Big business backs Niseko
WHEN the history of Niseko is written, the latter half of 2007 will be seen as a major turning point in its transformation as a truly international winter resort.
In the run-up to the season this year, the judgement of the pioneer Australian developers has been well and truly vindicated, with significant international players moving in to stake their claims on the area’s future.
Simon Robinson, Hokkaido Tracks Resort Properties president, puts it simply: “The difference is now it’s moved out of the league of the private entrepreneur to big corporate companies, which should be underpinning everybody’s confidence. These guys don’t come in to markets that are speculative or if they have doubts about growth potential.”
Niseko Property director Ruskin Mclennan is similarly positive about the significance of recent months.
“2007 was the year Niseko went from a funky, quirky little ski village to an international resort.”
While Hirafu remains firmly in the grip of Australian entrepreneurs, in the short space of a few months this year:
- Citigroup - themselves new owners of the Higashiyama Prince Hotel - appointed Hilton Hotels Corporation to manage its conversion, re-branding and operations into the Hilton Niseko Village, to be launched in July next year;
- Hong Kong IT mega-company Pacific Century Premium Developments (PCPD) bought out Nihon Harmony’s interest in the Hanazono ski area and has hinted at a substantial development;
- And Major Japanese developer Zephyr bought the Moiwa ski resort and is proceeding rapidly with redevelopment and marketing plans.
Persistent rumors continue to link the Four Seasons group to Hanazono’s future, and similarly, rumors about an upcoming luxury Aman Resorts development in the Niseko area are not going away. Aman first ventured into winter resorts with the spectacular Amangani, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and will bring a real touch of international class.
With underpinning like this, it is no wonder the voices of the sceptics are at last being silenced.
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