer times of the year, they also offer free bicycle rental and free use of their golf courses.

As mentioned earlier, Prince Villa Karuizawa concierge service is excellent. They took care of everything involving ski rental for us at no additional charge. They will drive you all over the resort at your beckon call, a service that saved us a great amount of time and energy.  I felt more pampered like royalty at this property than I did during my stay at Aman Tokyo!

The Center House is open from 7:00am to 9:00pm, during which time something is always available to eat. From open time to 10:00am is breakfast, alternating each day between Western and Japanese food (but if you can't handle the Japanese food on those days, the chefs onhand will make you an omelet upon request)  There's also a good variety of salad, fruits, and breads to choose from. Some nice fruit juices were also available during this time.

From 12:00pm is a lunch time. Not a huge selection, but the curry rice was quite good. These selections seem to alternate every other day, so you'll most likely be repeating things if you stay three days or more.

There are also a wide variety of desert dishes made available at this time, whcih remain throughout the rest of the day. I must have had a dozen pieces of blueberry pie...

From 3:00pm is additional desert time, where the chefs will make pancakes for you. Can take over ten minutes, but well worth the wait!

(yes, I did almost bowl a perfect game, thanks for asking...)

From 5:00pm were evening hors d'oeuvres. A normal person would not be able to make a dinner meal out of these, but for the price we were paying we did so anyway. The meatloaf was my favorite. These offerings were also alternated every other day.

Coffee, tea, soft drinks, and liquor are available throughout the day. If you need a whiskey at 7am, then Center House is the place for you.

The lounge itself can be a very nice place to spend some time...at least until the families with small children stop by.

Dining

Never tried the in-room chef service, but given the food in the Center House it seems like a promising option. The hotel restaurants are nothing to write home about, but there are a wide variety of restaurants and dining courts throughout the resort. If you get bored with the Center Lounge curry rice, I really like the ramen joint in the food court for a quick lunch.

Location

A couple minutes walk from the Karuizawa bullet train station, which itself is about an hour away from Tokyo.

Ski

A little unfair of me to comment on this, as it was the end of the ski season and 15 degrees Celcius outside. They did their best keeping a number of slopes available with fake snow. It was good enough to get a few more hours in before accepting that spring was coming.

Overall

If you've been avoiding Karuizawa because of the lack of quality western-style accomodations, the Prince Villa Karuizawa is well worth checking out.

Pool

Karuizawa is a cool mountain town, not conducive to swimming, and thus they gave up on their pool many years ago:

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