More strawberries, here in the form of a millefeuille wedding cake at the luxury ANA InterContinental Hotel Tokyo. They had four weddings, almost but not quite concurrent, the day the gal was there – it was a lucky day, hence the rush. Couple one had photographs taken on the glass staircase that descends, from a gallery with a grand piano, and pianist. Then guests arrive, mill around the bottom of the staircase. The couple now process down properly, somehow without falling over. At ground level, guests throw artificial rose petals. Happy couple and guests process by escalator up to the next floor’s Chapel Brilliant wedding chapel, where a ‘priest‘ – must be foreign, awaits. They have a maximum of half an hour in the chapel.
Back down in the lobby a hotel employee has immediately swept away Couple A’s rose petals. Couple B are already waiting for their photos, and to be joined by their guests. Couple C are still hidden away in a pre-function area. Perhaps Couple D have not even arrived yet. Half an hour later, Couple A and guests are making their way, via yet another set of escalators, down to their quarter of the partitioned-off main ballroom. Their room is decorated to their prior wishes, within their budget. At each table setting is a card with details, and QR code, of how wedding photos can be ordered.
Paper carry bags are neatly lined up, with take-home gifts: guests had brought their wedding gifts to the couple, in the form of money, handed over in decorative envelopes.And so on and so on. The lovely Junko Kano, Manager of the 824-room hotel’s 35th floor Club lounge, says with a smile she acquired a mother-in-law when she married. The older lady lives with Kano-san and her husband. I could not manage without her, says Kano-san. Well, regular guests at this hotel cannot manage without Kano-san. A 15-year veteran of the hotel, she personally opens the Club lounge at seven a.m. and she knows most of those repeaters by name. Again and again I am convinced that club lounges work best when there is one skilled leader in charge, and Junko Kano is one of the best.
I coincided, luckily, with a visit to Japan by Pierre Gagnaire, whom I had last met at his restaurant in InterContinental Dubai Festival City. Here, his restaurant Pierre Gagnaire is equally impressive, with the added advantage of sensational 36th floor views. Leave the choice to him, and the skilled servers. An all-white table, with J.L. Croquet Limoges, becomes the stage for a multitude of white dishes, generally five per course, each holding an exquisite delicacy. Although this is French haute cuisine by a French master, feeling with us, the diners, is almost the Japanese ichiza konryu, commune between chef and guests. And then Pierre Gagnaire himself came out, charm personified, white hair matching his chef’s whites, and I was lucky enough to leave this super-friendly luxury hotel with a copy of Pierre Gagnaire: Reflections on Culinary Artistry, by renowned food writer Bénédict Beaugé – and each photograph is a blaze of colour. See the Pierre Gagnaire video below.