Even in the midst of Japan’s deepest economic recession since World War II, the country’s love hotel industry is thriving.
“I’d hate to use the term ‘recession-proof’, but it’s certainly proven very resilient over the last six to nine months,” said Steve Mansfield, CEO of New Perspectives, which operates six love, or "leisure hotels" in Japan.
“我不喜欢使用‘衰退的证明’这样的字眼,但是在过去6到9个月中，这个行业表现出极强的生 命力。”斯蒂夫?曼斯菲尔德如是说。他是“新前景”公司的执行总裁,该公司在日本经营着6家情人 旅馆或者说“休闲”旅馆。
One of them, the Bonita Hotel in Isawa, boasts a 257 percent occupancy rate. Rooms can be rented for three to 24 hours.
Mansfield’s company estimates the industry in Japan pulls in $40 billion a year in revenue.
“It’s a natural human desire. Even these days, on the weekend, every love hotel is full of people — it's hard to get in. You can never stop sexual desire,” said a woman with her boyfriend in Tokyo, who laughed in embarrassment when asked for her name.
“这是人之常情吧。即便是现在，一到周末情人旅馆里生意依然 火爆,要住进去还不太容易。性欲是从来都不会停止的。”在东京， —位和男友在一起的女士这么说。当请教她的名字时,她很窘迫地 笑了。
Love hotels fill a need for privacy in a country where high population density often means couples have little time alone.
Rooms offer a broad assortment of features, including karaoke machines, PlayStation game consoles, DVD players, a variety of cosmetics, customized condoms and indoor-outdoor Jacuzzis.
Though required by law to have a front desk, most can be rented and entered without talking to a clerk.
The days of Japanese being ashamed to enter love hotels are coming to an end, though, Mansfield said.
" Seventy-five percent of our guests are members of our points program, he said. “They carry our points cards, they collect points and they receive gifts. That’s something people are very comfortable with, and I think that reflects the customers that we attract.”
Takashi Yamamoto, who designs love hotels in Tokyo, agreed.
“The bad image that love hotels had has faded over time. Also, customers started to raise their voices and became more selective about choosing hotels. In response, management has improved.”
The flashiest love hotels are found in Osaka, including a Hello Kitty-themed hotel and one with room featuring a merry-go-round.
Tokyo hotels tend to be tamer, focused on winning customers with amenities. The Style A Hotel, for example, offers a suite for $ 190 that includes a full-size Jacuzzi and 社 private sauna.
东京的情人旅馆相对循麵矩,他们把注意力集中在为客人提供方便上。例如Style A旅馆在房 价为190美元的套房里安放了大型的按摩浴缸,还提供私人桑拿。
Though young couples make up the majority of customers, they are not the only ones. One man, who declined to be named, said: “I go to love hotels when I’m drunk and don’t feel like going home.
Whatever the reasons, the hotels have been doing well enough that Mansfield recently went to London, seeking investors to expand.
“The industry has 25,000 hotels, and through our research we’ve worked out that 90 percent of owners have five or fewer hotels,” he said.
That fragmentation is a structural inefficiency in the market, he said, one he would like to help correct.