Two new state-of-the-art ski lifts have gone into operation at Niseko Village in Hokkaido, Japan, providing ski-in and ski-out access to existing and future hotels.
The all-season lifts cut through 1.2 kilometers of ski terrain past restaurants and cafes as well as and retail and entertainment outlets.
Niseko Village is one of more than 120 ski resorts that dot the Northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, which has 323.4 kilometres of slope, reaching as high as 1,600 metres.
There are close to 200 ski lifts on the island, which average 10 to 18 metres of snow a year at the higher elevations.
The new ski lifts at Niseko Village should reduce wait time during peak ski periods, offering skiers seamless accessibility to the newly launched beginner slopes as well the entire Niseko Village area at the base of the slopes.
Both lifts will remain open until 10 pm during the winter peak ski season for the convenience of skiers wanting to ski after dark.
The lifts form part of Malaysia-based YTL Hotels’ commitment to developing the infrastructure of Niseko Village, which is one of four ski areas offering some of Japan's best skiing conditions.
The Village Express is an 816-metre long high-speed detachable lift. The first mixed lift in Japan, it has 17 six-person chairs and 17 eight-person gondolas.
The lift can transport up to 1,866 passengers per hour, taking three minutes and 20 seconds to reach its destination.
There is a station at the half-way point, providing access to the village of Two Sticks, which has food and beverage outlets as well as shopping and entertainment venues.
Upper Village Gondola
The Upper Village Gondola is a 250-metre pulsed gondola. It has four fixed-grip cabins with an hourly capacity of 426 passengers.
The lift links a beginner’s ski area with Kasara Niseko Village Townhouse and The Green Leaf Niseko Village.
The Upper Village Gondola also offers access to the top of the Village Express for access to the central village, restaurants, shopping, and hotels.
Niseko Village 101
Of all of the hundreds of ski resorts in Japan, Niseko Village offers the best nightlife. Niseko Village offers a variety of lodging options.
Situated at the foot of Mount Annupuri, Kasra Niseko Village Townhouse is a boutique hotel in the truest sense of the term.
The hotel has just eight two-story units. Each unit has three bedrooms and can accommodate up to six people.
Dining areas can be converted into extra bedrooms with tatamis.
Facilities include laundries with washing machines and tumble driers as well as heated ski gear storage areas.
Minimum stays are required during ski season
The Green Leaf Niseko Village is located at the base of Mount Niseko. The hotel has 200 rooms, a bobby shop, a base camp, a spa, an onsen (hot spring), and an outdoor thermal pool.
The hotel has a lobby lounge and an all-day dining buffet restaurant serving Japanese and international dishes.
Situated at the base of Annupuri Mountain, the Hilton Niseko Village has a bar and four restaurants, a fitness centre, a spa, and a Japanese hot spring.
A Ritz-Carlton Reserve is also planned for Niseko Village.
A year-round travel destination, Niseko Village also has two world class golf courses.
Other non-winter activities include horseback riding, hot air ballooning, hiking, and bicycling.
Niseko United Ski Area
Nestled at the southern base of Mount Niseko Annupuri, Niseko Village is situated within the Niseko United Ski Area, offering access to several inter-linked ski resorts with 2,191 acres of skiable terrain, between 300 and 1,200 metres in elevtion.
In addition to Niseko Village, Niseko United has three other major ski areas: Grand Hirafu, Annupuri, and Hannazono.
Collectively, the four ski resorts offer some of the best skiing in Japan. The Niseko All Mountain Lift Ticket offers access all four ski area.
The area averages 14 metres of powder per year. The ski season runs from late November through early May.
Niseko United has 55 kilometres of slopes and 31 ski lifts.
English is more widely spoken in Niseko United than at other ski resorts in Japan.
The largest ski area is Grand Hirafu, which has 30 ski courses suitable for beginning, intermediate, and advanced skiers. There are 15 lifts and gondolas.
The town has 10 food and beverage outlets, four shops, and several hotels, pensions, and holiday homes.
Annupuri has one resort and a collection of pensions and holiday homes. With gentler and narrower slopes, it offers only limited food and beverage options.
The Hanazono Resort Area has eight ski courses and three quad lifts of from 743 to 1,627 metres imnin length.
Formerly known as Le Point, Moiwa is Niseko’s best kept secret. There are six runs with a 470 metrer slope and a two-seater ski lift.
This ski area is not as popular as the others, offering some solace for skiers wanted to get away from the crowds.
Maiwa is not included in the Niseko All Mountain Lift Ticket scheme.
How to Get There
Niseko Village is located on the Northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
The nearest large city is Sapporo, whose New Chitose Airport is one of the busiest airports in Japan.
The airport is served by Japan Airlines, All-Nippon Airways, and several other Japanese air carriers with links to Tokyo, Osaka, and several travel destinations in Japan.
Several international airlines also serve the airport, including Air China, Cathay Pacific Airways, China Airlines, Korean Air, Singapore Airlines, and United Airlines.
International travel destinations include Bali, several cities in China, Guam, Hawaii, Hong Kong, three cities in Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
Transportation options include scheduled shuttle buses, chartered limousines, coaches, rental cars, and trains. The distance from New Chitose Airport is 110 kilometres. The distance from Sapporo is 97 kilometres.
Travel time from the city or the airport is roughly two hours, but travel times can be affected by adverse weather.