Think of luxury coupled with style and which countries, outside Asia Pacific, spring to mind? Well, perhaps France and Italy top the list. Hervé Mazella, GM of Park Hyatt Tokyo, was born in Cannes, on the French Riviera, within a proverbial hop, skip and a jump of the Italian border, so he could be said to have a foot in both nations.
Of course he runs one of the world’s most stylish hotels. The 178-room beauty, overlooking Tokyo’s Shinjuku Central Park, is on the upper floors of the 235-metre tall building designed by Dr Kenzo Tange, winner of the 1987 Pritzker prize for architecture. Interiors were designed for the 1994 opening, and are constantly upgraded, by John Morford. In typical Japanese adherence, it is both calm and fascinating the moment you arrive. The ambience, says Hervé Mazella, is one of many reasons why Park Hyatt Tokyo continues, as always, to attract both sophisticated business travellers and weekend staycationers (these are locals, apparently, who do not want floral wallpaper).
Mirror-walled elevators up to the 41st-floor lobby bear whimsical masks of animal heads, by sculptor Mieko Yuki. Emerge to an airy conservatory lounge the size of two adjacent tennis courts. High ceilings and all-wall windows make you feel on top of, and in control of, the world, or at least this part of Tokyo. The same aura of supremacy follows you to your room. Some regulars always book a corner suite #12: their bathtubs allow views of Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Bay and, if clarity permits, Mount Fuji.
I quickly unpack, and then it is time for wellness. This requires an elevator to the 45th floor, walk along to another elevator up to the 47th floor. Here, the glass-walled 2,100 square-metre Club On The Park is a 25 metre-high pyramid catering to hotel customers plus some 700 local members. Two separate Technogym work-out spaces are separated by a serious 20-metre pool (elsewhere, the spa has seven treatment rooms). Many regular customers head out, to run around Shinjuku Central Park.
Back in my soft beige-and-avocado space, I ponder dinner choices. I have eaten quite a lot of Japanese on this trip so will not choose, say, raku in Kozue. I decide on the 52nd floor New York Grill, its high walls hung with Minoru Nomata art and four giant Valerio Adami murals showing the Big Apple’s Radio City Music Hall, the New York Yankees, Carnegie Hall and the Rockefeller Center. The wine list is heavy, to the extent of 1,600 bottles, with American labels: I choose Eola-Amity Hills 2018 Pinot Noir, from Oregon.
I start with caprese, centred on a divine burrata, from an Italian expat, Giovanni Graziano at Fattoria Bio Hokkaido (Hokkaido appears to be the main breadbasket of the nation – it is certainly Japan’s leading producer when it comes to dairy and beef). The 180-gram sirloin is from Hokkaido Akaushi, Bos taurus, one of four breeds in Japan’s wagyu family (the others are Japanese black, Japanese polled, Japanese shorthorn). Not needed, as the meat was so tender, but a memorable extra, was the Miyabi steak knife, actually a miniature sword, specially made for Park Hyatt Tokyo by Zwilling JA at Seki in Japan’s most renowned sword-making Prefecture, Gifu. The steel blade was layered 65 times with wave-like Damascene and then sharpened in hombazuke style with a horizontally rotating stone. Anyway, after finishing all this banquet with cheesecake and cassis – cream and berries from, as you may have guessed, Hokkaido, it was time for bed.
Breakfast was at Girandole, a café suitably decorated with 144 Vera Mercer black and white photos, retro café shots of Paris, Rome, Florence. My place was set with Italian china, by Richard Ginori, and cutlery (Sambonet) and the croissant was Paris-perfect.
And then, before leaving, I was taken to the hotel’s wedding chapel, on the 40th floor. I wanted to admire the altar silver, by Milanese jeweller Gianmaria Buccellati, now part of Richemont. As that GM with style, Hervé Mazella, says, live the moment, and that is what I did during this all-too-short return to this timeless luxury hotel.