Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Shangri-La in Tokyo Closes Temporarily until END April 2011

The aftermath of the earthquake has claimed its first luxury hotel casualty in Tokyo: The Shangri-La Hotel, which only opened its doors in Tokyo in March 2010, has said that it is closed until the end of April, at the earliest, as it continues to assess the situation.

Its general manager, Wolfgang Krueger, and about 11 other people from the hotel are now working out of Fukuoka, in southern Japan, according to Maria Kuhn, its spokeswoman in Hong Kong. The Shangri-La Tokyo as 300 full time staff who are currently on paid leave.

“This is not a decision we have made lightly,” Ms. Kuhn said. She added it was too early to assess what sort of financial impact the closure would have on the company’s overall financial performance. “As soon as we feel it is safe and we can run the hotel at our normal standards, we will open again,” she said.

An average room at the Shangri-La costs around 70,000 yen a night ($863.26), and the majority of its visitors are foreigners, primarily from Asia. The hotel is a stone’s throw from Tokyo Station, the main gateway of the capital. With 200 rooms, the hotel takes up the top 11 floors of Marunouchi Trust Tower Main and “provides a luxurious and spacious retreat at the end of a busy day”, according to its website.

Other luxury hotels have also shut down some of their operations. The Mandarin Oriental, long a favorite among foreign tourists, has virtually shut down all of its dining facilities. On its website, it says, “In keeping with the government’s directive to conserve energy, the following restaurants and bars will be closed until further notice: Signature, Sense, Tapas Molecular Bar, Ventaglio, Mandarin Bar and the Gourmet Shop. K’shiki, The Oriental Lounge and the hotel’s in-room dining facilities all remain open and available for guests.”

One thing is clear: potential visitors to Japan are already cancelling visits scheduled for April – the peak of the country’s renowned cherry blossom season – and the tourism industry will take months, if not years, to recover from this catastrophe. This is only the beginning of what’s going to be the biggest challenge ever faced by Japan’s tourism industry.

Source : WSJ
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