InterContinental Hotels Group® (IHG)’s boutique lifestyle brand has debuted in Japan with the opening of Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora. Located in the mountainous precinct of the Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan’s first Hotel Indigo brings the brand’s strength as a neighbourhood storyteller to guests with unique experiences that explore Gora’s history, its breathtaking vistas, local culinary delights and hot springs culture.
Introducing a new way to explore Hakone Gora
Hakone Gora is a town of two tales: a century-old town cherished by Japan’s intellectuals and socialites as an escape from the bustling cities since the Meiji-period, while opening the gateway to vibrant nature, pastel-coloured onsens, contemporary museums and digital art for a modern getaway.
Located just 1.5 hours from Tokyo, the mountainous town is accessible by the Hakone Tozan Railway which opened in 1919, quickly cementing the town as a popular travel destination. Over its 100-year history, stories collected from along the Hayakawa river where the hotel now resides, from Gora’s ancestors and visitors who came to the town to find new life among the cherry blossom hot spot.
Today, these stories form the Hotel Indigo neighbourhood experience where guests can immerse in the history through the hotel’s artwork and design, local menus, onsen experience and cultural workshops.
The Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora experience
Design is an integral part of the guest experience, drawing inspiration from the neighbourhood to influence its interior. Ancient patterns from local Yosegi-zaiku woodwork have inspired wood patterns throughout the hotels’ lobby, parquetry woodwork decorating the ceilings and guest rooms, while contemporary artwork brings to life Hakone’s nature through ukiyo-e paintings, fireflies, fallen leaves and mountainous landscapes.
The hotel features 98 rooms and suites, with each room offering its own natural hot spring bath in-room or open-air bath on the balcony. Nostalgia and novelty sit at the core of the design, with playful bed headboard artwork from Studio Cafe SHIMA that reflects the early Showa-period scenery of Gora. Quirky motifs can be found throughout the photography, including a courier man dressed in traditional costume holding a ‘selfie stick’; a classic bus painted with the Yosegi-zaiku pattern; soccer players; and a UFO or drone mid-flight.
The epicurean entertainment of “fire” and “water.”
The hotel’s restaurant and bar philosophy has been inspired by the elements of Japan. Riverside Kitchen & Bar is the signature dining destination that brings to life the ‘fire’ element with its large firewood oven centrepiece and innovative menu from Executive Chef, Patrick Morris. The restaurant uses locally sourced ingredients such as Ashigara meat and fresh seafood from the Odawara markets. ‘Water’ is embodied through the Bar & Lounge philosophy, a stunning lounge with cocktail specialities including the Mikan Mimosa made from fresh Odawara oranges and classic drinks such as the ‘INDI五’ (Indi Go), a craft beer brewed in collaboration with Kamakura Beer.
A modern twist on tradition
Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora offers a modern twist on the onsen ritual with traditional wood finishes reminiscent of the Meiji-period bathhouses, contrasted with a dramatic digital art wall installation. The installation represents Hakone’s four seasons with rotating expressions of warmth, new life and the location’s natural landscape through colourful digital lighting.
Treatments by luxury Thai spa brand HARNN will recharge both skin and soul at ‘The Spa by HARNN’. The wellness destination offers an original menu of treatments inspired by the location, including essential oils, cherry blossom and yuzu.
Hans Heijligers, CEO of IHG’s Japan Operating Company, IHG ANA Hotels Group Japan said: “The opening of Japan’s first Hotel Indigo marks a tremendous start to 2020 at a time where Japan sees worldwide interest and curiosity from travellers across the globe following the Rugby World Cup and as we lead into the 2020 Olympics. Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora represents a bold new direction for boutique hotels in Japan, and we are delighted to witness its growth into diverse neighbourhoods across the country.”
Paul Tsuji, General Manager of Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora, said: “Hotel Indigo Hakone Gora offers a refreshing new way to explore the Gora neighbourhood. From the hotel design to restaurant and bar concepts and local partnerships, each guest will experience the art of storytelling through Hakone’s century-old history to its modern, adventurous spirit. We are delighted to open our doors today and invite both first-time visitors and locals to experience the neighbourhood with new curiosity.”
The opening strengthens the brand’s exciting growth into new markets, including Hotel Indigo Dubai Downtown opening this spring and Hotel Indigo Brisbane Fortitude Valley in July to mark Australia’s first. Established in 2004, Hotel Indigo is open in over 100 neighbourhoods across 19 countries, with more than 100 new hotels in the pipeline. Hotel Indigo is recognised as one of the leading boutique brands in the world.