Rising 1,308 meters above sea level, Niseko Annupuri is the center of attention for Japan’s top winter sports destination. The mountain, is home to three main ski areas with villages at the base of each. Hirafu is the main village, not to be confused with the newly named Niseko Village (formerly Niseko Higashiyama) and the third is Annupuri Village, said to be the most quiet of the three areas in Niseko.
Matt and Michael Naiman, originally from Philadelphia, are brothers who regularly find retreat from their busy Tokyo lives in Annupuri. Matt, owner of Pure nightclubs in Tokyo and Osaka and Shibuya’s The Ruby Room, feels Niseko is the perfect getaway for someone with 10 years in the nightclub business. When a friend said there were development opportunities in Annupuri, Matt was on a plane the next day. With his brother, a fund manager in Tokyo, they opened Annupuri Lodge in December 2007.
“I have fond childhood memories of spending winter holidays in my grandparents’ ski house in Vermont,” says Matt.” I thought it would be great to create that kind of comfortable, fun-filled atmosphere in a ski lodge in Japan.
Having recently renovated the lodge, the brothers wanted to create something “modern yet natural.” The lodge comfortably sleeps up to 30, and an open kitchen serves breakfast and gives guests the option of cooking their own lunch and dinner. An open living room is “designed for luxurious comfort,” complete with fireplace, 50-inch TV, DVD library and a Nintendo Wii. There is also a billiard table and a collection of games for adults and kids to enjoy.
Guests can pop across the road to a fantastic brick oven pizza place or duck around the corner to the all-you-can-eat Korean BBQ. The lodge’s own Lucky Fingers Bar is a chic addition and reflects the owner’s entertainment background with a real Roulette table and purple velvet walls. “The aesthetic is a kind of James Bond meets Twin Peaks,” Matt adds.
Only a one-minute walk from the Annupuri Gondola, and a five-minute walk to the onsen, Annupuri Lodge is inexpensive, modern and family friendly. Winter rates are ¥8,000 per person for adults and ¥7,000 per person for kids under 12.
With some of the world’s finest powder riding and backcountry right outside their doorstep, it is no wonder the lodge attracts snowboarders and skiers from all over the world. From 2009, the lodge will open for the Green Season with cheaper rates, making it a fantastic year-round place to stay.
Address: 482-2 Aza Niseko, Niseko, Abuta-gun, Hokkaido 048-1511
Tel: 090-1851-6663 (in Japan) or +81-90-1851-6663 (from overseas)
By Air: Domestic and international flights arrive at New Chitose Airport and the Annupuri Lodge is 105 kilometers by bus from the airport (about two hours).
By Bus: From Sapporo or New Chitose Airport, fares are ¥4,600 round-trip, and reservations can be made by the staff at Annupuri Lodge.