IP Boutique Hotel made its debut in Itaewon, Seoul on March 2. The hotel’s unique appearance is certainly noticeable, even in the exotic neighborhood of Itaewon. Featuring five stories below ground and twelve stories above, the hotel boasts a total of 142 guest rooms. It is the first boutique hotel ever opened in Korea, and is the Imperial Palace Hotels’ third ambitious project following its IP Hotel in Fukuoka and the Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort & Spa in Cebu. The hotel has many features, including Cafe Amiga, a number of restaurants and eateries, a banquet hall and a membership based private club. Guestrooms are equipped with iPod stations and its bathrooms contain Bvlgary shower products in consideration of the tastes of the hotel’s targeted clientele.
There are numerous trendy restaurants and cafes in Itaewon, but Cafe Amiga surely offers a unique dining experience. Located on the first floor of the hotel, Cafe Amiga offers three different types of buffet; a Business Buffer featuring various types of freshly squeezed fruit juices for breakfast, pasta with a salad buffet for lunch and a wine buffet with unlimited beer and wine for dinner. Cafe Amiga will be conducting a Bling Bling event until May 30 in celebration of the hotel’s grand-opening. Guests who place their business cards or entry forms in a box located inside Cafe Amiga will be automatically given the chance to win a bar of gold, department store gift certificates, a complimentary meal or free lodging at the IP Boutique Hotel.
Each of the hotel’s 142 guestrooms and 12 floors consist of different concepts specially designed for today’s trendsetters. Until April 30, the hotel is offering a special “Soul Mate Package,” which includes one night stay in a deluxe room, two tickets for the musical “Singles,” two hooded shirts by Codes Combine, and two tickets for the breakfast buffet at Cafe Amiga. For an additional 80,000 won extra, guests can stay in a double-decker floor suite or corner suite, and making it the perfect package for girlfriends to have a slumber party after watching the musical “Singles”. The package is priced at 290,000 depending on the room type guests choose.
Boutique Hotels offer friendly, often customized services, and one of the services offered by IP Boutique Hotel that differentiates it from ordinary hotels is its flexible checkout time. As long as guests’ request a checkout time that does not interfere with the hotels’ operations, service agents at the hotel will do everything they can to make it possible.
BusinessKorea met with Ji Sang-hwan, general manager of IP Hotel, to talk about the newly opened hotel and his vision and plans for it.
Q: It has not been that long since IP Hotel opened in Seoul. Please briefly introduce IP Boutique Hotel to our readers.
A: A Boutique Hotel refers to a hotel that is relatively small but one that features unique architecture and interior that differentiates it from other hotels. They often offer customized services to clients, and is thus also called a Concept Hotel or Designer Hotel. Imperial Palace Hotel took over Itaewon Hotel, located in Itaewon, Seoul in May 2009 and began remodeling the entire building and interior. The grand-opening was held on March 2, 2010.
IP Boutique Hotel has five stories below ground and twelve stories above, and a total of 142 guest rooms. Following the grand-opening, Cafe Amiga opened first, with various facilities, including a number of restaurants and eateries, a banquet hall and a members-only private club to be opened in the very near future. In consideration of our target clientele, all guest rooms are equipped with iPod stations and Bvlgary shower products.
IP Boutique Hotel is an epochal, new conceptual hotel, seeking “art within a city” and aims to differentiate itself from ordinary hotels in Seoul.
Q: You are the very first General Manager of IP Boutique Hotel. What is your management strategy for the hotel?
A: I once read an article about the World’s 10 Best Boutique Hotels, selected by Patricia Schultz, a travel reporter for the BBC who has been traveling around the world for forty years. The hotels selected as the World’s Best Boutique Hotels are considered pieces of art rather than simply hotels. My ambition for IP Boutique Hotel is to make it a trend-leading hotel as well as an artful space above and beyond that of an ordinary hotel. I am planning to host unique exhibits and display art pieces at the hotel on a regular basis so that it will become a truly luxurious, new-conceptual Boutique Hotel in Korea.
Q: IP Boutique Hotel is perfectly located in Itaewon, where perhaps the highest number of foreigners gather in Korea. Tell us about your plans for overseas marketing to attract foreign tourists.
A: Currently, 50% of our guests come from overseas. Since there are several embassies and the U.S. Army in the area, we’re planning to utilize our good location to attract more foreign guests by offering a 35% discount for rooms and a 10% discount at Cafe Amiga. We are also striving to utilize good opportunities such as the Visit Korea Years 2010-2012 and the G-20 Summit that will be held in Seoul in November of this year. We will strengthen our traditional Korean dishes and turn some of our guestrooms into extra-luxurious rooms in order to attract heads of state attending the G-20 Summit. The Club Imperial Lounge, will offer formal traditional Korean dishes that cannot be easily tasted anywhere else.
Q: Imperial Palace Hotel, an independent Korean hotel brand, has been extending its business internationally by opening up the IP Hotel-Fukuoka in 2007, followed by Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort & Spa in Cebu. Please tell us about the hotel’s plans for further overseas expansion.
A: After Imperial Palace Hotel expanded to Cebu, the state government of Nordrhein-Westfalen in Germany requested the Imperial Palace Hotel manage a hotel there under our brand name, and this is something we are carefully considering at the moment. We have not decided whether we’ll accept the proposal or not, but it is encouraging that our hotel brand has the great potential to grow internationally.