One of the coolest things about Hakuba and its villages is their age.
You can feel the history and culture as you walk the streets and laneways, particularly in the main area, Happo Village where you pass stone Buddha statues, hot-spring footbaths, shrines and traditional buildings that for brief moments can make you feel like you’re on the set of an Akira Kurosawa movie.
Along with that comes plenty of ageing Western-style hotels and lodges that have well and truly past their used by date. That is changing with lots of refurbishment taking place in existing building, and excitingly a surge in brand new accommodation development, particularly in the chalet market.
Mountain Side however, is the first major new contemporary condominium apartment to be built in Hakuba in the modern era, and it’s set a high benchmark for those to follow. Located directly across the road from the Kokusai ski lift, with all apartments owning eyeball-filling views of the Happo ski slopes and ranges in the distance, this could be called ski-in-ski-out… the only thing getting in your way is a small road you should probably take your skis off to cross.
A grand reception
It’s always nice to get the VIP treatment when you pull into a five-star hotel driveway and be greeted by concierge right outside the front door. It’s even nicer when you arrive at a self-serviced apartment and get the very same service. The Japanese are known for their impeccable hospitality, and you know you will be looked after as soon as you are greeted by onsite managers Ayako and Yui.
Mountains of space
After signing in at reception you will be taken to your apartment and shown how to use the electronic keypad security lock. Inside and first things first, check out the living area. It’s obvious the designers aimed to give these apartments a sense of space, and they really nailed it. With 2.7m high ceilings and full-height wrap around windows extending your world out towards the mountains, the living and dining area is truly somewhere you can stretch out and unwind.
Oh so roomy
Heading back down the hallway and you will find all three bedrooms have ensuites, with the master room having a deep, luxurious bath. All rooms come with split king-size beds to allow complete customisation for your sleeping arrangements.
Wine and dine onsite at Luce
To top it all off, Mountain Side has a fantastic onsite restaurant on the ground floor. With views out to the slopes and a laidback, alpine atmosphere, Luce is a top spot to unwind with an après drink, and it also makes a lot of sense to stay on and order a meal from a rather extensive Western/Japanese menu. The only problem I have now is do I end this post with “bon appetite” or “itadakimasu”?!
Hakuba can be hit and miss with a lot of the older accommodation in town. If you’re not a gambler, I can assure you Mountain Side is a hit. Virtually ski-in/ski-out, right alongside the main village, and well and truly five-star quality and comfort. This place has been designed for the ultimate Hakuba ski holiday.