The legendary Galle Face Hotel, which opened in 1864 and is the oldest hotel east of Suez, is aiming to restore its status as the destination of choice for well-heeled Japanese travellers, including royal visitors and leading dignitaries.

The 154-year-old heritage hotel has appointed IT Factory, the Tokyo-based tourism consultancy, as its new sales, marketing and PR representative in Japan. The company will be tasked with conceptualizing and implementing innovative marketing and PR strategies for the Galle Face Hotel, with the aim of positioning the property at the front-of-mind for high-end Japanese guests seeking to discover the luxurious style, impeccable service and enchanting heritage of a bygone era.

IT Factory will also showcase the hotel at important Japanese travel fairs, organise educational events, work closely with the local trade and consumer media, and conduct sales calls in Tokyo and other major cities, including Osaka, Nagoya, Fukuoka and Sapporo.

Through the ages, the Galle Face Hotel has welcomed many celebrated Japanese guests, including Sessue Hayakawa, the famous actor and Hollywood silent movie star, who stayed at the hotel in 1957; Kenzo Tange, the renowned Japanese architect and winner of the Pritzker Prize, who stayed in the 1970s; and Emperor Hirohito, who ruled Japan for 63 years and stayed at the Galle Face Hotel in 1921.

“The Galle Face Hotel has a rich heritage and classical ambience that has always been deeply appreciated by Japanese guests,” said Sanjeev Gardiner, the hotel’s owner. “Since we opened more than 150 years ago, the hotel has been graced by many leading Japanese figures, including Emperor Hirohito. With the appointment of IT Factory, I look forward to welcoming a new generation of Japanese visitors to Colombo and strengthening the cultural connections between Sri Lanka and Japan.”

Japan is an important and expanding visitor source market for Sri Lanka; a total of 44,988* Japanese nationals travelled to the island nation in 2017, which marks a 4.4 percent increase compared to the previous year. This makes it the second largest East Asian source market for Sri Lanka, and the 12th largest globally.

“Japan is a mature outbound tourism market with a high proportion of educated travellers who appreciate the history and culture of their destination. This makes Japanese guests an ideal fit for Sri Lanka and the Galle Face Hotel,” added Robert C. Hauck, the hotel’s General Manager.

SriLankan Airlines operates direct flights between Colombo and Tokyo four days a week using its wide-body Airbus A330-300 aircraft. These services are coordinated with Japan Airlines, SriLankan’s oneworld alliance partner, as part of a codeshare agreement. The two national carriers also offer one-stop connections between Japan and Sri Lanka, via Bangkok.

Finding its origins in 1864 as a Dutch Villa known as Galle Face House, this elegant property was originally a meeting place for the gentry of colonial-era Colombo. Nestled on Sri Lanka’s west coast, beside the gentle hush and lull of the Indian Ocean, it soon gained prominence as a landmark location. Today, the Galle Face Hotel continues to stand as a cultural centre-point of curated modernity and hospitality, and Colombo’s landmark venue for prestigious functions and corporate meetings.

Unique in Asia’s hospitality industry, the Galle Face Hotel has been owned by a single family for more than a century. It is also passionately independent, having repeatedly resisted approaches from many top international hotel brands. In addition to its celebrated guest list of Japanese dignitaries, this Sri Lankan landmark has also hosted famous global figures including Che Guevara, Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Vivian Leigh and Roger Moore.

The Galle Face Hotel features graceful interiors that blend classical charm with modern amenities. The hotel’s 1864 Restaurant & Wine Bar reflects this exquisite style with an outstanding contemporary menu and an extensive wine list, while The Verandah serves exceptional local cuisine overlooking the Indian Ocean. Guests can also follow in the footsteps of the world’s most notable writers at The Traveller’s Bar.

A new restaurant, King of the Mambo, is set to open soon. Drawing on the inspiration of guests from the 1950s, including Che Guevara, this oceanfront concept will feature retro décor and a roster of authentic Latin entertainment.

For generations, guests have been attracted by the Galle Face Hotel’s exquisite beauty, nostalgic charm and impeccable service. In partnership with IT Factory, this legendary hotel is set to re-establish itself as a leading destination for Japanese visitors for many years to come.