Imagine a week in one of the best ski destinations in the world, without ever having to leave the comfort of home. A spacious bedroom with a desk to check your emails, a living room with mountain views to sip your morning coffee in, a full kitchen to prepare your favourite foods and ample space to truly relax while you recover from an adventurous day on the slopes. It might sound unusual to some, but this is the reality of a ski holiday when you book a holiday rental as your Winter accommodation.
Holiday apartments and villas are a fairly new concept in Japan and east Asia, but have been commonplace in alpine resorts in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia/NZ for over a decade. Iconic ski towns like Whistler-Blackcomb, Aspen, Queenstown and Chamonix are made up of apartment complexes and townhouses, designed to give guests the comfort of a self-contained building with all the luxurious features of an alpine destination.
True to it's colloquial name 'the Aspen of Asia', Niseko has a high percentage of holiday rental properties spread across its 4 villages. With the exception of major hotel chains like the Park Hyatt, Alpen Hotel, Hilton, Ritz-Carlton and Northern Resort, the majority of accommodations (~55%) in the region are self-contained apartments/villas or Japanese-style pensions. Combine this with the Western-style architecture, the plethora of ethnic restaurants and the ever-growing foreigner population, and you've got Niseko - a resort that has an indisputable reputation among Japanese people as a unique resort with an international feel.
For those who are used to hotels, guest houses and hostels when travelling, this blog is here to explain the benefits of choosing a holiday rental for your next trip to Niseko, and what to expect when you arrive.
Benefits of a holiday rental accommodation
- More space
Holiday rentals offer more space and comfort compared to a hotel room. Long stays in a hotel can often have guests missing the comforts of home - a full bathroom, a living area and most of all, a kitchen. You'll get all of this and more when you stay in a holiday rental, as they are owned and maintained like a regular apartment or villa, and simply rented out when the owner isn't in town. You'll have all the facilities and amenities you have at home, but with extra touches like driving service, 24hr assistance and the expertise of a local front desk team.
2. Food, glorious food!
A notable benefit of staying in a property with a full kitchen (including convection oven, dishwasher etc) is the ability to make all the favourite foods you like, and enjoy communal meals with loved ones. A popular meal among guests in Niseko is nabe - a Japanese-style hotpot dish with meat, vegetables, tofu, noodles... anything you like! You can order nabe sets (including shabu shabu, seafood nabe or chicken nabe) in advance so it's ready in your accommodation to enjoy during your trip. Nabe is a very common Winter food in Japan, so it's a great way to experience Japanese culture your own way. For cost-savvy travelers, preparing food in a self-contained accommodation can also save a lot of money over the period of your stay, as eating out at restaurants for every meal can add up quick.
3. Better for families and groups
Instead of having to book 2 or 3 hotel rooms to fit your group, booking a 2+ bedroom apartment or villa makes it easy to stay together and enjoy quality time while on holiday. There's no fear of being assigned rooms on different floors (or even buildings), and you can share meals and downtime together in the comfort of your accommodation.
4. In-house activities are easy!
With an entire house or apartment at your disposal, the opportunities are endless. Feeling tight after a big day on the mountain? Invite a yoga instructor to teach a private class in your living room or have a relaxing in-house massage. Want to taste authentic Hokkaido cuisine? You can have a private chef prepare a multi-course dinner right from your kitchen. Want to take the whole family on holiday, even the fur-babies? Stay in our dog-friendly property complete with an onsite dog-friendly izakaya. With ample space, you could have the holiday of a lifetime without ever having to leave your accommodation (although we recommend getting out on the slopes at least once 😉).
What to expect when staying in a holiday rental
- It is self-catered (ie. no meals)
While many Japanese-style hotels will come with breakfast or half-board, holiday rentals encourage guests to enjoy the offerings of the many restaurants scattered around Niseko, or to do a grocery run before you arrive and make food in the kitchen (only if you feel like it, you're on holiday after all!)
2. Housekeeping is every couple of days
When you stay in a self-contained apartment or villa, housekeeping will only visit every second day, with minor cleans including towel changes, rubbish removal and a quick tidy-up and major cleans (usually 1 per stay) including a minor clean plus linen changes and a more thorough tidy-up. Since self-contained accommodations are significantly larger than hotel rooms, housekeeping teams have less capacity to do a full clean for all properties everyday (especially in busy periods like Christmas and New Year), so they do their best to keep you comfortable and clean with semi-regular visits.
3. The check-in point may not be at your accommodation
Holiday rental companies are different to large hotel operators, since they manage and rent many buildings scattered in one area/region. Along with the reality that there is not a front desk space at every property, holiday rental companies will usually have one location for their front desk/ guest service team to assist guests and facilitate check-ins and check-outs. Please make sure to check the check-in location for your property before making your way to your destination, as you may have to stop-in at another building to check-in and pick up your keys.
Interested in staying in a holiday rental?
Then check out our range of self-contained accommodations below!