The last time I visited Japan during winter, it was for a ski vacation with my children in Nowaza. As enjoyable as that experience was, I’d always wondered what it would be like to be in Japan when it wasn’t covered in snow. In fact, I’ve always wondered what it would be like to be in Japan when I’m not covered in kids.
A golden opportunity arises when I visit Hirafu in Niseko to get a first-hand look at The Ginto Residences, a collection of luxury villas owned by The Pavilions. When the 30-suite luxury boutique hotel The Pavilions Niseko opens early next year, villa owners at The Ginto Residences will enjoy access to its amenities, including an indoor and outdoor onsen, gym and yoga studio.
For now, however, those who are thinking of buying a holiday home in Niseko might be pleased to know that the villas at The Ginto Residences are currently for sale. I check out three of them.
The first of The Ginto Residences I visit is the imposing Katsura Villa. I am immediately awed by the striking Scandinavian A-frame design and the sheer height of the two-storey property. I’m pleased to note that equal thought has been put into its interiors. The living room on the first floor is decorated with beautiful understated pieces, like wicker chairs from Danish design firm Carl Hansen & Søn.
Beautiful lamps by Gubi & Noguchi can be seen throughout the house, although it also gets plenty of sunlight streaming in through the panoramic windows – perfect for those who love reading or are into photography. In total, there are five bedrooms in this stunning property, all of which come with luxury bedding and unique art pieces. In the ultimate logistical fantasy, I find myself trying to figure out which of the bedrooms are best suited to my six kids.
A taste of tradition
The next villa I explore, Hinoki Villa, has a completely different aesthetic from Katsura Villa. From the outside, you’ll notice a contemporary take on the classic Japanese Sukiya style of architecture. The interior, however, is all about Spanish modernist design, and is kitted out with B&O speakers and bold furniture from innovative Danish designer &Tradition.
As I wander across the first floor from the living room into the master bedroom and onsen, I feel like I’ve stepped into the pages of a style magazine. This villa has a total of three very chic bedrooms but I can’t quite imagine children tearing through this sophisticated property.
In living colour
My favourite villa from The Ginto Residences is Keyaki Villa, which has six bedrooms spread over 420sqm of living space over two storeys.
While those staying on the second floor have quicker access to the enormous onsen, I am partial to the one downstairs. The bedroom on the ground floor commands a stunning view of lush greenery that I can see myself waking up to every day. As I sip my coffee, I realise that Hirafu village is but a hop and a skip away.
The open kitchen – which comes equipped with appliances from Miele – extends into a dining room decorated with Timothy Oulton fixtures. Further on, there is a beautiful deck featuring beams of light oak and dark cedar. On both sides of the dining room are living halls that can be partitioned off by Japanese screens.
Comfortable sofas, rugs and throws in various shades of tan and taupe adorn one hall, which also boasts a television and video games. In the other hall, elegant, dark hues dominate. This is a place where one can enjoy grown-up conversations by the fireplace. Or you could simply take things down a notch by doing what I did: Roast marshmallows and enjoy s’mores while enjoying a quiet moment savouring some alone time.
Before I set out for Niseko, I thought I would fully enjoy my solo time. While I got my fair share of that, family was never too far from my mind. When it comes to buying a family home from The Ginto Residences, Keyaki Villa is the easiest to imagine living in. Luxurious without being precious, I can already envision this house truly being a home.