News for the Hospitality Executive
|Kyodo News International, Tokyo
Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News
Jan. 7, 2004 - TOKYO -- Top foreign hotel chains have set their sights on Tokyo, betting that their respective brands of high-class luxury and innovative services will shake the capital's hotel market out of the doldrums that followed the bursting of Japan's asset-inflated bubble economy.
Following the opening in April 2003 of the Grand Hyatt Tokyo in central Tokyo's Minato Ward, the Ritz-Carlton, Hilton and Hong Kong-affiliated Mandarin Oriental Tokyo are set to debut from 2005 to 2008 in a market already saturated with swanky Japanese hotels.
"What's strange is that there had not been any international top-class hotels in Tokyo. Competition will intensify, but Tokyo's hotel market will become active," said Akira Osada, deputy general manager of the Westin Hotel Tokyo, one of the smaller foreign hotels that have been faring well by capitalizing on unique features.
Tokyo's top three hotels, the Imperial Hotel and the Hotel New Otani in Chiyoda Ward and the Hotel Okura in Minato Ward, are trying to stage a comeback after struggling with lower demand from businesses.
"We are facing a period of large-scale renovations. With new entries in mind, we will be trying to come out with features worthy of the Imperial Hotel brand," said Sanae Nakayama, deputy business management director, commenting of the hotel's 17 billion yen five-year renovation project from December 2003.
But the competition from such establishments as the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, located in the popular Roppongi Hills business-entertainment complex with luxury apartment buildings, is stiff.
"The room occupancy rate has been more than 90 percent up to the end of 2003. We got off to a good start...International hotel chains have a strong appeal with foreign businesspeople who are familiar with them " said Jun Yoshie, sales and marketing director.
Several hundred meters away from Roppongi Hills, a redevelopment project is under way on the former site of the Defense Agency comprising five buildings that will house businesses, apartments and commercial facilities.
On the upper floors of the main 54-story building, the Ritz-Carlton will make its Tokyo debut in early 2008.
"We are trying to create a new town in the central metropolitan area where residents, businesspeople and leisure and commercial facilities can coexist," said Takashi Nakayama, an official of Mitsui Fudosan Co., the major Japanese realtor engaged in the redevelopment project.
"For that purpose, various services which hotels can offer are an imperative factor -- international top-class service," he said.
In the spring of 2005, the Conrad Tokyo of the British-U.S. Hilton hotel chain will open its most luxurious facility in the Shiodome media-entertainment complex in Minato Ward.
In 2006, the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo will open in a renovated building in Nihombashi Muromachi, Chuo Ward, and in 2007, the Peninsular Tokyo will open in Yurakucho, Chiyoda Ward.
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