BY MAUREEN N. MARATITA
Journal Staff

General Manager Ken Yanagisawa on the 27th floor of The Tsubaki Tower on Oct. 17.
Photo by Maureen N. Maratita

The Tsubaki Tower has seen an increase in patronage at its Tumon property and acted to ease an unexpected result of its popularity.

The hotel has increased the number of parking bays, to relieve any resultant frustration by guests — whether tourist visitors who have hired a car, or residents lunching or dining at the hotel.

Tsubaki originally had 184 parking bays when it opened on July 1, 2020.

Ken Yanagisawa, general manager of the hotel, told the Journal, “We thought that was adequate.” Another 123 bays have been added to the north of the existing parking lot to meet obvious needs. “Depending on the local market, more cars are coming to us,” he said.

The influx is due to regular patronage of the hotel’s food and beverage services and staycations, with reservations sometimes hard to come by.

“We are supported by the local community market very well,” he said. “It’s still crowded. We are continuing to have great support from the local community.”

The Korean profile of guests has changed, Yanagisawa said with more “free independent travelers,” as they are known. He said “55% of the Korean travelers are FITs.” Roughly 35% of guests are military visitors, he said, and about 30% continue to come through Korean wholesale agents, with less than 5% of guests from Japan or the local market.

Guam’s appeal has not waned with visitors, Yanagisawa said. “They enjoy the mix of local Asian and U.S. culture. It’s a unique destination.” He said strong support from the U.S. market has and is continuing “from the beginning to the end.”

While all food and beverage outlets are open at The Tsubaki Tower, they are open for select days. The Milano Grill La Stella is open for dinner on Mondays, and Wednesdays to Saturdays. The ground floor Casa Oceano is open for lunch from Wednesdays to Sundays and for dinner from Tuesdays to Sundays. “We’re not 100% mobilized yet,” Yanagisawa said.

He said market employment conditions are significant. “The shortage of labor is an issue for everybody.” The Tsubaki Tower is service-oriented, with high ratios of staff to guests. For its 340 rooms, the hotel currently has 306 staff. “I should like to see 380,” he said. Service continues to be a focus, he said. “Currently, we are maintaining it.”

But he is conscious of the need for excellence, he said. “Among our group (P.H.R. Ken Micronesia Inc.) Tsubaki has to be a leader. Together with the Hyatt, we have to push [service levels] up.”

Service is one way The Tsubaki Tower defines its identity, Yanagisawa said, alongside its branding. “Uniqueness is also valuable. That’s why we decided to have our own name.”

The parking lot at Tsubaki Tower was moderately full mid-afternoon on a Monday.
Photo by Maureen N. Maratita

The view from the 27th floor at Tsubaki is a draw for clients, as is the view from the Lina’la Club Lounge on the 26th floor, available to guests of its 130 club rooms and suite rooms.

Casa Oceano is also available for parties — and will include upcoming Christmas and employee appreciation parties. “Once a week we allow the local community to have that,” Yanagisawa said. There is a minimum guarantee of 200 persons, and the restaurant can seat 400, with 240 inside. The Casa Oceano event offering has been taken up, he said. “It was well-received.”

In short, Tsubaki is utilizing all its facilities to meet community wishes, he said.

As to the increasing visitors to Guam, Yanagisawa said, “It has to start from the airlines. … If they need support, [the Guam Visitors Bureau] had better consider to have it.”

Other visitor aims can be developed in the future, he said. “Much further down the road, we need more attractions.”

P.H.R. Ken Micronesia had previously supported the Japan market with its own charters, a commitment the group’s president – Mitsuo “Mike” Sato — made before Japan made travel easier for its residents. (See “In the wings: Islands ready for Japan visitors; hotel group preps for action,” in the Jul 4 issue of the Journal.)

Yanagisawa said the group is still willing to invest in the extra care the Japan market will need. “As soon as possible we’d like to support it.” mbj