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Top hotel operators leaping into Korea market

Almost every major chain is opening a development in the next two years.

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Hilton Busan, which was opened in Korea's second largest city of Busan in August, is set to be a hub for business and leisure travel to the dynamic region.

THE tourism potential of Korea is burgeoning and international hotel operators have jumped into the market in a big way, with almost every major chain opening a development this year or planning to within the next two years.

The wide range of new facilities will meet a range of needs, from business and MICE (meetings, incentive travel, conferences and exhibitions) travellers to families looking for interesting and fun experiences.

Among the new openings this year are Le Meridien Seoul and Jeju Shinhwa Marriott Resort & Spa, which both opened in September, and Four Points by Sheraton, Gangnam, which will open in December.

Owned by Cheonwon, Le Meridien Seoul will be the first Le Meridien property in Korea. The hotel with its distinctive European architecture, intertwined with mid-century modern design, opened in September 2017.

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Le Meridien Seoul will feature 336 chic rooms, including 109 club rooms and 29 suites with access to the Club Lounge, offering refreshments throughout the day and exclusive spaces for socialising and networking. The prestigious Presidential Suite is set to become the most stunning in the city with a distinct mix of antique and modern furniture.

The hotel is also anchored by the signature Le Meridien Hub, which reinterprets the traditional hotel lobby into a social gathering place, built on the brand's award-winning arrival experience and coffee culture.

Meanwhile, the fitness facilities and pool area will offer a tranquil respite from the hectic pace of the city, providing a space where guests can relax.

The hotel is well-equipped to cater to the MICE market with creative meeting and event spaces featuring the latest technology and an abundance of natural light which can accommodate exclusive social gatherings and business events.

The Da Vinci Ballroom, housed in the lower levels of the atrium, has the capacity to accommodate up to 500 guests. For art lover guests, the M Contemporary Art Centre on the second floor of the hotel will help in their discovery of fine art pieces.

Located on Bongeunsa-ro, one of Gangnam's major thoroughfares, Le Meridien Seoul has a great location, with easy access to the COEX Convention and Exhibition Centre, as well as the office district in Samsung-dong. It is also a great base for discovering Seoul's rich culture and history, including Unesco Heritage sites as well as being close to nightlife options. It is also conveniently located about 60 minutes by car from Incheon International Airport.

The Jeju Shinhwa World, located in the south-western part of resort Jeju Island, meanwhile, is one of South Korea's highly anticipated integrated resorts, spanning across a land area of about 2.5 million square metres. With premium leisure and world class entertainment facilities, it is aimed at appealling to local and international visitors of all ages.

The huge project, which will officially open in December, will ultimately encompass hotels and luxury resort condominium villas, as well as a theme park, waterpark and prestigious retail area, including popular high-end and K-Fashion brands.

The Shinhwa Entertainment section will feature a K-Pop Center as well as a casino that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The 630 guestrooms at the Jeju Shinhwa World Marriott Resort & Spa will be opening in two phases, with the first 486 contemporary rooms opening in late 2017, followed by the remaining 144 rooms in its second phase.

Almost 30 per cent of the rooms will connect, and all will include thoughtfully designed facilities and services. Featuring an all-day dining restaurant, a Great Room Bar and pool bar, the hotel's culinary concepts and elevated designs reflect true style that will create unique dynamic experiences for all guests.

By the end of the Phase Two completion, versatile meeting rooms featuring ample natural daylight will further contribute to the brand's commitment of presenting contemporary design, local influences, stylish public areas and intuitive technology. In addition, over 2,200 square metres of function space will be available for guests in the resort's complex, as well as indoor and outdoor event areas in the theme park.

Finally, Four Points by Sheraton, Gangnam provides excellent options for business travellers in the heart of busy downtown Seoul.

Like many growing Asian cities, Gangnam was once rural and filled with rice paddies and pear farms, but is now the centre of Korea's ultra-modern capital.

The Four Points by Sheraton Seoul, Gangnam is conveniently located in Shinsa-dong, where malls, retail shops, and entertainment options are just steps.

In terms of transportation, the Central City Train Terminal is a 20-minute subway ride away and Incheon International Airport can be reached by bus in less than two hours.

Located near top attractions such as Bongeun Temple, as well as MICE facilities at COEX and COEX Mall, the 199-room hotel provides accessibility and convenience.

Another top US hotel brand, Hilton Worldwide has ventured further into the Korean market through the Hilton Busan, which was opened in Korea's second largest city of Busan in August.

With its prime location on a pristine stretch of coastline in the East Busan Tourism Complex, the Hilton Busan with 310 guests rooms and seven meeting rooms, is set to be a hub for business and leisure travel to the dynamic region.

The hotel offers two innovative dining concepts, a rooftop swimming pool and versatile meeting space unparalleled for both function and style.

Hilton Busan provides a convenient base for guests who want to explore major attractions around Busan, including the Haedong Yonggungsa Temple and The Lotte Premium Outlet, which is only 1.6 km away from the hotel and houses more than 150 local and international shopping outlets. For MICE travellers, the Bexco Convention Centre is nearby too.

Hotel guests are also welcome to use the directly-connected Ananti Cove, an upscale hospitality complex of the member-only Ananti Penthouse, Ananti Town and Waterhouse spa. The new luxury complex is filled with stylish facilities including restaurants, caf├ęs, a spa, a bookstore,` as well as an anti-ageing centre.

The new hotel becomes the group's sixth property in the country, joining Hilton Namhae Golf & Spa Resort, Hilton Gyeongju, Grand Hilton Seoul, Millennium Hilton Seoul and Conrad Seoul.