If your ghost town comment refers to the perceived lack of people in many of the local bars and restaurants, maybe more choice and smaller entertainment budgets than last year are, on average, leading to less customers per establishment.
Really, I think the state of the economy right now has both locals (foreign & Japanese) and tourists (domestic & int'l) watching their yen a little bit more closely than years previous.
Occupancy. We're doing alright. Last year we pushed 98% in Jan, this year we're at 70-75. Same number of guests, just more accommodation. We're hitting that percentage by offering acommodation and package discounts, so the real concern is less revenue, with greater expenses due to the increase in properties under management.
The bigger concern is that people will go home and say " Niseko is fecking EXPENSIVE" and make next year a toughie too. Town is findings its level now- the best safeguard against lost jobs is the old Whistler "Service Plus " philosophy- never forget these punters ultimately pay for us to live here and any time you can stoke them out- give directions, take a group picture for them, give a smile when serving- comes back ten fold in the long run. Make this place so that no matter what happens people love coming here- thats what will keep this place rolling through the tough times.
I just wanted to jump in really quick and squash that rumor about the bar closing. They aren't. Some staff were let go. This from the bar in question: "Tough decisions in tough times and we are open for business every day and need everyone to support us." They, and all the rest of the food & drink establishments in town, are still very much in business. Show love!
I have no problems supporting my local pub and cool to see all the bars putting on events to make Hirafu/Niseko a great place to go out apres-ski/board. I also don't mind shelling out a few bucks for yummy grub n good boooze and know that prices are always a bit higher in a resort community. What I do have a beef with one pub increasing their prices twice in the season already, too bad as I was supporting their fair value for good portion. Have to remember to keep the local workers / staff / year-round staff happy by keeping prices reasonable / portions fair-sized. We are also the ones to tell customers where the best places are to go. I can understand with the economy in the dumps that places may be hurting but these practices will not pay-off in the long run.
It definately is quieter this year. Alot of places that were open at 1pm aren't opening till four or six pm.
The mood is definately more sombre.
To make it worse a small bar in the upper village was darn right unwelcoming. It looked like The seasonal expat had his couple of mates in their and didn't want anyone else. All their crap was spread out over the whole bar. When we asked if we could move some stuff and have a seat we were told tht ayou can push it aside a bit if you want! WTF! this place could hold a couple of dozen (although it would be tight) and it had 1 barman and his three mates. Obviously this wasn't his business. I just feel sorry for the person who does, when he wonders where has all his business has gone.
If it was his place, I'll be back next year. I'll buy the place off ya for a crate of beer.
On a lighter note Paddy's was our usual post snowboarding drinking spot for my family and I. We always had a good time and would like to thank Al and his staff for their hospitality.