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Okinawan resorts have plenty to offer

By: KC

Date Posted: 2001-08-09

The peak tourist season is on with a steady stream of visitors from outside and within the prefecture crowding Okinawa’s resorts and beaches. According to prefecture tourism officials, the number of tourists increased by 17,700 in June compared to last year marking a 5.2% increase. The number has increased for the last three consecutive months despite fears earlier in the year that the numbers would decrease amid Japan’s economic slump. That also proves that Okinawa remains one the most favorite places to visit for Japanese mainlanders and, increasingly, foreign visitors as well.

The trend is for tourists to visit Okinawa individually instead on a group tour. Most of those coming individually or with the family get a rent-a-car in order to get around and largely organize their tour by themselves. They drop by at each fun spot at their own pace, and explore the island in which ever way they want.

Okinawa’s resorts have taken notice on this trend and all of them present special plans, including special dinners, live entertainment, fireworks and other events so the visitors who even don’t stay in that particular resort can enjoy and participate.

Okinawa is currently enjoying a publicity boom in part because of the publicity the island prefecture received starting with last year’s Summit, and continuing with its growing reputation as the health conscience of the world and the home to the longest living people on this planet.

By every account, this is a wonderful place to go around. US servicemen stationed in Okinawa, and their families represent a significant number of people who could utilize the leisure possibilities that are available during the time they stay on this island. In a series of articles beginning this week, Japan Update will provide information on the summer plans that Okinawan resort hotels offer. Okinawa’s sub-tropical paradise is everywhere around you, and there’s no reason why everyone should not enjoy the season in local resorts to the fullest.

Entrance to the beaches at hotels in this article is free. Sun Marina Hotel charges ¥500 for parking; in other hotels parking is free.

The Rizzan Sea Park Hotel Tancha Bay in Onna Village features four beachside restaurants that opened recently. The hotel has named its new restaurant arcade the “Rizzan Ocean Terrace Street,” and each restaurants is decorated in different theme featuring blue ocean, blue skies, white sand, beautiful sunset and skies full of shining stars.

American Terrace, Islander’s Grill is a steak and lobster restaurant, the Italian terrace, Café Romani, provides authentic Italian and ala carte dishes. The Asian Terrace, which provides charcoal grilled dishes including authentic Korean-style grilled beef, is called Miraku-tei. The Sunset Terrace, a terrace bar provides tropical and romantic mood with a large variety of cocktails and live music entertainment by a duo from the Philippines. A pleasant surprise is that the prices are very reasonable. It is often said that prices in Okinawan resort hotel facilities are sky-high and definitely a deterrence for most Americans and their families but the prices at Rizzan are no higher that they are in most local restaurants. For example, ¥2,500 for a grilled beef set at Miraku is not bad, pasta or pizza at Romani costs ¥1,000, and a rib steak at the Islander’s is ¥2,500. The hours are different in each restaurant. For more information, call 098-964-6611.

The Busena Hotel south of Nago City gained fame as the venue for the Okinawa G8 Summit a year ago. It is also perhaps the most luxurious of Okinawa’s resorts. Many of its several restaurants offer summer special buffets.

The Malaysian curry buffet at La Tida is highly recommended and served until the end of August. The lunch time buffet costs ¥2,500 and is available from noon to 3 p.m. The dinner buffet is ¥3,500 and served from 5:30 to 10 p.m. The sunset time is the happy hour in Busena, from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, when visitors can enjoy free drinks for ¥1,500. The time when the candlelights are lit in the restaurants from 7 to 8 p.m., soprano sax player Akihiro Morita provides romantic mood playing various tunes to the beautiful sunset scenery.

There are also various special menus until the end of August at other restaurants in Busena. Nouryou Kaiseki, Japanese style summer dishes are offered at Japanese restaurant Mahae. During the summer season, Japanese beef fare is served at Ryutan where the visitors can enjoy a special full course fit for a king for ¥12,500. Italian restaurant Chula Lara serves a special course featuring seafood and tomatoes imported from Italy’s Compana district for ¥8,000. For further info, call 0980-51-1333

Busena Terrace serves first class food. The breath taking view comes in free.

Sun Marina Hotel in Onna Village has also distinguished plans for this hot summer. Their “Uchinanchu Plan” is still available during the high season. The plan gives special discounts to Okinawan locals, foreign and native alike. The Poolside Lounge features live band performances by well-known Okinawan musicians. Standard jazz is played on Mondays and Wednesdays, bossa nova music on Tuesdays, R&B on Thursdays and Fridays, and Latin music on Saturdays and Sundays. The hotel also organizes special live concerts featuring various noted Japanese musicians, including Every Little Thing’s “Dream” on Aug. 18 and Hitomi’s “Do As Infinity” on August 19. These Beachside Live Concerts are one of the strongest attractions at this hotel. They are planned to give the visitors exiting tropical summertime mood.

Loisir Hotel in Naha City is the venue for the annual Mi-Gushuku Festival this weekend. The festival features a beer garden starting 4 p.m. and Eisa dancing on both days. Fireworks at 9:30 p.m. on Sunday cap the event. The entertainment includes live concert by Kaori Futenma on both days starting 8:50 p.m.

The hotel’s special is a spa complex that features a natural hot spring that has its water pumped from a several hundred meters deep drill hole and includes pool and sauna. For ¥3,150 customers can relax in what is considered to be one of Okinawa’s best spas. The spa, sauna and indoor pool are open from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. during August. The outdoor pool is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The hotel has several restaurants and bars that regularly feature seasonal and other special offers. Parking is free up to four hours in the basement of the hotel provided that the customer gets a stamp on a parking ticket from the attendant.

Freebies

Lunch tickets for Sun Marina for 10 couples.
The tickets can be used at Sun Marina’s Japanese restaurant Chitose or Cafe Light House. The tickets can also be purchased at the restaurant for ¥2,500 each. The Light House restaurant’s lunch costs ¥1,900. Both restaurants currently feature a “Two For One Special Campaign” which offers a lunch for two at the price of one.

Loisir Hotel Amusement Tickets for one couple (¥6,300 value). Good for indoor pool, outdoor pool and bath house.
Four free draft beer tickets at the poolside lounge in Sun Marina hotel for 2 couples.

Rizzan Seapark Hotel dinner tickets for one couple at American Terrace.

Bunena Resort’s five original CD’s by soprano sax player Akihiro Morita.

E-mail your personal information (age, sex, marital status) and the names of your favorite places to go out to update@japanupdate.com by Aug. 21.

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