When AYA Niseko opened its doors onto the Hirafu ski slopes one year ago, it raised expectations for what constitutes premium ski resort accommodation in Japan. Celebrating its one-year anniversary this month, ski-in/ski-out is just the start of what has made AYA Niseko one of Niseko’s favourite buildings.
When it opened in December 2016 it was the most fully-featured condominium in Niseko to date, featuring indoor and outdoor communal onsen hot spring baths as well as private family onsen, gym, yoga studio, spa, art gallery, kids club, restaurant, and high-end outdoor clothing and accessories retail shop. Not to mention premium room quality and amenity.
It also captured the imagination with its creative architecture and striking woven steel design features. Almost like a work of art itself, AYA Niseko’s exterior facade is wrapped in steel lattice work, a feature which carries throughout the interior, and from which the building takes its name.
Aya is an ancient form of weaving used for imperial and Buddhist clothing. Aya patterns and artwork – including central glass showcase voids featuring stone gardens and wooden sculptures – are a central element in the design of the building, not to mention it houses a dedicated art gallery itself.
One year on, and the impressive canvas has been given an overwhelming tick of approval by guests who have stayed, not to mention visitors who have experienced the art gallery – Kiyoe Gallery – where there are regular public exhibitions and events, yoga studio, gym, and new restaurant, Ginger.
Ryoichi Shimoji, AYA Niseko’s hotel manager since September, said bookings were strong and as well as the features of the building, they aimed to impress with their service. “Guests choose AYA Niseko because it impressed them above all others – and that is what we aim to perfect this year,” Shimoji-san says. “We want to deliver exceptional service, and create a customer base that will choose AYA Niseko time and again.”
AYA Niseko’s three Penthouses and two ground-floor Residences are among the biggest and most extravagantly appointed apartments in Niseko. Ranging from 3 to 4 bedrooms (all with ensuite maid’s rooms), all have real hot spring-fed onsen baths. In the penthouses these are on the outdoor terraces amongst pillows of powder snow, with views of the ski slopes or out to Mt Yotei. They are indoor in the residences, which also have exclusive access direct to the ski runs. These are literally the closest apartments to a ski lift in Niseko.
AYA Niseko’s other apartments are similarly spacious and exquisitely furnished with bespoke furniture and designer kitchens and bathrooms. Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall windows amplify the beauty of the surrounds.
There’s an apartment type to suit every travel party from one or two guests in a hotel-style suite, to 10 guests across 374m2 in a 4-bedroom penthouse with extra maid’s room. All rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows and views of either the ski slopes, Mt Yotei or the snowbound forest alongside.
Shimoji-san says AYA Niseko is also focussing on helping add to the year-round atmosphere and amenity of the Hirafu community, regularly hosting events and activities and providing health and fitness services.
He encourages locals and visitors alike to keep an eye on what’s going on and what the building can offer and drop in. “Please come to the gallery, come to events, try the restaurant or the gym and yoga classes, or a treatment at the spa. Everyone is welcome, so please come inside!”
Following a visit from Santa himself over Christmas, they will celebrate the New Year with sake and with traditional Japanese performances.
• Kiyoe Gallery exhibitions are free and open to the public, with admission fees for some special events.
• The gym is open to the public for ¥1000 per visit, and visitors can pay an extra ¥1000 to use the communal onsen after their visit (otherwise the communal onsen is for staying guests only).
• The yoga studio is open to the public in winter – see www.powderyoga.com for class times and prices.
• To book restaurant Ginger call 0136 55 6293 or go to www.ginger.restaurant
For more information about AYA Niseko and to book, go to: www.ayaniseko.com