KYOTO, 30 November: Berjaya Corp Bhd (BCorp), which officially opened the Four Seasons Hotel and Hotel Residences Kyoto (Four Seasons Kyoto) yesterday, is looking to launch its second venture with Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts (Four Seasons) in Japan in four years’ time.
BCorp founder Tan Sri Vincent Tan said it has plans for another Four Seasons project in Okinawa, where it owns 100 acres of land.
“We are currently in the planning stage and plan to open it four years from now. The project will probably have more rooms, some residences for sale and villas. It will probably be the best hotel in Okinawa,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the opening ceremony.
Present at the ceremony were Berjaya Times Square CEO Chrysies Tan, Berjaya Group CEO Datuk Robin Tan, Madam Low Siew Beng, Puan Sri Datin Esther Tan, Vincent Tan, Princess of Johor Her Highness Tunku Tun Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, Sultan of Johor His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, Mayor of Kyoto Daisaku Kadokawa, Four Seasons Hotel & Resorts founder Isadore Sharp and Governor of Kyoto prefecture Keiji Yamada.
The group acquired the land in Okinawa circa 2008/2009 and had previously considered developing a casino hotel on the site. Tan said the concept for the hotel is being drawn up by an American architect.
Meanwhile, for Four Seasons Kyoto, about 50% of the 57 hotel residences has been sold at US$5,000 (RM22,300) to US$6,000 (RM26,700) per square foot. Tan said prices for the remaining units will be higher and he is confident of selling all the units by early 2017 based on interest from Japanese investors.
“This first Kyoto project represents an important milestone for the international growth of our company and we are very much looking forward to further building our reputation within the Japanese market,” said Tan.
Four Seasons Kyoto is BCorp and Four Seasons’ first joint venture in Japan, and the 100th property managed by Four Seasons.The hotel and residences are located on a 20,433sq m site in Higashiyama-ku with gross floor area of 34,632 sq m. A hospital was previously located on the site.
Four Seasons Kyoto opened its doors on Oct 15, 2016 with 123 hotel rooms and 57 residences. It is owned by Kyoto Higashiyama Hospitality Assets TMK, a subsidiary of Berjaya Kyoto Development (S) Pte Ltd, which is in turn a 50:50 joint venture between BCorp and Berjaya Land Bhd.
The total investment cost for Four Seasons Kyoto was US$380 million including US$50 million for land cost, funded by RHB Bank of Malaysia, Mizuho Bank, Shinsei Bank and Tokyo Star Bank. Tan said the payback period for Four Seasons Kyoto will be quick because of the total sales achieved so far.
On whether it will work with RHB Bank for the project in Okinawa, Tan said it will consider any Malaysian bank that is competitive, as well as Japanese banks.
“Japanese banks look at us differently now as they see we can deliver,” he said.
Tan said Four Seasons Kyoto was an “opportunistic investment” as it acquired the land for a good price in 2008 when the economy was slow.
“Back then, on a per square foot basis, the price was less than half of the price of a hotel or land in Kuala Lumpur’s Golden Triangle and the hotel rate in Kyoto was three to four times that of Kuala Lumpur. The numbers looked good. It was a good buy,” he said.
Tan added that the hotel business in Japan is doing well now, especially after the liberalisation of visas, which provided a boost to tourism.
Four Seasons Kyoto general manager Alex Porteous expects the average hotel occupancy to be about 65% during the first year of operation. He said the room rates, which are over US$1,000 per night now, will see incremental increases based on three-year and five-year plans.
Four Seasons currently manages 104 properties with another 34 under planning or construction worldwide. In Japan, it has two properties namely Four Seasons Kyoto and Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo located at Marunouchi.
— THE SUN