Mystays Hotel Management prepares Nikko, other hot spots for tourists' return

U.S.-backed company modernizes Japan's hot-spring inns

Nikkei -- May 03
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has been battering Japan's tourism industry, traditional inns in Nikko and Nasu -- tourist destinations north of Tokyo -- are getting fresh money to remake themselves as modern hot-spring spa resorts.

Since late last year, Tokyo-based hotel operator Mystays Hotel Management has been aggressively rejuvenating rundown inns at spas in Tochigi Prefecture, where Nikko and Nasu are located. The company, owned by U.S. investment firm Fortress Investment Group, expects hordes of tourists will come back once the pandemic subsides.

On April 28, just one day before the start of the Golden Week holidays, Kamenoi Hotel Okunikko Yumoto, formerly Okunikko Yumoto Onsen Oruri Sanso, opened, becoming the latest renovated property Mystays is presenting to travelers seeking modern comfort at a traditional hot-spring venue.

It features huge baths with water flowing directly from a hot spring. The urban-style lobby and a buffet restaurant are intended to attract inbound tourists who are not accustomed to Japanese-style ryokan inns.

This is not the first or the last of the hotels in Mystays' lineup in the region.

The hotel operator had already opened two renovated hotels in the area in March and April. One is Shiobara Onsen Yashio Lodge, formerly called Shiobara Onsen Hotel New Yashio, in Nasushiobara. Another is Nikko Yunishigawa Heike Honjin, previously Yunishigawa Onsen Heike Honjin, in Nikko.

In addition, this year it plans to open one lodging facility each in Yumoto, part of the Tochigi town of Nasu, and in the Gunma Prefecture town of Kusatsu.