Jan 12, 2017
The much-anticipated ski season is in full swing in Niseko on Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido. If you’re making plans to escape Australia’s summer heat and head to the powdery slopes of Japan, Raymond Rozells, YTL Hotels’ guest service manager for Kasara Niseko Village Townhouse and The Green Leaf Niseko Village, can help. Rozells has the inside scoop on Niseko’s ski adventures, onsen (hot-spring bath) relaxation and delicious dining. Here are his top tips for a Niseko ski break.
Soak your weary muscles at Yukichichibu Onsen
Having undergone a massive refurbishment, Yukichichibu Onsen has reopened in time for the 2016/17 season. Yukichichibu Onsen is a stand-out among the many onsens in Niseko for its multiple outdoor baths and the main attraction: a mud-bath for women only. Follow the locals’ lead as they grab handfuls of mud from the bottom of the onsen and smear it all over for a perfect skin-exfoliation session. Located about 30 minutes’ drive away from the main ski-resort areas, it’s a real cultural experience – the onsen is proper old-school Japanese style and off-the-radar for most tourists.
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Host a private dinner party
Featuring the best from local harvests in Hokkaido, Chef Ito’s Kaiseki Experience has been personally designed by chef Ito Masami. He offers three sumptuous kaiseki-style dinner menus (kaiseki is a traditional multi-course meal) available for in-residence dining only, for guests at the ultra-exclusive Kasara Niseko Village Townhouse. It’s the first Japanese ski resort associated with Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH), joining a rarefied collection of global ski resorts such as Jackson Hole, Zermatt, Gstaad and Courchevel. Ski in after a day at the slopes and host the ultimate dinner party without having to lift a finger!
Mizuno no Sawa offers safe slopes
A good mix of adventure and safety is essential when it comes to skiing and snowboarding. The ski patrol at Niseko Village has worked hard to open Mizuno no Sawa after avalanches in seasons past. The advanced terrain is now fully avalanche-controlled and offers some of Hokkaido’s steepest and deepest terrain in a lifted area.
Sip a highball of Nikka Whisky
This popular whisky distillery, only a short drive from Niseko, is becoming world renowned after winning multiple top-distillery awards in recent years. Nikka’s Yoichi Distillery makes traditionally distilled malt whiskies using a time-honoured technique that includes heating pot stills with finely powdered natural coal. Sample a nip at the distillery or pick up a bottle to sip fireside.
Dip into a thermal pool
Feeling nervous about undressing for a traditional Japanese onsen experience? The Green Leaf Niseko Village offers an alternative to Niseko’s renowned onsens that’s perfect for relaxing with family and friends. Keep your swimmers on while you relax in the new thermal-pool facility, which taps into natural, mineral-rich waters.
Explore Niseko’s latest food and retail space
A new three-storey building on the most visible corner of the crossroads at Grand Hirafu, Odin Place houses retail stores and several food and beverage outlets. There are three eateries including a café, bakery and The Alpinist, which serves up fondue and other pleasing alpine cuisine. A bar and hip retail brands add to the growing scene in Niseko.
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Watch the action at the 8th Asian Winter Games
Running in Sapporo and Obihiro from February 19-26, 2017, the much-anticipated Games will be the largest Asian Winter Games in the history of the Olympic Council of Asia. Winter-sport fans can easily travel from Niseko to Sapporo by car or coach to be part of the action. The Games will feature curling, ice hockey, biathlon, skiing (ski jumping, cross-country, alpine, freestyle and snowboard) and skating (figure-skating, speed skating and short track).
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Ski-in ski-out dining
Two Sticks is a fast-paced dining outlet in the heart of Niseko Village, offering a new menu selection this season. It serves up much-loved Asian and Japanese classics. The strategic location – right on the village run – means skis can be snapped off at the door for lunch during mountain adventures or après-ski. In the evenings, dress up for dinner and drinks and take advantage of the seamless access provided by the new gondolas at Niseko Village. Inspired by cutting-edge bars but with a rustic Hokkaido twist, Two Sticks is the perfect place for skiers to socialise, eat, drink and party.
Visit niseko-village.com/en/ for more information.
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