Recently information about LIVELY HOTELS’ 12th hotel, HOTEL GRAPHY SHIBUYA, was released (Press release is here). This marks the brand’s first opening in four years since the opening of THE LIVELY TOKYO AZABUJUBAN and slash Kawasaki on November 1, 2019.
HOTEL GRAPHY SHIBUYA is located at Shibuya Bridge, a construction site on the former Tokyu Toyoko Line between Shibuya and Daikanyama, a bit away from the bustling city center where our already-operating capsule-type lifestyle hotel, The Millennials Shibuya, is situated. In this interview, we spoke with Yonezawa-san, the General Manager (GM), who plays a key role in supporting the opening of the new hotel!
Yonezawa-san, who has been with the company for four years, has been appointed as the GM of HOTEL GRAPHY SHIBUYA.
“The catalyst for joining was seeing UNWIND HOTEL&BAR SAPPORO in a magazine.”
Yonezawa-san, originally from Hokkaido, graduated from a junior college and, after working in department stores, moved to Nagoya. It was during this time in Nagoya that she saw the stylish UNWIND HOTEL & BAR SAPPORO in a magazine. Using her previous experience as a waitress in resort part-time jobs, she expressed her desire to work at that hotel she saw in the magazine by directly calling the hotel and sending her resume.
Initially wanting to work full-time in Sapporo, she was informed they were not hiring any new staff. Instead, they suggested she consider working at the newly opening hotel, UNWIND HOTEL&BAR OTARU. Although concerned about the unexpected assignment to Otaru and the commuting time, she decided to take on the challenge, considering it a rare opportunity to be involved in a hotel opening.
After two years of working part-time in Otaru, she was approached about aspiring to become an employee, but she had plans to use a Working Holiday visa to go to Australia. That idea was put on hold due to travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite abandoning the idea of relocating abroad, she still wanted to leave Hokkaido.
The GM of UNWIND HOTEL&BAR OTARU suggested a transfer to another hotel within the company so after chatting with various hotel managers, she was transferred to slash Kawasaki as a full-time staff member.
Initially, she had not aimed for this position, but due to her propensity for change and her willingness to adapt her career path, she told the GM during the transfer to slash Kawasaki that she would reassess her situation in two years. During this period she took on various responsibilities and gained experience in different tasks. She believes that if she had aimed for the position as GM at HOTEL GRAPHY SHIBUYA from the beginning, she might have given up along the way.
“Did you ever feel overwhelmed by taking on too much?”
Yonezawa-san: Every time I took on a new challenge, I felt overwhelmed and struggled with the feeling of exceeding my capacity. Since I have a quite negative side, whenever the workload increased, and I felt pressured by what I couldn’t accomplish, I relied on others for help and stretched myself while working through it.
I also think I had good chemistry with the GM. There were times when things didn’t work out, but when I conveyed my thoughts directly, then problems could be solved quite easily. I learned that he was someone I could be honest with, and after that realization, I could do my work with a sense of security.
“Working in a hotel, do you have any memorable experiences with guests?”
Yonezawa-san: When I was in Otaru before the pandemic, it was enjoyable to communicate with international guests. As a front desk staff, I was also allowed to participate in wedding events, which was a meaningful experience since I got to be present at an important moment in people’s lives.
During the pandemic, maintaining the right distance with guests became challenging. However, there was a memorable instance where I spent about three hours talking with a guest on the hotel rooftop after a night shift. The guest was around my age, a Japanese woman living in Sydney with an Australian husband. Hearing about her experiences abroad was fun and time flew by quickly.
“What kind of hotel do you want to make HOTEL GRAPHY SHIBUYA?”
Yonezawa-san: As the first GM, I do feel the desire to lead everyone, but since I’ve had many opportunities to take on challenges myself, I want to provide such opportunities to the part-time staff as well. Internally, people wonder what kind of hotel I will create, and I’ve been told that I can do what I want. Rather than being the main focus, I want to build a team where each individual’s skills are highlighted, and when we come together, we can have more strength as a team. I know there are people who may want to try something but are too afraid to express it, so I want to encourage staff to take on new challenges while valuing each person’s expertise.
I also want to maintain a close relationship with the guests. I hope to collaborate with people around Shibuya and other hotels like HOTEL GRAPHY NEZU and The Millennials Shibuya to create a sense of unity. The area along the Shibuya River leading to the Daikanyama area is expected to gain more attention, so I want to involve both guests and staff in creating an exciting community!
(Note: The translation is a paraphrased summary to convey the main ideas expressed by Yonezawa-san.)
Above, we heard from GM Yonezawa-san, who is supporting the opening of the new hotel! HOTEL GRAPHY SHIBUYA has many wonderful staff members, including the GM, working hard towards the opening. Hotel reservations are scheduled to begin in late January 2024! The entire staff is eagerly anticipating the day we can meet everyone.
Facility Name: HOTEL GRAPHY Shibuya (Scheduled to open in March 2024)
Location: 1-29-3 Higashi, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo
Access: 7 minutes on foot from JR Shibuya Station’s New South Exit (9 minutes on foot from Exit C2 of Shibuya Station on various lines)
10 minutes on foot from various lines at Ebisu Station, 11 minutes on foot from Tokyu Toyoko Line’s Daikanyama Station
Number of Rooms: 74
Press Release is available here