Hotel aims to pull in customers with train set

A hotel in the northern Japan city of Nagano has installed one of the largest scale model railway sets in the country in a special luxury suite.

The diorama measures 6 meters by nearly 2 meters wide and displays many of the prefecture's most popular tourist spots, including Zenkoji Temple and Nagano's famous mountains.

The Hotel Metropolitan's model has four kinds of electric trains that guests can steer around the track, including a miniature version of the Asama "shinkansen," the bullet train that runs between Nagano and Tokyo. In addition, the view from the window enables train-lovers to watch trains pulling into the city's main station.

The hotel is owned by JR East, which operates train services in the eastern part of Japan, and the idea to put a train set in a suite is part of efforts to promote tourism in Nagano and the company's earnings.

"We are always thinking about how we can promote the seasonal scenes of Nagano, as a hotel that is part of a railway company," Kunio Seitou, assistant manager of the hotel, told Relaxnews.

"Our general manager had this unique idea when he was thinking of ways that the suite could be used to generate constant earnings," he said.

The company says it is targeting families and train fans, both from Japan and around the world, and the marketing ploy has proved a success so far, according to Seitou. The room is almost fully booked on weekends for the rest of the year while weekday bookings are also filling up.

The model took two months to design, a month to construct and a further 10 days to install in the room, Seitou said, and the room costs Y88,000 (€779.19) per night. For people traveling on tighter budgets, the room can be rented out by the hour for just Y3,000 (€26.56).

Hotels with train themes have become popular in Japan in recent years, with a number of properties looking to attract new customers by advertising rooms with "railway views," such as the Hotel Mets Akabane ( http://www.jrhotelgroup.com/eng/hotel/eng152.htm) and the Odakyu Hotel Century Southern Tower ( http://www.southerntower.co.jp/english/) both in Tokyo.

JR

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