When the Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts opened its first hotel
in Shanghai, China, a year ago, international travel was at a
standstill and a new hotel seemed like a risky venture.
But the Four Seasons had done its homework. Shanghai, China’s
boomtown, had millions of investment dollars pouring in annually so
the hotel was an immediate success.
In October, Four Seasons opened its second hotel in Tokyo, where
the economy is as flat as Shanghai’s is vigorous. And yet the Four
Seasons Marunouchi is also holding its own.
The reason? Both hotels boast prime downtown locations
convenient for business travelers. Both are near first-class
sightseeing and shopping for leisure visitors. Both have easy
access to subway, train and taxi transportation. And both employ a
multi-lingual staff trained to assist all types of travelers.
Yet the two hotels are utterly different.
The 439-room Four Seasons Shanghai, one of Four Seasons’s
largest properties, was designed to please and to impress Chinese
Contemporary art is highlighted in a décor of light, warm colors
and materials ranging from the coffee-colored marble of the floors
to the alabaster used in the lighting fixtures. Individual
restaurants serve Cantonese, Italian, Japanese and America food,
while the Studio Café serves a lavish buffet featuring all four
A half-dozen private dining rooms are used for Chinese
entertaining, traditionally done on a large scale and in a
Conference facilities also are extensive, with a
7,400-square-foot ballroom, meeting rooms, a mezzanine for vendor
displays and session breaks and 24-hour business centers on the 5th
and the 37th floors.
The hotel is in the heart of the Puxi business district, a
10-minute walk from the Shanghai Museum, upscale shopping on
Nanjing Road and downscale bargains at shops and stalls on Huaihai
When I wasn’t sightseeing, I made good use of the Olympic-size
swimming pool, had a massage and jogged on a fitness center
Four Seasons’s usual in-room toys electronic safe, satellite
television, dataport connections, voicemail, minibar with
coffeemaker and an enormous bathtub make in-room time
The rack rate on a standard double room is $208 on weeknights,
$188 on Fridays and Saturdays. But two guests who walked in off the
street told me that they got their first night’s stay for $100.
As for the Four Seasons Marunouchi, this hotel is the group’s
tiniest, a 57-room boutique property decorated in ultra-minimalist
style. Subtly blending traditional Japanese forms with modern
textures, it relies on colors ranging from silver to black, and
champagne to mahogany.
The hotel is located in the new, glass-clad Pacific Century
Place building, where it shares space with businesses such as the
accounting giant Deloite & Touche. The building is the
centerpiece of Tokyo’s re-emerging Marunouchi business district,
centrally located near the Imperial Palace with its medieval moat,
the bustling Ginza shopping district, the Otemachi banking district
and Tokyo Station, the hub for Tokyo’s many subway and train
In fact, many guests who arrived during my hosted stay came by
train from Narita International Airport to Tokyo Station, a hundred
yards from the hotel entrance. Taxi fares from the airport can cost
as much as $200 so knowledgeable guests chose the train.
The hotel’s public areas reception and concierge desks, lounge,
bar, business center, Ekki restaurant, storefront fitness center
and Japanese onsen baths are on the seventh floor.
The rooms are on floors 3 to 6. Seductively attractive, they
feature marvelous beds, big bathrooms, electrically operated drapes
and blinds, CD and DVD players and wall-mounted 42-inch plasma
But is the package worth $450 a night? The hotel reports an
average occupancy rate of 60 percent just four months after
opening, so it seems to be.