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The second-largest city in South Korea can now brag about snagging a new Western behemoth of a hotel. Yesterday, Park Hyatt Busan welcomed guests to the thoughtfully designed tower, creating a new area for wining and dining.
Overlooking the Busan Marina and surrounding beaches, the multi-purpose complex will play host to the luxury hotel that neighbors a few residential towers, some retail and office space. Each of the buildings, while very modern in design, use traditional Korean architecture to incorporate natural elements that mimic the ocean or flower petals.
With 269 rooms to choose from, the folks over at Hyatt have kept those travelers that want a little space to stretch out. There are 69 suites--23 Park, 43 Executive, 2 Diplomatic and 1 Presidential anyone can find a room that's just right. Regardless of choice, guests can gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows and relax in the natural wood and textile layout by Tokyo-based designer Super Potato.
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From Brussel's stylish The Hotel to a Holiday Inn Express in Oklahoma, hotels are jumping on the hot "smartphone as room key" bandwagon. We don't blame them--we're sick of those flimsy little pieces of plastic.
Now, Seoul's Hotel Skypark Central is one-upping everyone.
Along with revolutionary accoutrements for the business traveler like, um, free airport shuttle service, the otherwise rather unremarkable downtown hotel has recently offered a new perk: bestowing free loaner smartphones to its guests upon check-in. The devices do just about everything, aside from calling home (actual phone services aren't available; unless you use Skype, of course), such as unlocking and locking your door, ordering room service, turning on the lights, channel surfing on your flatscreen, and browsing the web.
Dubai might be the place these days for megaprojects like the Palm, the World, and Burj Khalifa, but if the developers of South Korea’s 8City have anything to say about it, these will be considered child’s play come 2030.
To be built partially on reclaimed land in Incheon, close to Seoul’s international airport, 8City would be a tourism city unlike any other, at a purported cost of nearly $300 billion. That's three hundred billion, more than the GDP of a whole number of countries combined.
What does one get for $300 billion? According to CNN:
Courtesy of South Korean pop star Psy’s video-gone-viral, Seoul has gotten quite a bit of attention the last few months. Today, Hilton’s luxury Conrad brand is getting in on the action by opening the doors to its latest hotel in the city (but no word yet on any Gangnam packages).
We were tempted by British Airways’ astoundingly brilliant offer on its new route to Incheon (the home of Seoul’s award-winning airport) to drop £777 ($1235) on a business class return and spend a weekend here ourselves, but with our rational side kicking in we’ll have to settle for a look at the hotel from afar for the moment.
This is one glamorous Friday with two, count 'em 2, Fantasy Friday posts. The first one was dreaming about rubbing elbows with the rich and famous at Huka Lodge in New Zealand. Now this luxurious hotel package comes to you from Seoul, South Korea and is not for the penny-pincher. Super extravagance comes in the forms of an $80K spa treatment at the city's Ritz Carlton.
The hotel created a package specially designed for high-rolling Chinese tourists that chartered a flight to Seoul to be poked and prodded all to walk away looking and feeling younger. Part of a full tour package that allows for travelers to pick their poison, as it is, and tailor-fit their vacation because well, they have enough cash to throw around. The price range for the anti-aging packages start at $440 and tops out at $87,680. We don't think that includes tip.
Finally, a hotel has jumped on the bandwagon and will begin to offer hotel packages that revolve around the world's latest earworm better known as Gangnam Style. Just as we would expect, the package comes from the Novotel Seoul Ambassador, smack in the middle of the district the song is named after.
For those that may be living under a rock for the last 3 months, here's a little back story. The musical artist is named Psy (real name: Park Jae-sang) and he is a Korean rapper who produces K-Pop (Korean pop music). He posted a YouTube video for Gangnam Style and it has become the most viewed K-Pop video, not to mention the most 'liked,' on the site.
