Lotte aims for trendy with latest budget hotel option

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The interior of a room at Lotte Hotels & Resorts’ budget L7 hotel in Myeong-dong, central Seoul. [LOTTE HOTELS & RESORTS]
The interior of a room at Lotte Hotels & Resorts’ budget L7 hotel in Myeong-dong, central Seoul. [LOTTE HOTELS & RESORTS]
When walking into L7, a new midrange hotel by Lotte Hotels & Resorts opening today in Myeong-dong, central Seoul, it’s hard to miss the yellow MINI Cooper parked in the lobby.

Or, for that matter, the staff dressed in yellow vests, oxford shirts and jeans, who rush out to greet visitors – a stark contrast to the traditionally staid help at Seoul hotels.

The moves are part of Lotte’s latest experiments in differentiating its mid-tier chains from other options, as more and more budget hotels are opening in the capital.

“L7 is Lotte Hotel’s first lifestyle brand,” Song Yong-dok, CEO of Lotte Hotels & Resorts, said on Monday. “We created the L7 brand to meet the diverse needs of customers.”

It is rare for the CEO to appear at the opening event of a mid-range hotel, an indication of the commitment to and expectations for the new brand.

The CEO said that the second branch is planned for the Hongik University neighborhood in Mapo District, set to open in 2017.

The hotel added fun and engaging elements to every corner of the property, such as cute magnetic signs on the doors where guests can ask for their room to be cleaned.

Rooms and hallways are decorated with modern paintings, and the elevators feature big holographic pictures.

Multinational hotel chains such as Hyatt and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide have recently rolled out so-called boutique or lifestyle brands built around fancy design and intimate service, but local boutique hotel brands were few and far between.

Designer Jung Ku-ho, vice president and creative director of sportswear FILA, led the entire design of hotels rooms and interior, according to the company.

L7 has 245 guest rooms in its 21 floors and houses a rooftop bar, restaurant and foot spa.

But the CEO and L7’s general manager, Bae Hyun-mee, said that the L7 is more than just uniquely designed.

“Many hotels offer interesting designs,” the CEO said, “But the L7 is trying to entertain visitors with engaging services.”

One option is the L7’s sightseeing rickshaw services for tourists. The rides will take visitors to popular tourist destinations such as the Cheonggye Stream, Gwanghwamun and Myeong-dong areas.

Another service is the L7’s “Style Concierge,” where visitors can arrange to receive a lesson in doing their own makeup and then have their photo professionally taken.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]