In collaboration with Ritz-Carlton Okinawa
I’m sitting in a big bungalow-like Lounge with high ceilings and glass walls that have been opened to let in the nature surrounding the hotel. An incredibly warm and pleasant wind is blowing behind my back while I watch the different shades of spectacular blues of the ocean under the hill. I’m sipping an ice-cold local Orion beer. This, my friend, is paradise.
I’ve never been one to say particularly good things about staying in resorts for a whole week or more. I always thought that you NEED TO see the surrounding area, embrace the culture and all that. But now I’m not so sure. Still I think that is usually the right way to go, but now I see it really depends on what you are after. If you are looking for ultimate relaxation without a care in the world, a resort might just be your thing.
We arrived to the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa after spending the first week of our honeymoon in Tokyo, where we were constantly on the go. After arriving to the tranquil serenity of the castle-like hotel resort of the Ritz, I immediately felt relaxation take over me. All of our car renting plans and sightseeing went out of the window, because all we wanted to do was slow down and enjoy doing absolutely nothing.
I hadn’t really relaxed for many years, because all of my vacations had been ones where seeing and doing was most important. I can’t even remember when was the last time I could just watch the sunset in all it’s glory and then go out for a slow dinner and after that read a book until I fall asleep. Paradise!
The combination of great hotel rooms, a fantastic staff and spectacular views just can’t dissapoint you, when staying at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa, so I highly recommend considering this as your hotel when in Okinawa.
I’ve already written about the rooms in Ritz-Carlton Okinawa and also about Okinawa in general, but I just couldn’t leave out perhaps the most important parts of the hotel experience – the food and the people. Everybody loves food so let’s start with that in this post and move on to the people and customer service in the other one, shall we?
Food in Ritz-Carlton Okinawa
As I said previously, I have never stayed in a resort before, so it was a new experience for me to eat each meal at the hotel. The breakfast was included in the room price for us, but other than that we paid for the afternoon snacks, teas, drinks, lunches and dinners separately. It’s pretty obvious that the prices are quite high in a five star hotel, so that didn’t surprise me, but maybe the only thing that annoyed me slightly was the price of soft drinks like Coca-Cola. It cost around 8 euros for one small bottle, which is just too much even for a high end hotel.
Overall the food at the hotel was good. Some food items were more “okay” than spectacular, but at the same time there were some that really shined, so I could say that there is something for everyone. The one thing I would like to suggest to the hotel is that they should have a list of allergies regarding all of the customers. It’s not that difficult to mark it down the first time an allergy is mentioned and then have it in a system, so that all of the restaurants see the information. We had to explain over and over again during the week that my wife doesn’t eat meat and I’m allergic to different things. This is not a big deal, but I think the customers would love it, if this was taken care of on the first go.
One of the most important parts of hotel stays is the breakfast. In my case I value quality over quantity – as long as they have some of the key elements I expect to have in hotels, like bacon, eggs, juices etc. In Ritz-Carlton Okinawa the breakfast buffet is served in the main Gusuku-restaurant as well as the Chura Nuhji next door. You come in from the Gusuku-side and are greeted by a staff member, who then takes you to a free table. We noticed that families with children were taken to the Gusuku-side and solo travellers and couples were taken to the Chura Nuhji -side. This way the other side stays quiet and tranquil and on the other side the parents don’t have to worry about the noise as much, so they can relax more. Even so, we ate on the Gusuku-side one morning, because the other side was probably full, but there was no noise problems of any kind there either. I still think this separation is a great idea from the hotel to keep everyone happy.
All of the food items were laid out cleanly and beautifully. The area, which connected the two different restaurants, was full of western foods like bacon, eggs, pastries and also fruits and such. On the Gusuku-side there were many Japanese choices, but I prefer to have my breakfast western-style and then eat Japanese food the rest of the day. The juices and other drinks were located on the Chura Nuhji -side. I liked the fact that the fresh juices were in their own small bottles with these funny caps on them and not in the usual big bottles or machines.
One thing I’ve started to like in hotel breakfasts is the omelet station, but unfortunately it is often very crowded in bigger hotels. Thankfully there is no such problem in Ritz-Carlton Okinawa, because of the size of the hotel. I got some delicious omelets here with different fillings, but I would have also liked an option to get other special eggs like eggs Benedict. Maybe there was an option for this, but it wasn’t at least clear to me during our week in the hotel.
All of the products at the buffet were of high quality and I liked everything except the pastries that were unfortunately very dry and pretty tasteless. However the breads were tasty and fresh, so I can’t understand what the problem with the pastries was. In addition to all of the items at the buffet, you could also have coffee and tea brought straight to the table, which is always a nice thing. A special mention for the bacon, which was different from the bacon they usually serve at most hotels. Pork is one of the staple foods in Okinawa, so that is why I think it was clearly of higher quality than usual.
On the first morning I was a bit “worried” when I saw that there wasn’t any champagne at breakfast, which is one of the ways a luxury hotel can differentiate itself from the normal hotel breakfasts. I decided that I should ask about this and they immediately told me that of course we can have champagne if we want. Normally hotels don’t serve real champagne, but more like some cheap 10 euro bottle of sparkling wine, but not here! Here we got some nice Perrier–Jouët champagne that I really took a liking to during our week there. After the first morning there was ALWAYS two empty champagne glasses waiting on our breakfast table when we arrived (there weren’t any in other tables), so they really want to please the customers and remember each one’s preferences.
The service during breakfast was great like everywhere else. The tranquil atmosphere and beautiful scenery made sure that this was one of the best breakfasts we’ve had anywhere. Everything was included in the price, so special coffees, omelets, teas and champagne didn’t cost extra. They also changed the products a bit each day, so it never got boring even after a week.
When we saw the afternoon tea -sets that they brought to other tables at the Lounge -cafe, we knew we had to order one at some point during the trip. I won’t start telling you what the individual items were, because they probably change them up every once in a while. All I can say is that the afternoon tea set is worth every yen, so I highly recommend trying it when there. Also the views are spectacular, so it’s another good reason to spend a few hours enjoying these treats. It was obvious that the afternoon tea was extremely popular among people who were staying at the hotel and probably also customers who came in just for that.
Dinner and other meals
I will be honest with you and say that it’s gonna be hard on your wallet, if you stay here for a week and just eat inside the hotel like we did. Still it was so convenient and nice that I have no regrets – it was our honeymoon after all. We ate at all of the three restaurants and also the Lounge café, so we got a pretty good idea of the options. Like I mentioned before, some of the foods were more okay than great, but that can be expected, because everyone can’t like everything.
However there were some very good dishes that I had during our stay. One of the things me and my wife want to recommend (as a vegetarian and meat version) is the Japanese curry dish. It was the first time we had local curry and it was amazing! So simple yet so delicious and filling. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it. Ritz-Carlton Okinawa’s restaurants also serve very good fish dishes and of course beef. I especially liked the excellent waguy-beef I had on my birthday inside the Kise teppanyaki restaurant.
All in all we never ate anything that we disliked and many of the dishes were delicious. There is something for everyone inside the hotel, so you don’t have to worry about being hungry. The restaurant staff was also very attentive, professional and friendly, which for me is a must in good restaurants like these. I especially recommend trying out Kise restaurant, where you can get your own chef, who will take care of you during the whole meal. That kind of service brings a nice extra touch of luxury into a meal.
If you want to try out a resort for the first time or would like to enjoy more luxury than usually, I highly recommend staying at the Ritz-Carlton Okinawa. The actual hotel is fantastic and I can guarantee that everyone will find good food here, because they have such a great variety of different restaurants and styles.