Foreign investors keep their distance from Niseko

The winter ski resort district of Niseko in Hokkaido has been home to the highest land price increases in Japan for the past few years as it undergoes a rapid change into a high-class ski destination for Asia’s wealthy. However, the boom times may have come to a crashing halt as the novel coronavirus wreaks havoc with the tourist-dependent town.

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Aussie tourists turn their back on Niseko

Australians have been a long staple of Niseko’s winter crowd. But, recent tourist numbers show a shifting trend as Aussies shun the slopes of Niseko for the ski fields in Honshu.

In 2018, foreign tourists spent a total of 465,000 nights in Niseko. Visitors from Hong Kong, Singapore and other countries in Asia are up, while visitor numbers from Australia are down by much as 20% since 2015.

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Niseko’s luxury hotel and villa boom continues

There is no end in sight to the current construction boom in the ski resort town of Niseko in Hokkaido, with a number of luxury resorts and private villas under development. Spacious homes and apartments can easily fetch upwards of several hundred million Yen (several million USD). Rising construction costs and a labor shortage, however, are putting a strain on developers.

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Niseko luxury condominium/hotel opens this month

aya-niseko-2

AYA Niseko, a luxury ski-in ski-out condominium/hotel located on the Grand Hirafu Resort ski slope, opened its doors this month. The 79-unit building is already almost 90% sold out, with the final few apartments expected to sell over the ski season.

The majority of apartments were in the 88 ~ 90 sqm range and priced from 100 ~ 400 million Yen (approx. 850,000 ~ 3.4 million USD), while a 370 sqm penthouse, which has already sold, was priced at 600 million Yen (approx. 5.1 million USD). Apartment prices are similar to what can be found in central Tokyo.

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Thai developer plans luxury villas for Niseko

Niseko Gran HirafuPACE Development, a developer of luxury real estate projects in Thailand, is creating a high-end holiday home subdivision in Niseko, Hokkaido. PACE acquired Dean & DeLuca USA in 2014, and is currently developing MahaNakhon, a 77-storey mixed-use skyscraper in Bangkok and Thailand’s tallest building.

The developer plans to build approximately 37 holiday villas on the 14 hectare site in Niseko. Villas will be marketed for sale to Thai buyers, with prices expected to be somewhere in the range of 1.5 ~ 4 million USD each.

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Tokyu plans luxury apartments for Niseko

Niseko Tokyu Resort, part of the Tokyu Group and operator of the Niseku Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu ski resort, will be developing a luxury condominium near the ski field.

Construction is scheduled to begin in July, with completion expected at the end of 2016.

Over the years a number of foreign developers have been steadily building smaller condominiums in the Niseko Hirafu area, but this will be the first project in 20 years that can accommodate over 300 residents.

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Foreign developers caught by zoning regulations in Niseko

Niseko Grand HirafuDevelopment in parts of Niseko’s ski fields is being stalled due to inconsistencies between national and prefectural government building approvals.

In recent years, a number of hotels in Niseko have been purchased by foreign funds, closed down and in many cases demolished. The foreign developers acquired the hotels with the aim of building condominium-type hotels and resort apartments which would then be sold to wealthy foreigners.

However, a number of these sites have been sitting vacant without any signs of construction.

Why the hold up?

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