Basking in urban luxury close to home

By Joel Lee
  • Published : Jul 7, 2017 - 18:02
  • Updated : Jul 7, 2017 - 18:03

Do you want to pamper yourself to an upscale summer vacation, but without the hassle of planning an overseas trip, arduous travel and jet lag? Do you dream of a respite not far from home, with all services catered meticulously to your needs?

Hotels across Korea are offering just that, as more people opt to spend their holidays inside the country in the comfort of luxury accommodation, gastronomy and leisure. The newfangled trend, known as “staycation,” is a portmanteau of “stay” and “vacation.” It is the new tour de force in town, blowing springy winds of change across the hospitality industry.

“There are four attributes we focus on in developing staycation products, namely family or couple-focused services, a relaxing atmosphere, gourmet dining and unique local experiences,” said Millennium Seoul Hilton’s General Manager Eric Swanson. Unlike in Japan, which tops the staycation trend in Asia with over 60 percent of rooms filled by its own nationals, the rate is 10 percent in Korea, he said, indicating a clear untapped potential for increasing the number of domestic guests, particularly those in their 30s and 40s.

The Millennium Seoul Hilton is featuring two staycation packages tailored for couples and families through Sept. 10. The Urban Summer Escape package provides accommodation with an eye-catching view of the city and breakfast for two adults and two children under 5 for 210,000 won. 

A view of Millennium Seoul Hilton and Seoullo 7017 (Millennium Seoul Hilton)

The Urban Cool Summer package has rooms overlooking the city, and presents shaved ice dessert bingsu for 190,000 won. For an additional 25,000 won, both packages are upgraded to rooms facing Namsan. They both come with access to the fitness center and the indoor swimming pool.

Another option is the Seoullo 7017 package, designed for those who want to stroll on the newly refashioned overpass civic park. Available through Oct. 10, the package includes a picnic basket of sandwiches, salad, fruits, juice, wine, water and desserts.

“Competition in the three and four-star ranges is quite price-sensitive, and thus poses a clear challenge for five-star hotels trying to stake out a competitive position in this growing local market,” Swanson said. “Given the high number of top-class five-star hotels in Seoul, developing unique products at competitive prices is important.”

The Park Hyatt Seoul in Gangnam, a stone’s throw from convention and exhibition center and mall Coex, offers two staycation packages, one targeting art lovers and the other offering a perfume set. 

A summer staycation gift package at Park Hyatt Seoul (Park Hyatt Seoul)

The Art at the Park package comes with two tickets for an exhibition featuring the works of Karim Rashid, an Egypt-born and Canada-educated industrial designer of luxury goods, furniture, lighting and expert on surface design, brand identity and packaging. He was described by the Time magazine as the “most famous industrial designer in all the Americas.”

The package -- available through Oct. 6 including a stay at a suite with a panoramic view of the city -- also gives away a limited edition art book and poster of the designer. The price starts from 325,000 won.

The Citrus Summer package at Park Hyatt comes with a gift set of French perfume Atelier Cologne, along with a plate of snacks, such as macaron, chocolate, oranges and limes. The package is available through Aug. 31 in a Park King room or a Park Suite room with prices starting at 415,000 won and 565,000 won, respectively. All guests have access to an indoor swimming pool, fitness center and sauna.

“I think the staycation trend is the product of people’s desires for down-to-earth healing as well as decorous, yet unostentatious luxury,” said the hotel’s director of sales and marketing Kim Eun-ju. 

A family takes a swim at Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel (Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel)

The Sheraton Seoul D Cube City Hotel is perfect for those looking for fun-filled staycation at affordable prices. Located in the same building of the multipurpose shopping and cultural complex D-Cube City, the guests can simultaneously enjoy shopping, dining, movies, art exhibitions and a theme park. The hotel offers many room packages and promotions tailored to the guests’ age, gender and size.

The Triple Cool Summer package offers a one-night stay in a deluxe room and breakfast for two, also coming with a gift box of soaps. The Colorful Summer Package includes a one-night stay in a club room, access to the Sheraton Club Lounge for meals and a lucky bag with soaps. Both packages allow access to a gym and swimming pool, and run through Aug. 31. Prices start at 230,000 won and 290,000 won, respectively.

“Our guests can enjoy leisure, entertainment, shopping and dining all at once,” said the hotel’s General Manager James Lee, adding, “We expect more family groups during the summer season and Chuseok golden week in the autumn.”

By Joel Lee (