It’s just under a two hour drive from the Kansai Airport in Osaka to Awaji Island, an area that lays claim to being the oldest settled part of Japan with burial mounds that date back thousands of years. The 85 room Hotel New Plaza Awajishima is a pleasing blend of that old Japanese tradition with the modern necessities of the 21st century.
The first thing to clear up about this hotel is its name. It’s referred to by a variety of names, all of which refer to the same property: Awajishima, Awajishima Hotel, Hotel New Awaji Plaza Awajishima, Hotel New Plaza Awajishima, New Awaji Plaza Awajishima, New Plaza Awajishima, Hotel New Awaji Plaza, and Awajishima Japan/Minamiawaji. Lots of names, same place, an upscale resort overlooking the Naruta Strait.
The entrance to Awaji Plaza is plain and unassuming, a fountain graces the front of a simple drive-through reminiscent of 50s-style motels. Don’t let this confuse you – it’s a matter of both style and geography as the hotel is located on the top of a hill and was designed so that most of the rooms have water views.
The lobby area is spacious, and serves as a place to meet up, congregate, have a cup of tea and enjoy the view. Couches and chairs are plentiful and comfy. The view is not as sweeping as from the room, but it’s still a great spot at sunset.
Room features appeal to both the Western and Asian traveler, with options that include tatami floors and futons in the Japanese-style rooms, to plush suites with western-style beds and private outdoor tubs. I had a deluxe room with two twin beds, a small seating area, desk (wifi is free, good coverage in common areas, much more spotty in the rooms), tea kettle (fairly standard in Japanese hotels), and a refrigerator. The bathroom was large with upscale amenities.
The room had a nice view of the Naruta Strait (this photo is an early morning view) and a balcony that seemed perfect for sitting and enjoying it. The sliding doors did not open, however, perhaps a necessary safety feature, but it was a disappointment. Villas and suites do have outdoor terraces, some with private outdoor tubs.
The hotel has an outdoor pool, open seasonally, tennis courts, game room, and a gender-segregated onsen. A little bit of study can demystify the Japanese bathing ritual, but if you remember to wash before entering the pools and let go of any hang ups about nudity, you ‘ll be okay. The onsen has a view of the strait during the day, but I enjoyed it as a relaxing end to a day of sightseeing.
There is a restaurant on property, reservations required for dinner. There are some western menu items, but it is heavily oriented toward local cuisine. The sashimi was as impressive as art as it was as food.
Breakfast, included with many room rates, is buffet-style and has an extensive assortment of western and Japanese selections.
Free onsite parking is available.
The Hotel New Plaza Awajishima is located at 1433-2 Amafukiagemachi, Minamiawaji, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. Rates start around $179/night based on double occupancy. A few quirky things worth noting: Check out time is 10 a.m., very (very!) early by western standards. Also, the usual credits cards are accepted, except for MasterCard (which is not). You can also book online through agoda.com, Travelocity or Expedia.
Disclosure: I traveled in Japan as the guest of the Japan National Tourism Office and my stay was hosted by JNTO and its partners.