CONTIBUTED BY SARAH FORTE
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!