We stayed at Gondola Apartments for a total of 8 days and felt that we were extremely lucky for choosing the property. Being our first time at Happo 1, we found that there are limited self contained accommodation that are truly near the chair lifts. There are many that claim to be 50m/100m but that’s from a bird’s eye view, maps don’t show a ridge that cuts some of the properties from the chairlifts. Gondola Apartments is literally right in front of the Shirikaba lift and 1min walk to the Gondola.
We have 3 kids and we all were very comfortable in the 2 bedroom. Kids were aged 8, 6 and 2.5 and all slept in one room (extra bedding required for the little guy). Kitchen is on the smallish side but functional. There is also a nice gas fireplace and a WDTV box full of movies.
If you are used to Niseko, Happo 1 is slightly different in that a lot of things are more spread out. There are great restaurants that are walking distance and Daniel from Gondola Apartments will show you where they are. Grocery shopping is a little bit more of hassle as you will need to transport to and fro and will take about 1 hour return trip however Gondola Apartments will kindly arrange free transport at the end of most days. There is no land line phone for local calls so you will need to text for majority of communications and occasionally call for taxi’s etc. As we had one small child (2.5yr) learning to ski for the first time, we found that we needed take a shuttle bus to get to Sakka chair lifts to get him on the magic carpet – obviously this can get tiring but unless you were staying at Sakka it is unavoidable. As the apartments are next to the gondola, all the main shuttle buses stop right outside the property making transport less painful.
Lastly, Daniel the manager/owner of Gondola Apartments is a very approachable guy who is keen to make sure your stay is comfortable and enjoyable. He was always prompt in responding to my queries/requests. We had a great holiday and have already submitted booking for the following year.
Location: The apartment is right at the Happo One Adam Gondola and ticket office, perfect location for easy access to the snow and gave us the option of coming back for lunches and visits.
The apartment: good sized bedrooms with massive beds by Japanese standards, a huge open lounge, dining, kitchen fabulous for 4 adults and one baby. The TV comes with a huge selection of movies and TV shows so no need for watching the news which is pretty much all you can get in English elsewhere. Kitchen is complete with appliances etc so you can self cater. Big bathroom with heated floors :-)
The hosts: Daniel and Graeme were simply phenomenal. Easy to deal with during the booking process, fast to respond to emails and I cannot begin to tell you how amazing they were in person. They picked us up from the info centre, took us to the supermarket to get geared up, helped with transport, baggage, emergencies (pharmacy and doctor runs) and were super informative about what to do, where to go, and anything you could possibly want. Those two guys and their families made our holiday!
Summary: if you want a great apartment (fully renovated) on the snow with excellent service, then look no further... Actually, don't stay here, leave it for us next time we return to Hakuba. Seriously though I cannot sing their praises high enough.