Sapporo Breweries Opens Door for Westin in Tokyo
After 26 years of trying to find a hotel in Tokyo to manage, Westin Hotels & Resorts said Monday that its name will go up on a new 500-room luxury hotel to be built by Sapporo Breweries Ltd.
The Seattle chain, which has 65 hotels worldwide, will operate the Westin Hotel, Tokyo, under a 20-year management agreement signed with Yoshitaka Takakuwa, president of the Japanese beer company. The hotel, estimated to cost $240 million, is to open in 1993 as part of Sapporo’s $1.2-billion development of 25 acres in the Ebisu area of Tokyo at what is now a brewery. It will also include condominiums, office buildings, restaurants and a theater.
The agreement comes less than a year after Allegis Corp., parent of United Airlines, sold the Westin chain to Aoki Corp., a Tokyo construction company, and the Robert M. Bass Group of Ft. Worth for $1.53 billion. Aoki has been rapidly moving into the international hotel business and now owns the Algonquin Hotel in New York and an interest in the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Until now, Westin provided only marketing services and reservations for two Tokyo-area hotels, the Akasaka Prince and Tokyo Prince. They did not use the Westin name except in certain promotional materials, such as the Westin directory of hotels and resorts.
“We first went to Japan in 1962 in order to establish our presence,” explained Harry Mullikin, Westin chairman and chief executive, in an interview before a news conference at the Century Plaza, a Westin hotel. “We were never able to make arrangements to manage an actual hotel.” He said, however, that Westin had been working on the Sapporo agreement before its purchase by Aoki, which also operates hotels in Brazil, Panama, Taiwan and Spain.
The Westin in Tokyo will be targeted toward international business people and visitors. “The Japanese market is the travel market and is going to be in the future. . . . It means a tremendous amount for Westin and travel between the United States and Tokyo,” Mullikin said.