“in Japan … craftmanship is still deeply appreciated”

Living in luxury

Getting the best from high-end brands


OCTOBER 2021 Industry perspectives / Text by Toby Waters

People in Japan are known for their uncompromising attitudes to quality in the goods they buy and the services they use. So, it’s no surprise that luxury products are highly valued here. Fortunately, there are many businesses that are well-equipped to cater to the high-end tastes and specific needs of Japan’s consumers.

Nothing but the best

There are many definitions of luxury. When it comes to a hotel, for example, it’s not just about the quality of the room, it’s also about the quality of the experience — and the Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel, part of Marriott International, aims to provide the finest experience a guest could ask for.

“Miyabi-tei, our Japanese restaurant, offers traditional kaiseki meals, the freshest sushi prepared by master chefs, and teppanyaki grilled dishes made with carefully selected ingredients,” says Hidenori Tsuda, the hotel’s director of operations. “Inspired by the famous Itsukushima Shrine on Miyajima Island, Miyabi-tei features wooden interiors and a stream that runs through the venue, allowing guests to experience the nature of Hiroshima.”

The same rule applies to vehicles, and the luxury driving experience is a speciality of the Porsche Experience Center Tokyo (PEC Tokyo).

“At PEC Tokyo’s 3D course, visitors can take one of six driver-training modules to hone their driving skills, under the one-on-one instruction from veteran Porsche driving coaches,” says Arnd Stollmann, head of PEC Tokyo. “We also have a café, a restaurant, a Porsche Driver’s Selection shop, and a simulation lab, in addition to a meeting and conference space.”

For those who aren’t driving, Pernod Ricard Japan offers some of the world’s very best alcoholic beverages that will take your evening to a higher level.

“We have an extensive portfolio of ultra-premium and prestige brands,” says Paul-Andre Vacheron, marketing director. “These include Champagne Perrier-Jouët, renowned for its timeless elegance and distinctive Art Nouveau bottle. We also offer an amazing collection of blended Scotch whiskies, such as Chivas Regal, and single malts, such as The Glenlivet. KI NO BI and Monkey 47 are two fantastic premium brands in our gin category.”

Luxury also comes in smaller packages. IWC Schaffhausen creates beautiful products that allow people to appreciate every single second.

“IWC Schaffhausen provides luxury watches and services for the discerning customers of the Japanese market,” says Manuel Brandela, Japan regional brand director. “Our watches represent engineering excellence and functionality, qualities that are well received in Japan, where craftmanship is still deeply appreciated.”

Unlike anything else

Part of the attraction of premium goods or services is the satisfaction of knowing that you can have something exactly the way you want it. It is this philosophy that drives Oakwood Japan.

“Oakwood is a pioneer in the serviced apartment industry. We operate 12 properties across four different brands in Japan, catering to each of our customers’ specific needs. Our accommodations have fully equipped kitchens as well as washers and dryers, so we have been a preferred choice during the Covid-19 pandemic,” says Christian Baudat, Oakwood’s director of operations for Japan and South Korea. “We believe that true luxury is having the choice to live in comfort while being completely independent.”

The Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel’s Tsuda is proud that he can offer guests items that are unavailable anywhere else in the world.

“We offer various original products and goods in collaboration with local venders. These include tote bags made from Onomichi canvas and fine, traditional Kumano cosmetic brushes,” he says. “These items are only available at the Sheraton Grand Hiroshima Hotel. Emblazoned with the hotel logo, these original goods are the perfect souvenir.”

Pernod Ricard puts its faith in both the knowledge of its distillers and their uncompromising dedication to quality.

“Our products represent the combination of exceptional ingredients and superior know-how,” Vacheron says. “Our maisons are strongly anchored in their terroirs, where ingredients are carefully grown. Then they are crafted through the distilling, blending, maturation, and ageing processes. Our consumers truly appreciate both the legacy and the creativity of our brands.”

PEC Tokyo’s Stollmann points out that his team has worked to make the best use of the local environment in order to create an experience that cannot possibly be replicated elsewhere.

“PEC Tokyo is unlike anything else in the automotive industry in Japan, offering Porsche fans and customers exciting experiences with the brand and its products,” he says. “PEC Tokyo utilises the land’s natural topography to create a completely unique special handling track with distinctive elevated sections.”

Looking ahead

Luxury businesses are constantly looking to the future, as they further refine their products and improve on the experiences they offer. The bar can always be raised, as Brandela of IWC Schaffhausen explains.

“The pandemic has shown that the industry can become more integrated into each client touchpoint, while making the client journey as seamless as possible,” he says. “Therefore, IWC Schaffhausen will further develop both our online and offline visibility, through investments in our digital and our brick-and-mortar channels.”

Oakwood Japan also keeps its eye on what its customers need, while never losing sight of its mission to provide the best possible stay.

“In the past, we predominately hosted business guests, but over the past few years we have seen many leisure guests visit our properties. Our serviced apartments are also becoming more popular for short stays or workcations,” Baudat says. “The opening of our latest property, the Oakwood Hotel Oike Kyoto, demonstrates our strategy of opening in new cities while focusing on our core values.”

Luxury can come in many forms. But when it’s truly luxurious, it’s always memorable.