As we noted over the summer, the growing number of Chinese visitors is driving development of midscale and upscale hotels in downtown Seoul. While global chains have traditionally focused on luxury properties in the popular tourism districts, local operators are looking to attract business travelers and those focused on shopping in Myeongdong.
Furthermore, since the Four Seasons Hotel Seoul opened in October 2015 as the first five-star international brand in Seoul's main business district of Gwanghwamun, locals have been booking short stays in luxury hotels as a form of bragging rights on social media.
All of these factors are contributing to an increase in hotel investment in South Korea. Over the summer, Seoul's hotel pipeline was ranked third globally, with 128 hotels and 27,187 rooms.
Wyndham Hotel Group is set to triple its current portfolio of 13 hotels in Korea with five new hotel signings in the areas of Incheon, Yongin, Daejeon and Kimpo. The franchise agreements will include brands such as Ramada, Days Inn and Howard Johnson, adding 2,008 to its room count in the country.
Just last week, we reported that Minor Hotels is bringing its Avani brand to South Korea with the Avani Busan Hotel. A management agreement for the Avani Busan has been signed between the hotel developer, UL Group, and Minor Hotels, with the new-build, 400-guestrom property scheduled to open in 2019.
Seoul-based Lotte Hotel Co., an affiliate of retail conglomerate Lotte Group, is scheduled to open the Signiel Seoul—its first premier hotel—in April. The 235-guestroom hotel will take up 25 stories of the city's tallest building.
The Grand Walker Hill Seoul, meanwhile, run by SK Networks Co., will reopen the former W Seoul Walker Hill under a new name. The Vista Walker Hill is also scheduled to open in April.
And in September, another exclusive hotel, jointly built by Ambassador Hotel and French hotel chain AccorHotels is set to open in Yongsan, followed by Marriott Hotel's plan to open a Four Points By Sheraton in November, in the iconic Gangnam district.