Introducing…The Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa (Part 1)

(Really, guys?  You had to drag the name out this long?  Every Hyatt in Japan has a spa, and a converted apartment complex is not exactly a resort, either.  Aw, fine, have it your way.)

While I continue to wait for inspiration to write about the Grand Hyatt Tokyo, let us jump ahead to the hotel that, to me, feels more connected to the Hyatt Regency Tokyo and Park Hyatt Tokyo even though it’s an over 100km train ride away: The Hyatt Regency Hakone Resort and Spa. (I’m just going to drop that last part for the remainder of this article)

But before that, let’s look at Hakone itself.  Hakone, a magical land forged over millions of years of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, a land of both Heaven…

Almost West Virginia...

Almost West Virginia…

…and Hell.

Even though the place smells like rotten eggs, the blackened boiled eggs served here are quite tasty.

Even though the place smells like rotten eggs, the blackened boiled eggs served here are quite tasty.

A land filled with both natural beauty and man-made kvetch.

An exact replica of the traditional Japanese pirate ships that once terrorized this mountaintop lake.

An exact replica of the traditional Japanese pirate ships that once terrorized this mountaintop lake.

But mostly, a land of hot springs (picture of naked women happily soaking their troubles away not included.)

All of this is within easy reach of your favorite Shinjuku Hyatt (the trendy folks that stay in the Grand Hyatt and the Andaz will have a little more work to do), as the Odakyu Romancecar offers a direct link between Shinjuku station and Hakone Yumoto, the gateway to the Hakone region.

Not related to the Love Boat. No hanky panky here. It's more like the Hogwarts Express/

No relation to the Love Boat. No hanky panky here. It’s more like the Hogwarts Express.

Hakone Yumoto is a fun little area filled with shops and springs, but explore that on your own time.  Our job is to get to the Hyatt Regency Hakone.

(If you want to be a killjoy, you can get off one stop earlier in the city of Odawara and, if you time it right, catch the free shuttle bus that will take you directly to the hotel.)

From Hakone Yumoto, you have two options.  If you are in a hurry, you can catch a public bus that will probably get you there within about 30 minutes.  But the far more interesting option is to stay in the train station and transfer to the Hakone Tozan line, and take it all the way to the end of the line in Gora.

The train line to Gora was finished in 1930, and made getting up the mountain to the resort areas much, much easier (at least, easier for the Japanese;  the first foreign tourists to the area were shuttled up the mountain on rickshaws, paying the princely sum of one rin, or a thousandth of a yen, for the service)

Even though it is only a distance of 8.9km between Hakone Yumoto and Gora stations, the ride will still take a whopping 45 minutes to complete.  To get up the steep mountain, the train uses a series of “switchbacks”.  It will move in one direction up to a certain point;  then, at the designated positions, the train will switch tracks and move in the other direction.  Two times during your trip, you will see the conductor get out of the front of the train, walk to the back of the train, and start driving again from what is now the new front of the train.

If you didn’t understand that from my poor description, here it is in actual moving video:

I imagine that the locals have long since gotten bored with this but, for the first time visitor, it is quite cool, and a reminder that you are now, in the figurative sense, far, far away from Shinjuku.

Eventually, you will reach Gora, where your journey is close to an end.

Your chariot awaits...your phone call

Your chariot awaits…your phone call

The Hyatt Regency Hakone is a small hotel of only 79 rooms, so the shuttle bus does not make regular trips to Gora station.  Therefore, you will likely have to make a phone call to the hotel to let them know that you have arrived, and they will then come to this place to pick you up.  In my experience, it generally only takes them about five minutes to make the trip, and they take you to and from this station as many times as you like during your stay (like when you go out sight seeing and such)  You could walk to the hotel from this station, but it’s over 20 minutes almost all uphill, so I can’t say as I can recommend doing this with luggage in tow (or you could pay to take the cable car up to a higher station and walk downhill to the hotel, but now I’m being needlessly complex)

And…I’ve spend so much time talking about the trip to the hotel that I don’t have any time left to talk about the hotel itself!  We’ll do it next time!  If there is a next time!  But I’m pretty sure that there will be!