Investment decisions should never be led by the heart, we are told. But snow bunnies, who return each winter to the magical white, powdery slopes of alpine resorts, may be forgiven for letting emotion come into play - especially when those snowfields are just a few hours' flight from Hong Kong. Property in luxury ski resorts might well tick all the right investment boxes. Those drawn to add a ski chalet to their portfolio will find some appealing options in Japan. The hottest spot in the mountains right now is Niseko, Hokkaido, a town that has risen from relative obscurity to major a tourist destination in about five years after word spread that it has some of the best snowfalls in the world. Recently voted second in Forbes Travellers' 20 snowiest ski resorts, this burgeoning ski village enjoys consistent, dry, powdery snowfalls, offering skiers and boarders, groomed and off-piste, conditions for all experience levels. Night skiing is also available. Since international travellers discovered Niseko in the early part of this decade, developers have been busy building quality infrastructure and promoting tourism in the region. Now, a broad range of accommodation, wide selection of restaurants and traditional cultural experiences assure Niseko of its place among Japan's favourite winter playgrounds. It's also appealing in spring and summer when the town transforms into a cherry-blossom draped place for hiking, golf and horse-riding. Tim Murphy, managing director of property investment company IP Global, notes a growing trend among Hongkongers looking to buy ski chalets for lifestyle and investment reasons. 'We have a number of clients and even several staff members who fly to Niseko to ski each year,' he says. Anne-Marie Sage, regional director of residential at Jones Lang LaSalle Hong Kong, agrees. 'With facilities on par with the world's most famous ski resorts, rivalling Whistler, Aspen and the Swiss Alps, Niseko has become the playground for well-heeled Asian travellers. It's popular for many reasons, including its proximity and identical time zone.' Regular direct flights to Chitose make Niseko an easy destination for Hong Kong skiers. After a five-hour flight, the 90-kilometre scenic drive to the snowfields takes around two hours. A rail link connects Niseko to New Chitose via Sapporo city. Apart from the lifestyle, Murphy argues there is a strong financial element which flags Niseko as an investment opportunity. He notes that while property prices have increased substantially in recent years, 'there are good prospects for further capital growth as the region remains under-developed and prices remain very low'. IP Global has launched three phases of The Chalets at Niseko, all of which have been sold to mainly Hong Kong-based investors. 'Many clients have made use of the 7 per cent rental guarantee which allows owners to use the property one week in winter and two weeks in summer [subject to terms and conditions]. The management of The Chalets can assist with ongoing management after the rental guarantee if required,' Murphy says. The Chalets at Country Resort is an exclusive community within outer Hirafu district. The low-density development comprises 46 chalets, each built upon a large, freehold block and enjoying panoramic views of Mount Youtei. 'These chalets are built for people who enjoy luxury, space and tranquility,' says Murphy, who has three new chalets for sale with a starting price of 35 million yen (HK$3 million). All of the chalets are designed to maximise the spectacular views of Mount Youtei, while maintaining the privacy of individual residents. The chalets incorporate traditional Japanese materials, design features and colour schemes. Jones Lang LaSalle recently launched its latest alpine project, Capella Niseko Resort and Residences, with more than 200 potential investors attending the December property showcase at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The 149-unit luxury residential development is part of a signature resort designed by world-renowned architect Tadao Ando and managed by hotelier Horst Schulze, of Ritz Carlton fame. The architect says his theme for Capella Niseko stresses the importance of 'respecting the natural beauty of Niseko and creating a symbiotic and comfortable relationship with the environment'. Ten units were sold on the night. Sales transactions ranged from HK$8 million to HK$40 million, with property sizes measuring 2,000 sqft for apartments to 5,538 sqft for villas, generating proceeds in excess of HK$250 million. The combined unit sales after the Hong Kong pre-Christmas launch and the early November launch in Singapore amounted to more than 30 per cent of the total stock and generated total proceeds in excess of HK$550 million. Ernest Tsang, general partner of Annupuri Land, describes this result as 'remarkable'. 'Buyers see the value in the development for combining the best options available in the respective fields,' he says. Sage, whose firm is the sole marketing agent, says her phone rang hot after the launch, with another 10 units sold in a week. 'We are expecting more transactions to come as this is a rare opportunity in the market. The launch attracted many architects and interior designers, including renowned interior designer Steve Leung, who bought a unit during the Hong Kong launch.' She adds that at Capella Niseko Residences, buyers 'will not only appreciate the exquisite design by master architect Tadao Ando, but also enjoy the natural surroundings in Annupuri-Niseko mountain'.