WHEN it comes to a Niseko season, they don’t come much better than this.
There was snow (and lots of it!), tourists swarmed in the streets and on the hill, and business was booming everywhere – bars were packed, you couldn’t get into many restaurants unless you booked, and at times there was barely a spare bed in all of Hirafu.
Newbie nightspot Herbie’s Umbrella Bar (right) opened its doors this season and was a huge après ski hit.
“The town took a liking to Herbie’s right from the get-go because Niseko is lacking in the European-style après ski atmosphere,” manager Dan Morgan said.
“Most afternoons it was jam-packed with people having their final ski run of the day at Herbie’s.”
Just down the road, Yuki Bar did a roaring trade this season, hosting plenty of live music, DJs and themed revelries that saw raging ‘J-parties’ spilling out into the street. Manager Miyazaki-san said more than 300 party-goers squeezed into Yuki Bar in peak season.
\“We want everyone to enjoy the local music scene," he said. "There is more that just great snow in Niseko – that was the key to our busy season,” he said.
But it wasn’t just the party scene that was heaving. Owner of Holiday Niseko Ashley Nicholls said that after offering some great deals, occupancy rose to as high as 90 per cent, and 60 per cent during the quieter periods.
“Last season was a bit of a blip because of the recession, but we have bounced back this winter,” he said.
Niseko Management Service (NMS) marketing manager Ben Thorpe said NMS had also enjoyed a fruitful year, with bookings about 20 per cent up on the 2008/09 season.
“We believe these markets will continue to expand and look forward to introducing people to the Niseko experience,” he said.