Hakone to restrict short-term accommodation in holiday home areas

Kanagawa Prefecture has approved a special rule that will restrict minpaku-style short-term and overnight accommodation by hosts in the mountain-top hot-spring town of Hakone.

Under the new rule, short-term rentals are banned in 18 districts designated as Category I Tourist Districts located within Category I Exclusively Low-Rise Residential Zones in Hakone Town. Up to 80% of the homes in these districts are holiday homes.

Properties in these zones cannot be rented out for short-term stays between March 1 ~ June 1, August 1 ~ September 1, and October 1 ~ December 1. It is important to note that these are the popular tourist seasons for the town. Renting outside of these periods requires the host to register their accommodation.

Japan’s first Indigo hotel to open in Hakone

On November 22, InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) announced plans to open a 100 room hotel alongside the Haya River in Hakone.

The Hotel Indigo Hakone-Gora will be IHG’s first Indigo-branded hotel in Japan. Opening is scheduled for 2019.

The hotel site is a 10 minute walk from Gora Station and a 2 minute walk from the Hakone Tozan bus stop. All 100 rooms will have access to hot spring water, with  80 rooms having their own out-door hot spring baths on their balconies. Room rates are expected to range from 25,000 ~ 30,000 Yen per night.

Hakone, a popular onsen destination about 30km south-east of Mt. Fuji, receives as many as 20 million tourists each year.

Hotel activity in Hakone:

  • The Kanaya Resort Hakone, operated by Nikko’s Kanaya Hotel Kanko Group, opened on November 3, 2017. The 14-room hotel sits on a 22,000 sqm site in Sengokuhara and has made use of an existing corporate guest retreat building. 12 of the 14 rooms have outdoor hot spring baths. Room rates range from 29,000 ~ 110,000 Yen per night.
  • Fujita Kanko’s Hakone Kowaki-en Tenyu hotel opened in April 2017 in the Kowakudani district. All 150 rooms have their own outdoor rotenburo hot spring baths. Room rates start from 28,000 Yen per night.
  • Mori Trust acquired the historic Gora Kansuirou Hotel in Gora in March 2017 for an undisclosed price. The 96-year old hotel sits on a 15,000 sqm block of land and has a total floor area of 2,266 sqm. Room rates range from 32,000 ~ 38,000 Yen per night.
  • The landmark Fujiya Hotel (c1891) will close from April 2018 for earthquake retrofitting, with re-opening scheduled for Spring 2020.
  • Hakone Hotel Kowaki-en in Kowakudani will close permanently in January 2018. The site may be redeveloped into a larger hotel sometime in the future.

 

Location

Sources:
Travel Voice, November 22, 2017.
The Tokyo Shimbun, November 9, 2017.

Mori Trust acquires historic Hakone hotel

On May 18, Mori Trust announced that they had acquired the historic Gora Kansuirou Hotel in Hakone. The transaction took place in March 2017. The sale price was not disclosed.

The Gora Kansuirou Hotel was built in 1921 as the holiday home for the third son of Yataro Iwasaki, founder of Mitsubishi. The 2-storey wooden villa was built on 7 lots of land purchased in 1916 in the Gora subdivision. A member of the Kan’in-no-miya branch of the Imperial Family fell in love with the area after spending a summer as a guest at the home 1928, and purchased half of the grounds from Iwasaki to build their own villa (now the Gora Kadan Hotel).

Hakone Fujiya Hotel to close for 2 years for earthquake retrofitting

Last month, Hakone’s historic landmark Fujiya Hotel announced that they will be temporarily closing the hotel from April 2018 to conduct necessary earthquake retrofitting and refurbishment. The hotel will re-open in Spring 2020.

Fujiya Hotel’s main building was built in 1891 and is registered as a National Tangible Cultural Property along with the Comfy Lodge, Flower Palace and Kikka-so Inn Annex. Famous past guests have included Charlie Chaplin, Helen Keller, John Lennon, Prince Albert, Emperor Showa and the current Emperor and Empress of Japan.

The restaurant in the 122-year old Kikka-so Annex building, which was originally a holiday villa of the Imperial Family, will continue to operate as normal during the refurbishment.

Hakone modernist hotel to close next year

Hakone Hotel Kowaki-en will close its doors in January 2018, marking the end of 60 years of operations. The 224-room hotel was designed by modernist architect Yoshimura Junzo and built in 1959. The hotel’s garden dates back to 1914.

The hotel closure is due to aging buildings and facilities. The owner and operator, Fujita Kanko, operates 6 other hotels in the immediate neighbourhood, and this site is expected to form part of a larger hotel redevelopment project. It could include the adjoining Kowaki-en Horai-en Garden, which is a 16,000 sqm traditional Japanese landscape garden. Fujita Kanko acquired the garden in 2015.

Restauranteur planning big expansion into luxury hotel business

hiramatsu-mie-and-atami

Hiramatsu, a famous French and Italian restauranteur, announced bold plans for their newly created hotel brand.

In July, they opened The Hiramatsu Hotels & Resorts Kashikojima in Mie Prefecture. The small-luxury resort has just 8 guest suites and is targeted towards wealthy individuals with a net worth of over 100 million Yen. Room rates, which include meals prepared by renowned chefs, range from 65,000 ~ 80,000 Yen/night (640 ~ 790 USD) per person. The hotel was fully booked for the months of July and August, and reservations for 2017 are already starting to fill up. Currently the restaurant in the resort is only open to hotel guests, although they are considering opening it up to non-guest bookings.

HULIC moves into luxury ryokan business

Hulic Atami and Hakone
[Left] Hakone-Suishoen; [Right] Atami Fufu Ryokan.

To capitalise on the growing industry for luxury boutique-style ryokans (traditional Japanese inns), real estate giant HULIC and Kato Pleasure Group (KPG) established KH Resort Management on July 1. The company will engage in the operation of ryokans as well as providing consulting services.

In April 2015, HULIC acquired two hotels from KPG – the Hakone-Suishoen and the Atami Fufu Ryokan – for approximately 4 billion Yen (approx. 33.6 million USD at the time). The newly formed company plan to acquire up to 10 high-end ryokans in hot spring resort areas within 1.5 ~ 2 hours from central Tokyo.

Luxury ryokans seeing surge in investment

Atami Fufu
The Atami Fufu Ryokan

With expectations of growing demand from travellers and foreign tourists, luxury ryokans (traditional Japanese inns) and hotels across Japan are now a highly sought-after target by funds and major real estate companies. This means foreign investors looking to get into the hotel market in Japan will be facing increasingly tough competition from domestic investors.

This month, real estate giant HULIC will acquire two hotel properties in Hakone and Atami from Kato Pleasure Group. HULIC’s main business is office leasing and management, but with a declining population, they have been expanding their operations to other areas of the property market.

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