Okura brings ‘omotenashi ’ to Manila

The Japanese-inspired and picturesque design of Hotel Okura Manila definitely sets it apart from all other hotels in Southeast Asia.

Japanese hospitality “omotenashi” combined with Filipino warmth is said to be the advantage of Hotel Okura Manila, the first luxury Japanese-inspired hotel, strategically situated in front of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport — ready to accommodate the tired bodies of domestic and local tourists.

During an interview, Aaron Dominic Paguia, assistant manager for Marketing and Communications of Hotel Okura Manila, revealed that in the last quarter of 2019, the property has already soft-opened with 40 rooms available for guests.

DAILY TRIBUNE’S Jelene Galvan, Justin Gonzalez, Raffy Ayeng and Hotel Okura assistant manager for Marketing and Communications Aaron Dominic Paguia.

“But since the Covid-19 pandemic happened in 2020, we decided to stop the operation,” he said.

Paguia disclosed that Hotel Okura Manila is the first of its kind in the Philippines and part of the renowned Okura Nikko Hotel Management, a subsidiary of Hotel Okura Co., Ltd., that operates three hotel chains worldwide, namely the Okura Hotels & Resorts, Nikko Hotels International and Hotel JAL City, as well as Travelers International Hotel Group, Inc., owner and operator of Newport World Resorts.

“We are looking at expanding,” he said, adding that as the hotel operation is now in full swing, there are 170 rooms ready to serve guests, while around 20 rooms, including the Presidential Suite, are currently under minor construction.

TWo-BEDROOM suite.

“All the amenities and the facilities are open already, but the last rooms will be made available for guests towards the end of 2024 and the first quarter of 2025,” he added.

According to Paguia, since the hotel is a bit luxurious compared to neighboring competitors, Okura Manila targets Class A or affluent customers.

“But we welcome guests that are ready to experience our services. We can cater to them. Right now, the majority of guests are still locals, but we are also getting the majority of Japanese visitors in Manila. Japanese automatically look for Okura whenever they arrive from  various countries,” he underlined.

On its website, the management of Hotel Okura Manila stated that the edifice blends tradition and innovation, which ensures that each guest experiences the “Best ACS” — Best Accommodation, Best Cuisine and Best Service.

YAWARAGI restaurant.

“Okura Nikko Hotel Management has since developed a global network of world-class hotels that provides meticulous service backed with Japanese hospitality – uniting tradition and innovation,” the company said.

Paguia said that with just years of operation, Okura Manila is doing great, especially in 2023, as the state of national health emergency was already lifted by the government, and when life is completely back to normalcy.

“The sales were gradual during the first quarter of 2023 but toward the last quarter, our sales boomed, obviously because of the ‘ber’ months,” he said.

Japanese, international dining experience

Aside from bringing to the country the intricacy and beauty of Japanese structure, as well as its culture, Hotel Okura takes pride in its wide array of Japanese restaurants offering a wide array of food that are “oishi” — Okura’s signature Yamazato; Yawaragi that welcomes booking guests on the 5th floor; and the Sora Bar located on the rooftop of the hotel.

Yamazato Restaurant serves only the freshest ingredients that ensure supreme taste and unmatched quality, including its teppanyaki, while Yawaragi offers international gourmet dishes with Japanese specialties and Filipino favorites.

JET pool at the fitness center.

Traditionally, Yamazato restaurants in countries with Okura Hotel garnered Michelin rates, which means the restaurant is a top-caliber one.  

“But this year or next, Michelin is coming here to rate Yamazato of Hotel Okura Manila, which is what we wanted to happen,” according to Paguia.

For Okura Manila’s Yawaragi, which means harmony and being completely at ease, the restaurant offers a unique dining experience where guests can soak up the feeling of being in a modern Japanese-inspired village.

And for beach and pool bums, the Sora Rooftop Bar perfectly fits them as it offers a relaxing escape high above the bustling Metro Manila: the chance to swim with a view and an intimate atmosphere to enjoy a selection of food and drinks amidst the evening city lights.

“We have the buffet on weekends, but during the last Sundays of the month, we are offering our big guns — the wagyu, traditional and the freshest sashimi, among others. Everything is out for our guests,” Paguia said, stressing that all cuisines are being meticulously checked by two Japanese executive chefs.

Posh accommodations

Hotel Okura Manila offers Deluxe, Hinoki-Yu, Premiere Corner and Palace Suite.

Hotel Okura Manila treats its Deluxe rooms as an incredible retreat enhanced with ultimate comfort and elegant furnishings.

“The thoughtfully designed Deluxe Room delights with a calm space for relaxation. Luxuriously spacious, the room has an atmosphere of contemporary Japanese elegance and is the perfect haven for business travelers or small families, with a choice of one king or twin bed configuration,” the hotel’s website said.

The Hinoki-yu room is defined as an exquisitely appointed with calming Japanese inspiration, combining classic wooden elements, splendid stone finishing and plush upholstery.

“A custom-made aromatic Japanese cypress (hinoki) tub creates an authentically Japanese, relaxing retreat at the end of your day. The room is also decorated with subtle Japanese-inspired motifs such as the origami crane sculpture and the tsubo-niwa, a traditional Japanese pocket garden,” the company website stated.

“Bask in the contemporary elegance of the light and airy Premier Corner Room tucked away in the private corners of Hotel Okura Manila. With an average room area of 71 square meters, the room bathes in natural sunlight with its floor-to-ceiling windows to create a calming sense of space. The room also features a high-definition flatscreen TV, high-speed internet connectivity, a multimedia control panel at your fingertips, a Nespresso machine and a Japanese bidet,” the website says, elucidating what guests should expect.

And for the Palace Suite, it is said that the rooms are filled with wooden elements and elegant lines that encapsulate Japanese serenity.

THE hinoki (Japanese bath tub) inside the Hinoki-yu room.

“Enter a calm retreat and refresh yourself in a handcrafted bathtub made from aromatic Japanese cypress wood in the lavish and spacious bathroom after your day’s schedule. For convenience, connect to the world with high-speed internet connectivity, and control the room with the multimedia touch panel at your fingertips,” the company noted.

Just this February 2024, Okura Nikko Hotel Management announced that The Okura Tokyo, Hotel Okura Macau and The Shilla Seoul have been awarded top five-star ratings in the hotel category of the 2024 Forbes Travel Guide, one of the world’s most prestigious travel publications.

Also, two Okura Nikko group hotels overseas — The Okura Prestige Bangkok and Hotel Nikko San Francisco — received four-star ratings.