We recently held a breakfast seminar where we talked about the rapid growth of Niseko, Asia's only branded ski resort and why we should look at the comparisons it has with Aspen, Vail, Val d'Isere, Courchevel and St Moritz and look back in history as to why these are the brands of Europe & North America, where you rub shoulders with celebrities and royalty alike whilst skiing.
Where did the branded ski resort start?
An old advertisement poster for St Moritz
St Moritz was where it all started some 150 years ago when a hotelier invited 4 British tourists to visit in the winter, and if they were to find St. Moritz attractive, he would invite them to stay as his guests for as long as they wished. This marked not only the start of winter tourism in St. Moritz but the start of winter tourism in the whole of the Alps.
How did Niseko Evolve into the brand it is today? The name Niseko derives from the Ainu Language (the indigenous trips of Hokkaido), and it means "a cliff jutting over a riverbank deep in the mountains."
One of the first people to introduce skiing to the land of the rising sun was Austrian Lieutenant Colonel Theodor von Lerch Edora at the beginning of the 20th century, seen here.
He was asked to train the Japanese army and local high school teachers in Niigata Prefecture. On his visit to Kutchan in 1912, von Lerch climbed and skied down Mount Yotei. This accomplishment was widely published among local newspapers and made von Lerch the first recorded skier in Niseko. Skiing gained popularity in Japan during this period.