Arrival Experience: As one of Japan's southernmost islands, this jungle tourist destination is a world unto itself with a calming atmosphere similar to that of Hawaii or the Florida Keys in the U.S. Once at the hotel (recently acquired by the Japanese high-end hotel company Hoshino Resorts), front desk staffers provide a prompt welcome in the sunny reception area and direct guests towards their guest rooms. Through the floor-to-ceiling glass panels across the lobby lies a spacious swimming pool that gives way to the property's own beachfront.
Dining: The hotel's one restaurant does triple duty as an all-in-one spot for culinary sensation, and it wins out with a selection of regional specialties that appeals to both American and Japanese guests. Its evening buffet serves almost 200 items from the region, and the breakfast selection is especially notable for its unique offering of regional item delicacies. Both are excellent ways to sample a variety of Japanese dishes and Okinawan specialties. Room service is on offer as well as poolside dining, but the a la carte lunch menu is convenient for those with day tours of the region including the popular waterfall trek and private island beach exploration.
Accommodations: While labeled a jungle hotel, the guest rooms showcase traditional Japanese luxury unbecoming of a jungle location. Most notable is the linen-lined day bed by the large windows facing the sea in guest rooms. Here, guests can lounge at their leisure although firm mattresses with thick duvets line the opposing walls. In traditional Japanese fashion, guests are met with slippers at the door encouraging them to deposit their shoes (and worries) once and for all upon arrival. Bathrooms are spacious with soaking tubs, powerful shower areas, and stools for Japanese bath soaks. Small desks, plentiful electric outlets, and stocked minibars with free bottled water and Japanese chilled tea are nice additions. Most rooms feature furnished balconies facing the hotel's own stretch of beach.
Conclusion: Spa treatments are available, but the resort's main attraction is its numerous jungle adventures including waterfall hikes, day and night jungle tours, and cultural excursions within the island's main village. While the majority of guests are Japanese clientele interested in exploring their own country's extended perches, there is a strong following among foreigners (especially Taiwanese and Chinese since the island is within very close proximity). Americans are equally intrigued with the entire Okinawa prefecture, which includes this resort island of Iriomote and uncrowded beaches with amazingly crystal-clear water.