INTERNATIONAL REPORT—From Tokyo to Montana, hoteliers are upping their game in terms of one-of-a-kind activities designed to deliver exceptional experiences to be remembered long after guests leave the property.
Guests are invited to tap into the heart of a samurai or saddle up with cowgirl legends as hotel activities go off the beaten path.
In Tokyo, Fujita Kanko’s five-star flagship property, Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, opens up the world of the samurai through an immersive cultural experience offered in collaboration with sword artist Tetsuro Shimaguchi’s “Kengishu-Kamui” sword troupe. Through a mixed style of Japanese swordplay and expressive arts, guests are taken on a journey they won’t soon forget.
“At Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, we have a one-of-a-kind asset, the vast Japanese botanical garden, in the middle of the big city, and also have a unique cultural heritage. To fully take advantage of our assets, we emphasize offering authentic Japanese experiences for our guests, such as traditional tea ceremonies in our teahouse, which is a national tangible cultural property and others,” said Hiroshi Izumi, GM of Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo. “Because we thought our Japanese garden is a perfect backdrop to be a samurai, we asked Tetsuro Shimaguchi, the leader of Kengishu-Kamui, if we can collaborate to create a unique Japanese experience especially for international visitors.”
Among the programs is a 90-minute samurai workshop where guests study sword techniques while learning about traditional Japanese notions of beauty in form and spirituality. The second is a private, two-hour theatrical samurai show, featuring a traditional Japanese multi-course dinner and a private performance of samurai feats. Both options are available now until Dec. 28.
“In swordsmanship, forms are essential. They express skills, knowledge and spirituality all gained by diligent trainings and learning. Swordsmanship is not just fighting with swords. Through this activity, you’ll see and experience the beauty and intensity of swordsmanship inexpressible by words,” said Hiroshi.
He added, “When our guests step in Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo, we want them to feel a special, serene atmosphere surrounded by historic artifacts, Japanese architecture and natural beauties of Japanese garden where you can witness four seasons in traditional ways. Because of this unique, precious environment, we believe you can really immerse yourselves in the spiritually of swordsmanship instead of just watching an attraction.”
Giddy Up, Cowgirl
In Greenough, MT, guests of The Resort at Paws Up can don their Western best, which may include jeans, rugged boots or even a Stetson, before saddling up with legends for an immersion in cowgirl culture.
Nadine Lipson, owner of The Resort at Paws Up, was inspired by a firsthand experience at Cowgirl University led by the Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
“The museum had a training weekend for women that was called Cowgirl University. The objective was to showcase the museum’s honorees and have them teach and inspire us. I attended and saw the passion the museum had for sharing the history and knowledge of these incredible honorees,” said Lipson. “I wanted The Resort at Paws Up to be a part of that. We have now hosted eight Cowgirl Spring Roundup events. The goal of the event is to share the museum’s story and the stories of the museum honorees.”
Guests at the Cowgirl Spring Roundup will participate in a variety of activities, including painting, drawing, barrel racing, trail rides, cattle drives and roping, to name a few.
“You can see their passion for the cowgirl way of life, which makes what they do more than a job. The weekend is an opportunity to dress the part, wear your shiny buckle, pull out your boots, dust off your hat and feel like you can conquer anything that comes your way,” she said. “And, our trail rides and cattle drives are the real deal: up rocky hillsides and along creek beds, pushing away tree branches as you walk along old game trails, getting dusty and wiping the sweat from your brow as you move cattle from pasture to pasture.”
It’s not just about horses and ranching, explained Lipson, it’s about embodying the cowgirl spirit.
“True cowgirling is much more than getting on a horse and going for a ride through the wilds of a Western state. Cowgirling involves working long hours in all types of weather—including the kind that sends most people indoors,” she said. “Cowgirls are hardened and tough, with a can-do attitude and a willingness to always help each other in any way that they can. They know the value of lifting each other up.”