▲ With its banquet halls and outside dining area, the Seogwipo KAL Hotel can accommodate for almost any occasion. Photos by Darryl Coote, Hon-Greem Ghang
As is evident by the recent increase of backpack-clad hikers and busloads full of snap happy sightseers about the island, tourist season is upon us. This means a lot of things for Jeju, but most importantly it means that those in the hospitality industry will be bringing out all the stops with the hope of creating a perfect island holiday. The Seogwipo KAL Hotel recently invited The Jeju Weekly to stay at their establishment, give it a thorough going over, and report our findings.
Daniel Choi, a writer for The Jeju Weekly Chinese Edition, and I arrived at the hotel on a beautiful Friday afternoon and without delay were checked in and shown to our room on the top floor. It was a suite with two rooms (a living room and bedroom), ornate furniture that your grandmother may have had in the ’80s, a large bathroom with a whirlpool bathtub and, what I thought was a nice touch, a cellophane-wrapped plate of fresh fruit awaiting our arrival on the coffee table. The place was impeccably clean and had a wonderful view of the ocean from the suite’s two adjacent balconies.
Once we were settled in, I went to take a tour of the facilities. I jumped in the elevator and went straight to the bottom floor, basement level two, where I was greeted by a workout gym with a diverse array of machines, treadmills, weights, rowers, and an indoor swimming pool and hot tub. I spoke with the helpful gym attendant, who told me that during a regular day the gym is frequented by 160 hotel guests and is open from 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.
On the same floor there was also a karaoke room and two banquet halls. Though this floor was devoid of bodies except for three people in the gym, one level up was bustling with commotion. This floor, which is home to many meeting, convention and banquet halls, was catering to over 200 medical science laser experts attending the Advanced Lasers and Their Applications 2011 Convention. This floor has several different types of meeting rooms that can cater to a diverse array of functions and includes the main buffet restaurant.
The lobby floor is a wide open space with floor to ceiling windows that look out onto the expansive green space that meets the rocky coastline and then the ocean. Here there is a lounge, of course the check-in desk, and a small shop that offers perfumes, alcohol, sunglasses, pens, ties and other accessories.
The best aspect of the Seogwipo KAL Hotel has to be its location. After examining the building I ventured out the door to the back courtyard, which can double as a banquet dining space. This place is massive with several walking paths that lead you around the premises. I spent a good portion of the evening out here watching hotel guests, of whom there were many, peacefully wander about. Why go anywhere else when this has to be one of the most beautiful views in Jeju?
I walked down to the rocky shore and stared out to the ocean as two fishermen had cast their lines far out into the sea. It was a very calming and beautiful scene. Classical music softly wafted in the night air, and I walked towards a pond that had a watermill and a gazebo. I walked to the end of the platform that hung over the pond, and there was a young family feeding large fish that had gathered below them.
Once the sun had fully set it was time for dinner, and I made my way to the buffet restaurant on basement level one. If you have the opportunity to dine at this eatery you will not want for food of any shape or form. The restaurant has a buffet that offers everything from caviar to pizza, Korean staples to a salad bar. The place had more than I could sample, most of which was pretty tasty.
After dinner and coffee (and another evening stroll to help digest the feast under what I perceived to be a full moon) it was off to bed for me. I had a quick shower, watched some tube, which is an odd luxury for me since I lack a set of my own, and though I am usually a night owl, it was not long after curling up on the double bed that I was soon fast asleep.
I woke up to a beautiful Seogwipo morning, and as I stepped out onto the balcony to gaze into the new day, there were already people milling about on the courtyard: families pushing strollers, elderly couples sitting on benches and high school students lounging on the grass taking photos of one another. I meandered around the room for a while and then headed to the buffet for a sumptuous breakfast. I was told that the hotel was close to its full capacity of 600 guests, but it didn’t feel like that at all. It was a spacious hotel with enough room to accommodate a large convention, passersby and all of its guests without feeling close to crowding.
When we checked out later that afternoon I left with the feeling of being relaxed and of having just experienced a small vacation that I hope to revisit soon. The Seogwipo KAL Hotel has much to offer and can definitely help you achieve that island getaway for which we are all looking.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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