After two weeks in some of the world’s most populated urban areas, we wanted to give the kids a break from the hustle and bustle of the city. So, we escaped to Welli Hilli Park, a ski resort in the northeastern province of Gangwon-do, South Korea. Given how, as kids/teenagers/ college students, C and I both spent all of our free time between November and March on skis, little mountain towns feels very much like home for us. It was fun to see that ski resorts in the northeast of South Korea are a lot like ski resorts in the northeast of the U.S.—same set up, same vibe.
Like the mountains where we grew up in New England, Welli Hilli offers some summer- and fall-time activities, like gondola rides, rock climbing walls and various arcade and carnival games and rides. Of course, there was also a hiking trail and plenty of space to run and play.
The one innovation: golfing on the trails. I’ve never seen this before, and I can only imagine how hard it must be adjusting for golfing up or down a steep vertical.
There were many good things about our stay in Welli Hilli. It was a real pleasure being up in the mountain air and looking out into the Pyeongchang valley, which will be host to the 2018 Winter Olympics. The girls enjoyed all of the little extras – Cinderella’s carriage at the top of the gondola, feeding the sheep, trying out bumper cars, and a few other little games and treats interspersed throughout our stay. All in all, it was a quiet few days, which they needed.
Usually, the mountains are my happy place, but I found Welli Hilli to be the most frustrating stop on our trip thus far. This has nothing to do with the resort, which was fine, and everything to do with my own quirks. As an only child who needs plenty of personal space/extrovert who needs quiet to recharge/ENTJ who is instantly annoyed by inefficiency/questioner who values independence, I felt a bit trapped.
The hotel room was plenty big, but given that there wasn’t as much for us to do outside or in the hotel as we had anticipated, we spent more time in our room than usual.
I was also surprised and irritated by all of the extra fees and logistical challenges, which changed some of our plans: fourth pillow (there were only 3 for the four of us) – $15 per day; swimming at the hotel pool – $40 per time; gondola – $25 dollars per ride. Even getting out of the resort was far more difficult than we had expected: traveling to the national park that was only 13 miles away – 2 hours on a shuttle and taxi and $75. (We didn’t go, nor did we get a fourth pillow, strictly out of principle.)
When we left, N announced that it was the second-best hotel she had every been to (she’s 6, so Great Wolf Lodge takes the cake, obviously), and W seemed pretty content, too. All told, even though I was feeling a bit claustrophobic, the girls had a good time, we got to enjoy some peace and quiet in the South Korean alps for a few days, and I had many good opportunities to practice patience. I would come back to Welli Hilli, but only with skis or a board under my feet. (And maybe a car and extra pillow at my disposal.)