Now let's get to the hotel news. This Novotel located in the Gangnam District is offering Psy groupies the chance to stay at the heart of the area in which the singer grew up. Fans can 'cowboy' and 'horsey' all around the popular shopping and entertainment areas of Gangnam. Since the area is known to be dripping with celebrities, you may even spot some other K-pop stars.
Back in October, one of our contributors had a little love affair with the pools at JW Marriott in Phuket, but we think we've found another JW Marriott pool to set our sights on. And this one doesn't mess around with squirting elephant sculptures and swim-up bars.
We're talking about the fitness center at JW Marriott Seoul, which not only has a six-lane, 25-meter pool, but also a climbing wall, a scuba diving pool, and an indoor running track—oh, and it spans three floors of the hotel.
The Marquis Thermal Spa and Fitness Club calls itself the largest hotel fitness center in Asia, and it offers pretty much every type of indoor fitness amenity you can think of. In fact, guests who stay here should really be held to a certain standard of fitness simply because they have so many options available to them. Just the other day we were mentioning how obsolete the hotel racquetball court has become. Not so in Seoul—this place has got two of 'em.
Opening in 2013, the Park Hyatt Busan will be part of a new mixed used development comprising three residential towers, one office tower and the ubiquitous retail space located at Haeundae Beach in Busan.
The hotel itself will have 268 guestrooms, including 69 suites, two restaurants, a lobby lounge, fitness center, seven-treatment room spa, and an indoor pool. The hotel is being designed by New York starchitect, Daniel Libeskind and the Tokyo-based design firm with the super cool name of Super Potato will do the interiors.
Last week we saw the model rooms that design firm Studio Gaia did for the upcoming Thompson Toronto hotel and thanks to an equally nerdy hotel geek, we learned that the same firm is doing Thompson Seoul.
We're actually quite surprised that Thompson is still going ahead with Seoul in these times but it is some very welcome hotel news for the hospitality industry which has of late been socked by hotel delays and canceled projects.
Since 1986, one hotel has dominated both the luxury sleeping and shopping scene in Seoul: The Shilla. Although the hotel has been around for a little longer than that, 1986 was the year that it birthed an independent duty free shop, making the upper echelons of luxury goods available at a price that was almost a deal. The Shilla now operates more shops on the Korean holiday island of Jeju and in Incheon airport, but its original two-floor boutique remains a cult shopping destination.
For anyone who feels the salacious temptation of a duty free catalog in the seat-back pocket, a stop in at The Shilla may be deadly (to your bank account). Being surrounded by smiling, impeccably-coiffed salesgirls and shiny products proves a drug for those who achieve VIP status at The Shilla shops.
That's right. Thompson Hotels, having finished with their monopoly on New York, is expanding overseas to Seoul, Korea.
We have to say, this destination is shocking. We thought for sure a London property was in the works. Yet today a press release was making the rounds of the interweb that Jason Pomeranc and co. are heading off to Seoul.
I've just been invited to a wedding in South Korea and although I won't get there unless my fairy godmother springs for a plane ticket, it doesn't hurt to dream. If I get there I'll head down to Jeju Island, a romantic spot off the south-west corner of the country. I hear it's sometimes overflowing with honeymoon couples but that seems to fit in well with a wedding trip anyway.
My hotel of choice (I've been tipped off by an insider) is The Shilla, Jeju, a resort on a 21-acre property on the cliff-top overlooking the Pacific. It only opened in 1990 and was South Korea's first 5-star resort. Sounds good so far, right?
My room of choice will be a Pacific Suite (I don't need the Presidential) which has views over the gardens and the ocean; it's also in the even newer part of the building complex. It's around US$330 a night--though that shoots up to $860 if I go for the superior suite.
There's one more thing that really tickles me about the Shilla, and it's a neat little piece of technology:
If a phone call is made when you are watching television, the volume is automatically controlled as you pick up the receiver. If you hang up the receiver, the volume is reset as it was.
Not sure I'll be using this feature too often, but it's great to know it's there.