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An inspired rival?

With a big vision that includes a few Aussies and a little Whistler influence, a Japanese resort could carve its line as one of the next world ski destinations

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PM : Ecosign is the master planner for the Hanazono project.

MC: Given that this project is for an Australian firm, what is in the works to keep Hanazono uniquely Japanese?

PM : Essentially all buildings stripped back to their basic shells are practically the same. It will be the external materials, design and facades that give the village a distinctively Japanese feel. One particular feature that we are excited about is that all buildings in the village will feature an onsen (hot spring). Onsen are a very enjoyable aspect of Japanese culture. Due to this most guest washrooms will not contain bathtubs and will only contain showers, which in turn will give the washrooms a more spacious appearance. Also, the rooms will be slightly smaller than the traditional western room but large enough to feel spacious for Japanese guests.

MC: Ecosign has undertaken several Japanese projects in the past. Is this Ecosign’s first resort project in Japan for a non-Japanese firm?

PM : Looking back I would have to say this project is unique in that sense.

MC: Moving forward, Hanazono will require what three major aspects to become a balanced international all season resort?

PM : The single most important aspect will be the central pedestrian village offering commercial space on the ground levels and beds on the upper levels. Also extremely important is consistent international air access. Finally, it is important to increase summer activities to draw more visits in the summer months. While 12 months would be great, a resort must have a minimum of 10 months to survive.

MC: Based on your experience and knowledge of resorts across the globe what sets the Niseko area above others and gives it the potential to blossom into a true world class destination?

PM: Most definitely the snow. The snow in Niseko is of extremely high quality and is very consistent throughout the season. Also, the culture. Japan has a very interesting culture and offers some of, if not the best, dining in the world.

The plans are ambitious and include 8,300 pillows, 22,000 square metres of commercial space, a tubing area and the possibility of new lifts, including a gondola that will capitalize on summer sightseeing potential.

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