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"Prince" Group - riders friend or foe? Discuss!

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I have always thought that the Prince group seem to do the bare minimum to get us to their resorts and they just ignore our needs and to almost treat us with contemt. Am I the only one who feels this way, or not? Just kinda interested...

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FOE!!!! FOE!!!!!!!!!! FOE!!!!!!!!!!!!


Naeba hates day trippers! Clearly estabilshed by the fact the all the beleived(don't know if it is true cause can't be bothered walking all that damn way) day facilities are at the furthest end of the resort!


What the hell is with that "Dragondola"?! Could've spent that money on opening up more terrian in Naeba itself! Or perhps facilites for day trippers!


mad.gif mad.gif


[This message has been edited by mogski (edited 05 February 2002).]

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Closing the gondolas and lower quads early on Sunday for no good reason (it had begun to snow a bit--terrible!!) had me pig-biting mad.


Having closed runs such as mogul hills and boardercross courses where you actually have to pay 100 yen to ride it one time is gouging of the worst sort...what's next, 100 yen for "reserved seats" on the lift?


Blank hostility and lack of facilities for day trippers...had to walk a half-mile at the end of the day, lugging giant board cases through puddles, mud and dirty slush, just to get to the bus back to Echigo Yuzawa Station...prices are high, slopes very crowded...


That aside, the top of the mountain at Naeba is great and we've had good snow up there every time. A bit hairy actually! NICE.


But no thanks to the Prince Hotel management. And I echo Mogski's condemnation of the new gondala connecting Naeba with Tashiro.


What for?


It's beyond me. What, did they have legions of people arriving at Naeba, taking a look around, then saying "You know, what this place really needs is a link to Tashiro!"


Instead of that giant white elephant, how about 2-3 shorter lifts to access some of the expert terrain lying fallow around and atop the resort? That would have been great!


Perhaps the answer has to do with a kind of giant storybook picture I saw hanging in one of the cavernous hallways of this or that part of the Prince Hotel building there: "Future of Prince Hotel Naeba!" it proclaimed, and there was an architect's rendering of what the next phase of development would be.


Looks like the gondola may just be some step in a giant development plan intended to bring in a buttload more people to the same crowded slopes, while charging them even more money to stay in a shiny new hotel with shiny new restaurants and shiny uniforms and carpeted hallways with signs saying "No ski boots allowed here" and "No snowboards allowed here" and "No skis allowed here".


Well, leave them to it. As others have said, this resort is one of those purpose-built to separate the average salaryman or upper-middle-class disposable-income set from their money.


Seems to work.


They even got some of mine, yesterday.


Forget about the Prince Hotels. They do the same bizarre, hostile gig up in Hokkaido too.


As for Naeba, go there on a weekday after a big dump, spend a lot of time on the top part of the mountain, and stay in a cheap pension nearby. You'll be glad you did.

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I have never actually stayed at a Prince Hotel, but they have always looked over-priced for what they are. My mate stayed at Naeba and told me that the rooms looked like a set from a 70s movie and was not impressed having paid quite a bit to impress his lady-friend.


Interesting to read badmigraines mail!


Anyone stayed in any of the other Prince hotels???

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Actually I remember hearing an interesting story from friends who stayed in a Prince Hotel. They found a bug under the bed. Not a creepy crawly type but an electronic type. The response of the management was 'moshiwake arimasen'. My friends being Japanese, they didn't follow it up.

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I've stayed at two different Prince hotels in Hokkaido: the one in Furano, and one at Niseko (the Higashiyama Prince Hotel, which is listed in SJG's accomodations section).


The one in Furano, though much more modern, bright, clean and, well, great-looking, was run in a manner reminiscent of the one at Naeba, which I described in my earlier post.


The one in Niseko was great, and I highly recommend it, if you have the money. Read on.


I am much chastened by the realization that a Dick Shagwell-type post can do a lot of damage, so here are some details.



I have recycled this Furano Prince review from one that I wrote in 1997 ago on a different site. I haven't been back to Furano since then (there are better places to spend money), so it could have changed for the better in the interim...has anyone been there recently? Do tell.


As for Furano resort itself, as a ski hill, I was disappointed. The snow quality was fine--Hokkaido after all--but many things there were backward, inconvenient, vaguely hostile (left me feeling vaguely like I was imposing upon them somehow by skiing at their resort) and often user-unfriendly.


I purchased an all-area ski pass, only to find out that just under half of the major chairs were closed, for no understandable reason, in spite of the glorious, sunny weather and fresh powder snow. This was not posted clearly. There was no discount and the ticket window clerk merely smirked wanly at me when I protested, in a "you-must-be-joking-sir" kind of way. Silly me. Full price, for less than half the hill? Thank you sir, may I please have another? WHACK!


