In a region know for service and attention to detail, these three properties stand as the best of the best.
By Michael M. Clements
Park Hyatt Tokyo
Jazz meets cutting-edge modernism
Exec Brief: Towering over the modern business and entertainment district of Shinjuku, the Park Hyatt Hotel epitomizes modern luxury in a city renowned for impeccable service and edgy style. The themes are simple and woven with precision throughout the 52-story Shinjuku Park Tower: jazz music, Italian food, and New York. This is an A-list haunt with a contemporary vibe that was forever immortalized as the backdrop of Sofia Coppola’s Oscar-winning love story “Lost in Translation.” And what a place to get lost!
Rooms: My deluxe suite (US $645) came with as-far-as-the-eye-can-see views of the expansive Tokyo skyline. The sea foam and black lacquer colors were a refreshing respite from the usual tan and wood hotel motifs. A flat screen TV, fully stocked mini-bar, luxury sauna bathtub, and requisite Japanese high-tech toilet – completely remote controlled – rounded out the amenities. Internet was free, and while neither the wireless nor Ethernet connection worked in my room, a fast-arriving team soon remedied it. Service was impeccable.
Spa: The Club on the Park is an expensive spa, sauna, and relaxation space included at an additional charge (US $45). You could easily spend a full day within this über-pamper-me playpen. The men’s and women’s saunas have hot and cold baths, waterfalls, “experience” showers, steam and dry heat rooms, and a range of spa treatments (massages, calming or anti-aging facial, and the green stone mineral body treatment, just to name a few). The 45th floor gym has a lap pool accessible to all guests. Swim caps, goggles (a bit tight for Western noses), and sweeping urban vistas are all included.
Restaurants: The best steak you might ever eat waits for you on the hotel’s 52nd floor. The New York Grill specializes in preparing and serving prime quality Japanese and imported beef. Here, in the restaurant where Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray first met on screen, you can move beyond Kobe to sample other succulent but lesser-known Japanese marbled steaks varieties such as the Yamagata Ribeye. The wine cellar houses over 1,600 bottles and the in-house sommelier is always willing to suggest pairings. After dinner, stick around and enjoy world-class jazz and breathtaking night views. Do whatever it takes to book a window table.
WL Take: After one night here you’ll be lost in luxury bliss. The only drawback? The hotel is in a business district – nothing is within walking distance. Still, the urban wonderlands of Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Harajuku are a mere five minutes away by taxi.
While you are there
- Walk to Yoyogi park and the Meiji Jingu Shrine
- See a Tokyo Giants baseball game at the nearby Tokyo Dome (Feb. to October)
- Catch a DJ at Womb nightclub in Shinjuku
- Go shopping in Omotesando
The Peninsula Beijing
Modern Beijing Meets Last Emperor Opluence
Exec Brief: Beijingers are a no-nonsense lot less prone to flashiness than their Shanghai and Hong Kong brethren. If patient, you’ll find The Peninsula Beijing’s approach a refreshing change from Asia’s ample collection of pretentious five-star, overly-eager-to-please hotel destinations.
Rooms: Two-level duplex suites (US $863 a night) with sweeping views of the city (when it’s clear) are recommended. Executive suites come with access to the Club Lounge – which includes complimentary breakfast, high tea, and evening cocktails. Free wireless Internet is a nice perk as are the daily fresh fruit bowl, tray of complimentary chocolates, and limitless supply of bottled water – a necessity here.
Service: The Peninsula’s commitment to quality is noticeable from its iconic bellman to its fleet of Rolls-Royces. Staff remember your name and their genuine nature rings truer than in Tokyo or Hong Kong. Still, in the PRC, problems will occur. The concierge neglected to inform me that the Beijing-to-Hong Kong train required passengers to be at the station 90 minutes before departure. When I was not allowed to board and missed my train (which runs once a day), the hotel sent a driver to pick me up and provided a complimentary night’s stay and spa service.
Spa: The Peninsula Spa by ESPA is a major highlight. Its Asian-inspired artwork, stone carved walls, and low lights transport you into a mystical world. The house specialty Jade Hot Stone massage (US $157) is an unforgettable spa experience.
Restaurants: Huang Ting and Jing are top quality, but I suggest exploring the city’s burgeoning restaurant scene as well.
WL Take: The friendly and approachable nature of the staff make The Peninsula Beijing the top choice to enjoy China’s captivating capital.
While you are there
- Walk to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City
- Check out the nightly Kung Fu performance at the Red Theater
- Visit 789 – Beijing’s buzzing art district
- Go to the great wall at Mutianyu and take the toboggan slide down
Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong
Ease Into Ultimate Tai Pan Luxury
Exec brief: You’ve arrived. Hong Kong is known for its luxurious accommodations, and the Mandarin is at the head of the class in this bustling metropolis. The property doesn’t miss a beat – from the completely renovated and modernized hotels rooms, to its ten different high-end restaurants and bars. Situated in central Hong Kong, the Mandarin offers the best of both worlds – iconic Hong Kong history and all the modern amenities you would expect of a five-star luxury hotel.
Rooms: There are two different styles: the harbor view rooms in a more feminine blue and white “veranda” style, and the deluxe rooms with a more masculine leather, crimson and gold motif. Either way, the views are amazing. You won’t want to leave the luxurious settings with cool modern lighting systems, and glass-enclosed showers stocked with Parma products to explore Central Hong Kong.
Spa: The staff, one of Asia’s finest, offers aqua therapies, massage, Chinese medicine, nutrition advice, Ayurveda, and facials. The two-hour spa treatment tailored to individual needs is pure bliss. The gym incorporates a modern kinesis weightlifting system with multiple staff on hand to cater to your every whim. The men’s and women’s changing areas connect to separate relaxation and steam rooms with dry heat saunas, experience showers, and hot and cold saunas.
Restaurants: Facilities range from the Man Wah “HK-style” restaurant, to the Captain Bar for jazz, a whiskey bar, and a private Krug Champagne chef’s table located deep within the kitchen. Pierre, the modern French restaurant, is known for the creative and avant-garde flair of chef Pierre Gagnaire. Dishes are small works of art, each combining a number of ingredients that when brought together surprise and challenge the palette. The wine list is extensive. M Bar is a weekend hot spot for Hong Kong’s jet set crowd.
WL Take: Book the Oriental Suite (US $1,032 per night), ask for a massage by Ashanti, and prepare yourself for the gold standard of Asian luxury.
While you are there
- Have cocktails at the nearby Armani bar and shop with the Tai-Tais at Landmark shopping galleria.
- Go to The Peak for a bird’s eye view of one of the world’s most amazing urban landscapes.
- Sample the nightlife at KEE Club.