One of the meanings of the Japanese word ‘kai’ is “reset,” and appropriately Bettei Kai is a place where travelers can start over again, whether that means finding cultural roots, taking pleasure in the flavors of simple but delicious foods, or simply returning to moments when they can relax and heal both body and soul. Bettei Kai is a place that connects yesterday with tomorrow, as you forget the passage of time from the moment you enter.
Dressed in a casual tailored suit, sixth generation owner Takao Kataoka was waiting at the Lounge Bar 206 inside Reset resort.
Officially known as Sansuikaku Bettei Kai, the facility is an annex of the Sansuikaku inn, which was established in 1951.
Sansuikaku is already a well-known inn in Nasu, and when the fifth-generation owners passed away, Takao Kataoka took over his father’s business at the age of 28. Kataoka did not hesitate to take on the family business and he even created a new resort – Bettei Kai.
“I wanted to provide a different experience for travelers – something that they have not yet experienced in Sansuikaku,” said Kataoka. He realized that many guests who stay in Nasu have one thing in common – they want to enjoy themselves without being disturbed by the mundane world, and they wish to re-adjust at their own pace. In response to these needs, Bettei Kai was born.
Situated on a nearly two-hectare plot of land, Bettei Kai is a two-story villa of 2000m2. Each of the nine suites has its own lounge and bedroom with heated table, and it also offers Japanese-style rooms and bathing spaces from which guests can view the beautiful natural surroundings.
Although the resort has had no shortage of famous guests, including politicians, celebrities and elite businessmen, Bettei Kai has tried to keep a low profile over the past ten years of operation, and no opening events were ever held. Takao Kataoka avoids TV advertisements, and publicity is kept so low-key that there isn’t even a signboard on the road leading to the inn. Nevertheless, Bettei Kai’s reputation spread quickly through word of mouth, and it is now one of the leading modern spa resorts.
“The biggest challenge has probably been resisting advertising the resort!” laughed Takao Kataoka. Indeed Kataoka’s outgoing personality would make it seem like he’d have trouble resisting the urge to turn the resort into something big. However, in order to protect and respect the privacy of guests, Kataoka says he would rather focus on customizing quality service than having a fully booked resort every night.
Nonetheless, guests are encouraged to book four months in advance if they wish to stay on weekends.
Established ten years ago, Bettei Kai is still considered a newcomer in the resort industry, but that hasn’t stopped Takao Kataoka from making big plans for the future. In late 2014, Bettei Kai will begin work to transform the original bar area into a teppanyaki restaurant, work which is expected to be completed by spring 2015. A brand new bar and cafe will be built in a separate building. Here guests will be able to enjoy coffee in the midst of lush green fields or have a drink or two in the evening, and the cafe will also serve as a reading room. In another major project this year, additional bathhouses will be built, and they are expected to be completed within three years.
Other than the desire for innovation, one reason Kataoka has put in so much creative effort is his desire to provide visiting guests with a customized experience. The interior design of the guest rooms reflects the owner’s personal taste and sensibilities. The architectural and interior designs were chosen by Kataoka after consultation with architects, and as a result he has created a state-of-the-art modern building with an impeccable balance of east and west. He also took pains to make good use of traditional Japanese building materials such as aged wood, Japanese paper, ceramic plates, stoneware and paint tools, so that these unique combinations of materials would help instill a pleasing ambience in every guest room.
Located 180km from Tokyo, a drive of just over two hours, Nasu welcomes visitors with abundant natural resources - hot springs, waterfalls, mountains, plateaus and cherry trees. The area is loved by the Japanese emperor, and Sansuikaku, which has been running since1951, is closest to the resort that the emperor uses for vacation. “Reset Resort” opened ten years ago as a brand-new individual-spa resort. With “reset” as its central theme, it strives to become a second home for travelers.
Every dish served at the resort uses local ingredients, such as high-quality rice and red rock salt from Tochigi; soybeans and homemade miso, milk and eggs from partner farms in the Nasu area, and Nasu black beef, one of Japan’s top-rated types of beef.
Each room has its own semi open-air bathroom, with access to Mount Chausudake’s colorless, odorless and transparent hot-spring waters from free-flowing natural springs - the same source that the Japanese Emperor uses. Indoor heated bathtubs made from the highest quality stoneware are continuously provided with hot-spring water, and bathers can enjoy lovely views in all seasons through a wooden lattice fence.
The hotel is made up of eight suites and one separate villa. Each suite contains a sitting room, bedroom and bathroom, and two of the suites also include an extra Japanese-style room. Each suite is decorated in a different motif, expressed through a combination of traditional Japanese materials such as Japanese washi paper, aged wood, paint, stoneware, lamps and Nasu-Ashino rocks. In addition, classic European furnishings from the 1950s and 1960s are used to create a splendid integration of East and West, modern and vintage.
Led by Mr. Kataoka, the team of young, professional staff wear beige and dark brown uniforms rather than traditional kimono. With their wide smiles and warm greetings, each staff member strives to make every guest feels at home.
Inside a minimalist environment, Reset Resort is filled with stylish surprises. In addition to the traditional tea set found in each suite, you will also find freshly ground coffee, which you can enjoy drinking from delicate Hakusan pottery. Souvenirs can be purchased at Sansuikaku, where they stock bestselling items such as Sansuikaku’s coffee, tea, Japanese wine and scarves printed with Meiji-period (1868-1912) street maps of the Nasu Onsen area.