Sculpted from snow: Snow Lounge @ The Flame - Hilton Niseko Village

Tourists from around the world and Japanese out-of-towners come together in Niseko every winter.  The region is praised by skiers and snowboarders for its incredible powder snow.  In this luxurious region of resorts is Niseko Village, and adjacent to it is the resort hotel, Hilton Niseko Village. 
To celebrate the completion of modeling artist Hiro Takenaka’s snow sculpture, Snow Lounge @ The Flame, a party was held.    Opened on December 22, the Snow Lounge @ The Flame is a sculpted space made from snow and ice, located just in front of the hotel.
After the construction of the pillars, snow and the various conditions winter brings caused the formation of icicles along the walls.  There are tables and chairs made from snow and ice as well, but depending on the whether, their shapes vary too. 
The Snow Lounge couldn’t really be called “complete” until the snow had piled up on the pillars, created a roof and a space that people could come together in.  The snow roof takes on an almost mushroom-like shape, making the structure even more interesting. 
Coming out of the ice-made exit feels a bit like exiting a cave.
Inside, there is a bar and candle illuminations embedded in the snow walls, turning the space in to a romantic little world.  
Just like with an igloo or snow fort, the temperature inside the Snow Lounge is much more mild than the cold winter outside.  The drinks at the bar are fantastic, but you can imagine that after a while, you will begin to get a bit cold despite the warmer temperature inside the lounge.
The tables and chairs are all made of ice.
Through openings in the roof, you can see the scenery outside from the candle-lit world inside the lounge.  It was so beautiful I had to stop and stare for a bit. 
The pride of the Hilton Niseko Village is their hot spring, where I stopped for a soak before heading home.
※ Picture borrowed from the Hilton
The open-air bath has an absolutely spectacular view of the surrounding snowscape.  With high quality hot spring water, the salt bath will warm you from the inside out.  Overlooking a large pond, the Niseko hot spring will melt away fatigue and cold.  I highly recommend a visit. 
Hotel guests may use the facility for free. For those who are not guests of the hotel, entrance to the hot spring costs 1,000 yen for adults and 500 yen for children. 
There’s so much fun to be had in Niseko Village, with a variety of events and ski resorts.   Even for those from Hokkaido, it’s like a different world, a paradise snow country. 
Personally, I hope many families and friends will visit this place.
Hilton Niseko Village
〒048-1592 北海道虻田郡ニセコ町東山温泉
TEL:0136-44-1111 / FAX:0136-44-3224
Snow Lounge @ The Flame
Open from December 22, 2012- March 10, 2013 (expected)
Hours:14:00 - 22:00
※ Weather conditions may affect hours of operation and business.  Please do not hesitate to call before visiting to check on current conditions. 
( Hokkaido Likers Photo Writer – Itsuki )