Niseko, the best ski destination in Japan
Words Rupert Orchard
Niseko’s reputation as one of the best powder-skiing destinations in world and the only truly international ski resort in Japan were recognised last year when it was awarded Japan’s Best Ski Resort at the World Ski Awards. The area is treated to 15 metres of the world’s lightest, driest powder snow annually, attracting skiing and snowboarding devotees from around the world.
It is also home to one of the most vibrant international dining and drinking scenes in Japan. Michelin star chefs and wine and whisky sommeliers call Niseko home, lured by the natural beauty of the region, the quality of local produce and a diverse international clientele.
In addition to world-class skiing and dining, the area is blessed with a bounty of mineral-rich hot spring water and an array of traditional Japanese onsen (public baths), which have become as much a part of the après ski culture as a glass of Glühwein on the Austrian ski slopes.
Niseko’s growth in international popularity over the last ten years has given rise to the development of many premium hotels, condos and holiday services. New accommodations are frequently appearing in the area, however there are a few options that are truly a cut above the rest for quality and value.
Top 5 accommodations in Niseko
Sekka Kan was judged to be Japan’s best ski chalet at last year’s World Ski Awards and for good reason too. The beautifully designed boutique apartment block sits in the centre of Niseko’s Hirafu village, a short walk to the Ace Family chairlift and just steps from some of Niseko’s best restaurant and bars. Despite this, the location offers maximum privacy and comfort.
The apartments combine the best of Western luxury living and contemporary Japanese design with high ceilings, the latest appliances and Nespresso machines. The real winner for us, however, is the top-floor balcony jacuzzi. Ski the deep Japanese powder all day and follow it up with a relaxing soak in the outdoor tub, a couple of drinks and stunning views of the nearby volcano Mt. Yotei.
Ki Niseko is a stylish boutique ski-in ski-out resort hotel, with doorstep access to Niseko’s world-class powder skiing. Only 50 metres from the Niseko Grand Hirafu high-speed gondola, it’s the perfect location for the kind of skier who values convenience and time on the slopes.
Better still, the private ski valet means you can step through the door after a big day of riding and pass your equipment straight to the friendly staff for overnight tuning and care. Add premium Japanese dining, a private onsen and stunning mountain views to the mix and it’s not hard to see why this new hotel has people talking.
The beauty of a stay at Yama Shizen is that you get the whole Niseko experience. A mere four-minute walk to the Hirafu high-speed gondola, its upper-village location also offers easy access to a range of restaurants and bars that sit in the vicinity of the 39-apartment complex.
Guests can also make use of the on-snow ski valet service that’s included when you stay, which enables you to drop off your gear right next to the gondola before taking a relaxed stroll back to the apartment. Yama Shizen rooms offer the best in quality, comfort and privacy, making it an excellent choice for a worry-free stay in one of the world’s best powder destinations.
Brand new for the 2014/15 ski season, Nozomi Views sets the bar for modern luxury alpine accommodation.
Located on Niseko’s main road (Hirafu Zaka), the apartment is as stylish as it is convenient, with the Ace Family Chairlift just a two-minute walk from the property. It’s also perfectly located to take in one of the best views of Mt. Yotei, and sits adjacent to Niseko’s premier ski rental and retail facility, Rhythm Snowsports.
Youtei Tracks is an iconic Niseko building in a premium, upper-village location. Completed in 2006, the units feature large windows allowing for maximum natural light, furnishings that have been hand selected by Australian interior designer Lynn Malone, plus premium appliances and facilities.
The complex contains a ski room with a fully-equipped tuning bench, however guests may prefer to use the complimentary, on-snow ski valet service instead.
So if you are a bit of a powder hound or just want to try out a new sport in this stunning part of the world, skiing in Niseko, Japan, should absolutely be up there on your bucket list.
Source: DO IT NOW