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Zen in the city
Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel Tokyo
5-11-1 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo
THERE is no shortage of luxury hotels in Tokyo, especially in Ginza, but the newly opened Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel will be hard to beat.
On Monday, it will pick up a silver award for interior design from US-based International Design Awards (IDA). The annual awards recognise outstanding design and talent in architecture, interior, product, fashion and graphic design.
The Millennium Mitsui Garden Hotel is Millennium & Copthorne (M&C) Hotels' flagship hotel in Japan, and M&C is believed to be among the first Singapore-controlled hotel companies to clinch the award for an overseas hotel. The 329-room hotel in Ginza is also the first collaboration between Millennium and hotel operator Mitsui Fodosan.
M&C chairman Kwek Leng Beng worked closely with the hotel's designers, CL3 Architects from Hong Kong. "Having secured a dream site, I had to make sure that the hotel lived up to the expectations of our guests," he says.
The design approach was Asian Minimalism with the aim of creating a private garden in the heart of the city, much like a Japanese Zen garden.
The hotel's facade boasts an eye-catching "Bottega-inspired" design, like the weave of a basket, symbolising the weaving of Ginza's history, present and future.
Jotaro Saito, an up-and-coming kimono designer, designed an art piece for the lobby featuring two moons and flowers of the changing seasons, representing changes and the flow of time, as well as different cultures coming together.
At about 200 sq ft in size, the typical guestroom is spacious and efficiently designed for comfort. The hotel has two special concept rooms: a Pearl Room designed with Mikimoto Cosmetics Ginza and a Hakuza Gold Leaf Room designed with Hakuza Nihonbashi, a shop specialising in gold foil.
In the Pearl Room, guests can try the range of Mikimoto Cosmetics, of the famed Mikimoto Pearls, as well as the special bath salt, which is made with pearl essence.
Meanwhile, the Hakuza Gold Leaf Room is decked out with furniture adorned with gold foil, and guests can try out Hakuza's gold leaf mask, as well as the bath salts containing gold leaves. Through collaborations with these distinguished Japanese brands, the hotel aims to show guests what Cool Japan is all about. The concept was coined as an expression of Japan's emergent status as a cultural superpower.
Of its win, the hotel's general manager Ayako Iwasaki says it is a big surprise. "This has given my team a boost in confidence after the hectic opening period in December. The award will also help give us an edge over other hotels in Ginza," she says.
M&C has been trying to gain a presence in Tokyo since the mid-1990s. "Our hotel was designed with the modern traveller in mind and in keeping with Japanese traditions and culture of Ginza history. This award shows we have attained our aims," says Mr Kwek.
Super stylish rooms
41 Seah Street
THE Naumi Hotel prides itself for having stylish rooms, but guests who want to spend the night in uber style should check out the Andy Warhol-inspired room.
Designed by interior design firm White Jacket, the 43 square metre suite, named Eden and Nirwana, is decked out to resemble a swanky New York penthouse apartment. The oversized bed takes centre stage with a large circular bathtub hidden behind a revolving screen. Its decadent yet stylish design features funky shapes, dramatic pops of colour as well as an iconic armchair, the La Mamma by B&B Italia, paired with Diesel Foscarini's Fork floor lamp.
For its efforts, the hotel clinched the Best Interior Design for Suite for this orange-themed room at the inaugural Asia Hotel Design Awards, which were handed out recently. A hotel spokesman says this room is always booked on weekends.
"This is an exceptional award and we are very grateful for the recognition given to us by our peers in the design and hospitality sectors," said Gaurang Jhunjhnuwala, director at Naumi Hospitality. "This award further solidifies Naumi's standing within the hotel design community."
The first-ever Asia Hotel Design Awards hosted over 300 key influencers from the hotel design world and sought to celebrate distinctive new hotel projects by architects and designers for their clients across the Asia-Pacific region over the past 12 months. A total of 48 projects were nominated across 12 categories, from over 150 initial entries.
The hotel, which first opened in 2007 and underwent a revamp in 2012, has also won other awards such as Best Luxury Design Hotel in the World Travel Awards 2014, and Asia's Top Design Hotel for NOW! Travel Asia Magazine 2014.
Apart from Eden and Nirwana, there is another theme room, Gabrielle and Camellia or the Coco Chanel-inspired suite. The room is designed in chic monochrome paired with pale mint green. The luxurious feminine look is complemented by artwork inspired by Coco Chanel's iconic flower, the camellia.
Regardless of which of the 73 rooms guests are in, all rooms come with designer furnishings, functional work desks with built-in phone chargers for all smartphones, seven-layer bedding in 400 thread-count Egyptian cotton and premium bath amenities from organic New York brand Malin + GOETZ.
Injecting new life into Beach Road
Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
7500B Beach Road
IT used to be the Furniture Mall but since 2013, the gleaming Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road has stood in its place. Last year, the 15-storey hotel tower, comprising 180 guest suites, won in the hotel category at the 2014 FIABCI Singapore Property Awards.
At the Asia Pacific Property Awards Summit and Awards Gala dinner this month , it will pick up two more awards, as winners in the Singapore Hotel Architecture and Singapore New Hotel Construction and Design categories.
The Asia Pacific Property Awards are part of the UK-based International Property Awards to honour property developments which have excelled in the areas of design, construction, presentation, architecture and marketing. Later in the year, the winners from the Asia Pacific Property Awards will compete against winners from Europe, Africa, Canada, the USA, Central and South America, the Caribbean and Arabia to determine the World's Best in each category.
The project is a redevelopment of an existing commercial property, The Plaza - a strata-titled property comprising a hotel cum office tower, retail podium and multi-storey car park. Built in the late 60s, it was timely for a refurbishment to inject new life and bring the commercial component in closer alignment with today's market expectations.
The new hotel tower, designed by DP Architects, was constructed above the existing multi-storey carpark and comprises a single rectangular block with a rooftop infinity-edge swimming pool and gym. The orientation of the guest suite layout capitalises on the views of the Singapore Flyer and the city skyline, while overlooking the historical Arab Street.
The tower's facade is articulated with an animated composition of vertical fins and two-tone grey reflective glass, positioned at different planes to achieve a layering effect. This envelope treatment of vertical fins is extended to the existing multi-storey car park, to lighten its former heavy appearance, and to visually connect the entirety of the complex.
The property offers four suite categories ranging from 45 sq m one-bedroom deluxe to 66 sq m two-bedroom premium suite. Each serviced suite features tasteful furnishing, a fully-equipped kitchenette and laundry facilities.
A series of new link bridges enhances the pedestrian connectivity of the once disparate blocks. The simple but effective contemporary design language reverberates through the hotel and the entire development.
Wang Tse Lip, associate director at DP Architects, says that with the serviced suites, an unconventional solution was adopted to revitalise the existing development, through the introduction of new and updated uses, public spaces and a unique building form - a tower built above an existing car park.
"On the whole, it was rewarding to have been involved in the transformative process of this development - from a relatively quiet spot to one that will attract locals and tourists alike," says Mr Wang.