It used to be that Niseko in Hokkaido, Japan was an exclusive haven for foreign travellers looking for winter adventures that will not break the bank. Now these backpackers will have to share Niseko with more people. The city welcomes the heavy inflow of tourists enticed by the promise that they’ll get to experience Aspen in Asia and more.
All signs indicate the ski resort town is on upward trajectory, a path that is regarded as nearly miraculous because just over a decade ago Niseko was teetering on the brink of failure. There was a “dramatic change” that occurred in the past 10 years and the sleepy town is bursting into something more exciting.
Business is certainly booming, the South China Morning Post reported, and keen players are making sure they will not come late in the game.
Big Businesses Are Coming In
Niseko rapidly rising did not escape the eyes of giant property investors. From Hong Kong, Pacific Century Premium Developments decided to make a big play with projects that will see the construction of two premium hotel brands and around 3000 apartment units.
The lead man of the massive property development is Richard Li, heir to Hong Kong property tycoon Li Ka-shing, intends to initially pour in $930 million on the ongoing projects, and among them the Park Hyatt Hotel. The chance is high Pacific Century will increase its presence in Niseko as the city is deemed ripe for sustainable growth.
Another Hong Kong developer appeared to share the same optimism on Niseko. The Pavilions will soon operate hotels and resorts in and around the resort town. By 2019, The Pavilions Niseko will open its doors in Hirafu, still part of the Niseko region, and soon to follow is The Ginto Residences that will comprise of 31 luxurious villas.
It’s clear that the Pavilions management people are happy to be in Niseko.
“It’s easy to do business here and you can own the land in your own name,” Gordon Oldham, the company founder, told SCMP, underscoring the fact that the city has become a magnet not only for tourists but also for business.
What Visitors Love About Niseko
Thanks to the influx of investment and arrivals of holidaymakers, Niseko has magically transformed into the Aspen of Asia. According to Riccardo Tossani, an architect with extensive experience in Japanese property development, the city now has “all of the trappings of luxury that entails.”
And to think that from the late 1990s and the mid-part of 2000s, Niseko was a favourite hideaway by backpackers who then made do with budget accommodations. Now they share the resort town, and are even outnumbered, with foreign visitors that have more money to spend and with greater expectations in terms of vacation experience.
“From 2005, young professionals and families from Australia began visiting, together with wealthy individuals from Hong Kong, China, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Korea,” the SCMP report said.
In many cases, these visitors head to Niseko not only for the winter attractions such as skiing but also for the summer activities like hiking, kayaking, golf and other outdoor activities. In essence, Niseko has become an all-year holiday destination.
In addition, frequent visitors to Niseko have become accustomed to both the city’s year-round attractions and luxurious accommodation options.