thanks for the reply, this will be my first time to niseko
looking to go end of jan through feb 2013, i know its a way off but thought id get my head around the logisitcs early.
i like the lodges/chalets option you gave me. when we go to the states we usually stay in privately owned condos/apartments.....
do you have any infor on where i can search for these?
also do you reccommend a specific location in Niseko?
Lots of time to plan then.
First thing to consider is which resort to stay in - Niseko has four main areas/'ski grounds':
- Niseko Village (locally known as Higashiyama/East Mountain)
The first three of these are pretty close together (10-20 minutes drive/shuttle from another), while hanazono is a bit further.
For first time stay in Niseko I would recommend staying in/around hirafu. It is by far the biggest and most happening of these villages. There are lots of restaurants, bars, shopping, gear rental/service places, etc. Niseko village mostly has the bigger hotels (Hilton, Greenleaf, and they are building a Capella). Annupuri is much quieter after the skiing ends and hanazono is almost dead at night.
One big question is whether to rent a car for your stay. Has some real benefits (opens up accommodation options outside the villages without having to rely on shuttles/buses, you explore the area, makes airport transfers easier,can do grocery runs to nearby towns, etc.), but might not be worth it for the first time, especially if you are staying in hirafu proper (and if you have never driven in Japan before).
In terms of chalet/lodge accommodation, you have a pretty wide selection depending on your budget and preferences - ranges from basic houses in the village like this
to pretty luxurious places like this
(but see my point about being in the lower village!).
One thing to consider: The upper village (where the slopes/lifts are as well as lots of the restaurants, etc.) has mostly holiday apartments. Houses/chalets tend to be in the lower village and the further down from the main road you go the more of an uphill slog it is every morning...
You can also look the bigger clusters of lodges/chalets like Country Resort
(5 minutes outside of hirafu village but with their own shuttle bus), which generally give you better value for money.
The second link below has a few listings for lodgings.
Anyway, you are far ahead of time so you can do plenty of research (there is a lot of stuff on Niseko on the web these days) and book well in advance which should give you really good 'early bird' rates.
A couple of useful links: