Following an enjoyable two-night stay at the Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono, I travelled a short 20 minutes south to Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve, for my last two nights in Niseko.
With this stay, I stepped into the world of a Ritz-Carlton Reserve for the very first time. This brand, which sits in the ultra-luxury segment of Marriott’s portfolio, is all about distinguished luxury stays in unique settings around the world.
And with Higashiyama Niseko Village set in the midst of one of the finest and most beautiful skiing destinations in the world, I was thrilled to immerse myself in a debut Ritz-Carlton Reserve experience.
In This Post
- Yotei Suite
- Niseko Reserve King
- Higashiyama Suite
- Other Facilities
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Booking
On average, cash rates at Higashiyama Niseko Village tend to fall consistently around ¥70,000 ($480 USD, $650 CAD) per night.
When it comes to using Marriott Bonvoy points, expect to pay between 80,000–95,000 points per night. Indeed, this is how I booked my stay, which priced out at the upper end of this spectrum.
Compared to our valuation of Bonvoy points at 0.6 cents per point (USD) / 0.8 cents per point (CAD), you’ll be more or less on target, depending on your specific redemption.
Additionally, as a Ritz-Carlton Reserve property, Higashiyama Niseko Village participates in Marriott STARS, a preferred partner program.
If you’re booking at a cash rate, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with an authorized travel advisor, who can confirm the booking on your behalf.
You’ll enjoy a number of extra perks throughout your stay, such as a $100 (USD) property credit, complimentary breakfast for two, and more, while paying the same price as the best-available flexible rate.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Location
On Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost island, lies the picturesque ski resort of Niseko. The area is home to several ski-in ski-out hotels, including Higashiyama.
Higashiyama Niseko Village is well-situated at the base of one of four ski hills in the area, all of which are accessible with a single Niseko United ski pass.
While a series of shuttle buses service the four bases, missing the bus means resorting to taxis, which can be costly and exceed over $100 (USD) for a short ride. Surprisingly, navigating around the village’s four bases can prove to be rather challenging.
After enjoying dinner with my friends in the town of Kutchan, I relied on the rather sporadic train service from Kutchan Station to Niseko Station.
From there, I shared a taxi with another group who were heading to the nearby Hilton Niseko Village, getting dropped off at Higashiyama along the way.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Check-in
As I arrived at Higashiyama Niseko Village, I was greeted by a main entrance framed by a simplistic porte-cochère, underlined by strong stone pillars. A secondary pedestrian entrance can be found on the right-hand side of the building.
The dark grey and slated façade looks both sturdy and elegant, mirroring the rugged beauty of the Niseko landscape. Large glass windows, reflecting the environment, bridge the gap between the indoors and the outdoors.
Once inside, the entryway consists of smooth, polished stone, complemented by a luxurious rug. Flanking the entrance are rich brown leather benches, offering a comfortable waiting space.
The reception area and check-in desks are conveniently situated to the far left and right, respectively.
The entryway leads to the first-floor lobby, which elegantly connects to the hotel’s dining spaces and lounge, all of which benefit from floor-to-ceiling windows offering stunning views of Mount Yotei.
I loved the understated ambience of the lobby, and didn’t see too many guests around, since this is a fairly small and intimate property.
Alpine charm is evident in the design, with earthy, brown, and tan hues in the furnishings, punctuated by modern fireplaces that echo the warmth and rustic allure of snowy mountains.
I made my way over to the check-in desks, where the associate welcomed me as a Titanium Elite member, and assisted me with the formalities.
While I’d initially booked into a base-level room, on account of my Titanium Elite status and some persistent “suite-talking“, I wound up with a Yotei Suite. This was far beyond my expectations, as suite upgrades aren’t normally part of the elite benefits at Ritz-Carlton Reserve properties.
Feeling quite delighted, I made my way to the elevator lobby and up to Room 202 on the second floor.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Yotei Suite
As one moves through the deep, jet-black corridor, an unexpected feeling of mystery and suspense builds as you approach the room.
Stepping through the door, I was immediately taken aback by the sheer size of the living space. At around 1,000 square feet, the suite was definitely too big for just myself on this solo trip!
From the plush forest-like carpets to cherry blossom motifs, the suite integrates nature and traditional Japanese elements into its aesthetic.
To the right stands a large dining table, which comfortably seats up to eight. A welcome amenity in the form of a little house of snacks awaited me on the table.
The left-hand wall is intricately adorned with shelving and décor.
Adjacent is a kitchenette, fitted with minibar, Nespresso coffee maker, kettle, and water bottle. The mini-fridge came stocked with soft drinks and sparkling water.
All the minibar items, including alcohol, are complimentary. Naturally, I helped myself to almost everything over the course of my stay, including a delightful oolong tea drink.
Turning our attention back to the suite’s layout, a flat-screen TV is mounted on the same wall, directly across from the seating area.
Tucked into the farthest corner of the room is a cozy seating area, featuring a sofa and two armchairs.
Leading away from the kitchenette, a hallway guides you to the spacious bedroom, bathroom, and a generous walk-in closet.
The bedroom boasts a plush king bed, set against a wall accentuated with a cherry blossom design. Slatted wooden walls frame the bed, drawing one’s attention inwards.
A neatly arranged set of pajamas were proactively placed on the king bed. These classic Japanese-style pajamas are perfect for lounging in the room or when making a visit to the onsen downstairs.
Opposite the bed, there’s a secondary flat-screen TV.
The room features a luxurious desk to its right, crowned with an elegant oval-shaped marble top, which was a pleasure to work from.
Just behind it, there’s an almost full-sized couch, with its left side cleverly indented to accommodate a small side table.
Within the roomy walk-in closet, you’ll find abundant storage on either side. At its heart, a chic rounded vanity stands out, accompanied by a circular mirror, a smaller makeup mirror, and a comfortable stool.
Access to the bathroom is through the bedroom. It features a stunning dual vanity with a marble countertop set against wooden elements.
To the left, you’ll find a luxurious walk-in rain shower surrounding a deep bathtub, reminiscent of an onsen in design, but without the authentic hot spring water.
Nevertheless, it’s a prime spot to gaze at Mount Yotei, and serves as a picturesque photo location.
Within the bathroom, you’ll find a modern smart toilet secluded behind its own door.
Additionally, a convenient half bathroom can be found near the suite’s entrance.
Lastly, the majestic, snow-capped Mount Yotei was beautifully showcased through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the bedroom and living area.
Overall, the Yotei Suite offers a subtle and understated tone of luxury. Modern touches shine through the wooden interiors and furnishings, while the onsen-esque bathtub and cherry blossom motifs add a touch of tradition.
From the complimentary minibar to the plush pajamas, I certainly felt adequately pampered while staying in this suite.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Niseko Reserve King
I also had the opportunity to tour a few other room types.
The Niseko Reserve King serves as the entry-level room at Higashiyama Niseko Village. While it spans a more compact 560 square feet, it maintains the luxury and aesthetics consistent with the hotel’s other offerings.
This room has a single bedroom with a king bed, neighbouring desk, and a seating area. This layout mirrors that of the Yotei Suite’s bedroom.
A spacious bathroom accompanies the bedroom, equipped with a walk-in rain shower and the same onsen-style bathtub.
From the Niseko room types, you’ll get views of pine trees blanketed in snow, rather than a direct view of Mount Yotei. Meanwhile, the Yotei room types offer striking views of Mount Yotei.
Both the base-level Niseko and Yotei rooms provide a cozy and intimate ambiance, even as entry-level accommodations, and they’d be quite comfortable whether travelling solo or as a couple.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Higashiyama Suite
The Higashiyama Suite is distinguished as the resort’s most expansive accommodation, spanning nearly 2,000 square feet.
While it maintains a design aesthetic consistent with other suites and rooms in the hotel, its sheer size is unparalleled. The suite boasts two separate bedrooms: one featuring a king bed and the other furnished with two twin beds.
Each bedroom is accompanied by its own bathroom, a walk-in closet, and a dedicated seating area. Furthermore, the suite includes a generous living space, fitted with a dining table and seating for eight.
Interestingly, the presidential Higashiyama Suite closely mirrors the Yotei Suite, differentiated mainly by an additional hallway leading to a second bedroom.
Overall, the Higashiyama Suite is especially fitting for extended stays or larger families and groups, offering ample space and additional privacy.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Breakfast
Yukibana, one of the two restaurants on the property, serves breakfast from 7–10:30am.
The dining area marries modern alpine luxury with a sweeping panorama of Hokkaido’s natural beauty, and plenty of seating.
For ¥6,350 ($45 USD, $60 CAD), you can enjoy an à la carte main course alongside access to an expansive buffet. However, it’s worth noting that breakfast isn’t included for elite guests at Ritz-Carlton Reserves, so I paid for breakfast on both mornings.
If your stay includes breakfast, as is the case if booking through Marriott STARS, you’ll be treated to both the main course and the buffet.
The buffet at Higashiyama truly stands out. Hot offerings include authentic Japanese rice bowls and eggs prepared to your preference. Additionally, a selection of Western favourites, such as pancakes, French toast, and waffles are available.
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The cold buffet section boasts a variety of fresh salads, fruits, cured meats, cheeses, and yogurt. Other refreshments include carafes of juice, conveniently placed in a refrigerator for guests.
