Every year for the past 11 years, Grace Chong-Tan and her husband Rex, like most of the well-heeled in Singapore, decamp to Hokkaido, Japan, to don ski boots and feast on fresh seafood. The trips began as a winter retreat for their heat-allergic son, who took to skiing like “a fish to water”. The family explored different slopes in Hokkaido until they fell in love with Niseko.
“It was, is, and increasingly more so, an exciting hot pot of experiences – from the beautiful ski slopes to the vibrant night scene and myriad great restaurants, from aromatic food vans on the streets to Michelin-starred restaurants,” says Chong-Tan.
The regularity of their sojourns convinced the 40 somethings that they needed a base. They did not anticipate that their first property investment – a flat at AYA Niseko – would result in the purchase of a boutique hotel across the street as well. J-Sekka came with nine suites, and combines accommodation with restaurants, a whisky bar and a Japanese massage house.
Says Chong-Tan: “Our purchase of J-Sekka changed our lives. Overnight, we became associated with hotels and hoteliers. We never thought of ourselves as such, just people who want to make a beautiful development better by offering the amenities of a five-star hotel.”
“Our purchase of J-Sekka changed our lives. Overnight, we became associated with hotels and hoteliers.”
– Grace Chong-Tan
For the well-travelled couple, this means introducing a professional concierge service; English on demand TV, as almost everyone in Niseko speaks the language; children’s TV programmes, since many families are out in full force in winter, free Wi-fi, in-room dining options from J-Sekka’s in-house F&B outlets, and a personalised travel consultancy for guests. J-Sekka earned a certificate of excellence from Trip Advisor this year. The recognition takes into account quality, quantity and recency of reviews.
A peek into J-Sekka under its new ownership.
The couple applies the same principles to running J-Sekka as they do to their clinics here and in Hong Kong. Says Chong-Tan: “It is about providing outstanding value, quality service and exceptional experience.”