AS JAPAN'S GATEWAY CITY, Tokyo is receiving its share of promotion from the Japan National Tourism Organization. Tokyo figures heavily in the Yokoso! (Welcome!) campaign, and the JNTO web site (www.jnto.go.jp) promotes budget options for getting around the city and enjoying Tokyo's restaurants, sights and shops.
Inbound and outbound tourism in Japan presents a lopsided picture: In 2005, about 17.4 million Japanese traveled overseas while 6.73 million foreign tourists visited Japan. The Yokoso! campaign's goal is to attract 10 million international visitors by 2010. The campaign targets 12 countries, including the United States, as its priority markets.
As Japan endeavors to pump up arrival numbers from the U.S., it's hit something of a speed bump. In November, Japan began fingerprinting all foreigners entering the country, an anti-terrorism move. Under the new law, scanned fingerprints and other biometric data will be stored in a computer to be instantly checked against those of past deportees. The new security measure has run into some criticism, although visitors from the U.S. have little ground for making a fuss, as the United States was the only country before Japan to collect biometric data from foreign visitors.
First in a Decade
Tokyo has always had some top-notch hotels. The 314-room Peninsula, Tokyo (www.peninsula.com) is a relative newcomer, having only opened this past September. The 24-story property is the only freestanding luxury hotel to be built in Tokyo in more than a decade.
The Peninsula is getting high marks for its rooftop restaurant, Peter, which serves international cuisine in contemporary surroundings with 360-degree views of the city and its Imperial Gardens. Menu standouts are the Zuwaigani Crab Charlotte with Fennel Confit and Sendai Beef Brisket Confit in Red Wine.
Hei Fung Terrace, a Chinese restaurant on the second floor, has a chef's table that can accommodate up to six guests. Advise your clients to try the braised sliced pork with dried bamboo shoots in sweetened soy sauce, or the fried prawns with fresh mushrooms in cream sauce.
Among Peninsula accommodations, Deluxe Suites offer spacious sitting and dining areas, dressing room, deluxe marble bathroom with natural light, executive writing desk and guest powder room. A Deluxe Suite can be connected to a Grand Deluxe Room or another Deluxe Suite. Deluxe Suites, Deluxe Park View Rooms and Grand Deluxe Rooms have views of Hibiya Park and the Imperial Gardens. The travel agent liaison is the hotel's director of sales, Karim Meslem (011-81-3-6270-2603, [email protected]).
When guests need to unwind after experiencing all that Tokyo has to offer, the Peninsula Spa by ESPA has eight treatment rooms. A popular treatment is the Keihatsu Enlightenment Massage, which evolves from 3,000-year-old East Asian massage techniques. For spa reservations and inquiries, contact the spa director, Yumi Kitahara (011-81-3-6270-2299, [email protected])
There are 25 Deluxe Guest Rooms, each measuring 591 square feet and offering views of the Tokyo skyline or garden. The one-or two-bedroom Premier Garden Suites are popular with families and also with business travelers planning in-suite meetings. A bonus is the suites' direct views of the ancient pagoda of the Chinzan-so garden, considered the best views on the property. Premier Garden Suites are numbered 715, 815, 915, 1015, 1115 and 1215.
Room to Stretch Out
For those needing extra space, the hotel has 168 connecting rooms, including guest rooms connecting to suites. For clients looking for the ultimate in spaciousness, book the three-bedroom, 3,000-square-foot Imperial Suite. This allows plenty of room for a large family or multiple families traveling together. Furnishings include a dining table for eight as well as two living areas.
If your clients have total flexibility in their travel schedule, suggest they book during the Sakura (cherry blossom) season, which occurs for a two-week period in late March and early April. From their Four Seasons rooms, guests can view three miles of cherry trees along the Kanda River. During Tokyo's autumn (last week of November to first week of December), Japanese maple trees present a display of blazing red foliage. Travel agents can reach out to Megumi Ikeda, reservations manager ([email protected]), for more information. Agent Advice
The hotel's YU, The Spa has 10 treatment rooms and three suites. Each suite contains a private outdoor mineral bath and relaxation area, as well as steam shower. The largest suite also has a color therapy bath for two, a twin Vichy-shower room and Thai bed for traditional Thai massage. The spa's signature treatment is the Wasabi Suite Ritual, consisting of a revitalizing body brushing that stimulates and polishes the skin prior to an application of wasabi, along with extracts of licorice, rice bran oil and guava. The treatment stimulates circulation and helps detoxify and smooth the skin, and it concludes with a two-hour massage using petit grain-infused wasabi oil. For spa appointments, contact spa director Hayley Dack ([email protected]).
Il Teatro restaurant at the Four Seasons features a calendar of wine dinners and chef's demonstration dinners throughout the year.
The 157-room, 22-suite Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo (www.mandarinoriental.com) is accessed via a 38th-floor lobby of the Muromachi Mitsui Shinkan building in the Nihonbashi, Tokyo's main business district. The property's 42 Premier Grand Rooms are the highest-price among the standard room categories.
Premier Grand Rooms are on the 30th to 36th floors and have sweeping west-side city views overlooking the Otemachi financial area, the Imperial Palace and the skyscrapers of West Shinjuku. On clear days, it's possible to see Mount Fuji. Rooms on the east side of the hotel have views of downtown Tokyo and the Sumida River, while rooms on the south side overlook Tokyo Bay.
The hotel has 20 pairs of connecting rooms. A good bet for families is the Oriental Suite (1,076 square feet) and connected Premier Grand Room (646 square feet), or the Mandarin Corner Room King (538 square feet) and connected Mandarin Deluxe Room (538 square feet).
At the Mandarin Oriental Spa, the most popular treatment is also its signature service, Time Ritual. For this, guests book blocks of time to receive therapist-designed, tailor-made treatments suited to their specific needs. The spa has nine treatment rooms, including five suites. For appointments in advance of arrival, contact Yuki Kinoshita, spa operations manager ([email protected]).
Signature, on the 37th floor, is the hotel's main restaurant, which specializes in French cuisine. Agents can contact Masakazu Yamada, director of revenue management ([email protected]), for further information.