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Exciting new developments in Seoul
THE Korean capital city of Seoul is seeing a rash of new commercial and industrial developments, along with the hospitality and other infrastructure to support them.
The government has exciting new plans to develop new industry segments and research and development facilities. For example, the Magok Industrial Complex is to be established as a modern industrial ecosystem encompassing a diverse range of companies as well as research institutes, universities and international organisations. It is envisaged that this will create an R&D cluster for cutting-edge convergence technologies.
Meanwhile, the International Exchange Complex in Seoul is seen becoming a hub of international business exchange, which will help push forward the future global competitiveness of the city.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to re-create the area as a global MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conferences and exhibitions) hub through the intermingling of exhibitions, conventions, performances, and entertainment spaces.
In support of these, mega projects such as the 123-floor Lotte World Tower, Seoul's tallest building, which opened in April, are also springing up.
The Seoul Sky, which covers the upper floors of the building, from 117th to 123rd, is the world's third highest observation deck. It takes one minute and five seconds to go from the first basement level to the 118th floor by the ultra-fast elevator.
Practically symbolising the pinnacle of leadership, "Premier 7" is specially designed luxury office space for companies, taking up the 108th to 114th floors. Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk-ho and chairman Shin Dong-bin occupy two of the floors here.
The newly opened six-star hotel, Signeil, occupies the 76th to 101st floors. Designed by the famous global architectural firm of Williams & Associates, the Signiel's chic interior harmoniously blends the beauty of the East and the West. The interiors bring together a modern aesthetic infused with historical and cultural Korean influences from art, ceramics and calligraphy.
All 235 rooms offer panoramic views of the capital's mesmerising cityscape. The royal suite on the 100th floor will be the most expensive hotel room in Korea, costing 25 to 30 per cent more than equivalent rooms in other hotels. It has a lavishly decorated reception, a meeting room and separate rooms for accompanying staff.
Hosting meetings and events at this venue can be expected to be "breath-taking" and "heart-stopping" experiences.
Located on the 76th floor, the Grand Ballroom is the world's highest hotel banquet hall. The unique venue is able to accommodate up to 300 banquet guests at one sitting. Occupying the same floor, the Signiel studio with four small banquet rooms, offers unique meeting spaces for small meetings and private events for up to 80 people.
Signiel Residences, comprising luxuriously-furnished apartments with in-house hotel services, occupies the 42nd to 71st floors of the tower. This is aimed at high net worth travellers or VIPs who are staying for extended periods in Seoul.
To meet the leisure needs of the tower's guests, there is the Evian Spa on the 86th floor and a lap pool occupies the entire 85th floor. Meanwhile, the signature three-Michelin Star French restaurant, STAY, helmed by top chef, Yannick Alleno; and Bicena, a one-star Korean fine dining restaurant, are both located on the 81st floor.
In nearby Incheon, Paradise City Hotel, the first and only integrated resort city in East Asia, opened in April and has already created a stir.
Located in Incheon's Yeongjong Island, the hotel is just a five-minute drive from the Incheon International Airport. The property houses a total of 711 rooms including suites and pool villas. The first phase opening also included the convention facility will a grand ballroom that sits up to 1,800 in single theatre seating; two medium-sized function rooms for up to 260 in a banquet setting; and five meeting rooms that fit between 30 and 60 people each.
The foreigners-only casino features 154 game tables, 281 slot machines, and four installations of electronic games offering an aggregate of 62 seats. Other amenities include entertainment facilities, restaurants and bars, health and beauty facilities and play areas for children.
The project also plans to open a boutique hotel, entertainment clubs, premium spa, and commercial facilities in the first half of next year.
The Accor chain is also entering the Seoul market in a big way. Seoul Dragon City, scheduled to open in October, is Korea's first-ever lifestyle hotel-complex and consists of four Accor Hotels brands with 1,700 rooms, 11 restaurants and bars, 17 meeting rooms, two multi-function grand ballrooms, and a world first - four full floors of entertainment in a Sky Bridge suspended between two of the towers. The complex serves all types of guests, suiting every budget.
Grand Mercure Ambassador Seoul Yongsan is designed for families and long-stay guests who enjoy an upscale lifestyle in a serviced residence, with 202 relaxing rooms featuring warm colours and locally inspired decorative motifs, prints, pictures and furniture.
Novotel Suites Ambassador Seoul Yongsan is also ideal for long-stay business and leisure guests or those who like more space and flexibility, with 286 spacious modular suites featuring an ergonomic design for work and relaxation and non-partitioned space that can accommodate from one to four guests.
Novotel Ambassador Seoul Yongsan will appeal to business and leisure guests seeking a comfortable and easy stay, with 621 large fully-appointed rooms with a simple, modern design, and non-partitioned space that is ideal for individual guests and families.
Towards the other end of the spectrum, ibis Styles Ambassador Seoul Yongsan features 591 colourful and inspiring rooms with a bold personality, making it the choice for business and leisure groups, airline crews, families, friends, and frequent individual travellers who prefer all-inclusive rates.
Seoul's Magok District is the last large-scale newly developed area in the city and offers excellent accessibility to both Incheon (35 minutes by subway) and Gimpo International Airports (five minutes by subway) through well-connected road and railway networks, enabling it to serve as a gateway city to North-east Asia.
The Magok Industrial Complex is envisaged as an industry and research-focused industrial ecosystem for state-of-the-art convergence technologies in IT-GT-NT-BT, which consist of Information Technology, Global Green Technology, Nano Technology and Bio-Technology.
A large central park will be built as an environment-friendly masterpiece park where eco-friendly housing and ecological wetlands will be crafted. Major companies at the complex are LG, Kolon Industries, The E.Land Group, Lotte, Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering, S-oil Corporate and Nexen Tire.
Finally, the International Exchange Complex is the fruition of the Seoul Metropolitan Government's masterplan to rejuvenate the Jamsil Sports Complex area. By the year 2025, the 414,205 square metre area will be transformed into an international business exchange hub.
The existing sports facilities including the baseball stadium, the swimming pool, and the gymnasium will be reconfigured and reconstructed.
More than 100,000 square metres of land will be made available for MICE facilities, exhibition and convention facilities, and a 1,500-room luxury hotel will be constructed. Construction is scheduled to begin by 2025.