This week, we focus on Japanese hotels, in particular the APA Group and Candeo Hotels. APA hotels are popular with businesspeople. Each time a new one opens, new features are added. The Candeo hotels are number one in terms of customer satisfaction. They operate on the concept of “a cheap but high-quality four-star hotel”.
APA is said to be Japan’s largest hotel chain, with more than 700 hotels and over 100,000 rooms in total across all of them. The APA Hotel and Resort Yokohama Bay Tower, located in the Minato-Mirai area in Yokohama City, boasts the largest number of guest rooms per block in Japan. APA has also made its mark overseas, rolling out 41 hotels in countries such as America and Canada. It has also opened another large-scale hotel in Roppongi, Tokyo. The hotel group is constantly coming up with new services and innovative solutions. For example, it has rolled out a new check-in system across most of its hotels. APA members can book rooms using an app and when checking in, all they need to do is to use a QR code on their phone to check in in mere seconds.
APA’s founder is Toshio Motoya, a prominent hotel magnate in the country. In 2022, he decided to step down and hand over the reins to his eldest son, Isshi Motoya, who has implemented several new services. An example is a contactless elevator that responds to one’s hand over the sensor. Mr Isshi also chose to start using an ultra-fine bubble shower that is effective in saving water. Supporting Mr Isshi is the Representative Executive Director Mr Taku. He came up with the idea for the popular APA President’s Curry, based on the “Kanazawa Curry” from Ishikawa.
APA often collaborates with other corporations. An example is the Kushikatsu chain Kushikatsu Tanaka in Akasaka, Tokyo. Mr Taku and the president of Kushikatsu Tanaka, Toshio Sakamoto, have been working together on a few projects. APA has been looking to promote the sales of its curry and appeal to the family customer base, while Kushikatsu Tanaka has been wanting to improve its business customer base. Mr Sakamoto thus created a special sauce blended with APA’s President’s Curry. Other companies APA is collaborating with are Lotte, Coca-Cola and Tully’s.
Our next destination is Utsunomiya City in Tochigi Prefecture, where a branch of the Candeo Hotel has opened in front of Utsunomiya Station. Candeo has 25 branches throughout the country. The hotel in Utsunomiya is popular for its large outdoor bath on the top floor. It is illuminated in the evenings, giving it a magical feel. It is also equipped with an authentic sauna.
We next check out the Candeo Hotel in Roppongi. Candeo’s owner and President, Teruaki Hozumi, shows us around. The rooms have huge windows, boasting a nice view of Roppongi. In addition, with large windows, high ceilings and the effective use of mirrors, the rooms look much bigger than they actually are. The hotel has an indoor and outdoor bath, offering views of Tokyo Tower and Roppongi. Its buffet breakfast is also quite popular for its wide variety of dishes.
Mr Hozumi founded Candeo in 2005. He opened his first hotel in a vacant factory area in the suburbs of Kumamoto City. There are 22 employees working at his most recently opened hotel, Candeo Hotel Utsunomiya. Candeo has always hired staff without any prior experience in the industry and they are given the autonomy to do things their own way. So most of its employees joined the company after working in other industries.
We accompany Mr Hozumi during one of his trips to Osaka. He has been asked by some Buddhist priests asked to assist with the renovation of the Mitsutera temple. Founded in the year 744 in the Nara period, it is known by the locals as the Kannon-san of the south. The main temple hall survived the war, but the issue of how to handle renovation costs has been a constant concern. So they thought of co-operating with a hotel. The plan is to cover the maintenance costs with rental income from Candeo Hotels. That is why a hotel is being built on top of the main temple building. It is designed so that the main temple building is made part of the hotel. Guests will pass the main temple building as they enter the hotel.
Many new hotels are being constructed around Osaka. One of them is along the Midosuji route in Osaka, which is supposed to open in 2024. Called Candeo Hotels Osaka Dojimahama, the hotel will be located from the 17th floor to the 31st floor, which is the top floor. So the front desk will be on the 17th floor and guests can check out the full view of the Midosuji route while checking in. There will also be an outdoor bath, which will make visitors feel as if they are floating in the sky as they bathe.
1) APA Group hotels are popular with businesspeople
2) Check out Candeo Hotel Utsunomiya’s large outdoor bath on the top floor