SEOUL, May 16 (Korea Bizwire) – Business hotels are springing up in and near Myeongdong, the shopping mecca of downtown Seoul, as hotel chains try to cater to a growing number of Chinese tourists who are switching from package tours to more independent trips to South Korea.
Nearly 6 million Chinese travelers came to South Korea last year, a number that would have been higher if not for the scare from Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, according to tour agencies.
Industry officials estimate that up to 60 percent of visitors from the Asian neighbor are now coming on independently arranged trips rather than group tours, raising the demand for business-class accommodations.
“Unlike group travelers, independent tourists prefer business hotels that are usually closer to subway stations,” an industry official said. “Business hotels are 100,000 won (US$85) to 200,000 won cheaper than luxury hotels but offer rooms that are not much below par.”
Courtyard Marriott is opening a branch in Namdaemun, near a popular traditional market in central Seoul within walking distance from Myeongdong, on May 23, its third business hotel in the country. It has 409 rooms, an executive lounge, an all-day dining restaurant and conference rooms.
Hana Tour is also setting up shop this month in the Namdaemun area, opening Tmark Grand Hotel that offers 576 rooms plus a swimming pool, a fitness center and a VIP Lounge.
Lotte City Hotel Myeongdong and L7 Myeongdong, both run by Lotte Hotel, have already been in business since January. L7 was built as a “lifestyle hotel” and sets itself apart from competitors through details, for example using yellow as its trademark color. Lotte City has 430 rooms, while L7 has 245.
Louvre Hotels Group of France landed in Myeongdong in January in partnership with Seoul M Hotel to run the Golden Tulip M Hotel, a more posh four-star hotel that has 430 rooms.
Starwood Hotel 7 Resort will join the ranks in February next year with the opening of its business hotel Aloft. The 223-room hotel will sit in the middle of Myeongdong.