An Aspen emerges in Asia, with luxury to spare.
It was the snow that first brought the Australian ski bums here, the great powder blown in by Siberian cold fronts. Then chefs and designers discovered that this sleepy town on Japan’s northern Hokkaido island was actually a lovely spot in itself, with natural hot springs, family-owned inns and spectacular views of impossibly symmetrical Mount Yotei. Now with the development of stylish restaurants and a network of fashion-forward chalets (like the foodie must stop Kamimura and the 10 zenlike lofts at Suiboku), the well-heeled are arriving on direct flights from all over Asia to Sapporo’s New Chitose Airport, creating the region’s answer to Aspen and Courchevel.
Expect that to intensify when a high-speed train line, now planned to begin service in 2015, cuts the trip up from Tokyo to under four hours. This month the fully revamped 200-room Green Leaf Niseko Village, stylishly renovated by the New York-based Alexandra Champalimaud, is reopening its doors, while a Banyan Tree and Tadao Ando -designed Capella complex are in the pipeline. Ondine Cohane