In the lead up to World Environment Day (June 5), one of Japan’s most-lauded home-grown brands is launching ‘Sustainable Tokyo’, a stay package that highlights local, environmentally-considerate elements and excursions alongside omotenashi (Japanese hospitality) in harmony with Mother Nature.
From the start, Palace Hotel Tokyo’s affinity to nature has been an intrinsic part of the luxury brand’s identity. From hand-tufted carpets inspired by the wabi-sabi beauty of moss to artwork deeply influenced by the property’s setting amidst the Imperial Palace gardens, the beauty and allure of its natural surroundings has been integral to the guest experience it delivers.
With ‘Sustainable Tokyo’, the hotel’s endeavoring to present travelers with a glimpse of how the country’s culture is inherently rooted in sustainability and harmony with the environment by offering a more natural perspective on the megalopolis.
The two-night stay features several exclusive elements to be enjoyed on-property as well as optional off-site pursuits such as recreational activities on land and water and an introduction to kintsugi, the art of beautifying imperfections in pottery in the spirit of mottainai – a Japanese philosophy rooted in reducing waste by not discarding objects until they have been utilized in every imaginable way.
Whether food enthusiasts or spa lovers, guests have the option of a prix-fixe dinner at Wadakura, the hotel’s signature Japanese restaurant, or a treatment at evian SPA TOKYO. Washoku, recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage, is a culinary expression of the Japanese people’s respect for nature through the sustainable sourcing, preparation and consumption of natural ingredients. At Wadakura, this is reflected in its seasonal dishes, which include organic, local produce and sustainably-sourced delicacies. For the custom-tailored experience at evian SPA TOKYO, guests can enjoy a 75-minute body treatment incorporating products made in Japan with naturally derived, domestically sourced ingredients.
Additional package elements exclusively available to ‘Sustainable Tokyo’ guests include:
• An in-room minibar stocked with sustainably sourced, made-in-Japan items, including organic sparkling wine, a selection of preservative-free juices and complimentary fair-trade coffee and tea.
• An amenity set featuring shampoo, conditioning treatment and body balm by Kruhi, the only brand in Asia to be certified by Grøn Salon, a rigorous European environmental standard. The full-size products were chosen in the spirit of mottainai, so guests can enjoy them both during their stay and once they’ve returned home.
• Health-centric, in-room breakfast service which includes sustainably sourced ingredients, with a western-style presentation to be served on one morning and a bento-style Japanese presentation on another. Vegan and vegetarian options are also available upon request.
• A limited-edition, souvenir, wooden guestroom keycard.
Guests can also request the following activities at additional charge (subject to availability):
• A two-hour introduction to the history of kintsugi followed by a hands-on experience.
• A privately guided, two-hour jogging tour or three-hour cycling tour around the picturesque Marunouchi district and the surrounding Imperial Palace gardens.
• A privately guided, 90-minute kayaking excursion along the Sumida River, revealing Tokyo’s origins as a city borne of water.
And for aesthetes, the hotel has conceived a four-hour art and architecture tour that provides an introduction to Japanese artists and architects who revere the natural environment and consider sustainability and social responsibility integral to their work. From world-renowned Kengo Kuma, who was awarded the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture in 2016, to Shinji Ohmaki whose ‘Echoes Crystallization’ prominent installation at Palace Hotel Tokyo gives permanence to endangered species of Japanese flowers, the tour highlights significant pieces from the hotel’s private collection as well as some of the city’s most standout architecture.
In addition, guests who book Executive or Premier Suite accommodations can request a complimentary, private session with one of the hotel’s talented pâtissiers for a 30-minute introduction to pastry-making while producing zero food waste.
“Luxury and sustainability are not mutually exclusive and with ‘Sustainable Tokyo’, we’re highlighting how harmonious the two can be,” said Masaru Watanabe, senior managing director and general manager. “In light of Japan’s ambitious Green Growth Strategy and the Tokyo municipal government’s vision to future-proof the city, we are keen to do our part by keeping our sights set not only on delivering exceptional omotenashi in the present, but also for the future. It is, after all, often the little changes and everyday practices on the part of individuals, businesses and communities that can compel great progress.”
In addition to its ongoing efforts to reduce the consumption of single-use products, the hotel has a number of eco-initiatives in place, including a cyclical food-waste management project dubbed ‘Eco-Palace’, which turns the property’s compostable kitchen refuse into biodegradable fertilizer for use by local farms. The resulting crops of rice and produce are then bought by the hotel for incorporation into the staff canteen’s daily menu. The early stages of this project date as far back as 1992, two decades prior to the property being razed and rebuilt from the ground-up, and at a time when the hotel was the first in its industry to repurpose organic refuse to produce compost.
More recently, Palace Hotel Tokyo’s culinary team launched a collaboration with Food Loss Bank to incorporate imperfect-looking, but entirely edible and delicious produce into select menu offerings, such as the hotel’s desserts and its pastry shop’s popular veggie bread loaf.