A new-look APPI ski resort will welcome three new IHG hotels and a prestigious international school.

The Japanese ski resort with the slogan “be happy in APPI” appears to be raising the price of happiness, with the arrival of new luxury brands including an InterContinental hotel from global hospitality group IHG, and Harrow International School, modelled on its prestigious British namesake.

IHG Hotels & Resorts, which operates in Japan under a joint venture with All Nippon Airlines (ANA), finalised an agreement earlier this year with APPI resort owners Iwate Hotel & Resort to open or refurbish three hotels. It’s the first time IHG will have have three brands – InterContinental, Crowne Plaza and Holiday Inn – on the one site.

The refurbished ANA Crowne Plaza Resort Appi Kogen (formerly Hotel Appi Grand) and ANA Holiday Inn Resort Appi Kogen (formerly Appi Hills Shirakaba no Mori and Appi Kogen Onsen Hotel) made their transition to the new brands on December 16. InterContinental-ANA Appi Kogen Resort, a new development, is expected to open on February 1 2022.

Guests will be able to choose from a staggering 18 restaurants and bars across the hotel portfolio, with Western, Chinese and Japanese options available. The complex is also home to Shirakaba no Yu, Tohoku’s largest open air hot spring bath – an attraction in its own right.

Prestigious Harrow School to open in APPI

Meanwhile, Harrow International School APPI has formally announced an August launch date and is currently taking applications for the 2022-23 academic year, initially opening to students in Years 7 to Year 10 only and eventually through to Year 13 (based on the British system). It will accommodate up to 912 boarders who, in addition to skiing or snowboarding at least twice a week through winter, will also be able to make use of the school’s indoor swimming pool, APPI’s 18 tennis courts and a 36-hole golf course.

Harrow International School Appi Japan

Harrow International School Appi Japan

Harrow School in the UK, on which the APPI branch is based, was founded in 1572 and boasts an alumni of Nobel Laureates, politicians, artists and influencers including Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru, King Hussein and Lord Rayleigh. The school will no doubt be looking to add an Olympic skier or two to the list in the future.

The brand has been spreading its roots in Asia since the 90s, however the APPI campus is its first venture in Japan. A press release published by the school noted that it “will make the best use of nature’s gifts in its curriculum”.

“Students will take some lessons outdoors. In geography, they will study local mountains and rivers, and in economics they will analyse what makes the Appi ski resort a successful business. Drama and music students, meanwhile, will be inspired by the outdoor environment as their stage, while those studying biology will use the school’s lake for fascinating experiments.”

A word of warning to parents already warming to the idea of sending their kids into the Japanese countryside: British education does not come cheap, especially when it’s paired with some of the best powder skiing in Japan. Tuition fees for Year 13 students will set parents back a cool ¥9,270,000 (∼US$81,260) a year.

APPI ski resort

APPI is one of the larger ski resorts in Japan’s Tohoku region, a part of the country that is known for its extreme weather (read: powder), stunning landscapes, regional cuisine and onsen. The resort’s 21 runs are serviced by 10 lifts, one of which is a gondola that delivers riders from the APPI Resort Centre (620 m) to the summit of Mt. Maemori (1304 m).

APPI tree run zone

Like many Tohoku ski resorts, APPI benefits from huge snowfalls every winter. Image: APPI

The resort was built in the ’80s in the midst of Japan’s economic boom, and has even been referred to as “the Aspen of Japan”, presumably in reference to its relatively impressive lift and hotel infrastructure. In recent years – like many resorts in Japan – the shine has slightly faded and, for foreign travellers at least, it’s been viewed more as a powder hotspot that is off the beaten path, lacking the international attention that has followed the likes of Niseko and Hakuba.

That may well now change!


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