IHG Hotels Open in Iwate: Why Appi Kogen is Ready to Rival Niseko

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  • Iwate is an unspoiled land of beautiful landscapes and a paradise for those who love winter sports. However, Iwate has long been overlooked by foreign visitors who come to Japan for its famous powdery snow. To many foreigners, the ski resorts in Hakuba, Nagano and Niseko, Hokkaido are not to be missed, but Appi Kogen in Iwate is ready to raise the bar and become one of Japan’s top ski destinations.

    As part of the Appi Valley Vision, IHG Hotels & Resorts and Iwate & Resort Co., Ltd. have signed an agreement that will rebrand two existing hotels in the area as IGH properties: ANA Crowne Plaza Resort Appi Kogen and ANA Holiday Inn Resort Appi Kogen.

    Appi Valley Vision

    In November 2021, Iwate Hotel and Resort Co., Ltd., which operates the IHG hotels in Appi, announced the project that would see Appi Kogen become a town of tourism, education,and wellness, a place where next generations can enjoy the many benefits Appi Kogen brings.

    Signing the agreement with IHG was part of this masterplan, officially bringing an international hotel name to Tohoku. IHG is one of the world’s largest hotel groups, and besides the ANA Crowne Plaza Resort Appi Kogen and ANA Holiday Inn Resort Appi Kogen they’ll have in the area, the group’s luxury brand, InterContinental, will debut in 2022 as ANA InterContinental Appi Kogen Resort.

    Besides the international hotels coming to the area, Harrow School, a prestigious British boarding school, will open “Harrow International School Appi, Japan” in August 2022; and multiple commercial facilities and vacation homes will be constructed in different stages as the population grows, expecting a total population of 10,000 people. The idea is that inhabitants and visitors can coexist in a diverse Japanese town. Appi Kogen

    What Makes Appi Kogen Special?

    Appi Kogen is a very special place for winter sports enthusiasts, but why exactly?

    In Ainu, Appi means “Place for peaceful living,” and it’s very easy to see why when gazing at this place: petite hotels, inspired by Nordic aesthetics, and beautiful cabins adorn the gentle slopes full of beautiful birches. This idyllic and picturesque place is next to Japan’s largest icy tree area, Hachimantai, and it receives some of the best snow one could find in Japan. White powdery snow is the main magnet that attracts people to this area of beautiful nature. The snow and area are so well-regarded, that Appi recently became the only Japanese ski resort listed among the Top 10 best places in the world as part of the Winter Sports Tops Award in the international ski category it received. Other resorts that made the list include St. Moritz, the world-famous town in Switzerland.

    The ski resort area here is also massive, totaling 282 hectares and covering two mountains, Mt Maemori with an altitude 1,304 meters, and Mt Nishimori with an altitude of 1,328 meters. What’s more, the total run length is 45.1 kilometers, its 21runs averaging 2.1 kilometers. Additionally, Appi has the longest and the second longest lifts in Japan, allowing visitors to enjoy cross-country skiing while giving them a birds-eye view of the beautiful landscape.

    The location is also very important since it’s easy to access from Tokyo. One simply needs to take the shinkansen from Tokyo Station to Morioka Stations, which is a ride of a little more than 2 hours (and the Tohoku-Hokkaido Shinkansen has wonderful Gran Class cars that can make the ride even more relaxing). Afterwards, one just needs to drive or take a bus for about 50 minutes to get to Appi.

    The Hotels

    ANA Crowne Resort Plaza Appi Kogen has a total of 403 rooms divided into two buildings, nine restaurants and beverage outlets, seven banquet halls, a heated indoor pool, a public bath and a sauna, a private spa and a beauty salon; while ANA Holiday Inn Resort Appi Kogen has 6 accommodation buildings with a total 606 guest rooms, three restaurants one Izakaya, and two banquet rooms.

    There are also plans to open a Kids’ Club at the ANA Holiday Inn to make the hotel an even better location for those who are traveling with kids, not to mention that Holiday Inns offer “Kids Stay & Eat Free”, making them wonderful choices for families. Nearly half of the rooms are Japanese-Western style, meaning that they combine Tatami spaces and a bedroom.

    With the future opening of ANA InterContinental Appi Kogen Resort, Appi Kogen will be ready to welcome visitors from a wide variety of backgrounds.