(Extract from “Niseko Alpine Review - December 08″ - to subscribe for your latest edition click here)
Whilst recently in Hong Kong I could not help but marvel at the concentration of aspiration retailing, I have never seen so many branded hand-bag shops in the one city. Perhaps I only noticed as I, like so many, am trying to foresee the long term impact of the financial crisis. I have a strong belief that the end result for many will be a withdrawal back to the very core fundamentals of health and family.
It is my belief that globally we as individuals will be torn backwards and those great many aspiration driven wants, not needs, will be passed by. Do we really need that new watch, another handbag or the latest phone?
However, what will not be compromised will be the family holiday, the chance to spend time together. Ask any adult/child and the single most dominant memory will be family holidays and those that are the strongest will be destinations to which the family returned year after year to the point where it almost became a second home. My memory was a beach paradise, Forster on the east coast of Australia. As kids the excitement and anticipation grew all year as we would leave the farm and spend two glorious weeks getting up to mischief in this seaside town. That later transposed to winter holidays in Thredbo.
To that end, I believe Niseko will be a long term beneficiary, we offer a compelling year round destination in one of the last few remaining safe havens globally. Recent tragedy in Mumbai, unfortunately, brings that home to roost on an even higher scale. With two young children it’s refreshing and invigorating to be somewhere where they can roam freely without the unspeakable worries inherent elsewhere. A child can easily holiday in winter outside of Mum and Dad’s controls, the village is safe and secure, and the kids will cherish the freedom and responsibility.
Interestingly the demographics of our winter guests warrant investigation. Surprising, the market is dominated by non-skiing or new-to-skiing guests. These people have either skied as a youth then focused on careers and family or they have never skied before. Niseko for these people is an amazing package; the terrain coupled with the phenomenal snow quality allows a rapid transgression to the ultimate winter experience, skiing powder snow. Every year we have new guests coming to experience that one facet of a ski holiday.
That said, just being here in the falling snow captures the mystique and solitude we associate with a white Christmas, it’s an almost sublime experience of tranquility and beauty.
Niseko is offering ever increasing options to the non-skiers with Japanese cooking classes, pottery, calligraphy, glass blowing not to mention snow mobiling, winter hiking and the ubiquitous onsens. As a family package it rates on every front.
The ocean focused seaside resorts that abound for example throughout Thailand, Bali, Seychelles and Vietnam will suffer as the supply options are 100’s of times of what is on offer in ski destinations in Asia. With too many options you almost lose the identity of the area.
Niseko is in its infancy, it will grow to be all things to all people. Come in winter for all the winter activities, come in summer and the offerings are various, pack the kids off rafting, play golf, enjoy a thrilling day out at the Rusutsu theme park, the wealth of lifestyle choices here just keeps growing stronger.