Prevue January/February 2015 - (Page 56)

South Korea A budding meetings destination with ancient roots [ON LOCATION] JESSIE FETTERLING Y es, there is a place for solitude in Seoul, a city of more than 10 million people. I found it on the rooftop of a neighborhood coffee shop after I took a break from exploring the touristy streets of Insa-dong. Apart from hidden nooks like this one, the city is bustling with non-stop energy. Groups can eat Korean fried chicken at 4 a.m. or stay up all night shopping in the city's popular Dongdaemun Market, where stores are open until 5 a.m. These after-the-meeting-ends possibilities are exactly why attendees are so excited to visit this city, which ranked as the most popular destination in Asia last year for meetings, according to the Second Destination Index released by Pacific World. Seoul is divided into two distinct regions by the Hangang River (or Han River as the locals call it), which flows through the middle of the city. About 30 bridges cross it and restaurants and venues line its edges. The latest venue to do so is the 32,792-sf Floating Island, which opened last April as the country's first artificially created island. It comprises three linked islets with event spaces such as a convention hall, restaurants, shops and even a floating stage with a massive LED screen. Seoul is also aggressively expanding its meetings horizons. At the end of 2013, the Seoul Metropolitan Government announced a three-phase master plan with a goal of tripling the city's meetings capacity by 2020. The plan includes developing and expanding three major regions: the Metropolitan area (Dongdaemun and Seoul Station area), Yeongdong and the southwest region (Magok) area. The boom in the city's popularity can be attributed to the fact that most corporations and associations see it as a new destination, explains Ej Fieldhouse, country manager for South Korea at Pacific World. "I think one of the most unique things for the U.S. market is that they don't know us well. So, when they come here, it's a real discovery," adds Maureen O'Crowley, VP of the Seoul Convention Bureau, a division of the Seoul Tourism Organization. "They either come here with no preconceptions, or sometimes what they come here with is a little bit negative with news that emphasizes the North. However, South Korea and the United States are the closest of allies." SEOUL'S NEWEST OFFERINGS Opened last February, the JW Marriott Dongdaemun Square Seoul is the newest hotel in Seoul. Located in Dongdaemun, the 170-room hotel overlooks the city's East Gate, one of the original gates located in the fortress wall (built between 1396 and 1398), which surrounded the city during the Joseon Dynasty. The views of the East Gate are especially prominent from the rooftop seating at the hotel's Griffin Bar, which doubles as an event space, complete with a sleek grand piano. While the same views are not accessible from the hotel's 8,019-sf ballroom, its 98-unit, digital screen wall is equally as impressive. Korea's first ultra-high definition media wall of this size, it can be used for presentations or even to showcase images-of the Grand Canyon, for instance- to enhance an event. 56 | prevue magazine 56-59_Seoul.indd 56 1/8/15 6:58 AM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Prevue January/February 2015

Planner’s Pick: New Orleans
Fresh Meets: Hilton
Bureau Buzz: Raleigh
Good Business: Monaco
Sea Shores: Royal Caribbean International
The Era of Personalization
On Location: Barcelo Bavaro
On Location: Caesars Entertainment
On Location: Grand Geneva
On Location: Guadalajara

Prevue January/February 2015