An official of the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo was pleased with U.S. President Donald Trump staying there during his first official visit to Japan. “American VIPs always stay at the Hotel Okura located in front of the U.S. Embassy,” he said. “It’s really difficult to compete with the Okura. So being selected to accommodate a U.S. President has been one of our long-held dreams. This time our marketing activities paid off. I can’t deny that we gained at the expense of our rival.” Indeed, it was customary for past U.S. presidents, including Barack Obama, to stay at the Hotel Okura or state guest houses when they visited Japan.
A Ministry of Foreign Affairs source says, “We usually recommend a state guest stay at a state guest house if it’s his or her first visit to Japan. But President Trump was treated as a guest on an official working visit, ranked a little bit lower than a state guest. Also, Trump himself did not want to stay at a state guest house, which offers no flexibility. So we thought the president might stay at the Hotel Okura. But the hotel’s main building is currently being renovated ahead of the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo. So this time the Imperial Hotel won out as a result of its meticulous marketing directed at the U.S. Embassy’s transportation unit (sic), such as always offering discounts on accommodations.”
The Hotel New Otani is also one of Tokyo’s top three hotels along with the Imperial and the Okura. But the Imperial Hotel reportedly dissuaded the U.S. Embassy from choosing the New Otani, saying, “That hotel has close ties with Russia.” The Embassy worried whether the Imperial could serve meals that would satisfy Trump’s palate. But the U.S. president did not eat at the hotel. He had dinner at the teppanyaki restaurant Ginza Ukai Tei on Nov. 5. He also attended a formal banquet the next day. So the Embassy’s concern was unnecessary.
The aforementioned Imperial Hotel official says, “[Hosting a U.S. President] doesn’t necessarily generate big profits. But it’s effective in raising a hotel’s profile and in future marketing to American VIPs.”