Way back in 2005 I did my first ski season abroad, in Whistler. After several years in my first desk job I was itching for a change. To this point my skiing was limited to weekend trips to Mt Ruapehu in New Zealand’s north island (where I still have a lifetime pass!) and several weeks every winter spent road tripping the south island in a motorhome with a mate.
I wasn’t sure what to expect, after all this was pre-social media days and my expectations were framed more from official resort marketing than the community sourced forums, blogs and #faceshot posts (guilty!) we consume today. I packed my 12 month work visa, NZSIA instructors qualification, and some crazy powder skis by 2005 standards (Armada ARV – 90mm underfoot).
The short version is that fell in love with this life (It helps that I met a bartender in my first few weeks who would end up becoming my wife), but making it a full time gig was just too hard. Not only was my visa limited to 12 months, but I was only just able to make ends meet despite the fact that my accommodation was a bunk bed in a tiny 4 person flat. How would I be able to sustain this, especially when the lucrative winter season ended? At the end of the season I hopped a flight back to Auckland to return to my career with any hope of making a profession out if the snow industry reserved for pipe dreams.
Fast forward 12 years and it’s time for a change again. This time I am coming at it with a partner, a lot more life experience, a bit more maturity, and a little bit of cash. We had been living in London since 2008 and skied extensively in the Northern Hemisphere during this time, whilst continuing to grow our careers. On one of our visits to Japan we became curious about the small number of western business owners we were meeting. Could this be the right time for us to re-ignite the pipe dream?
Over many sakes we picked the brains of these business owners, the pioneers of western snow tourism in Japan. The more we learned the more we wanted it. The common message was that these people were not that different from us, there were no technical limitations of foreign ownership, and that language was a challenge but definitely not a showstopper. We have now spent several years building a network in Japan, and travelling extensively around the country in the winter to explore and find the perfect location for us.
We hope to buy a ski lodge in Japan by the 2020/2021 ski season. 15 years after this all began.