The runs were alright, though lacking in consistently challenging terrain. There is dreadful, piped-in J-Pop and other fluffy, offensive music which detracts from the natural beauty of the place. Though the intermediate slopes and bunny slopes were rather too well-populated as on any weekend, nearer the top of the mountain there were fewer people and that made the trip worthwhile. I found plenty of places where I could play and amuse myself.


The Prince Hotel, located at the bottom of one of the slopes, was, simply put, a haven of fascist anti-ski sentiment. Quite bizarre indeed for a hotel which owes its very existence to skiers.


"Don't put your skis here, don't lean your snowboard against the lockers, don't come in here with ski boots on, you must check your skis at the entrance", "registered hotel guests only in here" and so on.


There scuttling troops of green, monkey-suited bellhops dourly enforced these inexplicable regulations. Don't stay at the Prince Hotel, they don't want you there.


Why on earth you'd have this sort of thing in a hotel at the base of a ski resort, at which all guests are ski guests, mystifies me.


Being a well-paid expat in those days, I simply checked out and moved to a brand-new hotel nearby called the Orica Hotel.


It's only 15 shuttle-bus minutes away from Furano resort, and it was great, one of the finest ski hotels I've ever stayed in (keep in mind that until I moved to Japan, I quite sensibly stayed in cheapo motels and roadside Motel 6's, to save cash). The staff and facilities are fantastic, highly recommended. No need to patronize that awful Prince Hotel there.




I've been here twice, with a different girlfriend each time. In those days I had a much bigger paycheck and could afford to squire the ladies around the archipelago in style.


Both times I went on a package deal, cost me about 80,000 including airfare from Haneda, bus from Chitose to the hotel, 3 nights of accommodations, 2 all-you-can-graze breakfasts, and 2 days of Niseko Higashiyama lift ticket action.


Here, in order, are the greatest things about this hotel:



It is run like a ski hotel, and there are skis all over the place inside, and the hotel staff approves.



The Higashiyama gondola base is CONNECTED TO THE HOTEL.


So after you bloat and gorge on scrambled eggs, sausages, pancakes, orange juice, toast and coffee, then have another go round for a Japanese brekka of grilled salmon, natto, rice, soup, more coffee, a bit more scrambled eggs with toast and jam, another cup of coffee, then stuff some fruit and bread into your jacket pocket for onlsope "lunch", all you have to do is waddle your lumbering carcass, probably while leaking gas at both ends, over to the locker room to retrieve your skis/board, then climb into the gondola for a scenic ride to the top where the howling winds and virgin powder fields shyly await your appearance.



Lots of nice food and a few shops, and a great onsen/rotenburo combo where you can sit in the hot bath outside watching the fat flakes melt into a fish pond. Where are the fish? Huddled against the rotenburo wall, enjoying the warm water overspill. Hello boys! Nice to share the warmth with you.



Convenience, convenience, convenience, and up at Niseko no less. You can buy an all-mountain passport, and then ride the Annupuri and Hirafu lifts too--they all connect at the top.


Highly recommended if you have the cash.


If ya don't have the cash, stay at the Hirafu Chalet (check the SJG accommodations guide), you get everything you need and more, for cheap. A great place. See you there in about 2 weeks.


So there you have it. Prince is bad, but not all over.

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This is all very interesting as I thought that they were a kind of deluxe really nice place that looked after the ski community - after all they own a hell of a lot of the resorts.



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I am going to have to post a little counter-balance to BadMigraine's post....


I've stayed at the Furano prince every December for the past 3 years. The staff have completely lightened up with regards to ski gear; I have never experienced or witnessed the heavy-handedness you referred to, but I can believe it was that way back in '97 (a century ago in snowboard / ski terms).


I get the cheap deals you can find in Jaran magazine (all in flights , 2 night accomodation and tickets for 34,000 yen).


So I will give a thumbs-up for Furano prince ( and the lifts are at the back door of the hotel).

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  • 4 weeks later...

My family and I a few weeks ago went up to the Prince in Shizukuishi and we had an enjoyable time. It was not the most modern of places, but certainly not as terrible as some people seem to say Prince are. Never been to any of the other Prince hotels though, so I only know this one.


Nice resort

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you, Badmigraine, for your very long and informative post.

I was in the Higashiyama Prince last weekend and I can confirm that what you said about it is very true.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I was speaking to a bunch of japanese friends about this the other day over some beers, and they seem to be positive about the prince people. They are the "ski industry kings" was what one of them said. (Shes not too good at eigo, but i think we can get the drift).


Any other japanese people reading this with thoughts on the prince group?

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I have only stayed at the Naeba prince but I wasn't too impressed with them at all. The rooms were kinda old and not fit to the price they charged us. Don't know about any other places.



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