The Story of Snowman Apartments


Snowman Apartments is a dream of the guests of Snowball Chalet

While relaxing in the Snowball Chalet lounge drinking Japanese Martinis a guest asked what the plan was with the land next door to Snowball Chalet...

We have a huge block of undeveloped land with expansive views of the mountains and the forest. The plan was always to build gorgeous luxury apartments with traditional Japanese artisan builders and unrivaled build quality. We wanted to combine the best of Japanese and Western aesthetics, architecture and comfort. As soon as the guest heard the idea they right away said they wanted to reserve one of the 4 bedroom apartments. From the other side of the lounge another guest who was listening in also piped up and said they wanted to reserve a 2 bedroom one.

A bit taken aback we started to think seriously about bringing forward the plan and starting the design in 2020 to be completed in 2022. Of course there were a few things that needed to fall into place before the idea could become a reality. We needed an architect that understood the concept, could plan spaces that are liveable and pay homage to the Japanese aesthetic that would be the DNA of the building. We needed a builder who could build at the level of quality we expect, who genuinely loves the ancient build culture of Japan and who could incorporate the beauty of Japanese carpentry which is to become a feature of the apartments.

Finding the right people

We got lucky and found both... Charles Wright from Palaestra, a guest of Snowball Chalet was quick to express his interest in being a part of the project. Charles has an obsession with built space, has studied the architecture of Japan and has an affinity with the aesthetics of Japanese design and buildings. Once we knew who the designer would be we embarked on a plan of discovery. We decided that the best place to start was at the beginning... Japanese temples and farm houses. Both ancient and much loved architectural forms that are ubiquitous in Japan. These wooden structures often older than 400 years were the embodiment of the aesthetic and build quality we want to bring into our development.

We knew of a local, Maiky san, a Japanese development project manager who had become totally obsessed with Japanese farmhouses and temples and restoring and preserving their unique heritage in Japan. We arranged to meet with her so she could take us on a tour of her favourite temples and farm houses in the area. We saw many of them on the tour and met the Japanese owners of the farmhouses who shared Maiky's passion with these lovely examples of Japanese architectural history.

Unbeknownst to us one of the farm houses we were visiting was built by the owner, a master builder and architect who had also become enamoured by Japanese farmhouses. Enter Ozasa Isamu san. Ozasa san runs his father in law's building business which is committed to keeping Japanese architecture and building practices alive. We met Ozasa san at his warehouse where he stores hundreds of cubic meters of saved ancient building materials. He had 400 year old salvaged temples that were dismantled and meticulously numbered so they could be re-assembled, farm houses in the same state and next door another re-built one. We then visited Isamu san's own home which he had recently completed. A ground up build of a traditional farmhouse. It was nothing short of totally stunning. We had our builder. In the deal came Isamu san's engineer and another architect that consults for the company so Charles's designs could be translated and configured for Japanese materials and building codes.

Onwards and upwards...

After the initial meetings to share the idea with Maiky and Ozasa san and to introduce the block of land that the apartments were to be built on. We mapped out a project plan and Charles immediately started work on the designs of the building which are now completed.

The design process has been one of those dream collaborations with a group of people with the same aesthetic sensibility and everyone is totally committed to ensuring the project is absolutely perfect.

There will be all the luxury and comforts that a great ski apartment should have... Structural and decorative elements like the Japanese style bath (Ofuro) on the deck with expansive mountain views, cozy warm and comfortable living area, kitchen that is a joy to cook in, dining area that is integrated with the living space, lighting design that invites you into the warmth of the building, large bedrooms with plenty of storage space for the warm clothes you need to be comfortable on the snow, ensuite bathrooms in the master bedrooms, and of course the fireplace so you can while away the hours with a good book and some atsukan sake (hot Japanese rice wine).

Now that we love the designs and they have been appraised by the builders and engineer we moved to the next phase of certification and planning permits. With this completed we began construction on the 1st of April (not an April Fools Day joke) and are on schedule to complete construction in time for the 2022/23 ski season guests and owners.

The apartments have very strong inquiry from guests who would like to stay and holiday in them. We are not surprised to get this kind of confirmation that the apartments will be very popular with high occupancies and very happy guests.

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