Japanese hotels have proven ideal hosts for incentive groups, whose members can count on the superior service and exceptional accommodations one would expect from a corporate reward. Emblematic of Japanese hospitality is the five-star Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, in the city's Nihonbashi business district. Originally opened in 2005, the property has just completed a comprehensive renovation encompassing each of its 179 guest rooms and suites, according to Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, which said the hotel's refreshed rooms were designed "to provide guests with a strong 'sense of place.'"
That sense of place is achieved by pairing traditional Japanese craftsmanship with contemporary technology under the theme "Woods and Water." Among the highlights, for example, are bespoke fabrics and furnishings that represent Japan's woodlands and changing seasons, with autumnal colors like gold, orange and purple juxtaposed alongside springtime patterns of wisteria and sakura, which are embroidered into headboards. Meanwhile, the 21st century rears its head in the form of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV), which allows television content to be viewed on both Apple and Android devices, as well as on Internet-connected smart TVs.
Particularly special is the hotel's new Presidential Suite, from which Mount Fuji is visible on clear days. Inspired by gardens and bonsai, it features nods to nature throughout, including specially commissioned photographic wall artwork depicting inspirational treescapes from Tokyo's parks; a dining-room light that resembles the sun; cabinets decorated with bird, butterfly and plant motifs, and a bedroom ceiling designed to give the illusion of looking at the sky through trees.
"Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, is the only hotel in the world to feature textiles from various Japanese origins under the theme of 'Woods and Water,'" said textile designer Reiko Sudo. "By expanding on this theme, we have created a serene and tranquil environment that reflects Japan's vast meadows, deep forests and exhilarating hills."
Four More Japanese Gems
The following properties also offer memorable stays for incentive winners.
• Suiran, a Luxury Collection Hotel, Kyoto. Part of Marriott's Luxury Collection, Suiran is located beside the Hozu River in Kyoto, near the Tenryuji-Temple World Heritage Site and Japan's famous Sagano Bamboo Forest. With just 39 guest rooms -- some of which have a traditional Japanese "onsen," or hot springs bath -- it's an exclusive retreat that combines traditional Japanese culture with modern hospitality. Along with two restaurants -- one of which is a Japanese Teppanyaki -- there is a coffee house, a 1,054-square-foot meeting room, traditional Japanese gardens and a full-service spa.
• The Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo. The height of Japanese luxury - literally - could well be the Ritz-Carlton, Tokyo. That's because the hotel is located on the top nine floors of the 53-story Midtown Tower. A Japanese take on the concept of "urban oasis," it offers 245 guest rooms and suites; a 45th-floor sky lobby; three restaurants, one of which has a Michelin star; a lounge where the hotel serves afternoon tea; a 21,528-square-foot spa and fitness center, and nearly 12,000 square feet of meeting space.
• Aman Tokyo. Aman Resorts International is synonymous with Asian luxury, and its property in the Japanese capital, the Aman Tokyo, burnishes that reputation. Located atop Tokyo's Otemachi Tower in the city's financial district, the property has 84 guest rooms and suites in the ryokan style - meaning traditional Japanese furnishings, washi paper sliding doors and FURO deep-soak bathtubs. Other highlights are Arva, a fine-dining Italian restaurant with a 1,200-bottle wine cellar and two private dining rooms; a sushi bar, and a lounge with floor-to-ceiling views of the Imperial Palace Gardens. The hotel's 27,000-square-foot spa is especially sumptuous with eight treatment rooms, large Japanese hot baths, a 30-meter pool with city views and a fitness center.
• Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Okinawa. Although it won't open until 2023, Four Seasons Resort and Private Residences Okinawa is expected to quickly becomes a property favored by incentive planners and winners. Comprising 30 beachfront acres on the island of Okinawa's western coast, the US$400 million resort will have 120 guest rooms, 120 residences and 40 villas. Amenities will include a beach club, an all-day restaurant, retail shops and recreation facilities, as well as public grounds and gardens that will be traversable by foot, bicycle or golf cart.