Forbes Travel Guide launched The Summit Salon, its series of boutique regional events that are an offshoot of its annual worldwide Summit, in Tokyo last week. The inaugural event celebrated Asia-Pacific’s 2023 Star Award recipients and honored winners and finalists of FTG’s “Best of the Year” hospitality accolades.

“Following a few challenging years operating in the Asia-Pacific region, we were delighted to be able to gather this incredible community of hoteliers, travel advisors and industry executives together to celebrate not only their resilience as operators but the exciting growth opportunities for tourism across the region,” said Amanda Frasier, FTG’s president of Ratings. “We look forward to announcing more Summit Salon events for 2024 very soon.”

About 100 of the Asia-Pacific region’s Star Award winners hailing from Australia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand attended the salon at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Palace Hotel Tokyo. These top hoteliers mingled with luxury travel advisors, Les Clefs d’Or Japan members, luxury brands and media, including Forbes Japan founder Makoto Takano, around the Nespresso coffee station and over an elegant lunch.

Even though some countries in Asia-Pacific were among the last to drop COVID travel restrictions, the region has seen a strong rebound in tourism following the pandemic, making it fitting to kick off the salon series. The destination had added buzz this year after Macau brought international attention to the region, dethroning London as the city with the most Five-Star awards. Tokyo also is experiencing growth in the luxury hospitality sector, with Bulgari Hotel Tokyo debuting in April and The Tokyo EDITION, Ginza poised to open in early 2024.

In addition, Frasier revealed at the salon that FTG would expand its ratings in Tokyo and unveil the city’s first restaurant awards Feb. 7, 2024. The announcement was part of a lunchtime session where Frasier took up global travel trends and the evolution of FTG’s Star Rating system to capture changes in the industry since the pandemic. She was joined by Chris Fradin, Forbes Travel Guide’s senior vice president of Partner Services for EMEA and APAC, and Jessie Law, vice president of Partner Services for APAC, who shared travel insights throughout the region, including Macau and Hong Kong.

In the evening, Palace Hotel Tokyo senior managing director and general manager Masaru Watanabe welcomed guests during the salon’s cocktail reception. “Palace Hotel Tokyo was delighted to host The Summit Salon Series Tokyo and to have the opportunity to reconnect with industry leaders from across Asia-Pacific,” Watanabe said. “We look forward to the continued success of our region and our partnership with the Forbes Travel Guide community.”

Attendees sipped Japanese wines and experienced a vibrant display of local cuisine from Palace Hotel Tokyo’s culinary team. FTG also presented its fourth annual Best of the Year winners and finalists from its March awards event with exclusive Baccarat gifts. The accolades recognize the best and brightest in the hospitality industry, pulled from hundreds of nominations from properties around the world. These are then narrowed down to finalists and winners by an FTG executive committee. Capella Shanghai, Jian Ye Li’s Jack Yan won Employee of the Year, and Londoner Court in Macau had staff member Sam Xue earn a finalist nod for the same award. Plus, City of Dreams Manila was honored for its Responsible Hospitality finalist achievement, accepted by executive leaders Akiko Takahashi and Steve Sasso.

While guests received luxury gift bags from Nespresso, Marc Friedland Couture Communications, Frette and La Bottega, they reaped other benefits.

“The event provided an excellent opportunity to make new connections and rekindle old friendships,” said Olivier Bonard, senior vice president of Hotel Operations at Five-Star Wynn Palace in Macau. “I had the pleasure of meeting great people and engaging in meaningful conversations. I look forward to the next one.”

More salon series destinations will be announced soon. Meanwhile, FTG will gather its global community for its annual Summit at Resorts World Las Vegas from Feb. 27 to March 1, 2024.

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