The partners in pow above
As the Powder Temple shuts its doors for the summer I thought Id take the opportunity to discuss the season and thank all the amazing people who made it all possible.
Its been just over a year since we took the plunge and purchased our little lodge far from home. Gemma and myself invited some likeminded individuals to be part of our journey and the temple team set about preparing the lodge and business for its first winter, Caleb Maguire, Jess Howe and Tim Howe are our partners in crime in all things powder related. Our challenges started right at the get go with our Australian bank falling short on finance, we will be forever grateful For Bob and Lynn Backshall saving the day.
And so, we forged blindly ahead, certain we could open for business by the next season…. A gargantuan task.
Caleb and I jumped on a plane for a 2-week work fest in May that involved 14 hour days and a lot of medicinal booze. Hard yakka by day, furniture assembly by night. I stayed on another week and began the task of dumping unwanted goods left by the sellers…. A lot of unwanted goods which needed to be separated and taken to the river tip, a summer only rubbish dump where a ute load of gear costs $100 plus to dump (a tv is $65) on its own. Safe to say we still have 12 tvs in the basement. I had already spent days in the kitchen, and once Caleb left, I started stripping back the floor and painting. The oven alone had 24 hours of cleaning done on it…
We started taking bookings immediately and ended up running at about 50% occupancy for the season, we learnt a lot about being hoteliers and a lot about Japan. For instance, you are not allowed to have a bank account, vehicle or voice mobile phone as westerners, apparently owning the hotel bought no perk for operating in Japan. Thanks to Hakuba Assist we overcame these hurdles enabling us to operate and do guest transfers. With all the bookings done by me back in Oz, we employed two young couples to man the hotel. These guys couldn’t have been any better. Will Jeffreson and Paige Smith decided to come along in December and give me a hand opening for the season with Henry Lang and Rachael Petrie following a few weeks later. Although affectionately known as “the kids” by us old farts, they behaved in a mature manner at all times, exceeding guest expectations and taking on any tasks that were required of them. They were exemplary and they can put that on their resumes!
Lyn and Bob decided to accompany me on a month-long renovation trip and so we headed off with our 90kg of bedding, the “in laws” worked their butts off cranking out huge days renovating cleaning and preparing for the winter, it was fast approaching and we weren’t approved to operate by the fire department yet! We eventually passed our fire inspection and were granted our hotel licence, to say we took it to the wire was an understatement. During our time there Lynn concentrated on ensuring we were in a good place to obtain our food hygiene licence so we could open our restaurant for the season as well, she also specialised in setting up our rooms. Bob and I did other jobs, plumbing shifting walls, painting - Bob was especially fond of being electrocuted but it kept him on his toes. We greeted our first guests nervously, two guys, one a male model from Canada, the other an Airline host they were a lovely couple, Lynn was Smitten.
Will and Paige arrived and although they slept like vampires they worked hard and we were ready to open for the season in the nick of time, although our restaurant licence was not quite ready we got there in the end and were fully Legit! Lynn, Bob and myself departed and Henry and Rachael turned up and teamed up with Will and Paige to provide a great service to our guests over the season.
There were a few hiccups of course, our pipes kept freezing and we had no idea how to dispose of 8 metres of snow over 4 months but hey we were pumped, or more so, the kids had the energy to deal with this. Things were sailing along smoothly when a mishap saw us with a broken kerosene heater line emptying 400litres of kerosene through a guests room and apartment underneath it. A devastating and very expensive accident that slowed down our good run. As the staff worked day and night to eliminate any risk of fire, our insurer swept in and began repairs immediately.
In January, we headed over for a working holiday. With Tim, Jess, my sister Sarah, Gemma, Bam BamVan all keen to see the place in operation, and cook the kids some real meals, with veges. We took a good-sized crew with us, and had a blast meeting our amazing guests who will be friends forever. We scored some deep pow and rode some ‘old faithful’ lines. Every night was like a big family dinner with everyone congregating in the common lounge and dining area sharing food, beers and stories (not to mention the occasional shooter!!). After 3 weeks we had to say goodbye but left ecstatic that the Powder Temple team were running the place like it was their own, and enjoying some of the best riding of their lives.
April has rolled around and the Temple is ready to shut her doors. Happy I’m sure, to be rested for the Japanese summer before welcoming another season of eager guests, all smart enough to venture of the beaten track to enjoy some of the driest powder snow on earth.
November already feels like it’s coming too quickly… re-painting of the guest rooms is underway, new curtains have been ordered and the carpet installers are booked. Works are under way that will have the temple shining bright one day… Until then, its hard work and toil, but the dreams that are worth it don’t come easily.
Thanks again for your support, likes, reviews and shares, Jake, Gem and the Powder Temple Team.