The Okura Tokyo was reborn last September. Along with two high-rise towers and a completely new brand concept, its spa has adopted French skincare brand Annayake, marking its debut in Japan.
Annayake incorporates a unique “East Meets West” theme that is highly evaluated in 25 countries, and which matches the new hotel’s concept. It’s a coined word of the Western name “Anna”, and a common Japanese word yake meaning bake or toast, for example as in asayake for sunrise, and yuyake as sunset. The reborn hotel reprises the former Hotel Okura Tokyo’s famed Japanese beauty combined with contemporary practicality to serve diverse needs.
Upon arrival at an open and welcoming reception desk at Okura Fitness & Spa Annayake on the 27th floor inside Prestige Tower, my therapist gave me a quick explanation of the house concept and a short counseling session to ascertain the best treatment for my physical requirements.
“About 40% of our customers are men” explains therapist Nozomi Suzuki, one of the 10 therapists, all of whom are women. The menu is designed for each guest's needs, regardless of age, race and gender. Both facial and body have a set of five basic treatments to choose from, under the five elements of Eastern philosophy - Moku (tree), Hi (fire), Tsuchi (earth), Kin (gold), and Sui (water) - believed to be the foundation of everything in the universe among which relationships are built.
I chose The Okura Tokyo Special Menu Tsuchi (60 minutes, ¥19,000). Tsuchi is the element of rejuvenation, purification and the source of new energy, ideal for shoulders, head and eye tension as well as detox. This treatment normally uses Annayake rose mint oil, but my therapist suggested that I try the watermelon oil customarily used for Sui (water) - optimal to recover from dullness remaining from business trips. It is an original Annayake scent that most men repeatedly order. Other sweet fragrances like rose and white flower tend to be adored more by women. At the brief counseling before hitting the spa, I asked for a strong touch to loosen my tense shoulders and chronic lower back pain.
The beauty and wellness facility occupies the whole 27th floor, representing the rebirth and upgrade of Okura Health Club in the original Hotel Okura Tokyo which maintained a world-class reputation for more than 40 years. It is comprised of a gym equipped with the latest weight-training machines, relaxation room, bath and sauna area, swimming pool, club salon, and massage rooms. Suzuki guided me to the locker room emitting a warm feeling in tone with natural wood. It’s one of the few hotel spas that feels open with many windows and brilliant views.
The dressing tables in the locker room all face the walled window with splendid views. No other skyscrapers surround the area, so you need not worry about being seen.
Spa guests are permitted to enter the club’s bath area and are highly recommended to soak themselves in the jacuzzi prior to the treatment. I arrived an hour early as advised upon reservation. It gave me enough time to enjoy the dry sauna, two baths heated to different temperatures, steam sauna and relaxation room.
After warming up in the jacuzzi, I took a break in the relaxation room. It lives up to its name — you can put your feet up and unwind in reclining chairs, with the back of your feet facing the skyscrapers. I drank a bottle of The Okura Tokyo’s original water, helped myself to some dried fruits and a selection of magazines. Back in the corner are a few cubicles without any view, where you can enjoy watching TV and even have a short nap.
At five minutes before reservation time, the therapist guided me to the treatment rooms. There are seven private rooms, of which four have a panoramic view overlooking Tokyo, a few couples’ rooms with shower installed, one of which is a spacious 40-square-meter premium room furnished with a jacuzzi and mist sauna adding to the summit of luxury. I walked into an 18-square-meter room with a window on one side of the wall, filled with bright lights and a splendid view. The single bed seemed small because of the space and high ceiling. The room is sophisticated in every aspect in natural colors, transmitting a feeling of warm hospitality.
I was asked to sit in a cozy chair to start off with a foot massage. The foot bath scrub uses Annayake’s deep cleansing “Radiance exfoliator” which is one of the skincare products used for the face.
I laid face-down on the heated bed after the foot massage. My therapist put on oil and started a shiatsu massage from the back of my feet which felt strong and instantly I knew my body was longing for good pain. The stronger touch I asked for turned out to be strong enough, unlike the tendencies of gentle Swiss-style massages that many other hotel spas perform. So I asked for a lighter touch on the back of my legs, as I was rubbed with a warm palm and fleshy base of the thumb. Using these parts of the hand are what makes a difference from normal shiatsu using just the thumbs and fingers. My cramped lymphatic system felt the oomph flow smoothly as she went to my lower back. This good pain was also aggressively carried out on the lumpiness in my shoulders. My neck to shoulders extremely stiff, I was kindly advised to do a yoga cat pose every morning.
I was able to enjoy the aromatic scent even during the back treatment. For many Japanese, watermelons are the ultimate summertime fruit. Personally, it reminded me of a popular popsicle that most children in Japan treat themselves to on midsummer days. After the back side, I turned face-up for a front leg massage and decollate, finishing up with an incredibly divine head massage.
My 60 minutes was customized to pay more attention on my back as requested. Throughout the treatment, I was reminiscing about my good old childhood days when I visited my grandmother who bought me those popsicles. This was one of my best experiences that transported me to a very comfortable place. After the treatment, my swollen legs were seemingly in shape and lymph smoothly flowed.
Annayake’s facial lines include a blend of arrowroot to re-enhance collagen, or liquid extracted from bamboo for reinforcement of amino acid and minerals. Annayake also offers men’s series blending activated carbon and oak bark extract that removes excess sebum. I wish to go back again for a facial treatment soon.
After the heavenly passage, I scored a delicious lunch set at bar Starlight on the 41st floor. It’s one of those sanctuaries you don’t want to tell people about but I highly recommend you visit not only during bar time but during the daytime to enjoy the view that was never seen from the original 11-floor Hotel Okura. All refreshed, the generous portion of pasta (a rare size for hotels) while viewing the new Olympic stadium fulfilled my body and soul.
Okura Fitness & Spa
The Okura Tokyo Prestige Tower 27F
Address: Toranomon 2-10-4, Minato-Ku
Hours: 10:00～22:00 (Sun. 10:00～21:30）
By appointment only© Japan Today