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Aekyung forays into hotel business

Midsized firm sets sights on Novotel as next growth engine

Aekyung Group, a midsize retailer and household goods manufacturer, on Thursday opened its Novotel Ambassador Suwon in Gyeonggi Province ― its first foray into the hospitality industry.

The five-star hotel ― featuring 287 rooms, banquet halls, function rooms and restaurants ― is expected to become a landmark of Suwon, the capital and largest city of Gyeonggi Province, the company said.

“The hotel is situated near Suwon train station and will be part of the ‘AK Town,’ along with nearby AK Plaza department store and AK& shopping mall,” said Lee Sung-min, a PR representative of the group. AK is the English abbreviation of Aekyung.
Novotel Ambassador Suwon. (Aekyung Group)
Novotel Ambassador Suwon. (Aekyung Group)

Suwon Station is the second-busiest train station in the country, following Seoul Station, with more than 300,000 visitors, according to Aekyung.

“We thought offering accommodation for travelers would be a good business opportunity, not to mention that we have been operating businesses here for more than a decade,” Lee said. “We hope to attract residents of Gyeonggi Province as well as people hailing from the mid-southern part of the Korean Peninsula with fine dining, shopping and also sports activities including futsal and a mini race circuit.”

In order to secure high service quality, the hotel will be managed by Accor Ambassador Korea, which already manages several hotels here.

Aekyung is the latest newcomer in the Korean hotel industry.

More and more companies ― even those without hotel experience ― are trying their hand in the business, hoping to feast on the blossoming travel industry.

According to data from the Tourism Ministry, Seoul’s chronic shortage of hotel rooms will deepen even after 2017, with the number of annual tourists to Korea having already exceeded 10 million. To address the issue, the government recently eased the regulations on building hotels.

Next year, KT&G, the country’s dominant tobacco manufacturer, is slated to open a luxurious business hotel near Mount Namsan. Telecommunications service provider KT Corp. has also submitted plans to build a residence-hotel at its Songpa branch site in southwestern Seoul.

Daelim, a construction firm-turned-midsized company, on Dec. 6 launched a new hotel brand called GLAD in the financial district of Yeouido. The company is planning to open at least three more hotels in the next few years, aiming to become a key player in the industry alongside Lotte and Shilla.

Daelim, which has a strong presence in the construction sector, said hotels will become its new growth engine.

“Daelim will plan, develop, build and run hotels,” Bae Seon-yong, a PR executive of Daelim, was quoted as saying to a local newspaper.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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