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Business

Hoshino Resorts exports its unique take on luxury service

Japanese company's new resort in Bali uses 'creators' to pinpoint guests' needs

TOKYO -- Hoshino Resorts, whose posh hotels with a traditional Japanese twist are popular among Asian tourists, is taking its show on the road. 

On Friday, the Japanese company opened the Hoshinoya Bali resort on the Indonesian resort island, in its first overseas venture under the Hoshinoya brand.

Like at all other Hoshinoya facilities, every staff member is a jack of all trades, doing everything from cleaning rooms to working at the front desk. Hoshino Resorts says this multitasking approach encourages employees to better understand the guests' needs and come up with new services.

The company wants to see if this model, which has proved successful in Japan, will work in other parts of Asia.

On opening day, Hoshinoya Bali employees wore traditional Balinese attire as they welcomed guests to the luxury resort, which is surrounded by a lush tropical forest. The sound of traditional Indonesian gamelan music filled the air.

The resort is in Ubud, a village in the uplands some 70 minutes by car from the international airport.

Hoshinoya Bali is in a village-dotted part of Bali that has been largely insulated from the resort development boom that has changed the face of the island. General Manager Yasukane Ito said he expects the resort to "evolve like a local village."

The resort is composed of 30 villas, each with direct access to a canal-like semi-private pool. The rates start at 9 million rupiah ($671) per room per night. Special tours are also available for guests who want to experience local culture.

Unlike most Japanese hotel chains, which own and operate their facilities, Hoshino Resorts focuses only on the management side. It was the first Japanese hotel chain to embrace this Western-style approach to the business. It now runs resort facilities in 35 locations across Japan.

CEO Yoshiharu Hoshino said handling only the operating side of things makes for speedier decision-making and nimbler management.

Staffed by "creators"

The aforementioned multitasking required of the hotel staff has helped drive the company's success in Japan. By being exposed to more sides of the business, employees are better-equipped to provide more customer-oriented services, Hoshino Resorts says.

CEO Hoshino often refers to his staff members as "creators."

Before expanding into Bali, Hoshino Resorts tested this approach in Tahiti by operating existing facilities on a contract basis. The results convinced the company that its methods would work outside Japan as well.

Those "creators" are already letting the ideas fly at Hoshinoya Bali. A local staff member who received Japanese-style service training came up with a program under which guests can try their hand at preparing canang sari, Balinese-style daily offerings for a Hindu god.

In a Japanese hotel customer satisfaction survey conducted in 2016 by J.D. Power Asia Pacific, Hoshinoya ranked third, after the Imperial Hotel and the Ritz-Carlton, among luxury hotels that charge at least 35,000 yen ($307) per night.

The overseas expansion push launched through the opening of Hoshinoya Bali will test whether Hoshino Resorts' tried-and-true strategy for Japan works in a different cultural context.

CEO Hoshino is confident, saying he wants to establish several overseas resorts over the coming three to five years.

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