OSAKA -- Daiwa House Industry plans to launch a type of apartment where guests can enjoy hotel-style services and check out anytime, as Japan's hotel shortage worsens amid a surge of tourists into the country.
While such home-sharing services as Airbnb have spread in Japan, regulations remain strict. Daiwa House will work with local governments to ensure its new properties fall into the legal category of hotels and hostels.
The Japanese home developer plans to build 3,000 units of such properties, known as apartment hotels in the U.S. and Europe, by 2020. Each unit will be equipped with a kitchen, and while hotel-style amenities are provided, their selection will be limited to keep prices affordable. With no minimum stay, guests can book for one night or extended periods.
Tourist destinations eyed
Daiwa House has already begun talking with landowners in major cities. The company is also considering development in such tourist destinations as Kanazawa, a city in central Japan. The company either hopes to buy the land, or reach subcontracting deals with landowners for construction and management of the apartments.
Daiwa House expects to spend as much as 30 billion yen ($271 million) on the project, considering construction costs will come to around 10 million yen per apartment. Buildings will house between four and 100 units, each with two or three rooms capable of accommodating up to six guests. Prices are likely to be around 30,000 yen per night, or about 5,000 yen per person for a group of six.
As for services, Daiwa House will clean the units and change bed sheets twice a week, even for long-term guests. Buildings with several dozen units or more will include a front desk and a concierge. Daiwa House is looking at hiring foreign concierges for the service.
The use of home-sharing is growing in Japan, but these services remain controversial amid concerns raised by nearby residents about safety. Current regulations only permit these services to operate in special zones such as Tokyo's Ota Ward and in Osaka city, where guests must stay at least two nights. Even the new legislation set to come into effect in 2018 caps such rentals at 180 days a year.