The New Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto Delivers Modern Meetings in Ancient Japan


Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto
Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto opened last week on the serene banks of the Kamogawa River facing the dramatic Higashiyama Mountains. Long a favorite destination for incentive planners, Kyoto now has a luxury hotel product aligned with modern design trends while still embracing the traditions of ancient Japan.

The same thing could be said about The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company itself. The luxury hospitality group in undergoing a metamorphosis in terms of global hotel design.

“I think the design question is a really fascinating one, especially for our brand with a lot of heritage,” says Lisa Holladay, VP of brand management for Ritz-Carlton. “When we go to look at a renovation cycle or a conversion cycle, we ask: What do we need to think about with design to appeal to the next generation traveler? So we’ve embarked on a design strategy project this year, and we’ve looked at it not just from a generational perspective, but from a global perspective.”

Holladay adds, “We did research in Hong Kong, Shanghai, L.A., New York, Abu Dhabi and Dubai, across generations and geographical areas, and there were actually a lot of similarities between what consumers want from the design of the physical project.”

She says the two most popular findings across the board include high demand for more attuned regional design, and bringing the outdoors in for a deeper connection to nature.

“Both of those will have a lot of impact on the design of our hotels moving forward,” explains Holladay.

At The Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto, the 134 luxury guest rooms are the largest in the city, averaging over 550 square feet. Some of the suites include outdoor gardens inspired by traditional Japanese tsukimidai moon-viewing decks.

The inhouse Japanese restaurant is highlighted by a 35-foot counter burnished in Uwajimanuri lacquer, where attendees can dine on exquisite sushi preparations with a waterfall as a backdrop. There are also private rooms for intimate teppayaki group dinners.

For business events, the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto offers four different, customizable banquet rooms for small to medium size incentive programs. The area’s well-known Nishijin textiles are incorporated into the design of the public and meeting spaces, evoking a minimalist Japanese Dojo-style ambiance.

In keeping with Kyoto’s cultural traditions, the hotel incorporates the work of famous Japanese design houses such as Spin Studio, who preserved a traditional Meiji house and courtyard into the architectural structure of the building.

Nearby in downtown Kyoto, the hotel is close to the Gion and Kawaramachi-dori retail and entertainment districts. Transfers to the hotel are via 90-minute JR Haruka express trains from Kansai International Airport in Osaka.