▲ Hyatt Regency Jeju, located in Jungmun, Seogwipo, offers unparalleled views of the PacificOcean and Jeju’s most popular beach. Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Jeju
Hyatt Regency Jeju, despite being a relatively old hotel at 25 years, is still at the forefront of the island’s hospitality industry. As Jeju’s only international hotel brand, it garners respect from travelers the world over. Originally established in 1985, in 2002 all of the hotel’s 224 rooms, restaurants and its lobby underwent a three month renovation by Australian interior designer Diana Simpson.
Situated in the heart of Jungmun, Seogwipo, the hotel provides guests with spectacular views of Jungmun beach and the Pacific Ocean. It also offers a variety of facilities, including a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, spa, casino, restaurants and a very elegant wedding chapel with an ocean view. The facilities themselves are not bound with room service, so non-guests are welcome to arrive at the main desk and pay for the individual services they would like to use.
Giving back to the community Hyatt Regency Jeju General Manager Roger Habermacher, explains that while the five-star hotel seeks to provide a premium accommodation service to its guests, the hotel’s endeavours are far from one-dimensional. Over the past two years the hotel has been working to train students wishing to enter the hospitality industry. “We provide interns with training packages, six months to one year. Students stay in dorms, get pocket money and […] get training and official internationally recognized certification.” Habermacher said, adding: “One of our credos at Hyatt is to give something back to the community you work with. I think the response from the college and university side is huge, they love it.” He said.
Habermacher is very proud of the training scheme, in which students can study food and beverage services, kitchen service, house-keeping, hotel accounting and marketing and communications. The program benefits not only the students but the hotel as well. “I would say on a yearly basis we are averaging about 5-6 employments out of it.” He said, adding that currently “it’s not easy for a young student just graduated to find a job. It’s actually a very daring market for them.” This support of the local community is also evident in the fact that 80% of the Hyatt Regency Jeju’s staff are Jeju natives.
▲ Hyatt Hotels’unique atrium design, created by architect John Portman, helped Hyatt to establish a strong brand and has become iconic in the arena of international hospitality. Photo courtesy Hyatt Regency Jeju
An international hotel Describing Hyatt Regency Jeju as an “international” hotel is apt in more than one sense, as around 20% of Hyatt Regency’s guests are foreign, a figure mostly made up of Japanese, Chinese, Russian and American nationals; with the Japanese being the biggest customers. It’s a figure they’re keen to maintain due to the tax benefits that accompany foreign business. In reality, however, Habermacher explains that part of this percentage is made up of embassy staff that live in Korea but check in under their nationality. “While we would love to have 20% overseas business, we don’t have that.” He said, adding: “We want to make sure the inbound market is about 20%. It’s difficult to achieve due to the low exchange rate.” He explained that this low exchange rate means that many people are choosing to travel within their own countries rather than abroad.
Despite Jeju’s increasing standing in the business world, Hyatt Regency Jeju still caters more for the tourism industry than any other sector. Habermacher commented that the hotel’s main business comes from tourism, sightseeing, sports and MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Convention, Exhibition). He feels that MICE is very dependent on the economy: “People spend money to entertain their customers, their own staff. Economy goes down, MICE goes down.” However, last year’s economic down turn lead to a 30% increase in tourism as although the won was weak, the fact that Koreans chose to travel within Korea meant they spent more time and money in their own country. “Foreign customers’ tendency is to spend more money, whereas the Koreans know how to spend money in their own country,” he said, “Korean locals know where to get the best deals and prices.” He added.
He explained that pricing is extremely important in whether the hotel is successful or not as, “Koreans are very well informed customers. You will seldom have a Korean checking in who has not checked on the website first.” He added, “We are fairly priced but don’t forget we are a five star hotel, you will need to pay for that.”
▲ Hyatt Regency Jeju offers the perfect facilities for all kinds of events, including many outdoor areas where guests can enjoy the stunning ocean views. Even the Rainbow Wedding Chapel looks out over the ocean, for a truly unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience, photo by Cat Lever. Others courtesy Hyatt Regency Jeju
Hyatt Earth Next year the hotel plans to implement plans to become more environmentally friendly, as due to its age, not everything in the hotel runs as efficiently as it could. Habermacher explained that while it is very costly to make such important changes, in order reduce the hotel’s carbon footprint and become more energy efficient, the Jeju government has agreed to cover some of the costs, in order to encourage the changes. “Any attempt is better than nothing. We really want to thank the Gov for their continued support. I have to say that I really realize they’re trying very hard with their limited resources.” Known as Hyatt Earth, the hotel’s program will recommend changes and best practice standards to try to achieve this goal.
These drives towards education and the environment speak of a hotel, and a business as a whole, which recognizes that its strengths and successes lie in working with the community, and local environment. For the residents and visitors of Jeju Island, this can only continue to be a good thing.
ⓒ Jeju Weekly 2009 (http://www.jejuweekly.com)
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