There is no end in sight to the current construction boom in the ski resort town of Niseko in Hokkaido, with a number of luxury resorts and private villas under development. Spacious homes and apartments can easily fetch upwards of several hundred million Yen (several million USD). Rising construction costs and a labor shortage, however, are putting a strain on developers.
AYA Niseko, a luxury ski-in ski-out condominium/hotel located on the Grand Hirafu Resort ski slope, opened its doors this month. The 79-unit building is already almost 90% sold out, with the final few apartments expected to sell over the ski season.
The majority of apartments were in the 88 ~ 90 sqm range and priced from 100 ~ 400 million Yen (approx. 850,000 ~ 3.4 million USD), while a 370 sqm penthouse, which has already sold, was priced at 600 million Yen (approx. 5.1 million USD). Apartment prices are similar to what can be found in central Tokyo.
PACE Development, a developer of luxury real estate projects in Thailand, is creating a high-end holiday home subdivision in Niseko, Hokkaido. PACE acquired Dean & DeLuca USA in 2014, and is currently developing MahaNakhon, a 77-storey mixed-use skyscraper in Bangkok and Thailand’s tallest building.
The developer plans to build approximately 37 holiday villas on the 14 hectare site in Niseko. Villas will be marketed for sale to Thai buyers, with prices expected to be somewhere in the range of 1.5 ~ 4 million USD each.
Niseko Tokyu Resort, part of the Tokyu Group and operator of the Niseku Mt. Resort Grand Hirafu ski resort, will be developing a luxury condominium near the ski field.
Construction is scheduled to begin in July, with completion expected at the end of 2016.
Over the years a number of foreign developers have been steadily building smaller condominiums in the Niseko Hirafu area, but this will be the first project in 20 years that can accommodate over 300 residents.
Development in parts of Niseko’s ski fields is being stalled due to inconsistencies between national and prefectural government building approvals.
In recent years, a number of hotels in Niseko have been purchased by foreign funds, closed down and in many cases demolished. The foreign developers acquired the hotels with the aim of building condominium-type hotels and resort apartments which would then be sold to wealthy foreigners.
However, a number of these sites have been sitting vacant without any signs of construction.
Why the hold up?
Japan’s National Tax Agency has discovered that 10 Australians have neglected to pay capital gains tax on the sale of real estate in Hokkaido’s Niseko area. Approximately 56 million Yen (570,000 USD) in tax is owed, with an additional 14 million Yen (140,000 USD) in penalties.
- Luxury apartment and hotel boom
- Turning into a world-renowned resort area
Hokkaido’s Niseko and Kutchan area is seeing a rush of luxury apartment and hotel developments. Known for its perfect skiing conditions, many Australians had purchased ski chalets and vacation homes in the town. The recent development boom, however, has been spurred on by Asia’s wealthy investors and developers.
Resort development activity is starting to accelerate in Hokkaido as the region begins to see a rebound in foreign tourist numbers.
Construction is scheduled to start on a large-scale resort in the Uenae area in Tomakomai City this June. The 1000 hectare site will include a hotel, horse-riding and trekking facilities. Aman Resorts Group’s GHM (Singapore) are tentatively scheduled to be the hotel operator. The development is being designed by famed Japanese architect Tadao Ando and will be completed in 2014. They are targeting wealthy foreign tourists. The total investment is estimated at 13 billion Yen (158 million USD).
*Update: Aman’s ‘Chedi’ brand of hotels is scheduled to operate the hotel. “The Chedi Tomakomai” is now scheduled to open in 2017.
*Update 2: Mori Trust have acquired the site in 2016 and will start construction on a resort in 2017 with completion expected in 2026.
Niseko Kogen Kanko, a subsidiary of Tokyu Land, announced that they will be selling the Niseko Kogen Hotel to an undisclosed buyer for just over 1 billion Yen. The buyer is said to be a fund based in Asia.
The Niseko Kogen Hotel will remain open until March, 2012, at which time the new buyer will take over the property. The hotel is aging, so it is expected that the new buyer will demolish and rebuild a high class international hotel on the site. The current 59 room, 4-storey hotel was built in 1975, and room rates start from 7,000 Yen/night (90 USD). In recent years, construction of new condominiums in the area have had a negative impact on the hotel’s profitability.
Malaysian resort developer and operator, YTL Hotels & Properties, have announced plans for a new 125 unit resort in Niseko’s Higashiyama Ski area. Construction of “Hinode Hill” is scheduled to start in June, 2011 with completion expected in December, 2013.