Railroad fans may think they are dreaming when they wake up to rooms that resemble train cars and adorned with replica conductor seats and other train related objects.
But they don’t have to pinch themselves as the chambers are part of the effort by hotel operators connected to rail companies to attract unconditional rail fans young and old.
Railway and hotel companies hope rebuild their customers plagued by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has taken a heavy toll on their industries.
Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kyoto-Shijokarasuma in the Shimogyo district of Kyoto, a Yokohama-based Sagami Railway Co. group company, is one of the hotels that capitalizes on the strengths of their affiliated rail companies.
Upon entering his special room, guests will soon find a replicated booth directly in front of them.
While the replica is made of wood based on the design drawing of its actual counterpart, its brake valve and speedometer are real models of the retired 7000 series and other cars from Sagami Railway.
Customers can watch the scenery along the tracks on a monitor from the driver’s seat to feel like they’re driving a train.
In addition, more than 80 items, such as ticket office gate scissors previously used in stations as well as the symbol on the front of a retired 7000 series train, are on display to stir the emotions of enthusiasts. train.
Fees for the offer start from 12,000 yen ($ 105) per night and up to four people can be accommodated there.
Yoshiyuki Maeda, manager of Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kyoto-Shijokarasuma, who described himself as a “former railway enthusiast”, said he offered the one-time accommodation package.
“I spent a year and a half developing the concept of the bedroom as my original idea,” said Maeda. “I designed the room in such a way that a space can be realized where parents and children can play together through objects linked to the rail now that people refrain from venturing out for leisure activities. during the coronavirus crisis. “
The Yokohama Bay Hotel Tokyu in Yokohama, affiliated with Tokyu Railways Co., installed a realistic train driving simulator in a room in April 2021. The device allows visitors to operate a train through a controller formerly used on the series 8090 from Tokyu Railways.
The package has become very popular since its release, the room being full over the months.
While originally scheduled to end at the end of August, the offer has been extended until the end of March 2022 after taking into account the venue’s growing popularity.
Many other hotel operators, including Fraser Residence Nankai, Osaka, which is connected to Nankai Electric Railway Co., and Asakusa Tobu Hotel in Tokyo’s Taito district, affiliated with Tobu Railway Co., have offered train-themed rooms. .
The establishments financed by the railway companies are not the only ones to bet on train lovers to seduce customers.
The Royal Park Hotel Kyoto Umekoji, which opened in March 2021 in the Shimogyo district near the Kyoto Railway Museum, has a train-themed offer for its guests to attract railway enthusiasts and families. .
The rooms are decorated not only with photos and model cars of an N700 series bullet train, a test train known as Doctor Yellow and a 500 series Shinkansen. , but also with a video game to simulate train journeys.
The package includes admission to the museum, allowing guests to take full advantage of the train-themed gadgets inside and outside the hotel.
Located near JR Shin-Osaka Station, where many trains pass daily, the Osaka Corona Hotel in the western Japanese city has launched a service that allows users to see the Shinkansen running right past them through a window. from their room.
As part of the package, guests can take beautiful photos of high-speed trains traveling quickly along the Tokaido Shinkansen Line up close.
SPARK FOR BOOST DEMAND
The government plans to resume its suspended Go To Travel campaign to encourage people to take travel, but how the tourism industry will fare is still unclear due to the global spread of the Omicron variant.
Maeda explained the circumstances of her Sotetsu Fresa Inn Kyoto-Shijokarasuma.
“While our reservation numbers were temporarily restored in November thanks to many guests wanting to see the fall foliage, it is still unclear whether the situation will improve in the following months as well,” said Maeda. “It is completely impossible to predict when business will return to pre-coronavirus epidemic levels. “
A Sagami Railway public relations manager expects catering training enthusiasts to help rail operators overcome challenges.
“Fewer passengers are currently using the trains due to the widespread practice of telecommuting and a smaller number of guests are also staying in hotels amid weak tourist demand,” the representative said. “We hope to inspire people to take the train to travel along the tracks by allowing railway enthusiasts to take advantage of train-related services in hotels, first of all. “