As Japan cautiously lifts its strict embargo on foreign visitors after two years of borders slammed shut by the Covid pandemic that has devastated the hospitality industry, a slew of luxury hotels is poised to roll out the red carpet over the next five years. The prime locations are set among the finest powder snow, futuristic cities, sparkling seaside, and the growing list of Unesco World Heritage sites to offer a hot ticket for luxury globetrotters and discerning businesspeople alike.
Kanto, Kansai, Hokkaido and Okinawa are the jewels in the crown for many hoteliers—from global groups to less familiar boutique brands—that are carefully looking for locations to help woo travel-starved, culture-hungry, shopping-mad wealthy guests with signature design, presentation, cuisine, and cultural experiences, as well as Japan's unique "omotenashi" style of exemplary service.
Following the news featured recently in Japan Luxury Lifestyle that Banyan Tree Group plans two new hotels, we decided to see which other exclusive hotel groups are putting their confidence in a quick recovery for Japan's inbound tourism and economy.
Welcome the Newcomer
The Banyan Tree Higashiyama Kyoto will open in 2024 as a "luxury hilltop urban resort in the Gion and Higashiyama districts." According to Banyan Tree Group, it will be the "first and only hotel in Kyoto city to have a Noh stage." Banyan Tree Ashinoko Hakone, meanwhile, will offer the world-famous hot springs of Mount Fuji in Hakone from 2026. Banyan Tree Group and Terraform Capital are also building single-bedroom accommodation and villas for sale at Cassia Hirafu near the Hirafu ski slope.
Among the first to launch, though, will be Bulgari Hotels & Resorts in 2023 with a partnership including real estate developers Mitsui Fudosan Co., Ltd. Located on the top seven floors of a spectacular new development overlooking the Imperial Palace and near the exclusive Ginza shopping area, Bulgari Hotel Tokyo will offer 98 rooms, including doubles and luxury suites. According to the Italian luxury brand, the prime space will also feature The Bulgari Bar, Fireplace Lounge, Il Ristorante, a Ballroom, Il Cioccolato store, 25-meter indoor swimming pool, and 1,500-square-meter spa.
Back down to earth, Kyoto's rich heritage that showcases its palaces, nature and shrines has drawn Six Senses, a relatively young upstart in Japan's luxury hotel scene. As well as with upscale bars and restaurants, Six Senses Kyoto will open in 2024 boasting 81 guest rooms and an "Earth Lab to foster environmental innovation." The design is said to "reflect the historical landscape of Kyoto in tandem with its modern façade." According to Six Senses, a courtyard will link "guests to nature through its biophilic design as a garden of seasonal landscapes." A statement said the interiors will have earthy organic tones contrasted by simple lines, exuding a relaxing vibe. A spa will sit next to tea ceremonies and other unique cultural experiences.
Indeed, Kyoto seems to be center stage for new hotels. Regent Hotels & Resorts' first such property in Japan, managed by minority stakeholder IHG Hotels & Resorts, will offer guests "the highest level of luxury with the finest cuisines" in the 86-room hotel which will open in 2024.
Best of Both Worlds
For a dramatic change of pace and scenery, Miyako-jima is about 300 kilometers from the southern island of Okinawa. That's where Hilton will welcome sun worshippers to its fine sandy beaches. The Hilton Okinawa Miyako Island Resort will be opened in 2023 as one of the six hotels in Okinawa Prefecture, operating under two brands—Hilton Hotels & Resorts and DoubleTree by Hilton.
Miyako-jima has some of the best beaches and cleanest, bluest waters in Asia and the Hilton Okinawa Miyako Island Resort will be among the biggest in Japan with 329 rooms. The Hilton Yokohama, meanwhile, will be a mixed-use development with offices and space-age music venue for 20,000 people from 2023, just 20 minutes from Tokyo and an easy reach to domestic and international airports.
Another name sure to be popular with luxury globetrotters is JW Marriott Hotel Tokyo, the brand's second in the country. With 200 rooms and suites, it will be open from 2025 between Shinagawa and Tamachi stations on floors 22 to 30 of a major redevelopment project.
Power of Powder
For fans of ski and adventure sports in Niseko, Hokkaido, the 14,000 square-meter Nikko Style Niseko Hanazono will have eight stories with 234 guest rooms, including 16 suites, ready in 2024. According to its operators, Hotel Okura Co., Ltd., all rooms on the top two floors will have a private natural hot spring bath plus hot spring facilities with open-air baths, with spectacular views of the nearby active volcano, Mount Yotei.
Location, Art, Fashion
In 2027, Tokyo will welcome a new luxury hotel under The House Collective's Swire Hotels brand—the first outside its home base of China. As yet unnamed, it will be part of the exciting 117,000-square-meter Shibuya Upper West Project, according to The House Collective, and will bring together luxury retail, art and culture. Since 2008, its website states, The House Collective has built similar luxury lifestyle spots in Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Hong Kong. It's all about location, art and fashion.
And Finally …
Let's not forget Japan's down-to-earth second city with its own gritty dialect. The 175-room Four Seasons Hotel Osaka will be situated in a 195-meter-tall building with a sail-like design in one of the city's key business districts. Under construction since 2020, it is situated among historic and convenient attractions.