Niseko

Where is Niseko?

Niseko is located on the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido. It is around 110 km from New Chitose Airport and 95 kms from Sapporo, Japan's 5th largest city. Niseko is approximately 800 kms north of Tokyo, the capital of Japan. You can find it on Google Maps here: https://goo.gl/maps/NDmb9Bg5s4t

The name 'Niseko' usually refers to the ski resorts positioned on Mt. Niseko-Annupuri and the surrounding areas. Technically though, two of the four major resorts (Grand Hirafu and Hanazono) are located within Kutchan Town and two (Niseko Village and Annupuri) within Niseko Town.

How do I get there?

The easiest way to get to Niseko is to fly to New Chitose Airport (CTS). There are a variety of transportation options available from the airport including private transfers, buses and trains. Niseko Central can assist with your airport transfers from New Chitose International Airport. For more information, please visit our Transfers page.

If you are taking the train, you will need to change trains at either Otaru or Sapporo Station. Please make sure to get off at Kutchan Station and not Hirafu Station. For timetable and price information, please see the Hyperdia website.

Which airlines fly to New Chitose Airport?

International direct flights are available from Hong Kong (Hong Kong Airlines, Cathay Pacific Airways, Japan Airlines), Singapore (Scoot), Malaysia (AirAsia X), Thailand (Thai Airways, All Nippon Airways, China Airlines, Japan Airlines), Taiwan (All Nippon Airways, China Airways, EVA Airways, Japan Airlines), Korea (Korean Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air Busan + more), China (Air China, Japan Airways, All Nippon Airways + more) and Hawaii (Hawaiian Airlines).

Domestic flights from Tokyo (Haneda and Narita) and Osaka (Kansai Airport) are available with Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways (ANA) along with low-cost carriers including Peach Aviation, Air Do, Vanilla Air, Skymark Airlines and Jetstar Airways

Do I need to book Guest Services (transfers/lessons/restaurants/etc.) before arrival?

Yes, it is recommend to book all services as soon as possible. Availability for services such as transfers and ski lessons is very limited especially during peak periods. For more details on the different services available and to request a booking, please see our Guest Services page.

Many of the more popular restaurants in Niseko tend to book out well ahead of time, while others will not start accepting bookings until they open, usually in late-November to early-December. Most restaurants in Hirafu now take bookings online or have English speaking staff and reservations can be made directly. For more details on the dining options available in Niseko including how you can make a reservation, please visit our Restaurants page.

When is the best time to come to Niseko?

The four seasons offer differing experiences in Niseko. While mostly known for its abundant powder snow for skiers and snowboarders, more and more Guests have been taking advantage of Niseko's cool summer climate and visiting during the green season from June till October. The ski season usually lasts from late-November till early May and therefore during spring, you can enjoy a mix of skiing, whitewater rafting and cycling. Summer brings perfect weather to be outdoors and enjoy golf, hiking, cycling (road and mountain bike), rafting and harvesting of local crops and fruits that stretch out into the autumn period as well. Winter's consistent, dry powder snow brings many visitors from all over the globe who rave not only about the fantastic snow, but also the accommodation, quality of food and restaurant options and Onsens (hot spring baths).

What are the weather and snow conditions like in winter?

The weather will vary greatly from the start of the season (early Nov) till the end (beginning of May). December till February will be the coldest months with the most amount of fresh snow. March and April are the spring skiing months with more sunny weather and higher temperatures. Skiing in spring is also enjoyable with the melting snow being soft and there can also be fresh powder in the start or middle of March. Please see here for the average temperature in Niseko.

Where can I buy groceries in Niseko?

There are several options for groceries within Niseko-Hirafu including Sapporo Drug Store, Gorilla Niseko and the Seicomart and Lawson convenience stores. However, if you are looking for a range of goods, there are 3 supermarkets in Kutchan about 10-15 minutes away by car: Lucky, MaxValu and Co-Op.

Where can I enjoy an Onsen (hot spring bath)?

There are several options for Onsen within the Niseko-Hirafu village within walking distance including Yukoro Onsen in the lower village and Hirafu-tei in the upper village. The Annupuri area has a large selection of Onsens including Kanronomori, Yugokorotei and even a men and women mixed Onsen at the Grand Hotel.

Niseko Central

What's the difference between Eco, Serviced & Premium Serviced cleaning?

Your accommodation level of servicing is either Eco, Serviced or Premium Serviced, which is indicated in your proposal and confirmation under the section Service Type.

Please note, Eco cleaning requires the accommodation to be left in a clean and tidy condition - see the next FAQ for more information.

