Hoshino Resort, a Japanese resort operator with more than a century of hospitality experience, aims to open its ryokans (traditional inns) to the corporate market.
Dating from the Edo period of Japan’s history, ryokans were found along the highways, accommodating travellers in tatami-matted rooms and boasted communal baths with piped in hot spring water. Hoshino started out developing Karuizawa in Nagano Prefecture, then an emerging highland retreat in 1904, opening Hoshino Hot Spring Hotel some years later.
Today, the company owns and manages a portfolio of 19 ryokans, hotels and ski resort properties – most of which are owned by Goldman Sachs. According to Haruka Izutani, Hoshino global sales manager, the relationship with the investment house has provided a reliable client base from the US and elsewhere despite the tough business climate.
Priced higher than a regular hotel product, ryokans only attracted a certain clientele and very few foreigners at that. Hoshino intends to expand their appeal with the concept it calls “another Japan” – contemporary ryokans.?The template is its Hoshinoya Karuizawa, 150km northwest of Tokyo, consisting of 77 rooms set in villas that blend into the hillside.
The onsen experience is a highlight of one’s stay, and various therapies include the yami-no-heya (bath in the dark) for relaxation and hikari-no-heya (bath in the light) for stimulation of the senses. There is also the tombo-no-yu (outdoor bath) with a spectacular view of the pond and landscape and a private spa villa by the water.
The resort, says Izutani, can cater for corporate groups of up to 30, offering Wi-Fi, meeting rooms and gardens to hold outdoor events like evening cocktails.
Similar facilities will be found in Hoshino’s future properties, the 25-room Hoshinoya Kyoto, opening on December 12 and the Hoshinoya Okinawa in 2011 and Hinshinoya Mount Fuji in 2012.
For more details about the chain, visit www.hoshinoya.com/en
Margie T Logarta