Our annual ski trip this year saw us head back to South Korea. This time we opted for a resort only 2.5 hours from Seoul (3 hours from Incheon airport) – Welli Hilli Park. It was recently renamed and even had its own theme music periodically blasting out over the mountainside. It will be a while before I forget the “Welli … Hilli … Welli Hilli Park!” tune.
The resort isn’t huge but it had enough in the way of runs to keep beginner and intermediate level skiers (ie me) content. Black level skiers would probably become bored quickly. However for a family with kids and varied skiing ability it was good.
The slopes have a variety of runs as well as a terrain park and half pipe. Interestingly enough I didn’t seen many people using the half pipe with any seriousness. All the runs I went on were serviced by chair lifts. It would appear the resort is currently in a phase of renewal with old and new chairlifts side by side – only the new chairlifts were in operation.
The snow was a little icy but in general it was nice to ski on. As with most resorts it iced up in the afternoon as the mountain went into shadow. The runs weren’t crowded with people, although the ever present problem of snowboarders was noticable. I was sandwiched once by two on either side coming from behind to collide into me and wiped out from behind by another boarder who couldn’t control his board (even caught that one on video). As annoying as it was, it wasn’t anything dissimilar from experiences in Australia so I just shrugged it off as the way snow culture is going.
The resort is ski in/ski out – the hotel situated at the base of the slope and very convenient. The hotel is huge and broken up into wings. Originally we were given a room in the West Wing of the hotel … we had requested a western bed in one of the bedrooms and this room only had the Korean style mats for beds in both bedrooms so the hotel relocated us to another room in the Central Wing (we had to pay a little extra for the upgrade).
The family room we stayed in had a good sized lounge/dining area, simple kitchenette, two bedrooms (one with a western bed and the other with korean mat beds which the kids LOVED), bathroom and balcony. Our room did not look over the ski slopes but did have a nice view of the surrounding mountains. The room wasn’t modern (think yellow wallpaper) but it was functional and comfortable and a very short lift ride down to the slopes. One of the nice things I like about this style of Korean condo is they all have heated flooring – a nice welcome when you’ve spent a day in the snow. There were restaurants, an amusement arcade and bowling alley in the hotel as well as a food court on the same floor as the ski slope, including a Starbucks (although very pricy) so we had a decent selection of food … I’ll elaborate on food in another post.
The only downside was the language barrier. Very few people spoke any english – we expected this (we don’t go to a country expecting them to speak our language but Korean is hard) – so communicating was a bit of a challenge. We used phrasebook Korean, broken english and lots of arm waving before discovering quite a few of the staff knew Mandarin. This revelation made it much easier for us to communicate.