Park Hyatt Busan is the second Park Hyatt in Korea to open. The Park Hyatt brand stands in the top tier among Hyatt brands including Grand Hyatt and Hyatt Regency. The lobby of the 33 floor-high hotel is located on the 30th floor where there is also the Lounge for wine and beverages. The restaurant "Dining Room" on the 32nd floor features an open kitchen. The "Living Room" is a more casual restaurant with the concept of "all-day" dining. The fitness and the spa are located between the third and fifth floors. Customers can get a view of Haeundae Beach and Gwangan Bridge while working out; the indoor swimming pool is built on 20-meter-wide granite; and the Lumi Spa has seven treatment rooms. There is also a ballroom on the second floor, and a drawing room on the top floor.
Marc von Arnim, general manager of Park Hyatt Busan.
By Kim Ji-soo
The Park Hyatt Busan stakes out a coveted location along the Marine City Ro-1, Gwangan Brige and Suyeongman Yacht Marina.
Newly opened on Feb. 18, the luxury hotel in the Hyatt Corporation officially arrived in the southwestern port city of Busan on Feb. 26, in an illustration of the city's growing cache and the luxury hotel's recognition of it.
To oversee the opening of the Park Hyatt Busan, the Hyatt Hotels Corporation sent in one of its rising stars, Marc von Armin, who was busily walking inside and outside the futuristic-looking edifice that overlooks Haeundae Beach and the marina.
"The Park Hyatt Busan is a large house. We're the hosts and you're the guests in our house," said von Armin, 39, general manger of the hotel in a recent interview with The Korea Times. "The salon here is like the study in your house. The lounge is like the one in your house, where you can relax … The living room is like the one of the house, where you may not feel overcomplicated. You don't need to dress up. The dining room is formal area … We're very proud of the Park Hyatt Busan."
He said that Hyatt realizes how fast Busan is growing, and how its environment is diverse as it is a destination for both corporate and leisure travelers in Korea and all of Northeast Asia. He explained that the shipbuilding and shipping-related industry there as well as the Busan International Film Festival and expanding shopping centers are all attractions.
A guestroom at Park Hyatt Busan shows the sprawling view of Haeundae Beach.
"From Monday to Friday, it's more corporate customers. But on the weekends, occupancy by leisure travelers is high as 98 percent," he said.
The hotel has 269 guestrooms with 69 of them being suites, and boasts top of the line service and service providers. Daniel Libeskind designed the building, the Japanese company Super Potato did the natural beige-toned wood interior design and Le Labo designed the toiletries.
"We want customers to make an emotional attachment to our hotel. That is our goal. Surprisingly, we have seen in just the past week people who come in every day, and customers that have development an emotional attachment to a table," said von Armin.
What he wants to create is a natural affection for the hotel, because it is stimulation for the senses.
Von Armin is the youngest general manager of the luxury brand hotels including Park Hyatt Busan. He's also been with the Hyatt for all his career of 21 years since he started out at 18 as a waiter. At 33, he became the youngest general manager in the Hyatt chain in January 2008. The tenure in Busan marks his third as general manager. Prior to Busan, von Armin worked as general manager of the Hyatt Regency Auckland from January 2008 through July 2009 and then at Park Hyatt Goa Resort and Spa in India from August 2009 through March 2012. He has been with Hyatt for 21 years on March 6,.
The gym opens for 24 hours.
Busan is a lot different from his previous posts in Goa and Auckland, the former of which was a resort hotel spanning 45 hectares.
He said every hotel has a different clientele, a different market and a different audience.
"But that's what makes our job so great. For me, coming to Busan and opening a new hotel is understanding the market, understanding Busan and understanding Korean culture," he said.
He said it is the pillar of Hyatt to respect the culture and the community in which they open a new hotel.
Walk from the lobby up to the Living Room and the Dining Room, one can admire deep green waters of the sea in daylight. During nighttime, the expansive spran of Gwangan Bridge lit up against the tall modern apartment complexes gives an exotic feeling of being in an "urban resort."
The hotel industry in Haeundae is expected to be busy all year around. Occupancy rate for Friday and Saturday runs as high as 80 to 95 percent, and hotels in Haeundae have seen an average range of 5 to 15 percent last year.
Von Armin is not worried about competition. "I don't look at it as a rival or competitor. If you worry about other hotel chains you lose sight of what you're trying to achieve. At the end of the day, it's the customer."
To be a hotelier, von Armin, whose father is German and mother Swiss, says one should be born with a certain DNA and that it has to be in one's blood. To inspire future-generation hoteliers, which the industry will always need, he went into more specifics.
"You have to have a high-energy level, you need to love meeting people, experiencing different cultures and having different experiences," von Armin said. The job also entails just as in any other job high expectations, and being driven and focused. A hotelier is "never satisfied."
He said he and his family were absolutely in love with Busan, and he wants to be remembered as the general manager that opened the Park Hyatt Busan.