New brand moves into historic hotel in Otaru

Boutique ryokan developer and operator Hoshino Resorts has taken over a bankrupt hotel in Otaru, Hokkaido, with plans to re-open it this winter under their OMO brand.

The 92-room OMO 5 Otaru will open in the former Hotel WBF Ironai Otaru North & South Building. The North Building was newly built and scheduled to open in May 2020 but the Osaka-based hotel chain filed for bankruptcy with debts of 27.8 billion Yen a month prior.

The neighboring building, the former Otaru Chamber of Commerce & Industry Building, had also been restored by WBF and was to be the South Building of the hotel. The 1,300 sqm building dates from 1933. Back in 2011 the Chamber put the property up for sale for 50 million Yen.

Guests can enjoy a lounge, library, large public bath, sauna, and OMO Cafe and Dining.

This year Hoshino opened three hotels in Kyoto under their newly-created OMO brand. The focus is on affordable city hotels targeting urban tourists. The hotelier has been actively acquiring and opening hotels across Japan this year in anticipation of tourism returning to full swing once the pandemic situation improves. 

Otaru is a port city located 34 minutes by train from Sapporo and 1hr 15 minutes by train from New Chitose Airport. It was designated as an open port for trading with the US and UK in 1899. It quickly flourished as Hokkaido’s business and financial hub, with Japan’s major banks opening up branches along Otaru’s main street, including the Bank of Japan, earning it the nickname of the Wall Street of the North. 

Prior to the pandemic, the town had benefitted from the recent growth in foreign tourists, with as many as 30% of foreign visitors spending a night or more in Otaru. In 2018, foreign hotel guests increased by 20% from the previous year. The Hokkaido Railway Company is planning to construct the Shin-Otaru Railway Station along the Hokkaido Shinkansen high-speed rail line by 2031. The station will be a mid-way point between Sapporo and Kutchan (near Niseko).

Location

Ironai, Otaru City, Hokkaido

Source & Image via Hoshino Resorts News Release, September 8, 2021.

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