The Japan News/Asia News Network
Although hotel guests dropped off sharply in 2015 due to volcanic activity around the Owakudani hot spring area, the new hotels are expected to trigger a recovery of tourism in Hakone, observers said. (Shutterstock/File)
A number of top-class hotels and ryokan inns are expected to open this year in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, targeting primarily wealthy guests and women.
Although hotel guests dropped off sharply in 2015 due to volcanic activity around the Owakudani hot spring area, the new hotels are expected to trigger a recovery of tourism in Hakone, observers said.
The Kanaya Hotel Kanko Group plans to open Kanaya Resort Hakone in the Sengokuhara district this summer. It will be the group’s fourth hotel, as it is now operating two hotels in Kinugawa, Tochigi Prefecture — Kinugawa Kanaya Hotel and Kinugawa Onsen Hotel — and another in Izu, Shizuoka Prefecture.
The two-story Kanaya Resort Hakone, which will be built on a 20,000-square-meter site, will also have one floor below ground. All 14 guest rooms will have a private open-air bath with water sourced from the Owakudani hot spring.
The rooms will also each have a dining room, bar lounge and garden terrace, in the hope that these facilities will attract wealthy guests. The least expensive charge for a night’s accommodation with two meals will be set at the upper end of the ¥30,000 level.
The group became independent from the nation’s oldest hotel, Nikko Kanaya Hotel, in 1953.
“We want to help our guests escape from everyday life so they can relax and enjoy a moment of refreshing themselves,” a hotel group spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Fujita Kanko Inc., which operates Hakone Kowakien Yunessun and other hotels, plans to open the Hakone Kowakien Ten-yu hotel in the Ninotaira district in April.
All 150 rooms in the nine-story hotel will have their own private open-air bath. The hotel also will have two large baths with open-air facilities.
To attract female guests, the hotel will offer facial treatments, as well as a plan that includes champagne and a whole cake. It also may offer guests a trekking experience and morning yoga practice in the garden.
Under the concept of “the harmony of authentic Japanese traditional hospitality and nature,” six special rooms will each be decorated in different historical styles, such as the Meiji era (1868-1912) and the Taisho era (1912-1926).
These special rooms are “spaces where people will want to take pictures,” a Fujita Kanko spokesperson said.
The hotel has started taking advance bookings and said demand is strong. The charge for a night’s accommodation with two meals is from the upper end of the ¥20,000 level to the ¥50,000 level per person.
Hakone Tozan Railway Co., based in Odawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, has announced that it will introduce in May two additional Allegra trains equipped with large viewing windows that will shuttle between Hakone-Yumoto and Gora stations.
The first Allegra train was introduced in 2014, so the introduction of two more will increase the number of these scenic trains to three and provide tourists with greater opportunities to enjoy magnificent views along sharp curves — a popular feature of Hakone tours.
With large windows in front and at the sides, the Allegra trains make it possible for tourists to enjoy Hakone’s magnificent nature much more than in normal trains.
As the driver’s cab has been removed from the train, the passenger capacity in each car has been increased by seven seats to 82, allowing more passengers to enjoy the journey.
Theme park draws 20 mil.
The total number of visitors since the hot spring theme park Hakone Kowakien Yunessun opened in 2001 topped 20 million in December.
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Yunessun presented a one-year pass and a commemorative gift to the 20 millionth guest, a member of a family from Aichi Prefecture.
The theme park has attracted families, couples and many other visitors with its wine bath, coffee bath and other unusual versions in collaboration with other companies.
Although the facility is a famous tourist spot that attracts about 1.3 million people annually, the number fell by about 40 percent in 2015, compared to a year earlier, due to the Owakudani volcanic activity.
The number of customers last year also failed to recover to the level of the average year.
“We want to come up with many interesting plans to increase the number of tourists to Hakone, starting with Yunessun,” a Yunessun spokesperson said.