CONTIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
Part I of this post regarding the Dragon Hill Lodge in Seoul, Korea can be found HERE.
Mention a trip to Tokyo from Okinawa and one of the first questions may be “Are you staying at the New Sanno?” Lots of us stationed on the Rock have heard of this hotel, but in case you haven’t had a chance to visit, here’s the scoop.
Whether you Space A or fly commercially to mainland Japan you can find your way to the New Sanno easily. Visit the “Location” tab of the New Sanno website for directions from Narita Airport, Haneda Airport, Yakota AB, Yokosuka NB, Atsugi NAF, Misawa NAF, Camp Zama or Camp Fuji. Each location offers different options via taxi, train, shuttle or bus.
New Sanno is a few blocks from the Hiro-o station of the Tokyo subway. If you don’t use it to get to the hotel, you can definitely plan on taking advantage of it to explore the city. For step-by-step directions on riding the metro see the Tokyo Metro website.
The Hiro-o station is on the Hibaya line of the Tokyo subway. The popular Roppongi Hills area is just one stop down the line. French, German, Russian, Swiss and many other embassies are all located nearby, so many of the restaurants and shops have an international feel. The Tokyo Tower is also close. I could see it from my hotel window and can be reached by foot from the hotel or an even shorter walk from Roppongi.
To many U.S. military families Tokyo means Disney. You can get to Tokyo Disney by taking the train system. From the Hiro-o station to the Disney resort will take about an hour of travel time and under ¥1000 each way.
If riding the subway isn’t your deal, the staff at the New Sanno will call a taxi for you. The New Sanno offers printable directions and maps for Japanese taxi drivers on their website. The hotel room key card holder has a smaller version of the same. Beware that the Tokyo taxis can get quite pricy. The minimum charge is over ¥600. On one occasion we approached the hotel from the far side of the street. The taxi driver drove just far enough to come to the New Sanno from the near side. That short turn-around cost over ¥200!
The concierge service was very accommodating with lots of maps and brochures for different attractions. They were ready to book half day, all day or overnight tours for their guests. Tours of various Tokyo destinations, bullet train trips to Mt. Fuji as well as over-night tours to Kyoto or Osaka were all available.
If you are looking to stay tucked in your home away from home, the New Sanno has many services available on site. The second floor hosts a heated indoor pool, Jacuzzi, and work out area, as well as a shoppette-type store (Sutter’s General Store), jewelry store, and a Naval Exchange. There is a gift shop on the first floor and an APO pack and wrap in the basement for shipping your treasures home.
Restaurants on-site include Wellingtons (an elegant dining experience for those above the age of seven), Kikuya (a teppanyaki and tempura style menu), a deli, bakery, bar and family restaurant. Each restaurant has its own hours and room service is tied to these kitchens. Beware that this might mean that you are not able to eat what you want, when you want if you come back to the hotel in the middle of the day or late at night.
The rooms were comfortably sized: a bit smaller than an average American room, but larger than others in the Tokyo area. There are a variety of room sizes from single to King suite and also a few Japanese style rooms (with Japanese bedding) which look out onto a Japanese style garden. Each room has a TV, DVD player, well stocked bathroom, mini-fridge and microwave. Internet (WiFi or DSL line) is complimentary, but the connection was very unstable during the peak times. We had trouble even getting on the internet on some evenings.With less than 200 rooms, reservations can be hard to come by.
For example, as of this writing the website shows they are booked during weekend for the next six months. So book in advance! The front desk has the most current information so it is often better to call instead of relying on the website. Also, both of the up-scale restaurants–Wellingtons and Kikuya–offer a dinner and room package. Limited rooms are available on Fridays and Saturdays for guests who dine at either restaurant on the evening of their reservation. The last tip seems like a far shot, but the hotel rooms are released at 10:00 P.M. for reservation no-shows. If you are desperate, this might be your salvation.As with many things military, the price-points for the rooms are set on a sliding scale based on rank. Even at the highest price, I think you will find the prices to be very affordable when you compare them to a tourist hotel. At the time of this writing it costs $231 for a queen room at the Hyatt vs. $73 for double room for an O4-O10 on leave at the New Sanno. For a complete list of the prices visit the “Guest Rooms” tab on their website.
Life in the military can have a huge price, but I hope you can see that there are a few good deals still out there. Places like the New Sanno or Dragon Hill Lodge can pamper you without leaving you broke. If this has peaked your interest, I suggest you look at the individu al hotel websites. There you can check out availability, see more details and start dreaming about your next trip!
