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Friday, May 23, 2008

Hilton to open hotel at Niseko resort area


Staff writer

Hilton Hotels Corp. said Thursday it will open a refurbished hotel July 1 in the Hokkaido resort area of Niseko, a location recently popular with skiers from abroad, to make it a year-round resort for families, golfers and skiers.

Last year, Hilton signed an agreement with Citigroup Principal Investments Japan Co. to renovate and rename Niseko Higashiyama Prince Hotel under the Hilton brand. Citigroup purchased the hotel, which is currently closed for renovation, from Seibu Holdings Inc. in March 2007.

"With an ideal plan and position to offer a year-round attraction, we see great potential to develop a tourism destination throughout the year," said Oded Lifschitz, Hilton's vice president of international operations for Japan, South Korea and Micronesia.

Lifschitz said the hotel will aim to boost sales by 35 percent in 2008 from those of the previous hotel, although Hilton refused to give out a concrete figure. About 75 percent of the customers are expected to be Japanese, but Hilton also expects visitors from Australia and Asia.

Hilton's goal is to turn Niseko, a two-hour drive from Sapporo, into a year-round resort and not just a winter resort for skiers attracted to Niseko's powder snow, he said.

The 506-room Hilton Niseko Village, the ninth hotel in Japan under the Hilton group, will cooperate with local tourism operator Niseko Village to offer visitors fly-fishing, rafting and other outdoor activities to lure summer visitors.



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The Japan Times

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