ACCIDENT, luck, undiscovered natural talent or something else altogether, it doesn’t seem to matter now. The Suiboku – developed by Hong Kong-based colleagues CJ Wysocki and Mike Jones – is a striking block of 10 luxury apartments on Hirafu-Zaka Street, about 100m uphill from the traffic lights.
On its opening in January, 2009, it was clear that this building was different to anything else in Niseko. Upon entering you are instantly transported away from the hustle and bustle of Hirafu’s streets into a chic, modern loft apartment that wouldn’t be out of place in London, New York or Paris. The design combines an industrial aesthetic with the fundamentals of Japanese interior design and architecture, and has received great reviews, featuring in Hong Kong Home Journal and the current German edition of Architectural Digest.
Wysocki and Jones had wanted to build a ski retreat for their families, and were blown away by Hirafu on a visit four years ago. “Our intention was to build two places for ourselves, but when we looked at the cost of building we concluded that we needed to add units to sell and some commercial space to rent to be able to pay for construction,” Wysocki says.
“Although many people shared development nightmare stories with us, the combination of working with Niseko Real Estate, West Canada Homes, architects Chris Taylor and Atelier BNK was completely pain-free. Chris Taylor came up with the conceptual design, after viewing hundreds of pictures that we supplied of features and designs that we liked. Atelier BNK provided the real brains and heart of the project in the form of Ishiguro Koichi, the leader of the BNK architectural team, who designed the Sapporo Superdome stadium”.
Their initial idea was to finance their own two lofts by selling the other eight. The duo sold four of the eight lofts and rented the commercial space to izakaya restaurant A-Bu-Cha 2, but had two buyers default on purchases, so for the remaining four lofts, they have reduced the purchase prices by the deposits they forfeited. “We arrived at the sales prices of the lofts by taking the construction cost and dividing by eight, which is the number of for sale lofts. C’est tout,” Wysocki says.
The bookings for this season have been very strong, with all demographics – couples, very large families, extreme skiing move-makers, a couple of celebrities and some groups of professionals from Tokyo – staying at The Suiboku already this season.
There is even a concierge service, and they are working hard to get the service level up to the very high expectations of Asian travellers.
So do Wysocki and Jones have any further plans to develop in Niseko? “We are without a portfolio and have no plans other than to enjoy Suiboku to the fullest.”
Real estate inquiries to Niseko Real Estate www.nisekorealestate.com.