Hotel Indigo Karuizawa opened in February 2022 as the first hotel management project by Tokyo Century in collaboration with InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG®), an operator of hotel brands around the world.
We asked Reishi Nakamura, Deputy General Manager of Real Estate Finance Division I and the promoter of this project, and Megumi Hara, General Manager of Hotel Indigo Karuizawa, to share an overview of the hotel and their thoughts on managing it in the historic Karuizawa area. Also, we asked Mr. Nakamura about his vision for Tokyo Century’s real estate business.
- Striving to Be the One and Only Hotel that Embodies the History and Culture of Karuizawa
- Engage the Community for Developing Hotel that Draw Out Its Unique Charm under the “Local First” Concept
- Eager to Capitalize on the Knowledge Gained from This Hotel Management Experience, for Future Real Estate Projects
Striving to Be the One and Only Hotel that Embodies the History and Culture of Karuizawa
Karuizawa is one of Japan’s leading international resort towns and has nurtured a unique cultural and artistic style in the presence of the natural beauty of Mount Asama. Long known for its vacation homes, Karuizawa has attracted a new wave of public attention for its diversified work styles and other factors, with an increasing number of people moving here from the Tokyo metropolitan area or maintaining a second residence in the town.
Given Karuizawa’s popularity, Tokyo Century opened Hotel Indigo Karuizawa in collaboration with IHG.
Hotel Indigo is one of the brands that IHG operates around the world. General Manager Hara explains the hotel’s concept and shares her thoughts on the Karuizawa area.
“The Hotel Indigo brand focuses on offering a ‘Neighborhood Story’ that incorporates the culture and history of each respective region while predominantly reflecting local charm. Karuizawa is one of Japan’s most popular areas for vacation homes and has developed in its own unique way, incorporating Western culture and art. The area is strongly aligned with the brand concept. Karuizawa’s unique nature, history, and culture are incorporated into every detail of the hotel’s facilities and services to provide a lodging experience that can only be experienced here.”
As she said, the hotel’s interior features a variety of elaborate touches that express the charm of Karuizawa. After passing through the stylish entrance, featuring an abundance of wood, the first thing to catch your eye as you enter the lobby lounge, is the bonfire in the large fireplace, symbolizing the cultural style of vacation homes in Karuizawa.
KAGARIBI, an all-day restaurant with an open ceiling atrium, offers a menu featuring wood-fired entrees with local ingredients that include vegetables grown in Karuizawa and pork from the wider Shinshu region. Guests enjoy moments of fun and healing while indulging in local seasonal ingredients.
With designs inspired by the culture and natural beauty of Karuizawa, guest rooms provide a stylish yet relaxing and comfortable villa-like space. The hotel’s decor, featuring works by local artists, almost makes it feel as though you were staying at a museum.
In addition, guests enjoy a full range of facilities, including a large communal carbonated spring bath with an open-air hot spring, ample spa facilities, and a fitness center with wooden training machines, all of which enhance the overall resort atmosphere.
Engage the Community for Developing Hotel that Draw Out Its Unique Charm under the “Local First” Concept
While the hotel is Tokyo Century’s second hotel development project, it is the first time the company has been involved in management. In the first project for ANA InterContinental® Beppu Resort & Spa, Tokyo Century leased the land and building to another company that managed the hotel.
Mr. Nakamura, who has been promoting the project, expressed his thoughts on certain things he cares about as a company from outside Karuizawa.
He said that in order to maximize the charm of this wonderful location, the utmost priority was placed on engaging and communicating with the local community in the process of development. Moreover, a lot of time was devoted to communicating with the local government and residents in order to create a hotel that would be loved for a long time.
Goals of the project include revitalizing the local economy and projecting a courteous, welcoming presence to the community. Mr. Nakamura said that in order to embody the Hotel Indigo’s “Neighborhood Story” concept, the Hotel plans to employ more local staff who deeply understand Karuizawa’s allure and to further strengthen ties with the community by involving local businesses as well.
Another important aspect of operating a hotel in Karuizawa amid its rich natural surroundings is contributing to nature conservation and the SDGs. The Hotel’s building materials feature Japanese larch timber, or karamatsu, grown in Nagano Prefecture, that has reached its optimal maturity for harvesting. The wood of the Hotel’s main structure significantly contributes to reducing carbon emissions, and many of the trees at the site where the Hotel was built were transplanted instead of being cut down. These efforts demonstrated our commitment to sustainable hotel development with due consideration for the environment.
Eager to Capitalize on the Knowledge Gained from This Hotel Management Experience, for Future Real Estate Projects
In addition to seeking investment in tangibles, such as land and buildings, we hope to become deeply involved in such intangibles as providing services toward offering a more appealing experience to our customers. This is one reason Tokyo Century has embarked on hotel management.
The key is to create new added value as a service provider by delving deeper into business management. Mr. Nakamura boldly expressed his vision for Tokyo Century’s real estate business.
“My division, Real Estate Finance Division I, maintains relationships and collaborative projects with a wide range of partner companies, including major developers, financial institutions, trading companies, and telecommunications companies. This is why we’d like to apply and expand the management expertise accumulated through this project to others currently underway. Doing so will further strengthen our foundation and grow our business.”
To conclude the interview, General Manager Hara expressed her hope that many guests will be welcomed in the near future.
“It has been about three months* since the opening, and we have received very positive feedback from our guests about the warmth of the wood throughout the hotel and the restaurant’s delicious food. Seeing is believing, so we hope many people will visit the hotel to experience the ‘Neighborhood Story.’ We are also looking forward to welcoming businesspeople to enjoy the experience of staying in an elegant vacation home while attending to their work commitments. Power outlets are conveniently located throughout the facility for use during working vacations.”
*At the time of this interview
General Manager, Hotel Indigo Karuizawa
Joined IHG ANA Hotels Group Japan in 2007, and as director of technology, she introduced a common sales support system and other support for Group hotels. After serving as general manager and other positions at ANA Crowne Plaza hotels, she has been in her current position since February 2022.
Deputy General Manager, Sales Group II, Real Estate Finance Division I, Tokyo Century Corporation
Joined Tokyo Century Corporation in 2019 and has since worked in the real estate business. He has been in his current position since July 2020.
Hotel Indigo Karuizawa
- Address: 18-39 Yashikizoe, Nagakura, Karuizawa-machi, Kitasaku-gun, Nagano, Japan
- Phone: +81-267-42-1100
- By train: 2.5 km or approximately five minutes by hotel shuttle from Karuizawa Station on the JR Hokuriku Shinkansen or Shinano Railway
- By bus: Take the Karuizawa-machi circulator bus on the Higashi-minamimawari Line from Karuizawa Station, get off at the Minami-Karuizawa Kosaten bus stop and walk about five minutes
- By car: 9.5 km or approximately 17 minutes from Usui Karuizawa Exit on the Joshinetsu Expressway toward Minami-karuizawa
*The contents of the article and the position titles are as of the date posted.
Mar 16, 2022
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