Rakuten Travel Hotel Training: Karuizawa Prince Hotel - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Rakuten Travel Hotel Training: Karuizawa Prince Hotel

Two of my dōkis (coworkers) who worked as porters during our Hotel Training
As some of you might know I received my department placement results at Rakuten in the end of May, and it turns out I will be working for Rakuten Travel in the years to come. Considering how much I love traveling I was quite happy with that result (also, Rakuten Travel is one of the most international departments in our company). Right now we are going through another month of training at Rakuten Travel, and last weekend we had our Hotel Training at Karuizawa Prince Hotel. The goal with this training was to experience a hotel from the inside to see and learn more about the hotel's omotenashi - Japanese hospitality.
The entrance hall at Prince Hotel's Karuizawa West building
We discovered many ways that the hotel is trying to present their guests with omotenashi during our stay at the hotel. One example is the welcome message that was prepared for us in our cottage. In Japan the Teru Teru Bozu doll is believed to bring good weather, so it is not uncommon that it is used as decoration. When we entered our cottage we found a cute Teru Teru Bozu doll left as decoration at the table in our common room with the welcome message. Apparently the hotel receives a lot of good feedback regarding this small doll, and a lot of guests even take the doll with them home as a souvenir.
A cute Teru Teru Bozu doll that is believed to bring you good weather
Below is a picture of the inside of the cottage we stayed at. While Karuizawa Prince Hotel has four main buildings with regular hotel rooms they also offers cottages that can be rented for people who want to stay together in bigger groups. The cottage our group stayed at had a common room and four bedrooms with a total of 8 beds, so it was possible for us to hang out in the common room after work was done.

The common room of our cottage
As mentioned our main purpose of going to Karuizawa was to experience a hotel from the inside and to take part in their daily routines. This year Rakuten Travel accepted 24 New Grads (among them 4 foreigners), and for the Hotel Training we were divided into 4 groups all with different schedules and roles for the 2 days the training lasted. Our tasks involved working in a restaurant or banquet hall for the first day and working as a porter or maid for the second.
Group meeting in the hotel's New York restaurant
Task 1: Restaurant Training
On the first day I had the chance to work in one of Prince Hotel's restaurants. The hotel actually has 4 restaurants in total: Japanese style (washoku), two of Western style (A French style restaurant and the one on the picture above called New York) and a Chinese restaurant called Tori. Me and two of my dōkis were assigned to the Chinese restaurant called Tori, and for the working hours at the restaurant we got to dress up in this cute green uniform:
Ready for work
The Chinese restaurant at Hotel Prince where we worked
Right outside the window there was a small pond with 

The restaurant had gotten a large number of reservations for the evening and I was a bit nervous about having to deal with the guests directly. But for most of the time I ended up helping with bringing empty dishes to the kitchen and delivering plates with food to the real waiters working in the restaurants. It is difficult to remember the name of the Chinese dishes so it was probably for the better that this part of the job was left to the experts.! The supervisor of the restaurant, Ikeda-san, was very friendly and helped me and my dokis understanding more about the services of the restaurant.

Day 2: Hotel Room Training
On the second day we were supposed to help cleaning hotel rooms, but apparently this day the maids didn't have that much work for us so instead of the cleaning my group had the honor of being shown around the great resort area by Seino-san, who supervises reservations at the hotel.

Karuizawa is a popular tourist destination and a lot of people visit the place just to go shopping in the many outlets situated right by the station. Karuizawa Prince Hotel is situated only a couple of minutes away from the shopping outlet, and it also has its own popular facilities such as a golf court and a ski resort. Since they also have machines for creating artificial snow you can actually enjoy the Koyou (紅葉 - red leaf) season while skiing at the resort in November!

During the winter people can go skiing in the hotel's own ski resort
The hotel has some large halls where they arrange weddings, and hundreds of couples are wed at the resort every year
View from inside The Prince Karuizawa
The French style restaurant at The Prince Karuizawa
Seino-san showed us the four main buildings of Prince Hotel, and he also showed us some of the special facilities the hotel has to offer. The part of the hotel that was most interesting to see was the dog hotel, where owners can stay with their beloved pet. Apparently the hotel staff has to refer to the dog as Wanchansama (ワンちゃん様), which is really hard to translate into meaningful English but it would probably be something like "our honorable guest Little Mr. Doggie" and use keigo (extremely polite Japanese) when talking about the dog to its owner.
The dog hotel cottages
The inside of one of the dog hotel cottages

Special items presented to the guests at the dog hotel. Even includes a dog poop mat to the left!

Sunday was the last day of our training, so after all groups were done with their work we left for Tokyo by bus in the afternoon. Some groups apparently had to fulfill more demanding tasks than others, so I was really lucky that I was in a group that got to experience both working at a restaurant and getting a tour of the hotel resort area. All in all I think it was a good experience to see the hotel from the inside, and get to see how hard the staff works behind the scene to satisfy their guests. If I get the chance I definitely want to come back to the resort in November for the nice skiing-kouyou combination!
But now it’s back to regular work again of course. On Monday we will get our next placement results, so I’ll finally know the specific content of my future work. Looking forward to that!

As always, thanks for reading my blog!
I’ve added some links that hopefully can be of interest:

For more information about Karuizawa Prince Hotel, please visit the following pages:

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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About Me

Adventures ofAnette

A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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