As the first city property for the brand, Aman Tokyo, which occupies the top six floors of The Otemachi Tower, recently introduced the largest hotel spa in Tokyo. Giving spa-goers the ultimate refuge from the fast-paced cosmopolitan destination, Aman Spa reflects the hotel’s contemporary Japanese design with eight double treatment rooms, each with a dressing room, treatment area, steam shower, and private bathroom. “Being located on levels 33 and 34 of the tower created the opportunity to work with the views of Tokyo, and this was taken into account as we looked at each space,” says Greg Payne, group spa director for Aman Resorts. “One of the interesting decisions was to create treatment rooms without views. Instead, we incorporated soft, light wood interiors and tactile stone, bringing the focus for our guests on their internal journey. We then linked the rooms to private relaxation spaces where, after their treatments, they could sit and appreciate the views and enjoy the sense of being in Tokyo and at the Aman.
With the conscientious traveler in mind, the spa was thoughtfully designed to add to their journey. “The overall design aesthetic is one of the key aspects in creating the spa experience,” says Payne. “During the design process, we actually took out facilities, notably in the arrival area, to open up the space and allow in light. This provides a connection with the location through the magnificent views, and at the same time, it gives it a pure, clean energy.” Highlights of the spa include its floor-to-ceiling windows, which reveal breathtaking views of the spectacular skyline, as well as its heated swimming pool, from which guests can see from Shinjuku to Mount Fuji.
According to Payne, the spa’s spaces are linked in an organic and natural way. “We incorporated facilities that are key to wellness, movement, treatments, and relaxation and recovery areas,” he says. “Each space was meticulously planned, and Kerry Hill Architects were wonderful to work with, as they wanted to understand the entire guest journey so that every detail could be taken into consideration. The result is that every element of each room feels that it is perfectly centered and gives a sense of harmony.”
Harmony also played a role when it came to the treatment menu. “Developing a menu is such a beautiful process, as it allows us to see what makes each location unique and different,” says Payne. Embracing local holistic wellness traditions, the spa incorporates Kampo, the study of Japanese herbs known to have healing properties, and misogi, the water-based act of purification undertaken before any journey. Guests are encouraged to use the spa’s hot baths and steam facilities prior to their treatments. Each spa journey also begins with a footbath using seasonal Kampo herbs with mineral sea salt and a breathing ritual using camphor tree oil, known for its relaxing properties. The camphor tree, traditionally grown in the gardens of Japanese temples, is also a symbol of strength and reflection in Japan. The spa’s Signature Journey ($469, 2 hours 30 minutes) is inspired by the temple garden and includes a full-body scrub using camphor powder and Japanese clay, as well as a 90-minute massage with kuromoji (Japanese spice bush) and rice oil. “The menu became our way of setting out and describing our intention, and by being heartfelt in our communication, we hope our guests feel our integrity, and we begin the process of establishing trust,” says Payne. “We then let guests know that this is only our interpretation of what we think they would like to experience and that we are open to adapt and change as we move forward.”
With 17 full-time and six part-time staff members, the spa can provide about 40 to 50 treatments per day. However, it is still growing to reach those numbers. “As demand patterns fall around key periods, we are seeing an average of three to four turns per treatment room each day, so somewhere more like 20 to 30 treatments per day. According to Payne, the average treatment time is 75 minutes. Thanks to a generous amount of time between treatments, the spa is able to maintain a sense of tranquility.
Faced with ongoing challenges, Payne and his team strive to quickly adapt. “During the pre-opening, it was actually a struggle to get the team comfortable with the Aman way of talking with guests, to not be too systematic or afraid to let their personalities and knowledge come across,” he says. “And in the case of treatments, it was to not be protocol-driven but to actively listen and intuitively respond to what they’re feeling. Moving forward, there will always be challenges, and the key is to understand that they are part of life, and we must adapt and not be set in the way we have always done things.”Thanks to such progressive thinking, a visit to this high-rise metropolitan escape is sure to take spa-goers to the heights of luxury.
Owner: Aman Resorts
Spa Director: Yuki Kiyono
Group Spa Director: Greg Payne
Opened: December 2014
Japan, U.S., UK
25,000 square feet; 8 treatment rooms
Gumnut, Life Fitness, Technogym, TRX
ARCHITECT AND INTERIOR DESIGNER
Kerry Hill Architects (Singapore)