Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto Experience Creator creates unique itineraries that give travellers exclusive access to authentic cultural encounters
In the shadow of Higashiyama Mountain in the temple district of Japan’s ancient capital, a modern oasis of serenity and style opens the doors to a city that is both beautiful and mysterious, breathtaking and inspiring. This is Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto, secluded amid a five acre (two hectares) 12th-century pond garden, yet just moments from key centres of business, culture, history and natural wonders.
“Kyoto is one of the world’s most alluring cities, but she can be shy in revealing her secrets – our mission at Four Seasons is to help our guests discover her wonders and experience all the city has to offer,” says General Manager Alex Porteous, who leads the 270-person team at the intimate Hotel with 123 rooms and 57 Hotel Residences in the historic Higashiyama District, close to downtown.
To help guests immerse themselves in Kyoto’s traditional culture as well as its cutting edge innovation, Four Seasons invents the Experience Creator. Hana Morioka was born in the city and remembers seeing Shakusuien, the ikeniwa (pond garden) as a child, long before the Hotel was built around it. Her mandate is to secure the many keys to the city that will take Four Seasons guests places even locals don’t know about.
“We have prepared many surprises already, and I am excited to begin putting together custom programs that satisfy each guest’s personal curiosities and interests,” says Hana.
Kyoto experiences may include a genuine Kiyomizu ceramics-making class using traditional techniques, with one’s own handmade pieces shipped home once the intricate process is complete; or lantern making that the whole family can enjoy together. Guests can have a ninja training session including kuji-in meditation, movement and weaponry. For the culinary traveller, Four Seasons helps decipher the Japanese palate and points the way to the city’s most outstanding restaurants. The amateur chef even has the opportunity to take home a personally monogrammed Aritsugu kitchen knife made by a centuries-old artisan shop that originally crafted swords for the Imperial House of Japan.
For those who wish to explore the city, Four Seasons has developed three rickshaw tours, and Hana – who speaks fluent French as well as Japanese – can also arrange for multi-lingual guides for custom tours by car, rickshaw or foot.
About The Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto
A Good Night’s Rest: Guest rooms – including 13 suites – are designed by Hirsch Bedner Associates to showcase views of the pond garden, Myoho-in Temple and surrounding neighbourhood. Traditional elements such as shoji panels, polished woods, locally crafted Kyoto-style fusuma screens and urushi lacquerware are paired with modern at-one’s-fingertips technologies. Selected accommodations, including the lavishly appointed Presidential Suite, also have balconies. At 245 square metres (2,637 square feet indoors plus additional furnished outdoors space, the Presidential Suite is one of Kyoto’s largest. All guest rooms and suites feature the signature Four Seasons Bed.
Dining at Four Seasons: In a city renowned for its continuing history of innovative cuisine, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is a destination unto itself. The Brasserie brings the spirit of modern bistro fare to the city with a distinctive local twist. Dishes include Chef Tsuyoshi Iryo’s miso-marinated foie gras terrine and ox tongue bourguignon with local daikon and sprout salad. The pinnacle of Edo-Mae style sushi is showcased at the exclusive Sushi Wakon, produced by Michelin-starred Chef Red Masuda, with Chef Masashi Yamaguchi serving just 10 guests per seating at the eight metre long (26 foot) hinoki (cypress) counter. Two private dining spaces for 4 or 8 guests are also available.
In the inviting Lounge, guests are treated to gourmet bites to accompany selections of fine domestic and imported whiskies and other spirits, creative coffee drinks, “gastro” teas, and other beverages. Across the historic pond, a teahouse awaits at Shakusui-tei, with a menu of local sakes and premium champagnes to sparkle alongside the water’s reflections in the evening.
Health and Well-Being: The Spa at Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto is grounded in the Japanese aesthetic of enso, connecting mind and body. A menu of ceremonious rituals, results-oriented therapies and indulgent journeys are performed by skilled therapists in one of seven treatment rooms, including a couple’s suite. Of special note are skin care treatments using Tatcha, a luxury brand inspired by the 200-year-old style guide called Miyakofuzoku Kewaiden. French high-performance line Biologique Recherche and all-natural Sodashi from Australia are also featured alongside Kotoshina products formulated with organic green tea from Uji, Kyoto and French spa water for beautiful skin.
The Spa complex includes sauna, steam and whirlpool; a full-service beauty salon; state-of-the-art fitness centre; and 20 metre (66 foot) indoor pool.
Weddings at Four Seasons: With its own exquisitely-designed Chapel reached via a gracious curving staircase, Four Seasons is the ideal setting for wedding ceremonies and receptions in the grand ballroom, not to mention the wonderful photo opportunities in the on-site Shakusuien garden.
“We have already booked four weddings before the end of the year, and the 2017 calendar is filling up,” notes Director of Catering Yoshiyuki Naruki, who invites engaged couples and their families to contact +81 75 541 8288 to learn more about wedding facilities and signature Four Seasons service.
Meetings and Social Events: In addition to the divisible ballroom, Four Seasons Hotel Kyoto offers four smaller salons on two floors, allowing for flexible event planning for events ranging from executive meetings to product launches, social galas and multi-day conferences. The Chapel can also be converted to a reception space for up to 120 guests.