Eco - Fresh Towels and Rubbish Removed every 2nd day (not including Arrival and Departure days); Mid Stay Clean and Linen Change only if guests are staying 7 nights or more.

Serviced - Full Clean will occur every 2nd day and includes Fresh Towels for each Adult and Child; Garbage Removal; Cleaning of Accommodation; Washing Dishes; Bed Making; Linen change every 2nd clean (every 4th day).

Premium Serviced - Full Clean will occur daily and includes fresh towels for each Adult and Child; Garbage Removal; Cleaning of Accommodation; Washing Dishes; Bed Making; Linen change every 2nd clean (every 2nd day).

For more information on cleaning or to change your cleaning, please contact us.

What if I don't want to clean up?

At Check-Out, Guests on the Eco cleaning plan are required to leave their accommodation in a clean and tidy condition, including:

  • All furniture returned to its original positions.
  • All rubbish placed in rubbish bins.
  • All used crockery, cutlery and cookware washed and placed in cupboards or left in drying rack, or put into the dishwasher with the cycle started.

If Guests would prefer, our housekeeping team can attend to these tasks after Check-Out for an additional ¥5,000 fee. In the case where Guests leave these tasks to our housekeeping staff, the ¥5,000 fee will be automatically charged upon Check-Out. This is not a requirement for Guests who are on the Serviced cleaning plan.

What amenities are provided in the accommodation? Do I need to bring anything?

All of our accommodations are supplied with amenities such as shampoo, conditioner, body wash, hand soap, and towels. Hair dryers are provided in each bathroom. Washing powder can be found in accommodations with laundry facilities. There are also kitchen cleaning supplies such as a sponges, gloves and dishwashing liquid. Complimentary coffee, tea, sugar and salt & pepper are supplied but please note that they are not replenished during your stay. Accommodations with a full kitchen are equipped with cutlery, dishware and common kitchen equipment and utensils.

What are your check-in and check-out times?

Check-in is from 3pm and check-out before 10am.

Where do I check-in?

In winter, your check-in will take place in the accommodation. Therefore we ask that you provide your arrival time and method beforehand so we can arrange to meet you.

In summer, all check-in procedures are completed at the Front Desk in Yama Shizen East during the opening hours. Should you arrive after the Front Desk is closed, we can arrange a self-check-in.

Is it possible to have an early check-in or late check-in?

Early-check-in/late check-out cannot be guaranteed but where possible we try to accommodate all requests. Charges may apply. Please let us know if you would like to request an early check-in or late check-out.

Where is your front desk?

In Yama Shizen East 1st floor. Please note the opening hours vary by season.

Is there Wi-Fi in the accommodation?

Yes, all our accommodations have complimentary, unlimited use Wi-Fi.

Are there ski/board storage facilities in my accommodation?

Yes, all our accommodations have ski/board storage facilities. You can also store your skis/board and boots for free at the Niseko Central Ski Valet location in the Grand Hirafu Gondola building. This service is exclusive for Niseko Central Guests. For more information click here.

Is there car parking available at my accommodation?

Some accommodations have undercover car parking facilities, garages, carports or designated parking areas. Spaces can be very limited at some accommodation and please let us know beforehand if you require car parking during your stay.

Can I add another person?

In many cases we are able to accommodate another guest to your accommodation. However, all accommodations have a maximum number of guests which may not be exceeded, so depending on the number of guests in your booking, adding more guests may not be possible.

If we are able to assist you in adding and additional person to you booking, there may be an additional charge for this.

If more guests than the number of beds are staying, we will provide a Japanese style futon for you. Please note that only one Japanese style futon may be added to each accommodation.

Please contact our Reservations team ([email protected]) to enquire about adding additional guests.

What if I want to change my dates?

It may be possible to make a slight changes to your travel dates, however this will depend on other bookings in the accommodation you have booked. Depending on the change required, a fee may be incurred. Our Reservations team will be able to advise if changes are possible and any fees which may be incurred.

What services do Niseko Central offer?

Apart from accommodation, Niseko Central can also book all your Guest Services for your stay including airport transfers, lift passes, ski/snowboard lessons, equipment rental, welcome food packs, tours, delivered wine and more. Currency exchange, scanning, printing and fax services can also be provided at a small charge from the Front Desk in Yama Shizen East.

What if my booking involves moving rooms?

When your stay includes a room move, you will be informed at the time of booking. Please pack and leave your luggage in your room by 10am. Our staff will collect and move your luggage to your new room. Your new room will be ready from 3pm, and you will be able to collect your new keys from Front Desk at your convenience after 3pm.

Japan

Can I rent a car and drive in Japan?

