Niseko Hanazono gets luxe upgrade with new lifts and terrain
Beginner skiers are set to benefit from Niseko Hanazono's latest resort upgrades.
If the launch of Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono last season wasn’t enough to suggest that Niseko Hanazono is getting a little bit fancy, then the new additions to Niseko Hanazono’s lift infrastructure certainly will. Earlier this month the resort gave us a sneak peek of its newest POMA gondola, which features a 10-person cabin decked out with individual black leather seats.
The Hanazono Symphony Gondola will open up terrain on the resort’s northern side. Skiers and snowboarders who take the 5-minute ride to the top station will have access to a new intermediate course called Colly’s Folly, a cruisy 500-metre run with lots of space for turns and a mellow 20 degree gradient.
Perhaps even more importantly, beginners can unload at the mid-station and take on a very gentle 800-metre run called Juicy Fruit (formerly the bottom of Stairway to Heaven).
In the past, there hasn’t been a lot on offer for beginners who progress beyond the flats and surface lifts at the base of Hanazono. Silver Dream, the green run that takes riders from the Hana 1 Peak station back down to the base, features narrow, rolling hills with some tricky sections, and has always been a difficult conquest for those lacking in confidence (and appears to have been re-classed as a red run for the upcoming season).
“Now beginners will be able to now start coming up the slopes at an earlier stage”, says Tsuyuki, a marketing representative of the resort.
“Hanazono was very difficult for the very beginners to take their debut. But with the gondola, they can avoid the stress of getting off a chairlift and onto a beginner slope. [The new run is] very mild but not too flat to practise.”
In addition to the new gondola, the the Hana 1 quad lift will be replaced by state-of-the-art 6-seater POMA chairlift, complete with heated leather seats and footrests. It will make the ride about a minute faster than it was previously, says Tsuyuki, while the increased capacity will help keep the queues at the bottom to a minimum.
The upgrades, which will be completed ahead of the resort’s December 4 opening, appear to be part of a larger push to bolster Hanazono’s offering, with plenty more to follow in coming years. Hanazono has only recently purchased the neighbouring Weiss mountain – and is currently using the terrain for its cat skiing operation – but has plans to build a gondola to connect the two mountains as well as three lifts on Weiss.
Last month it was also revealed that an upscale Nikko Style hotel will open at the resort in 2024. The lifestyle hotel, under the new brand by Okura Nikko Hotels, will be equipped with private natural hot spring baths, a club lounge, fitness centre and banqueting facilities.
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