Niseko Village, with its slopes blanketed in pixie-dust snow and its mix of high-end accommodation, sophisticated shops, delectable restaurants and restorative onsen, is making a name for itself as Asia’s — perhaps the world’s — most coveted luxury ski destination.
THERE IS NO GREATER LUXURY THAN FRESH SNOW, AND POWDER CONNOISSEURS KNOW WHERE TO COME FOR THE WORLD’S FINEST FLURRIES: NISEKO.
The silence and expanse of snow engulf me. In front of me a rolling field of white is studded with snow-laden pines and in the distance Mount Yotei, a dormant stratovolcano, rises into the clouds. For those of us who love winter sports, there is no greater luxury than fresh snow, and powder connoisseurs know where to come for the world’s finest flurries: Niseko. Here the white flakes are so smooth and dry they call it “champagne powder”, thanks to weightless snowfall that travels across the Sea of Japan from Siberia.
On the 1,308-metre-high Niseko Annupuri mountain, lifts and gondolas provide access to more than 100 runs, from virgin off-piste trails to Mizuno no Sawa, the peak with the steepest and most challenging terrain. While the snow is truly superlative, the accommodation options at Niseko Village — a collection of ski-in ski-out hotels, shops and restaurants at the mountain’s base — are also world-class in calibre. Hilton Niseko Village and Green Leaf Niseko Village offer spacious rooms with panoramic views of the slopes or Mount Yotei, but for the ultimate in elegance, book one of the Kasara Niseko Village Townhouses. These handsome two-storey, three-room homes exemplify the simple beauty of Japanese living, while the attentive service and optional perks, like having a personal chef prepare a custom dinner in the comfort of your own townhouse, add that touch of magic that makes for a lasting memory.
After a legendary morning on the slopes — already firmly stamped in my mental scrapbook — followed by a hearty bowl of miso ramen at Goshiki Restaurant, I’m ready for a soak in the hot springs. I walk to Green Leaf Niseko’s outdoor onsen, a Japanese-style natural-stone pool, and wade into its steamy, mineral-rich waters. A branch weighted with snow buckles and a cloud of white powder plops into the onsen, melting instantly. I’m the only person here and the quiet and calm sink so bone-deep that it feels like maybe I’m the only person anywhere.