If you are planing a trip to Ski Japan Hakuba Powder Lodge is your best bet for lodging.
Powdermania.com just did an interview with Nick Kowal, owner of the Hakuba Powder Lodge. In the past few years, the Powder Lodge has gained a reputation for being the place to stay for serious skiers in the Hakuba area. In the interview, Nick talks about life in Japan, what makes the Powder Lodge so successful, and how to ski as much as possible while running a business and supporting a family. Excerpts from the interview are posted below. For the full text, visit Powdermania.com.
Powdermania: Hi Nick, How many years have you already lived in Japan and why did you decide to leave Canada.
Nick: I have lived in Japan for 12 years now. I first came to Japan on a school program to study Japanese and resort management. That first season was 1995-1996 and it snowed so much I was hooked on skiing forever. I came back again to work in Kyoto and pay off some debt in the fall of 1998. Since then I have lived in Japan full time. I didn’t choose to leave Canada, I love Canada. I think Japan was more of I could afford to start a snow business here decision.
Powdermania: Within the last few years the Hakuba Powder Lodge became the Lodge with more powder chasing skiers than any other Lodge I have ever seen. Was that your dream or why did you start the business.
Nick: I started the Lodge as a way to stop teaching English. I came to a crossroad in my life really. English teaching work was once a highly paid job but it changed so quickly that I was left standing in my old company angry at everything. I was over or under worked with a paycheck that got cut by 1/3. I thought I either have to go back to Canada to study or start some type of business. My wife and I skied 40 days a year or more so the ski lifestyle we both loved made sense. My wife was really great about starting something new; she thought lets go for it. We cobbled all of our money together and bought a run-down place in Hakuba. At the time I was heavily into Internet ski forums and our place was slowly coming together so I marketed the lodge to ski bums. I set my prices low and tried to get people that loved to ski. We always thought that we would change and attract some more beginner types or skiers but in the end I love my guests. They make me jealous every day I don’t ski with their stories, pics and videos.
Powdermania: Unlike other businesses in Hakuba and also other areas in Japan your Lodge was overbooked all season despite the events a year ago. Why this?
Nick: That is the 1 million dollar question really. I would be lying if I said I could tell you 100% why. I believe it was our guests that saved us. We have tried to turn every guest into a friend. It doesn’t always work, but that is one of our selling points. Without our guests telling their friends about us we would’ve been in bad shape this season. The other reason was a switch to the European market. That was something we started to focus on about 3 seasons ago and it really has paid off.
For the full interview, visit Powdermania.com.