Passionate about hitting the slopes, but tired of the same old trails and lift lines? It’s time to broaden your horizons—to the other side of the world. North America and Europe aren’t the only places where you can carve a serious curve. This year, consider crossing the globe for a truly one-of-a-kind adventure. Your skiing destination? Niseko, Japan.
There is a luxury-building boom this year in Niseko, the site of a small collection of ski resorts clustered on a dormant volcano on the southwestern peninsula of Japan’s Hokkaido island. Millionaires and billionaires are building sprawling mansions to take advantage of slopes that collect about 15 feet of snow every season—more than any other ski resort area in the world. (No wonder it has the highest increase in land prices anywhere in Japan.)
For now, most of the hotels are small, like the cozy nine-room Kimamaya, with its dramatic contemporary restaurant, The Barn by Odin, where they serve oysters in snow powder and sushi foie gras. But in 2019 and 2020, other luxury hotel chains will open there hoping to draw more tourists to the slopes. So get your fresh tracks in now, while you still can.
The Barn by Odin restaurant exterior is inspired by traditional Hokkaido farm architecture; Kimamaya is known for its luxuriant spa tubs.
Criminal Minds star and budding Japanophile Matthew Gray Gubler. The snow enthusiast spent many happy winters on the slopes of Mount Charleston, near his hometown of Las Vegas. While the actor doesn’t travel much, an epic trip to Tokyo and Kyoto a few years ago left a lasting impression. Our favorite Japanese ski resort, Kimamaya, complete with sumptuous moku (wooden) or ishi (stone) spa tubs, would appeal to his favorite pastimes of frolicking in fresh powder and soaking in a good bath.
By Anthony Patch | Originally published in Watch! Magazine, February 2017
Photo Credits: Christopher Ross (Gubler). Glen Claydon/Courtesy Design Hotels (Kimamaya Niseko).
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