Costs/Value of Skiing in Japan

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Costs/Value of Skiing in Japan

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Jan 22, 2016 11:12 am

Trying to get my mind off the godawful news elsewhere on this forum :-( --

How has the strong dollar affected purchasing power in Japan? How much does a meal like that cost in dollars? What about lift tix, hotels, etc.?
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Tony Crocker » Fri Jan 22, 2016 3:36 pm

Lift tickets are cheap, ~$50 a day at Niseko. Food is quite reasonable for the quality, particularly when you consider no tipping in Japan. That gourmet dinner at Lupicia was $68pp and would be twice that in the US. That stack of 18 sushi plates from the Otaru restaurant was ~$45. In the ski areas a big plate/bowl of ramen/curry with meat and veggies for lunch is $8-$10.

Hotels in Niseko are still a sticking point for price. Black Diamond Lodge is reasonable but it has shared baths, no onsen and is isolated in the evenings if you don't have a car. January tends to book up fast at BD especially if you want a long stay.

We had 4 people and online searches showed One Niseko Towers as the best deal. However it's off-site near Moiwa and I balked until October when we decided to rent a car. At that point we got 9 nights online via hotels.com for $2,600. The suite had living room, 2 separate bedrooms and a washer/dryer, though only one bath.

When we arrived at One Niseko Towers late January 10 we got in huge battle with management who claimed our booking was for only two people. I took a hard line position, as the 9-day online reservation had steeply discounted rates for the 6 midweek nights, with the standard rate for the suite being nearly $400. I feared any increase would be substantial. The hotel said we would only get breakfast vouchers for 2 people, and other services such as the onsen and ski area shuttle were also for 2 people (the latter items unenforceable IMHO). They even threatened to strip the bedding from one of the bedrooms.

Mary and Jenny got very nervous, so Mary went down to the front desk to negotiate. As I feared they originally wanted another $200/night but she eventually got them down to $615 extra for the entire stay. Mary and Jenny were not there the last night Jan. 18.

If you are at One Niseko Towers without a car, there are shuttles to Annupuri 2x in the morning and returning 3x in the afternoon. There is also one shuttle a day to/from Hirafu. In the evenings you are as isolated as at BD Lodge, limited to the hotel restaurant, where we never ate except for breakfast. Our suite has a kitchen and we ate in 5 nights, but the big Kutchan SuperValu market where we shopped is 25km away. Liz and Mary also took a day off skiing and drove to Otaru for sightseeing. The hotel onsen was excellent, and Mary and I each got a massage, which was also excellent and reasonable at ~$65 per hour.

For the car rental (a large 4WD Toyota Alphard van) we got a great deal via Jenny's brother Michael who lives in Sapporo. That was less than $50/day but probably would have been double that booked online from the U.S. And while on that subject, you are required to have an international driving permit to drive in Japan. This was easy for me at the auto club but may be a nuisance if you have to go to a DMV.

My guess is that lodging options like the car might be more reasonable booked locally. As the trip took shape last summer, it was never well defined how much of the time Michael might be around for local assistance. He got us that great car deal, but we never met him in person until they dropped by our Sapporo hotel Jan. 20.

Some heads-up about Hokkaido:
1) A surprising number of establishments don't take credit cards. This included Beef Impact in Sapporo.
2) Lots of local bank ATM's don't accept foreign cards. 7/11 is the best bet and what we used in both Furano and Sapporo.
3) Remember if you have a car that gas stations close at 8PM!
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby jamesdeluxe » Sun Jan 24, 2016 3:35 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:When we arrived at One Niseko Towers late January 10 we got in huge battle with management who claimed our booking was for only two people.

They didn't send you any electronic correspondence that could confirm it one way or the other?
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Tony Crocker » Mon Jan 25, 2016 8:23 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:They didn't send you any electronic correspondence that could confirm it one way or the other?
It was a third party booking via hotels.com. I did not notice the printout said 2 people. I don't recall specifying that when I made the booking in October.
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Marc_C » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:37 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:When we arrived at One Niseko Towers late January 10 we got in huge battle with management who claimed our booking was for only two people. I took a hard line position, as the 9-day online reservation had steeply discounted rates for the 6 midweek nights, with the standard rate for the suite being nearly $400. I feared any increase would be substantial.


Tony Crocker wrote:It was a third party booking via hotels.com. I did not notice the printout said 2 people. I don't recall specifying that when I made the booking in October.


So you screwed up but decided to be obnoxious about it?
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby jamesdeluxe » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:06 pm

Marc_C wrote:So you screwed up but decided to be obnoxious about it?

When you're wrong, double down!
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Admin » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:01 pm

Marc_C wrote:
So you screwed up but decided to be obnoxious about it?


That was my thought as well.
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Tony Crocker » Tue Jan 26, 2016 11:34 pm

Due to the initial online booking having steep discounts for 6 midweek dates I feared that conceding the point upfront would result in a huge increase. I was correct in that view as Mary was told it would be $200 extra per night. I concede being obnoxious and the "bad cop" in this process, but if being nice or apologetic would have resulted in $200 a night extra instead of $70 I believe I took the right approach. I strongly suspect admin would have done the same.
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Jan 27, 2016 5:42 am

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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Marc_C » Wed Jan 27, 2016 11:22 am

Tony Crocker wrote:Due to the initial online booking having steep discounts for 6 midweek dates I feared that conceding the point upfront would result in a huge increase. I was correct in that view as Mary was told it would be $200 extra per night. I concede being obnoxious and the "bad cop" in this process, but if being nice or apologetic would have resulted in $200 a night extra instead of $70 I believe I took the right approach. I strongly suspect admin would have done the same.

The point is, you screwed up and reserved for 2 people, then you were a dick about it.
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby coldsmoke » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:03 am

You have the coin to fly to Japan to go skiing but you had to rip off the hotel? The Ugly American if there ever was one.
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 28, 2016 10:54 am

I have high confidence, based upon many years observation on these boards, that MarcC would have been every bit as much of a "dick" as I was if he had made the same mistake.

I was responsible here for not only our costs but those for two other people. Coldsmoke is welcome to tell us if, after paying $2600 for the room, would have forked over another $1800 without complaint.
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby EMSC » Thu Jan 28, 2016 12:35 pm

My first thought was same as Coldsmoke. Basically "you have $10K to go ski Japan but not a couple hundred for the additional room?"

But also quickly came to the conclusion that unlike the way so many of us westerners are trained growing up.... A LOT more things in life are negotiable than you think. If the hotel accepted the extra $70/night, then it must have been OK with them.

Interesting situation from both points of view though...
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Jan 28, 2016 1:15 pm

Props to Tony for having the guts to tell this story on a public forum. I hadn't considered the angle mentioned by EMSC.

Glass half full: at least he knows that people are actually reading his TRs!
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Re: Sapporo Kokusai, Jan. 19, 2016

Postby Marc_C » Thu Jan 28, 2016 2:19 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I have high confidence, based upon many years observation on these boards, that MarcC would have been every bit as much of a "dick" as I was if he had made the same mistake.

No. I'm willing to admit and own my mistakes. And not to be obnoxious when I'm a guest in another country.
You booked for two people, not four.
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