Does the perfect ski resort exist? Of course it does!
Unfortunately, what is best for me, will probably not be what is best for you, or your mates, your partner, your family, or any other lucky person you take on your ski vacation.
After many years of research, I know the ski resorts that I love, and I have a pretty good idea of what it is about those places that make them special to me. Unfortunately everything is a trade off, and the best place to ride is often not the best place to stay, and the resort with the best snow might also be the resort with the biggest crowds, or poor layout.
Finding a resort to purchase a ski lodge needs to meet a long list of criteria, and be a great destination for a broad demographic. Choosing a resort that only caters to advanced skiers and snowboarders is going to severely limit your target market, and choosing a resort that suits the masses is also going to take the shine off why we are doing this – to have fun we need to be somewhere that we would choose to take a vacation.
Finding the Best Ski Resort
So, I now have the criteria to find the best ski resort right? Well, yeah actually I do. Unfortunately, refer to paragraph 1 as each criteria is weighted largely on my personal preference.
Many of these resorts I know well, but a large number of them I know only from 1 or 2 days riding, or even just by reputation. The next action is get boots on the ground and visit the top resorts, this time with a different lens. Last time I visited many of these areas I was just there to ride, and weighing up what a business in that town would look like requires a step back from just the mountain.
This season will involve a lot of miles, driving in heavy snow, sleeping in Michi-no-Eki in our little Kei car, all in the search of the best place to call home for our business. It will be hard, we will have to ride many chairlifts, ski endless deep powder, eat an unhealthy amount of ramen and katsu curry, meet some amazing people, and sample the local saké. Starting a business is tough!
I plan to spend at least 6 weeks on the road all around Honshu this winter, with the plan to validate our criteria and hopefully come away with a list of ski resorts that we know would be right for our ski lodge. In an ideal world we will also view some properties to purchase, however I expect this will require a return visit in the summer to do some door knocking.
Oh yeah, and finally, the Perfect Ski Resort is actually the one that has the Perfect Ski Lodge for sale.
2 thoughts on “The Best Ski Resort”
Hi Mr Jerry, I’ve been enjoying reading through your posts. I particularly love the chart in this post. Nothing beats a seriously well thought out chart. I stumbled across your site while searching – you guessed it – ski lodge businesses for sale in Japan. As someone who has grown up surfing and has limited experience on the snow, it’s not something I ever imagined I’d be searching for. After visiting Hakuba for a month this year doing a volunteer work gig at a small lodge, I became inspired by all the young (and older) expats making a life for themselves based around something and somewhere they love. My desire to have my own business made a resurgence. I also discovered, as you point out, that outside of Niseko, Hakuba, Myoko, etc., there’s not really an internet presence for this kind of real estate. Hakuba definitely has a lot of appeal with some still affordable options and a solid market. If you haven’t already succeeded, I hope the search is providing a lot of enjoyment and I hope to see another post soon.
Thanks for the feedback Cameron. Without a doubt, Hakuba is one of the easiest options to get started with a lodge in Japan. We have performed some due diligence on a few properties within the Hakuba Valley but never pulled the trigger for various reasons. I think some of that is due to the crowd factor of Hakuba, great for business but I wouldn’t be looking at doing this if it was all about making money! This is definitely a passion project and not a fast track to retirement.
We were negotiating with a seller on a property in another area in Feb 2020 when Covid required us to make a hasty return to Australia and pause those discussions. I don’t feel any pressure to rush back into a purchase that relies on international tourism right now, but I am hopeful that 2022 will be settled enough to return to Japan and continue our search.