Japan's private resort hotel business makes comeback
Nikkei -- Jan 05
The Japanese market for membership resort hotels is reviving and thriving, luring an expanding population of wealthy individuals and corporations looking for new employee perks alike.

The market growth has inspired major player Prince Hotels to enter the business while helping industry leader Resorttrust double its sales over 10 years.

The renowned mountainous hot-spring area of Izu Nagaoka Onsen, a little more than an hour from Tokyo by train, is home to Sanyo-so -- a luxurious ryokan traditional inn originally built as a country house for Hisaya Iwasaki, the third president of industrial conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp. and the eldest son of the group's founder. Part of Sanyo-so debuted as a Prince Vacation Club location in July.

In this exclusive section of the inn, hot water flows directly from the spring to individual rooms. The club offers a private check-in area separate from general guests of the rest of the inn. A 15-year membership costs 8.32 million yen ($77,000), and members pay an additional 198,000 yen a year to stay 30 nights annually.

Prince Hotels also opened two additional vacation club locations in the mountain resort town of Karuizawa, reporting solid sales of memberships.

Some guest rooms at the Prince Vacation Club resort in Izu Nagaoka Onsen feature private hot-spring baths, with handrails and other amenities for seniors. (Photo by Yasuaki Takao)

The move marks a strategic shift for Prince Hotels, which shut down certain leisure facilities in the 2000s under an overhaul of the Seibu Holdings group. It is making use of its vast holdings of idle land in holiday destinations around Japan and plans to open one vacation club hotel a year going forward.

Japan's market for membership resort hotels grew to 397 billion yen in 2018, doubling in size from a 2002 low and exceeding a 1998 peak of 260 billion yen, shows data from the Japan Productivity Center.

Companies are rushing to develop exclusive accommodations to meet the needs of the growing ranks of the affluent. Japan had 1.27 million households with at least 100 million yen in net financial assets in 2017, the most since 2000, according to data from the Nomura Research Institute.

These wealthy consumers are increasingly having a hard time booking luxury hotels as record numbers of international visitors flock to Japan. The hotel market reached the 1.5 trillion yen milestone in 2018. But high-end accommodations are in short supply, and affluent individuals are eager to pay a premium for stays at exclusive hotels.

News source: Nikkei
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