I don’t seem to be able to find the hotel on my map. Then you need a newer map, because the Hyatt Regency is the latest addition to the Naha skyline. Opened last May, the hotel has become the place to stay in the Okinawan capital while The Lounge and its Garden Deck have redefined swish.
I don’t have a new map, so where is it? We’re not sure how they managed it, but the owners secured arguably the most sought-after spot in the city. Sakurazaka – literally “cherry blossom hill” – was a traditional Okinawan-style area of low buildings, with orange-tiled roofs and “shisa” lion-dogs from local mythology protecting the entranceways. Nearby is Tsuboya Yachimun-dori, which has been lined with pottery workshops for as long as anyone can remember. The area is being redeveloped but Hyatt Regency wanted to work with residents to preserve what was left, with the master plan for the area requiring one major road being rerouted. The hotel is just 200 metres from Kokusaidori, the main drag of bars, restaurants and shops that runs through the heart of Naha, and the airport is 20 minutes away by car. From the upper floors, Shuri Castle can be seen atop the hill that dominates the city. The drawback is that the views from the rooms are not the greatest in the world. This is very much a city hotel and while other parts of Okinawa may have picture-postcard beaches, palm trees and horizons that just ache for a sunset, don’t expect that in the middle of Naha.
Not a problem; tell me what I will see with my back to the view? The hotel has 294 guest rooms, including a number of executive suites that provide 64 square metres of elbow room, and the designers have cleverly incorporated works of art inspired by Ryukyuan culture, with colours and textures that similarly remind you of where you are. Carpets are swirls of blue reminiscent of the nearby Pacific. Works of art in the suites resemble gilded coral heads.
What are the dining options? The Milano Grill specialises in Italian cuisine, with the open kitchen serving up culinary theatre along with the meals. Seafood is a good bet at Milano, unsurprising, given the proximity of the water.
And a little something to end the evening? Sated, stroll next door to The Bar, where the staff have clearly been schooled in what needs to go into service to make it exceptional. The venue has live music and an outdoor terrace, from where the Kerama Islands can be seen far out into the East China Sea during the day. At night, you’re admiring the fireflies. A personal favourite to end the evening, however, is The Lounge. High ceilings, modern decor, subdued lighting and a fabulously stocked bar make it irresistible. While the classic gin and tonic may not be the most complicated drink to make, our barman poured a sublime interpretation – tall glass, large chunks of ice and perfect piquancy. And with less humidity in the summer than the rest of Japan and warm evenings even in the depths of winter, the terrace is an extension of The Lounge with a water feature.
Talking of water, any chance of a dip? There most certainly is – in the open-air pool, which has one of the best views in Naha. On the third floor, the 15-metre pool overlooks much of the city, and is especially alluring in the moonlight. Other amenities include a whirlpool and a fitness centre.
Location, style and fine dining must come at a cost, no? A twin room in the off-season is a reasonable 24,000 yen (HK$1,700) a night while the Regency Executive Suite is just 68,000 yen a night. Even during Golden Week, prices rise only to 34,200 yen and 73,800 yen, respectively. For more information, visit naha.regency.hyatt.com.