During the last decade, the Niseko ski region in northern Japan has gone through a dizzying transformation, with local ryokans and humble ski pensions making way for luxury condominiums and million dollar chalets. On our latest excursion exploring what’s new and jaw dropping in Niseko, our team was lucky enough to check into Panorama Niseko for two nights. Spoiler alert – these stunning chalets are next-level luxurious.
Introducing Panorama Niseko
Panorama Niseko is a collection of six luxury chalets with a further six to be completed by November 2019. The estate is built on the outer edge of Hirafu Village – the gateway to Niseko if you will – close to the Shiribetsu River. Besides the exclusive chalets, the estate has its own club house with a Japanese-French fusion restaurant, café, concierge and shuttle service – but more on that later.
When completed, Panorama Niseko will feature four different chalet categories all with their own unique layout, but they all share the same high pedigree features, including underfloor heating, private natural onsens, gas fireplaces and exclusive dry rooms with direct external access. Perusing this list of highlights meant we were smitten even before checking in.
Arriving in Style
It’s a quick five-minute drive from the centre of Hirafu to the serene grounds of Panorama Niseko. Our rental car glides to the private parking space in front of our chalet, we punch in our keycode and check in.
And what an entrance it is. The chalet’s spacious entryway spans out to three bedrooms, with a grand staircase leading up to the living room and two more bedrooms housed upstairs. Having the living room on the upper floor is a no brainer in Niseko – it’s the best way to maximise those awe inspiring views of Mount Yotei.
Speaking of views – Panorama Niseko uses full-wall windows throughout which makes it irresistibly cosy to snuggle up beside the fireplace with a cup of hot chocolate, watching big fat snowflakes falling outside. If you ask me, this snowy spectacle is the only entertainment you need when staying here. If all of that sounds just a bit too bucolic, not to worry – the chalets are fully fitted with huge plasma TVs with Apple TV and Netflix.
Private Onsen Bliss
Though the Panorama Niseko chalets are spectacular throughout, the ultimate highlight has got to be the private onsens – and no, that plural is not a typo.
Every chalet comes with two authentic, natural onsens, with one located indoors and another rotenburo bath outside looking over fields of snow. With travellers paying top dollar to visit one of the private onsens dotted across the area, having not one but two exclusive onsens right in your own chalet is the ultimate luxury.
Five Star Service
Panorama Niseko’s luxurious design is matched by the estate’s high level of service. All bookings include a complimentary mountain introduction and trust us – this premium service offered free of charge is one of the best kept secrets in Niseko.
The mountain introduction allows guests to get acquainted with the Niseko United ski resorts (Grand Hirafu, Hanazono, Niseko Village and Niseko Annupuri) and the neighbouring resorts of Moiwa, Rusutsu and Kiroro with a knowledgeable guide.
After you’ve gotten a taste of the different ski resorts with your expert “mountain host”, it’s time to get down to business. Panorama Niseko can organise private, bespoke ski and snow boarding lessons which go well beyond your run of the mill group classes. The lessons are for a maximum of six guests and can cater to skiers starting at just three years old.
The lessons can be customised to suit guests’ level of experience and unlike most ski schools in Niseko, there is flexibility regarding start times. The recommended start time for a full day lesson is 9am but if you’ve had a late night and don’t feel like getting out of bed before 10:30, no problem – the schedule can be adjusted to suit your needs.
The mountain hosts are more than just ski instructors. Besides showing you the ropes around the ski slopes, the hosts offer a wealth of local knowledge, ranging from the best spots for your daily powder fix to those hidden gem izakayas waiting in Hirafu village. Next to the complimentary mountain introduction and bespoke ski lessons, Panorama Niseko can also organise a videographer to shadow you on the slopes – the final product will be the ultimate Niseko keepsake to bring back home with you.
Simply put, the service offered at Panorama Niseko is slope side luxury at its finest.
Access All Areas
Even when you’re not out exploring the mountains, it’s easy to get around Niseko thanks to Panorama Niseko’s complimentary shuttle service which is available between 8am – 8pm daily.
It’s incredibly easy to stay connected while staying at Panorama Niseko. The chalets come with smartphones which allow you to connect to the concierge at the push of a button whenever you need a ride to or from the slopes (or maybe to your favourite izakaya). You can also use the phones to make local and international calls, access Google Maps when you’re out and about… Needless to say, all of this is beyond convenient when you’re new in town.
Dining in Panorama
Speaking from experience – all that fresh mountain air has a way of leaving you famished! Luckily, Panorama Niseko has its own restaurant, located just a few easy steps from the chalets. Tatsumi serves Japanese-French fusion cuisine with a focus on fresh Hokkaido produce. The restaurant is headed by Tatsumi-san who currently operates the highly rated Hanadai Restaurant and Ground Pub Niseko in Kutchan.
If you don’t want to head out to the club house – and who could blame you with all that snow falling outside – Tatsumi also offers room service. For an even more bespoke experience, Panorama Niseko can also organise a private chef to cook a feast of sushi, soba and shabu shabu in the privacy of your very own chalet.
And the options don’t end there. There are a handful of restaurants within a short walk from the chalets (we had a lovely Italian dinner at Louis just down the road) and of course, even more options await in Hirafu Village – simply give your concierge a buzz.