If you wish to drive in Japan, you must possess one of the following driving permits:

  • A Japanese Driver's License.
  • An International Driver's License (90 member countries) based on the Treaty of Geneva (1949).
For more information please visit: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2022.html
Do I need travel insurance?

Travelling without insurance is crazy. You need travel insurance which covers you for:

  • Holiday cancellation due to illness or injury as well as flight delays and cancellations.
  • Snowsports - for strong intermediate and advanced skiers and boarders it is essential that your insurance covers "off-piste" areas. Some of Niseko's best "off piste" riding is "through the gates". These areas are not in the official boundary of the resort but can be accessed legally from the resort area. Most ski schools require you to have insurance which covers you for skiing in these areas. Costs of rescue and appropriate medical care can be very high.

Like most highly seasonal resort hotels and resorts we cannot provide a refund or reschedule your accommodation or services if your flights are cancelled or delayed or if you reschedule or cancel your trip for a medical or other reason beyond your control.

Winter weather can delay flights and travel arrangements. If your usual travel insurer does not provide sufficient cover then an easy option that provides cover for both delayed flights and snowsports is World Nomads.

Do I need to have any vaccinations before travel to Japan?

There are no requirements for foreign travelers from any countries regarding certificates of vaccination.

What about credit cards & money in Japan?

Although most stores and restaurants will accept VISA, MasterCard and American Express cards, travellers should keep in mind that some smaller shops will only accept cash. There are ATMs for getting money out (Shiki, Aya and also Lucky Supermarket). The ATMs in Lawson and Seicomart convenience stores are only for Japan issued cards. Currency exchange for major currencies is available at the Niseko Central Front Desk.

What if I don't speak Japanese?

Travelling in a country where you don't speak the language can be both challenging and rewarding, but even if you don't speak any Japanese, finding your way around Japan needn't be difficult. English is widely spoken throughout the country, particularly in major cities and tourist centres. Public transportation announcements are frequently made in both Japanese and English, and signs generally include decipherable roman characters or an English explanation. A comprehensive range of tourist services also provides a helping hand to foreign visitors in Japan.

Skiing/Boarding

What clothing do I need for Niseko?

Waterproof and well insulated ski wear is needed for skiing/snowboarding in Niseko. While other ski resorts and areas in Japan are colder, temperatures during December to mid-March will generally be in the negatives to -10 range. Sometimes it can reach as cold as -20 degrees for night skiing near the top of the mountain. Thermal underwear should also be worn by beginners and those that feel the cold. When not skiing, warm waterproof boots with grip (ice/snow is very slippery to walk on) are highly recommended. Slip-on spikes can be purchased in Niseko and recommended for walking around town but be sure not to wear any spikes inside your accommodation as they will damage the floors.

What is the difference between an All Mountain and Grand Hirafu lift pass?

An All Mountain lift pass gives access to all four resorts on the Niseko-Annupuri mountain- Grand Hirafu, Annupuri, Niseko Village and Hanazono. A Grand Hirafu lift pass allows you to ski at Grand Hirafu and Hanazono. All lift passes are electronic and require a 1,000 yen deposit which can be collected from a deposit return machine at the resort after you have finished your last day of skiing.

How can I get to the other resorts on the mountain?

All the resorts are connected via lifts at the top of the mountain for intermediate and advanced skiers. Depending on conditions, some traversing may be required. Grand Hirafu, Niseko Village and Annupuri are also linked via the Grand United Shuttle bus which is free for All Mountain lift pass holders. Hanazono can also be accessed via the complimentary Hanazono Shuttle from Grand Hirafu.

Do I need a separate lift pass for night skiing?

Night skiing is available at no extra cost if you have a valid lift pass for 1 day or longer. Grand Hirafu's night skiing gives access to the largest areas in Japan till 8:30pm meaning you could potentially ski for 12 hours a day if you have the energy. Depending on snow conditions, night skiing usually starts early December and runs through till late March. Please see the Grand Hirafu website here for planned lift operation date and times.

How many ski runs are there at the resort?

There are a total of 61 ski runs across the whole Niseko United resort with 2,191 acres (8.87 km2) skiable. The lift system comprises 3 gondolas and 35 lifts in total.

Where can I find a trail map?

You can find the latest All Mountain and Grand Hirafu resort maps on our lift passes information page.

Can I find out how far and long I skied on a day?

Yes, you can. As the lift passes are electronic, the information about when, where and how far you skied is recorded. You can access this information on the Skiline website here by entering in the unique number printed on the lift pass.

What sites do you recommend for a Niseko weather forecast and updates on snow conditions?

Experience Niseko has a daily snow updates along with Snow Japan. Snow-forecast.com is a good source of weather forecast in winter with snowfall forecasts at village level, mid-mountain and at the top of the lifts.