Hate leaving your pooch at home when you go away for weekends? Regina-Resort Kyukaruizawa offers a solution with its brand-new stylish hotel that’s perfectly prepped for pups.
Few hotels in Japan manage to capture the zeitgeist here like Regina-Resort Kyukaruizawa, which opened in November in the enduringly popular tourist area of Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture. The resort is striking – it owes much to the works of the modern Japanese architectural movement, which shuns brutalism and utilitarian practicality in favor of connecting construction, nature, and traditional Japanese aesthetics. And it is all designed with dogs in mind.
“We want guests to be able to relax and enjoy the history and nature that Karuizawa has to offer with their dogs,” resort manager Shinya Sasuga tells Weekender.
Designed with the help of Azusa Sekkei – a construction company working on the Tokyo 2020 National Olympic Stadium – the hotel’s building is primarily constructed of grey concrete, but it is difficult to tell. Every wall is decorated with Japanese cedar, including paneling and lattices, giving the interior the feel of a Zen temple.
But dogs take center stage. Yapping is always in earshot; wall decorations serve as hooks for leashes; the floors are all easy to clean (just in case that reception area seems the perfect spot for your pooch to leave his calling card); and all rooms include a crate, complete with a mattress, for sleeping. First floor rooms have gardens that use woodchip, which can easily be replaced. Second-floor guests only have terraces but can use the free-for-all woodchip dog run, which straddles the front of the hotel and includes sun loungers for the warmer months.
The meals are of a quality comparable to an upper-end Tokyo restaurant. Our evening washoku menu included exquisite wagyu, barbecued at the table, sashimi that melted in the mouth, and a wide variety of hors d’oeuvres and vegetables. Wine from an extensive list chosen by hotel sommelier Atsushi Yuasa is available. The traditional Japanese breakfast was just as good – hearty and nutritious without being overfacing.
Dogs are also welcome in the dining room. Each table has a trolley for pets to sit in (no climbing on the high-quality furniture allowed – though many defied the rules). There is also an extensive menu of food for pets. Ours had the horse meat cubes in the evening and salmon with vegetables for breakfast. As dog owners will know, sometimes hotels that allow pets do so on the assumption guests will be staying one night only. If guests stay longer it can be a challenge for the kitchen as ingredients for a second dinner can be difficult to source, and so the second-day meals are often disappointing.
“If people stay for a second or third day, we will change up our menus, so there’s no need to worry about that,” said Sasuga. “And if guests want to head down the road, we have an agreement with a nearby restaurant where they can also go for a meal.”
There is plenty else to do in the area. Kumoba Pond, set in lush surroundings with Mount Asama looming in the distance, is a short walk away, or head to Kyu Karuizawa Ginza, a shopping street with local stores that caters to tourists. Further afield, the old town around Karuizawa Station’s North Exit has plenty of history, including churches and the hotel that John Lennon liked to stay in. The South side’s malls are perfect for those wishing to buy brand goods – and out of the way for those wanting to avoid commercialization. The nightlife is also good, with plenty of restaurants and bars.
We, however, decided to spend the evening at the hotel and make the most of the rare chance to take in a piece of contemporary architecture without crowds. The wine and jazz made the experience more rewarding, and having our dog doze beside us as we talked into the night made it all the more special.
For more info about Regina-Resort Kyukaruizawa visit www.regina-resorts.com/kyukaruizawa