Niseko finally opened up for ski season (after two years of pandemic closure) in December, and now that initial hiccoughs with arrival processes have smoothened, and the furore of the festive seasons has settled, best believe it’s time to plan your snow-cation.
Whether it’s your first ski and snow holiday or your tenth, these luxury stays are worth getting excited about.
Opened in 2022
Situated in Upper Hirafu, Sansui features 55 sleek boutique apartments, ranging from studios to 4-bedroom penthouses. The spacious stays were designed by award-winning Japanese architect Makoto Nakayama, and frame a central atrium that is open to the elements, allowing plenty of natural light and views of snowflakes gracefully floating to the ground. Each apartment is complete with amenities such as Bose speakers and Nespresso machines, plus a functional kitchen, washer, dryer, dining and sitting area, and bedrooms which can be separated from the living areas by sliding doors.
On the ground level, the restaurant and boutique operated by Lupicia take care of your breakfast and gourmet snacking needs, while Sushi Shin by Masaki Miyakawa (whose restaurant Sushi Miyakawi in Sapporo was awarded three Michelin stars in 2017) levels up with mouthwatering omakase. At the ‘basement’ level, Hokkaido Ski Club offers ski equipment, rentals and lessons, allowing you to easily descend on the Family slope from the ski-in, ski-out convenience of Sansui. The hotel also offers onsens, two spacious playrooms for toddlers and older kids, complimentary shuttle service, and a host of enriching activities for guests to partake in during their stay.
Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono
Opened in 2020
The grand dame of Niseko if there ever was one, Park Hyatt is not new-new, but there was very little time for international travellers to experience her before Japan’s borders were closed due to the pandemic. So we treat her like she’s new, and she’s on the list because she is fabulous. Being the only ski-in, ski-out stay at Hanazono sets her apart, then there are the beautifully appointed, sophisticated spaces created by Melbourne-based BAR Studio, with floor-to-ceiling windows to make the most of its spectacular location, and an array of luxurious textures in a muted palette of earth tones which convey ultimate elegance.
The 100 rooms, suites, residences, and penthouses are thoughtfully planned with every little luxury, and 11 dining experiences, including the Hokkaido sake pairing and Binchotan grilled specialties at Robata, Pierre Hermé pâtisseries and Molière Montagne – the Niseko outpost of chef Hiroshi Nakamichi’s three Michelin star Molière in Sapporo. The hotel also offers a 25-metre heated indoor pool, male and female onsens, ski valet service and Niseko Sports which offers premium equipment rental and retail. It is part of the award-winning integrated resort development, Hanazono Resort Niseko, which also boasts a new gondola and 6-seater chair lifts with heated leather seats.
Opened in 2022
On the other side of the spectrum, Shiguchi is an intimate but no less luxurious experience. Here, the luxury is that of being ensconced deep in the Hanazono forests, surrounded by trees and trickling streams, in a century old kominka (wooden farmhouse) transported from Aizu, then planned, retrofitted, and curated to provide the best possible cultural and artistic escape in nature. Highlighting Niseko’s pristine setting, these contemporary stays were conceptualised by Shouya Grigg, the creative director behind the iconic Somoza Gallery and Zaborin ryokan. ‘Shiguchi’ refers to the joint connecting two pieces of wood, used in traditional Japanese architecture in lieu of nails, and retained and revered here. A total of five two and three-bedroom kominkas are available, with private baths fed by natural hot springs in each, and plenty of peaceful common spaces to unwind within. The in-house chef and sommelier provide exceptional meals focusing on Hokkaido’s seasonal best.
Higashiyama Niseko Village
Opened in 2020
The 50-suite Higashiyama Niseko Village is one of only five Ritz-Carlton Reserves in the world, the first of its kind in Japan, and the newest addition to the integrated, all-season alpine resort of Niseko Village. The driving concept here is kachou fuugetsu meaning ‘flower, bird, wind, moon’ – the experience of enveloping and discovering oneself in Nature. Entering the lobby, guests are immediately awestruck by the stunning view, and here, each capacious suite faces majestic Mount Yotei or offers a close-up of Mount Niseko Annupuri, a win-win either way. A ten-seater sushi bar serves morsels of the region’s best, alongside an all-day dining restaurant. Naturally, it’s ski-in, ski-out with the Niseko Village Ski School supporting all rental and lesson needs. Not as quiet as Hanazono or Annupuri, yet removed from the bustling Hirafu, the Niseko Village location is another plus, with just the right bit of buzz; some shopping, a variety of restaurants, and uncrowded slopes.
Opened in 2022
With 190 luxury suites ranging from studios to four-bedroom penthouses, Setsu features contemporary Japanese design aesthetics and a myriad of activities and gastronomic experiences to select from. After a long day at the slopes, there’s nothing more relaxing than a soak in the indoor and outdoor onsen, topped off with massage therapy at Rikka Spa. For apres, there’s the bespoke wine bar Park90 – made popular in Taipei and Singapore, and dining experiences run the gamut from Tempura Araki to ocean-to-table kaiseki at Sushi Kato Inori, yuzu ramen at Afuri, méli mélo – Yuki No Koe – a collaboration between Michelin-starred chef Hironori Sato and Hokkaido cafe Baristart founder Masaya Ishii, and the soon-to-open Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House. The resort is located in the heart of Hirafu, an 8-minute walk or 2-min ride via private resort shuttle to the slopes.
(Hero image credit : Park Hyatt)
(Featured image credit: Setsu)