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Business

Seibu, others develop luxury villas for wealthy foreigners

An artist's rendering of the villas Seibu Holdings will sell in Karuizawa.

TOKYO -- Seibu Holdings and other Japanese property developers are looking to court wealthy foreign visitors by opening upmarket long-stay facilities in popular Japanese resort areas.

Seibu will work with Yokohama real estate agency List on one such development. That company is a partner of U.S. real estate firm Realogy Holdings, which has sales channels in more than 60 countries through the Sotheby's International Realty brand. These ties will give Seibu access to upper-class buyers worldwide.

The first properties offered will be part of the Sengataki resort area in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, owned by Seibu unit Prince Hotels. The 6.9 million sq. meter zone has been split into 5,200 lots -- among the most in any such development in Japan. Information on 100 of these will be listed online in December.

Each plot will be around 1,000 to 1,300 sq. meters and sell for 70 million yen to 80 million yen ($656,250 to $750,000), house included. The developer will offer transportation to and from train stations and local areas, property management services and language support for owners during their stays. Ski resorts, golf courses and shopping centers, all run by the Seibu group, are nearby. Convincing wealthy visitors to stay for extended periods could help boost the economy of the surrounding area.

Visitors from abroad make up around 13% of the guests at Prince Hotels' Karuizawa properties. Heading to the resort town after a night in Tokyo is an increasingly popular plan among tourists. Seibu aims to bring these guests to Japan more frequently by pushing the private villas. If the business takes off in Karuizawa, the developer could start marketing properties in areas such as the Boso Peninsula, which contains Chiba Prefecture, to foreign buyers as well.  

Mitsui Fudosan, meanwhile, has allowed resort operator Aman to open the luxury Amanemu development within the Japanese company's Nemu Hotel & Resort property in Shima, Mie Prefecture. Rooms and villas go for more than 100,000 yen a night. The developer is planning similar resorts, potentially with the help of similar partners, in locations such as Okinawa Prefecture.

MA Platform, an investment company affiliated with Mori Trust, is developing an extended-stay resort on 1,057 hectares in Tomakomai, Hokkaido. When complete, the area will feature a 330-room hotel along with 40 cottages. A partial opening is aimed for 2020.

Japan saw around 11.6 million repeat visitors in 2015, according to data from sources including the Japan Tourism Agency. This is 2.9 times the 2011 level. But the length of the average overseas visitor's stay dropped from 13.6 nights to 10.2 nights over that same period, with visitors from Asian nations leading the decline.

(Nikkei) 

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