The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan


General Manager Charles Jack has 26 years‘ experience with Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Even after living in such exotic locations as Fiji and Brunei, Charles Jack is intrigued and enamored with Tokyo, particularly with the way business is conducted. After spending the past nine years in Bangkok, most recently as the general manager of The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Jack has taken the helm at The Westin Tokyo.

Upon arriving, he was immediately struck by the superb level of hospitality inherent in the Japanese culture. For example, when he asked someone where a certain office was, instead of gesturing or replying, the person simply walked him there.

“People are proud of the service they offer. Things just work here, and service goes smoothly. The whole world can learn from Japan,” Jack shared.

This commitment to quality is paramount in the hotel business, especially for a top-tier brand such as Westin.

“If our team agrees to a project, you can be assured the quality will be carried through to the end. We make a decision, start the process, and follow it through 120 percent to perfection. This is important, as in the customer’s eyes, everything should be perfect.

“Japan is a refreshing change,” he said.

Jack is a career hotelier, having entered Starwood Hotels and Resorts 26 years ago at Sheraton Hobart Hotel in Tasmania. His leadership philosophy has evolved over time, but people remain the focus—both hotel guests and the dedicated associates who look after them.

When overseeing any operation, he endeavors to provide staff at all levels with the training and resources they need to get the job done, well.

“It’s all about the welcome, the can-do attitude. That’s what makes us more than bricks and mortar,” he related. By taking care of your staff, he believes, you are indirectly taking care of valued guests.

Vision for the future
With an eye toward the 2020 Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, and the event’s significance for the development of the hospitality sector in the capital, Jack is mindful of the impact The Westin Tokyo can have on efforts to further globalize Japan.

The hotel has been experiencing a rising rate of international versus domestic guests, especially over the past six months, as “Japan comes to the fore,” he said.

Determining how best to manage this demographic shift, while retaining a homegrown, domestic feel—and delivering top-notch service to the many guests visiting from other Japanese cities—will be one of Jack’s challenges in the months and years to come.

He has suggested the possibility of changing the way The Westin Tokyo does business, or supporting the Japanese population with communication, language, and other global business skills.

As one of the capital’s leading international hotels, The Westin Tokyo is uniquely placed to inspire the broader population, perhaps by placing influential, globally minded individuals in high-profile hospitality roles.

The hotel also works closely with the board of Yebisu Garden Palace, and will continue to play a key part in the organization, to help attract more events to the area.

The Westin Tokyo’s location reflects its positioning as a “green oasis in the heart of Tokyo.” This oasis concept is further reinforced by the Westin Garden, a sprawling green space available to guests and the general public as a respite from the urban bustle.

Currently the garden is used to host boutique functions, but Jack wants to do even more, suggesting the potential for more private dinners, events, and relaxation-oriented activities.

Though Starwood is a US brand, The Westin Tokyo sets itself apart by its classic European style, with the dramatic spiral staircase at the entrance an enduring brand symbol. Among the 200 Westin properties worldwide, it is the flagship Japan hotel.

Because the location is somewhat residential, many clients of its eight food and beverage outlets live nearby, or are regular weekend visitors. Jack emphasizes the hotel’s strong following from Japan residents, with many having visited the property since its opening over 20 years ago.

Well-Being Movement
Jack’s experience has spanned the Sheraton and Le Méridien branches of Starwood, though he admits to a love of the Westin brand, because it’s strongly positioned with a clear offering. The Westin Well-Being Movement is one global initiative that is being adapted for the Japanese market.

Designed so that guests leave feeling better than when they arrived, the program has six pillars: Sleep Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Feel Well, Play Well, and Work Well.

According to Jack, Sleep Well tops the list for the brand. Those who have stayed at any Westin worldwide are likely familiar with the Westin Heavenly® Bed, which is sold online even in Japan. The company has also launched a canine version of its posh mattress, the Heavenly® Dog Bed.

Each pillar of wellness is represented in distinct ways at the Tokyo hotel, with components that suit local tastes and dynamics.

In the Eat Well category, there is an emphasis on “SuperFoodsRX,” such as almonds and blueberries, which are incredibly healthy for mind, body, and soul.

The Westin Tokyo team is working on identifying Japan-specific superfoods from different regions of the country. In addition, juice programs have been launched in each hotel, with special juice mixologists on hand to custom-blend nutritious drinks.

For Move Well, the hotel lends out New Balance® gear, offers its own fitness studio and access to other venues, and provides local running maps to help keep you moving. Given The Westin Tokyo’s green surroundings and quiet vicinity, joggers are treated to streets without much vehicular traffic, and can explore the labyrinth of alleys winding through the Ebisu district.

“I look forward to discovering more about Japan, especially its rich culture, fascinating history, and uncompromising commitment to quality,” Jack concluded.

WestinLogoThe Westin Tokyo

1-4-1 Mita, Meguro-ku, Tokyo

Tel. 81 3 5423 7000