HOKKAIDO Tracks has been asked to reserve about 80 per cent of the apartments for sale in its first development in Furano.
Furano is a resort town in central Hokkaido that has long been a favourite summer and winter destination for Japanese tourists – in winter for skiing and in summer mainly for its famous fields of lavender and other flowers.
In recent years international visitors have started to build, from just several thousand a year in 2000 to more than 15,000 last year.
Hokkaido Tracks sales and marketing manager James Gallagher said the development, Shibisey, was the most successful release of a product the company has ever had.
"We released it to our (existing) owner database of 140 owners and took reservations on 90 per cent of the units within a week," Gallagher said.
"This is the first western-style resort property that has been offered for sale in Furano.
"The figures for Furano really add up – it reflects the numbers Niseko has enjoyed and there’s an absolute shortage of condominium accommodation that these growing numbers need."
Gallagher said the development’s strengths were that it was the first modern, western-style resort property in Furano and had strong year round rental prospects thanks to its popularity among domestic tourists in summer.
Shibisey will be the closest accommodation to one of Furano’s two main ski lifts, just 30m walk/ski away.
One downside of Furano for some is very strict enforcement of out of bounds skiing.
One of Niseko’s strong points is its lax but safe out of bounds policy, allowing skiers to find untouched powder away from the main runs.
In Furano, venturing into restricted areas often results in a stern talking to by the ski patrol, and for serious or repeat breaches, they can confiscate lift passes.
Gallagher says Furano caters for a different market who are looking for a less extreme skiing experience.
"Furano is a little different to Niseko," he said.
"It’s colder but gets more blue sky days so it’s better for fair weather skiers, and for families who don’t like the extremity of the weather in Niseko.
"For the powder hounds there’s really good powder skiing available at Kamui Links, Tomamu and Asahidake which are all located within 45 minutes and on a linked pass with Furano."
Shibisey is due for completion in time for the 2009/10 ski season.