We are so lucky at Snowball Chalet. It has been a mad few years and we are so pleased everything is slowly going back to normal with the Japanese border opening and travel returning.
We haven't been sitting idle though. At the very start of the Corona lockdowns we started a few hopeful projects that incredibly landed...
We commenced designing the Snowman Apartment development for the land right next door to Snowball Chalet. It went through a few iterations and after a team of incredibly kind and dedicated people had been pulling together the construction phase of the project commenced and Stage 1 will be completed in time for the coming ski season. The first 4 apartments have sold. It is just so exciting to see the realisation of a life long dream to build and for it to be such a beautiful building.
At the same time as we were working on the Snowman project we did a second round of renovations at Snowball Chalet. We have made a lot of small improvements and one really big one. We now have a dining room where the rear balcony used to be. It will open as a Restaurant in the future but more importantly people will be way more comfortable at breakfast time. the whole chalet will be better for it. We can't wait for the guests to see it. It is lovely with incredible views and is super comfortable, cozy and bright.
When we started Snowball Chalet all those years ago we had a dream that we would be able to give opportunities to our staff and that is exactly what we have done. Wonderful Rena Takenoshita has become a partner in our new adventure Yukimi Guesthouse right down near the famous Nagano Snow Monkeys as a 50/50 partner. We couldn't be happier. The incredible care and dedication Rena has put into Snowball Chalet has been amazing and we are so excited to be able to share the business with her. Of course she is still a major part of Snowball Chalet, working with us full time on all our projects but Yukimi is a lot hers.
The amazing chef from our last season Kon Kudo decided to stay in Madarao when Covid shut the planet down. Over the years we have been gently working on him, encouraging him to join us in a venture. Kon is incredibly talented, creative and intelligent and we are so lucky that he decided to become a partner in the Shaggy Yak restaurant and bar which is being re-imagined with a name change to Mister Daruma. The Daruma is a Japanese lucky charm. You do a small ritual making a wish, writing it in teeny tiny writing on one of the empty eyes. You then colour the eye black hiding the wish in dark ink. When your wish comes true you colour the other eye. In a way Kon is our Mister Daruma. We so wished he would jump on board with us and here we are with a new delicious venue opening up in time for the ski season.
It would seem we can never sit still... Andy and I also bought a gorgeous piece of land looking straight up at Tangram Ski Resort right on the other side of the mountain. The land sits right in the middle of the golf course and tomorrow construction of our new Snowball Guesthouse will be commencing. It will be ready at the end of August for the first guests. Our incredible Japanese artisan builders who have built Snowman Apartments will be building it and the guesthouse is the design the owner of the company used to build his own dream home. He has been incredibly generous with his creativity, time and effort and the result will be a stunning year round accommodation for guests to soak up the views of Tangram, Kurohime and Iizuna mountains while skiing in the winters and mountain biking, hiking and golfing in the summers.
We aren't quite finished... Andy and I have kicked off our plan to reimagine the Madarao that was in the hey day of the ski boom. There is an old apartment block here that has the most incredible views and is in an absolutely prime location. We did a test renovation of an apartment in the block to see if it was possible to bring them back to their full glory. The apartment is now know as Snowball Studios. The outcome is nothing short of spectacular. It is so much better than it was even when new and the apartment sold. We are starting work on the second apartment in March and will continue our grand master plan until the block has well and truly exceeded its former glory. It is going to take a few years to get to the end of the project but it will easily be one of the nicest mountain ski accommodations on the mountain by the time we get done. Oh and Andy and I will most likely end up living in one for a good deal of the year. The apartments have a lovely community of people in them and a lot of the summer life in the village is in there.
Anyhoo. That's it for now. Hope you enjoyed the update. WINTER IS COMING!!!