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Okinawa luxury hotel to be modeled on ancient fortress

Hoshino Resorts taps Japanese tradition to stand out from rivals

The reconstructed Shuri Castle in Okinawa's capital of Naha bears the hallmarks of the walled gusuku fortresses. (Photo by Kiyoshi Karasawa)

TOKYO -- Japan's Hoshino Resorts will open a luxury hotel in Okinawa next year based on the ancient fortresses that dotted the subtropical islands.

The Hoshinoya-branded resort hotel will be built in Yomitan, a village on Okinawa's main island. It will be modeled on the Okinawan gusuku castles, which began to be built around the 12th century. A wall replicating the stone barricade of the fortresses will encircle the resort. Each of the 100 rooms will have an ocean view, with a 200-sq.-meter suite featuring its own private pool.

Though Hoshino runs one other Okinawa location farther south on Taketomi Island, the company has never opened a facility on the prefecture's biggest island.

"The fact that we have not opened in the famous tourist spot had been an issue," CEO Yoshiharu Hoshino said Tuesday.

This hotel will be priced at the high end of Hoshino's luxury portfolio. A room will cost 80,000 yen to 300,000 yen ($715 to $2,700) per night, compared with the average of 50,000 yen to 80,000 yen for the company's premium offerings. The location will target tourists from home and abroad.

Hoshino has contended with a rush of foreign competitors building luxury hotels domestically. Both Marriott and Hyatt of the U.S. opened resort offerings last year. Hawaiian rival Halekulani will open a new destination in Okinawa later this year, and Hilton has new facilities in the works.

Hoshino plans to differentiate itself by providing a unique cultural experience found only in Japan.

Meanwhile, the company this year will open a hotel north of Tokyo remodeled from a defunct rustic resort. The site will include farming grounds so that visitors can experience the agricultural lifestyle of harvesting and cooking fresh produce.

Hoshino also unveiled details of a hot springs resort it plans to open this year in Taiwan, the company's third overseas destination. Each of the 50 rooms will have covered open-air baths filled with the spring water, and the facility will serve Japanese fare. Room prices start at 18,000 New Taiwanese dollars ($580) a night.

The new resort "will also lead to more Taiwanese coming to Japanese facilities," the CEO said. "To even out the undulations in customer traffic, it is crucial to have people come from various countries. I intend to open locations in multiple nations."

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