De­signs of the times

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Destination Japan - CHRISTINE McCABE

AMAN TOKYO

It’s sur­pris­ing Aman­re­sorts has taken so long to ar­rive in Ja­pan. Well known for its min­i­mal­ist, in­tel­li­gent in­te­ri­ors, and a re­fined sense of place, the luxury re­sort group’s aes­thetic feels right at home in Tokyo. Aman opened its only ur­ban oa­sis six months ago, colonis­ing the top six floors of the gleam­ing Otemachi Tower in the fi­nan­cial dis­trict near Ginza. De­signed by theAus­tralian firm and Aman­re­sorts favourite, Kerry Hill Ar­chi­tects, the serene, cathe­dral-size lobby and large gue­strooms are a con­tem­po­rary and strik­ing homage to clas­sic Ja­panese de­sign. Soar­ing six lev­els through the heart of the ho­tel, the lobby cen­tre­piece re­sem­bles the del­i­cate in­te­rior of a Ja­panese lan­tern. Boul­ders from north­ern Ja­pan have been ar­ranged as tra­di­tional rock gar­dens. The spare and very Zen gue­strooms com­mand city or Im­pe­rial Palace views and fea­ture slid­ing shoji screens and over­sized bath­rooms with a large furo (deep Ja­panese soak­ing tub) set at the floor-to-ceil­ing win­dow. Gue­stroom size is gen­er­ous — start­ing at 71 sq m, even the least ex­pen­sive cham­bers are claimed to be the most com­modi­ous in the cap­i­tal. The two-level day spa is the largest ho­tel fa­cil­ity of its kind in Tokyo; at its heart lies a glam­orous 30m swim­ming pool and there are eight treat­ment rooms with pri­vate dress­ing rooms and yoga and Pi­lates stu­dios. The level 33 restau­rant af­fords long views all the way to Mount Fuji on a clear, blue day. More: aman­tokyo.com.

AN­DAZ TOKYO TO­RA­NOMON HILLS

Perched even higher above Tokyo is the An­daz (the Hy­att Ho­tels “life­style” brand), which of­fers all sorts of value-added in­clu­sions, such as gratis Wi-Fi, mini bar (ex­clud­ing al­co­hol) and lo­cal tele­phone calls. Oc­cu­py­ing lev­els 47 to 52 of To­ra­nomon Hills, an up­scale high-rise sit­u­ated be­tween the Im­pe­rial Palace and Tokyo Tower, the con­tem­po­rary but very prac­ti­cal gue­strooms (think an iron and board in ev­ery wardrobe) are cour­tesy of New York-based Tony Chi and Tokyo designer Shinichiro Ogata. They’ve mar­ried tra­di­tional mo­tifs — slid­ing screens, soak­ing tubs and lo­cally made linens — with hitech gad­getry. Gue­strooms are lined in gleam­ing wal­nut and washi pa­per while the suites in­clude a se­ries of parti- tions al­low­ing you to ar­range the space as you wish. The day spa has a float­ing jet bath, gym, 20m swim­ming pool with views over the Im­pe­rial Palace and a team of “apothe­cary con­sul­tants” to help tai­lor your anti-age­ing treat­ments. A spot of re­tox­ing can then be en­joyed in the rooftop bar, on the glass-cov­ered ter­race over­look­ing Tokyo Bay. The bar is styled as a mod­ern ver­sion of a tra­di­tional tea­house. More: tokyo.an­daz.hy­att.com.

SURIAN, A LUXURY COL­LEC­TION HO­TEL, KY­OTO

Star­wood Ho­tels & Re­sorts has opened its first Luxury Col­lec­tion ho­tel in Ja­pan, a small ryokan-style prop­erty set on the Hozu River in the grounds of Ky­oto’s World Her­itage-listed 14th-cen­tury Ten­ryuji Tem­ple. Pro­vid­ing easy ac­cess to the gor­geous Zen gar­dens and Arashiyama Bamboo Grove, Surian was con­verted from an old gov­ern­ment guest­house and fea­tures 39 gue­strooms, some with a tra­di­tional bath­tub set in a green court­yard, and most with gar­den views. The hand­some rooms com­bine a tra­di­tional aes­thetic with con­tem­po­rary com­forts: gleam­ing tim­ber trim, tatami mats and pops of jewel-like colour in the arm­chairs and cush­ions. The inn in­cludes a day spa with open-air baths and a menu of tra­di­tional treat­ments, and the prop­erty in­cor­po­rates two beau­ti­fully re­stored cen­tury-old build­ings hous­ing a cafe and fine dining restau­rant where Ja­panese fare meets French flair. More: star­wood­ho­tels.com.

KASARA NISEKO VIL­LAGE TOWNHOUSE

Malaysian-based YTL Ho­tels has opened eight de­sign­fo­cused townhouses in Ja­pan’s pow­der mecca of Niseko Vil­lage on the north­ern­most is­land of Hokkaido. The first phase of a larger YTL devel­op­ment, the dou­ble-storey Kasara res­i­dences are per­fect for fam­i­lies or a colony of ski bun­nies head­ing off-piste to­gether. Each apart­ment fea­tures three dou­ble bed­rooms with en­suites and the tatami-floored dining room can be fit­ted with fu­tons to sleep two ad­di­tional chil­dren. While ski­ing is the fo­cus here — each apart­ment of­fers a heated gear stor­age room, overnight ski and snow­board wax­ing and a free moun­tain in­duc­tion — equal at­ten­tion has been paid to the in­te­ri­ors. The ski-in, ski-out res­i­dences are the work of De­sign In­ter­ven­tion, in­spired by homes from Ja­pan’s sem­i­nal Edo pe­riod and em­brac­ing the prin­ci­ples of shibumi or shibusa (sim­plic­ity and nat­u­ral­ness). Even so, each apart­ment is lux­u­ri­ously kit­ted out: think tim­ber bath­tubs and slid­ing screens. The fully equipped designer kitchen is stocked on re­quest, or you can ask for a chef to drop by to whip up an après-ski feast. Ide­ally sit­u­ated at the foot of Mount Niseko An­nupuri, Kasara pro­vides ready ac­cess to restau­rants and bou­tiques and an on-call concierge is happy to or­gan­ise pri­vate driv­ers, ski fit­tings, child­mind­ing and sports mas­sages. More: kasara.com.

Christine McCabe is T & I’s se­nior con­tribut­ing edi­tor.

Clock­wise from top left, Surian, a Luxury Col­lec­tion Ho­tel, Ky­oto; Aman Tokyo; An­daz Tokyo; Kasara Niseko Vil­lage Townhouse

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