Cape Henry Inn near Virginia Beach
Shades of Green on Walt Disney World
For a DOD-run hotel, we were quite impressed. We stayed at the New Sanno this past July during a sight-seeing visit to Tokyo, and were very pleased. With a Metro station just a few blocks away, it was easy to get wherever we wanted to go in the city. For sustenance, the hotel offers some good choices, and there are several restaurants nearby for more local fare. The rooms are nice, but nothing fancy. Our queen bed was very comfortable, and our 8 y/o was perfectly happy on the full-size pull-out couch. Speaking of our 8 y/o, he thoroughly enjoyed the indoor pool (as did the other kids in the hotel). And we parents thoroughly enjoyed the hot tub after long days of sight-seeing.
Speaking of unwinding after long days of sight-seeing, my only complaint was that kids are not allowed in the the hotel’s lounge. We’ve been to several hotels around Asia, and this was the only one that had a policy against kids in the lounge. It would’ve been nice to end the days with a glass or two of wine in the lounge. Instead, we resorted to buying a bottle of wine at the hotel’s General Store and enjoying it in our room. Other than that, it was a great stay!
Okay, so I am going to “Far East Creative Expressions” And I have looked ALL OVER to see if there is a starbucks anywhere nearby The New Sanno. Is there one within short walking distance? :[
Wish I would have read this before we took our ITT trip to Tokyo this month. Now that we’ve been in Okinawa for a few months, I sometimes forget all this website has to offer. I use it all the time for locations and directions but neglected to check for off island travel info!
This is really great information about Shades of Green and makes me feel much better about staying there when we get back to the US. =)
I would like to comment about the Shades of Green as well. We have stayed there twice and once was this past summer.
The price is about a third of what you would pay to stay at the premium hotels. You could likely stay at one of the economy resorts for the same price or cheaper. But Shades of Green also has the biggest rooms on the Disney resort. It was originally a premium Disney hotel.
You do have to go to the Polynesian to use the monorail or you can just take the Shades of Green Shuttle (they have their own shuttle). However, if you ask the bellhops they will take you to the end of the property (right across the street from the Polynesian) on their little golf carts. As my grandmother was with us last time we did this often and would tip the guy who drove us a few bucks.
Also- as for the far away rooms. The older rooms can be a bit of a walk. That is where we stayed the first year. So this past summer I requested to be in the tower side (newer rooms) and lower level due to my grandmother. They were able to accommodate us no problem. Every room has a view at this hotel. You will not be staring at a parking lot. It also has a parking garage unlike most of the hotels which is nice.
The rooms also have a fridge so you can eat breakfast in them and save a few bucks. They also have a little food shop right by where the bus picks you up to get a quick breakfast as well. My husband golfed while we were there and absolutely loved it.
Just wanted to chime in with my two cents. And a tip- walk over to the Polynesian to their beach at night to watch the water parade and then the fireworks at the magic kingdom.
We are always grateful for different reviews on the New Sanno as we are planning a trip there and the accomodations seem much cheaper than those in the Tokyo hotels. I think it’s great that the military offers resorts in several different countries, as well as in various areas within the U.S. as an added benefit to it’s members.
I can add some input for anyone interested in staying at Shades of Green while visiting Disney World in Orlando. The rooms are definitely cheaper than rooms in the official Walt Disney World resort hotels. You still qualify for the same perks given to guests staying in the Disney resorts, such as after hours park priviledges and shuttle bus service. There is a golf course and swimming pools, plus an on-site travel agent. However, there are some negatives to staying at Shades of Green. The property is very large and our room was so far from the front desk that it felt like we were walking to another hotel altogether. The restaurants/stores within the hotel are no cheaper than those of the other resorts, so plan accordingly. Also, if you want to ride the monorail into the Magic Kingdom, you must walk to the Polynesian to board it and vice-versa (quite a walk if it’s hot or if you have little ones). All-in-all, I think you do save money by staying at Shades of Green and it’s great as long as you can put up with the negatives I mentioned. You’ll either have to be flexible with your travel dates or plan for your trip way in advance as rooms fill quickly. Sometimes Disney World offers money saving packages through it’s official resorts that include park tickets and meals- It may be cheaper to take advantage of one of these deals rather than stay at Shades of Green.
This was a great article. My wife and I visited Tokyo and stayed at the New Sanno and thought it was amazing. Such a great deal for military members and their families.
Thanks for listing the other resorts, I never knew of the place in Virginia Beach and we plan on taking a trip there this summer.
Here is a little thing I wrote up a couple years ago when we stayed at the New Sanno: