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[Reporter’s Notebook] Mohegan Inspire Resort to be new Incheon landmark… but not just yet

After making great first impression with Melon Music Awards, Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort prepares for full opening in second half of 2024

By Lee Si-jin

Published : Dec. 18, 2023 - 15:42

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Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort's Aurora hall (Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort) Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort's Aurora hall (Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort)

YEONGJONGDO, Incheon -- For many Koreans, heading to Yeongjongdo means excitement and thrills.

The island -- located some 50 kilometers from Seoul -- has popular cafes, tasty seafood restaurants and beautiful beaches, but Yeongjongdo is visited mostly because of air travelers using the country’s main international gateway, Incheon International Airport.

After Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort started its soft opening on Nov. 30 and hosted the Melon Music Awards (MMA), one of the nation’s biggest music awards shows, on Dec. 2, the resort has made its presence felt.

When members of the media arrived at the much-talked-about resort last week for a tour, the resort had guests who were enjoying the resort's various facilities before the crowd descended on the place.

Ranging from entertainment facilities to exceptional presentation of the resort’s philosophy -- “putting all travel experience under one roof” -- Inspire Resort seemed flawless.

However, now may not be the most ideal time visit Inspire Resort, if you want to enjoy the place to its fullest.

Accessibility remains one of the biggest issues.

Inspire Resort only has three free shuttle bus lines to Seoul, each carrying guests from Hongdae and Daerim-dong -- two districts located in western Seoul -- and Seoul’s popular shopping district, Myeong-dong.

As the buses pick up their guests at four different times and the bus rides are expected to take 1 1/2 hours to 2 1/2 hours depending on traffic, driving one’s own car or taking a taxi may be preferable.

But, the Second Gyeongin Expressway -- one of the two highways that allow drivers to get to Yeongjongdo -- has a reputation for heavy traffic. And the drivers need to pay an additional 11,000 won to use the Incheon Bridge -- the bridge connecting the island with the mainland -- when driving round trip to and from the resort.

Travelers can also use Incheon International Airport Expressway, which is another highway connecting the island to the mainland with a cheaper toll. But it makes many visitors -- coming from the southern parts of the country -- take a detour.

Sensitive visitors may need to be wary of sick building syndrome.

You can still recognize the smell in the air while walking through the buildings.

Though a few bars and restaurants are open, Inspire Resort still falls short on food and beverage services.

A resort official explained that the restaurant and shop spaces will be fully occupied in the second half of 2024.

All Inspire Resort employees seemed to prioritize hospitality and were extremely polite. However, some of the staff clearly needed more time to familiarize themselves with the new resort -- many were confused about different areas of the resort when asked.

“We are not hiding the fact that this is new. And we do recognize there are many things to improve. The resort is still in its soft opening period and we still have a few more months. We will be working on our creativity, teamwork, operational efficiency and holistic experience by the second quarter of 2024,” Inspire Resort President Chen Si told The Korea Herald.

There is no doubt that Inspire Resort will be an important landmark in Incheon.

Inspire Arena (Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort) Inspire Arena (Mohegan Inspire Entertainment Resort)

The Inspire Arena, the resorts’ indoor performance hall, with 15,000 seats, was praised by many concertgoers, K-pop artists and media for its audience-friendly seating structure ensuring clean stage visibility and sound systems.

The arena is scheduled to host music concerts, award ceremonies, sports matches and esports competitions. TVXQ’s 20th-anniversary concert is scheduled to take place at Inspire Area at the year-end.

When all entertainment facilities, restaurants and shopping malls are fully opened, visitors will be able to enjoy their stay at Inspire Resort anytime of year from the blistering summer heat to the extreme cold winter.