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On my first morning, I opted for the Japanese miso cod. The cod was perfectly cooked, flaky, and infused with the rich umami taste of the miso – a delightful start to the day.
The following day, I treated myself to the classic eggs Benedict. The velvety hollandaise sauce married beautifully with the perfectly poached eggs, and the subtle tang of the sauce complemented the creamy yolk, making it a memorable breakfast.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Dining
In the evenings, Yukibana presents a Western-style dinner in its elegant ambiance.
Additionally, there’s Sushi Nagi, renowned for its omakase offerings.
My friend Manny from Flight Hacks and I had the pleasure of experiencing the omakase at Sushi Nagi, and it was truly delightful.
Our evening began with sea snails – a delicate and chewy delight with a subtle marine sweetness.
The sashimi platter that followed was an artful assembly, every bite melting in the mouth with its pure, unadulterated flavours.
The tako, or octopus, paired with ginkgo nuts, was a symphony of contrasting textures. The firmness of the octopus against the soft bite of the nuts, all wrapped in a slightly sweet, earthy taste.
Then, snow crab, paired with a poached cherry tomato and yuzu jelly. The crab’s subtle sweetness with a burst of fresh tomato, and the citrusy tang of yuzu was excellent.
As the meal progressed, each dish continued to be a surprise, and we were next treated to delicious rounds of omakase sushi prepared right before our eyes.
The chu-toro, the fatty part of the tuna, was silky and rich, almost buttery; meanwhile, the uni, or sea urchin, had creamy and briny nuances.
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Lastly, the ikura, or salmon roe, popped with bursts of the sea in each mouthful, prior to a palate-cleansing dessert.
Overall, our evening at Sushi Nagi was more than just a meal; it was an experience that lingered long after the last bite.
Finally, at Higashiyama Niseko Village, Ume Lounge is a captivating library-style lounge and bar that operates from 11:30am–10pm.
The lounge complements the resort’s restaurants, with contemporary and natural design elements that draw inspiration from the surrounding landscape. You can cozy up by the fireplaces here and relax while sipping on cocktails.
The ambiance of the first-floor lobby captivated me, with its seamless transition between the library-style lounge, bar, Yukibana, and Sushi Nagi. What’s more, the breathtaking Mount Yotei views through their floor-to-ceiling windows were truly remarkable.
Higashiyama Niseko Village, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve – Other Facilities
Spa Chasi La Sothys is the hotel’s in-house spa facility, which takes its name from Hokkaido’s indigenous Ainu language – in particular, the word “chasi,” meaning “sanctuary.” It’s open from 11am–8pm daily, and reservations are required.
As part of the spa, you’ll encounter the hotel’s onsens, both indoor and outdoor, as well as a sauna. Separate bathing areas are designated for each gender, each boasting views of serene gardens and the mountain range.
Keep in mind that you’re expected to be nude in onsens, and bathing suits aren’t permitted.
On the second day, skiing was hindered by poor visibility. I took refuge here at the onsen during the especially challenging conditions between runs, and this was a memorable highlight of my stay.
The hotel has a fitness centre that operates 24 hours a day; however, it’s quite disappointing and leaves much to be desired.
The fitness centre it’s just a simple square room with minimal workout gear – although I imagine most guests tend to gravitate towards the slopes for a workout anyway.
While the ski-in ski-out access is commendable, it doesn’t quite match the convenience of the nearby Hilton Niseko Village, which directly faces the Niseko Village Gondola, easily transporting you to the mountain’s peak.
Higashiyama is slightly off the main path, connected by an isolated trail and a smaller lift that takes you partially up the mountain. From there, you ski down to the Niseko Village Gondola to kick off your day.
Nevertheless, I appreciated the tranquil and private setting, aligning perfectly with the hotel’s vibe.
In the hotel, you can also purchase or pick up lift tickets, rent gear, and take advantage of the ground-level ski valet services.
The Higashiyama Niseko Village offers a serene, zen-like experience complemented by outstanding food and impeccable service.
In contrast to the bustling Park Hyatt Niseko Hanazono on the opposite side of the mountain, which boasts a greater number of rooms, guests, and dining options, this location provides a much more serene and subdued environment.
The spacious Yotei Suite exceeded my needs, blending minimalistic and modern designs with distinct Japanese and refined touches that I greatly appreciated.
On the whole, Higashiyama’s tranquillity, set against the backdrop of pristine landscapes and gentle snowfall, perfectly encapsulates the overarching serenity and timeless beauty of Hokkaido. If you’re looking for a luxurious winter getaway in Niseko’s world-famous powder snow, it doesn’t get much better than this.