Berjaya Land to expand hospitality business in Japan

TheEdge Wed, Mar 20, 2024 04:00pm - 2 months View Original

This article first appeared in City & Country, The Edge Malaysia Weekly on March 11, 2024 - March 17, 2024

Berjaya Land Bhd is looking to expand its hospitality business in Japan, with at least 10 Four Seasons hotels and resorts across the country.

Speaking at a media briefing during the groundbreaking for the Four Seasons Resort & Private Residences Okinawa 

in Japan on March 4, Berjaya Corp Bhd founder and adviser Tan Sri Vincent Tan did not give a timeline for the expansion plans, but expressed confidence in Japan’s hospitality industry, given that the country is a world-class travel destination with a rich culture, and it has a clean and safe environment for tourists.

“Japan is a world-class tourist destination. It is an advanced country, clean and almost crime-free. Apart from Okinawa, we have more development land in other parts of Japan,” said Tan.

“We are in the midst of finalising the development details of the Four Seasons Hotel in Yokohama. It will be our next hotel in Japan after Okinawa, and we intend to build more Four Seasons hotels and resorts in Japan after Kyoto, Okinawa and Yokohama.”

Four Seasons Okinawa is Berjaya Land’s second collaboration with Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts in Japan after opening Four Seasons Kyoto in 2016. It is the company’s second hotel investment in Okinawa after Ansa Okinawa Resort, which was opened in 2019 after the company acquired and refurbished the 14-acre property that was previously an abandoned hotel. Ansa Okinawa Resort is nestled on higher ground in the centre of the island, offering unobstructed views of Naha — the capital city of Okinawa Prefecture — and the coastline.

“We acquired this 14-acre hotel, which was abandoned and closed down for seven years, in 2019 for US$14 million. We spent US$10 million to refurbish it and we imported all the furniture from Malaysia because I believe that when we [Malaysian entrepreneurs] invest overseas, we must benefit our home country. This hotel has a good occupancy rate and it has proved the potential of Okinawa’s hospitality market,” said Tan.

Tan: We intend to build more Four Seasons hotels and resorts in Japan after Kyoto, Okinawa and Yokohama (Photo by Berjaya Land)

New attraction in Okinawa

The upcoming 32-acre Four Seasons Okinawa will have a gross development value of US$1.12 billion (RM5.3 billion). It will offer 127 resort rooms, 124 condominiums and 28 villas.

“Both the resort and private residences will be managed by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, providing five-star services and facilities to the resort guests and owners of the private residences ... Okinawa is a small island but a popular tourist destination that receives about 8.22 million tourists from around the world every year. When we talked to Four Seasons to develop the resort and residences in Okinawa, [the decision] was a no-brainer,” said Tan.

He added that the condominiums and villas will be open for sale at an estimated selling price of US$3,500 and US$4,000 psf respectively. He is confident that the private residences will be well received, owing to the limited supply of such offerings in Okinawa currently. “The private residences should be able to contribute a net profit of US$400 million to US$450 million to the group upon being fully sold.

“Four Seasons Okinawa will be the fifth hotel managed by the luxury hospitality brand in Japan. It is also the first resort and residences portfolio [in Japan] under the brand. It means that Four Seasons Okinawa will provide an even more extensive [range of] facilities and services to the guests and owners of the private residences.”

Some of the facilities featured at Four Seasons Okinawa are the indoor and outdoor pools, fitness centre and spa, a ballroom as well as five restaurants and bars with a seating capacity of 380.

Tan (fifth from left) and Nagahama (fourth from left) officiating the groundbreaking ceremony with (from left) Bank of the Ryukyus Ltd chairman Kawakami Yasushi, Tokyo Star Bank deputy director Iwakiri Daisuke, Okinawa Development Finance Corp director Yabiku Toru, Fujita Corp representative director Okumura Yoji, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts residential development vice-president James Price and Seikou Okinawa Construction Co Ltd representative director Liew Ken Woon (Photo by Berjaya Land)

“We are aiming to set a new standard of excellence in Okinawa’s hospitality [industry]. Four Seasons Okinawa is part of our bigger 100-acre master plan in the western coast of the island, known as the Sunset Strip. It is strategically located near major tourist attractions such as the famous Cape Manzamo. We are looking to turn the tract into a new tourist destination in Okinawa,” said Tan, adding that the sea-fronting development is easily accessible from Naha Airport by highway.

While the development plan for the remaining 68 acres is still being finalised, Tan said the company has been receiving partnership and collaboration proposals, such as to build a premium outlet. The company is currently open to any opportunity that will have a positive impact on its master plan.

The groundbreaking ceremony for Four Seasons Okinawa was officiated by Nagahama Yoshimi, mayor of Onna Village in Okinawa, and witnessed by Tan, Berjaya Land group CEO Syed Ali Shahul Hammed and other key representatives from Onna Village, Four Seasons and business associates.

“This groundbreaking is a testament to our commitment to generating sustainable value for our stakeholders as we continue to expand our footprint in Japan and seize growth opportunities, creating value for customers and investors alike,” Syed Ali told the media at the event.

The advanced groundwork for Four Seasons Okinawa has been completed, with the main construction anticipated to take 40 months. The project’s main contractor is Seikou Okinawa Construction KK, a subsidiary of Berjaya Construction Bhd.

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