Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo has had a shining financial performance in its first four months of operations, testifying to the foresight and well-timed investment by its owner, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C) Chairman Mr. Kwek Leng Beng. The hotel has also won an important design award by U.S. based International Design Awards (IDA).
The new 329-room hotel, located in the heart of Ginza 4-Chome District, the famous entertainment-shopping precinct, opened last December and has since been consistently enjoying over 80 percent average occupancy and rising room rates.
“The performance is beyond expectations, as a new hotel usually takes up to two years to have stable earnings and service performance,” said Chairman Kwek Leng Beng.
M&C had been trying to gain a presence in Tokyo for over 15 years and securing a presence in Ginza proved difficult. There was a strong negative outlook with Japan’s decades-long low growth. “When the opportunity came to buy a site in Ginza and build a new hotel, I grabbed it,” said Mr. Kwek.
The ¥9.5 billion buy in 2011 turned out to be a prized one as the hotel is now the ‘star’ on the Ginza strip, other hotels being smaller, older or converted from commercial buildings. Also, the completion of the M&C owned hotel – its first flagship property in Japan – proved his keen sense of timing.
By the time the hotel’s construction was completed, Japan had shaken off the gloom that followed the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. Tokyo has also been upbeat after being selected as host for the 2020 Olympics, knowing the fame and a tourist boom would likely follow.
Also, the fall in the value of the Yen and moves by Tokyo to ease travel entry for visitors are among major factors contributing to a turnaround. Prime Minister Mr. Shinzo Abe, who has promised economic recovery, has added to the list of positive factors.
Adding to the successful performance is the award by US-based International Design Awards (IDA). “It was a big surprise and will give my team a boost in confidence after the hectic opening period and an edge over other hotels in Ginza,” said Mr. Kwek, who is also Executive Chairman of property group City Developments Limited (CDL), which has a controlling 61.4 per cent stake in M&C.
The design approach to Millennium Mitsui Garden was Asian minimalism with the aim to create a private garden in the heart of the city, like a Japanese Zen garden. Lighting, touch, texture, comfort, art and the environment, are all considered carefully in the development of the design concept.
Landscape stairs connect the lobby to the restaurant at the lower ground level, where a relaxed library with an atmosphere of a greenhouse creates a comfortable dining experience in the city. The typical guestroom averaging 200-sq.ft is spacious and efficiently designed for comfort while larger rooms are about 350-sq.ft. Rooms come with full amenities that include a five-piece bathroom. Large mural artwork and special carpet design complete the idea of the private garden in the guestrooms. The hotel is located in the heart of Ginza, opposite the famous Mitsukoshi department store, with the Kabuki-za Theatre, food, entertainment and luxury brand boutiques within walking distance. Buildings like the Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel are restricted in height to a maximum 14 floors so as to blend in with historic character of Ginza which enjoys a 24-hour buzz, an attraction to Japanese and foreigners alike.
The hotel has seven room types with an average starting rate of US$220 per night during peak periods. The guest profile is 70 percent leisure and the remaining are business travelers.
The property aims to attract Americans. “While the outlook is strong, we will continue to push to improve our service and our language facilities to accommodate the different guests staying with us,” said Mr. Kwek, who himself is no stranger to awards. His most recent was in connection with a purchase of an upscale Hotel in the eternal city, Rome.
The Grand Hotel Palace in Rome (formerly known as Boscolo Palace Roma) was acquired in 2014. That investment, the first for M&C in that country led to his receiving the “Best Singaporean Investor to Italy” award from by the Italian Chamber of Commerce inSingapore last February.
Both CDL and M&C are members of the Hong Leong Group of companies.