Niseko Grand Hirafu has revealed a number of operational changes to be implemented for the 2020/21 season. In a letter addressed to the local community, resort General Manager Fumio Sato acknowledged the challenges posed by COVID-19, before outlining a plan that includes a December opening date, reduced lift operations, the closure of three in-resort restaurants, and the cancellation of the Grand Hirafu shuttle.
Notable lift closures include King Pair Lift #1, which services the Grand Hirafu terrain park, as well as Ace Pair Lift #3 and Ace Pair Lift #4. And in news that will disappoint the after-dark powder seekers, the Hirafu Gondola will not open for night operations.
The announcement comes just days after Rusutsu released a similar plan.
Japanese resorts are bracing for a season without the usual influx of international visitors, as border closures and mandatory quarantine periods restrict travel around the globe. However, anyone who can make it into the country could well reap the benefits (read our piece on the 5 reasons Japan’s 20/21 season could be epic … if you can get there).
Niseko Grand Hirafu changes for winter 2020/21
- Later opening date (December 5)
- Reduced lift operations
- Operational lifts reduced to 50% capacity
- Reduced night skiing hours and lifts (4:30pm–8:00pm; no Hirafu gondola)
- Closure of some on-hill restaurants (AceHill Cafe, 1000m Hut, and Shokusai Hirafu)
- No Grand Hirafu shuttle
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