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Interview with Arnaud De Saint-Exupery, General Manager at Andaz Tokyo Hotel


We had a talk with Arnaud De Saint-Exupéry, General Manager at Andaz Tokyo and new Member of ICCJ:


Could we hear more about the Andaz Tokyo Hotel in general and about the anniversary?


Andaz Hotel opened in Tokyo one year ago. We are bringing in Tokyo a more lifestyle boutique hotel’s experience. This is what the brand Andaz is about. The word ‘andaz’ means ‘personal style’ in Hindi, and this is the whole philosophy of Andaz. We are trying to bring a sophisticated experience but with less formality and more of a personal, authentic relationship between the guests and our associates in a barrier-free environment.

You assisted the launch of the 1st Andaz branded property worldwide, was Tokyo a city consistent with the hotel brand image? What are the merits/strengths of your venue in the Japanese market? Are there any traits in particular that your company strives to emphasise?


While in London we bought a pre-existent hotel and then converted it, the one in Tokyo has been built from the beginning to be an Andaz hotel, so its design incorporates many elements of the brand. The key is to create a personal and barrier-free environment, and this is why there is no reception desk. The environment encourages the associates to be more proactive; the check-in is done on a dining table where we offer you a drink just like you would do with a guest coming into your house, with no typical concierges or receptionists. The design has been done in that sense, and also with the objective of giving you a truly Japanese inspiring atmosphere. The words we are using to describe it are ‘unscripted’ and ‘indigenous’, reflective of the locality. The most exciting achievement in the past year was to see how the team, which is mainly Japanese, was able to embrace this concept of getting out of a script and showing their personal style, engaging in a more authentic way. For me this is the most pleasing achievement as it is the essence of the hospitality industry.


What aspects of Andaz Hotel are Japanese consumers attracted to?


When we opened the hotel the Japanese customers had really high expectations, and they were slightly surprised in the beginning because they didn’t find the “script” you would find elsewhere. But, since we have so many returning guests from the Japanese market which make us feel they are really enjoying this more casual whilst sophisticated environment. The Japanese clientele is definitely our primary clientele, not just for the restaurants or bars, but also for the rooms, weddings and banquets.


Any plans of expanding the hotel with the upcoming Olympics?


Last year, Japan reached roughly 13.5 million visitors and the forecast for this year is 15 million visitors. We are aware of this big increase, beside the domestic market which is growing because of the yen devaluation which pushes people to stay more at home. I think everyone is gaining benefit from this. When I speak with the guests, what they really like about Japan is its authenticity. What I hope for Japan is that it will develop whilst keeping the right balance between opening up to the world and keeping the authenticity and what makes Japan so unique. This is exactly the philosophy of Andaz: we are an international brand but at the same time we are very much domestic in the way we do everything. The Olympics too are very positive for us because Toranomon is in the central part of Tokyo, leading straight to the Olympic Village through a new avenue which is being called today the ‘Champs-Élysées of Tokyo’ but may be renamed ‘The Olympic Road’.

Your thoughts/views on the future of Andaz Hotel.


We have just refined our Rooftop Bar, which is the only open-air rooftop bar in Tokyo, with an outside terrace overlooking the Tokyo Bay and Odaiba. We have also opened a unique eight-seat authentic sushi (“the Sushi”) on the 52F. What we try to do is to not to be just a hotel but more a venue, where we have creativity at the core concept of what we do. A few weeks ago we had a pop-up sakura garden on the rooftop and for our first anniversary we organised the Andaz Summer Festival with jazz, latino and classical music. We want to bring different experiences to the guests and the locals and to be a hub where we can have these moments of creativity. That is essential for the philosophy of Andaz.


Which cocktail/dish is your personal favourite at the hotel restaurant/bar?


I may be one of the most loyal guests of our restaurant, the Andaz Tavern! There are two dishes that are my favourite: the first is an Italian salad, burratina with artichoke and avocado, that has been on the menu from the very beginning. The concept of the Tavern is European provincial cuisine, so we have many dishes from Italy, Spain and France. The second one is a chicken clay pot cooked for a long time in the oven. As for my favourite cocktail, I would say simply a glass of Champagne at the Rooftop Bar. From next month we are launching our mojito bar on the Rooftop for all summer so there will be different kind of mojitos and that is going to be the best place to enjoy mojito overlooking Tokyo bay.

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