Hotel Online  Special Report


Preview of the Wonderful and Wacky World of the W Seoul;
Aiming to Break the Mould of Asia's Traditional Hotels

By Steve Shellum, Publisher/Editor, HOTEL Asia Pacific, 
October 2003

Watch out - the witty, wired, wonderful W is winging its way to Asia. The brand that is breaking the mould of traditional hotels around the world makes its Asian debut early next year with the opening of the W Seoul Walkerhill, and has its sights set on further expansion throughout the region. 

“The W Seoul is going to be the hottest hotel to hit Asia for a very long time,” says GM Martin B. Jones. “Not only is it the first time a new international hotel brand has been brought to Asia for many years, but it is really stretching the imagination when it comes to hotels as we know them. 

“The design is hip, trendy and exciting, but also retro, cool and calming. It’s going to give a new meaning to experiencing hotels.”

Lobby Rendering
W Seoul - Walkerhill
21 Gwangjang Dong, Gwangjin Gu
The 253-room W Seoul Walkerhill will be the brand’s first in Asia and its second in Asia Pacific, following the opening of the W Sydney in 2000, and the 21st W to open since the brand debuted in 1998. It is the focal point of the redevelopment of the Walkerhill resort area, which will feature extensive recreational, dining and entertainment facilities. 

“We are developing something really quite new and innovative,” says Jones. “We will develop the best W Hotel yet, with the interiors and architecture taking on a completely new style. W is an evolving brand, and the W Seoul will prove that.”

Starwood says its successful brand of “style” hotels offers a “unique union of style and substance”, featuring “casually elegant guestrooms and an urban style throughout”. 

It offers the “personality and individuality of an independent hotel, yet also guarantees the reliability and superior level of facilities and services expected by sophisticated travellers”.

The first W Hotel opened in New York in December 1998 with the “vision of creating a new aesthetic movement by rejecting the carbon-copy sensibility of traditional hotels”. 

“The launch of W Hotels represented an important evolution in the hotel industry - the first style hotel for the business traveller,” says Starwood chairman and CEO Barry Sternlicht. “Each property has its own personality and a strong sense of style - something which really did not exist in the business-travel market.” While sharing a common style and standard of service, each W has its own distinct personality, bringing together the best of what each city has to offer. “Breaking the traditional hotel mould, W is more theatre and definitely more fun,” says Sternlicht. 

Guestrooms feature the latest technology, including the most advanced inroom entertainment system with a sophisticated interactive programme that utilises state-of-the-art digital technology to provide guests with everything from a large selection of first-run movies and video-on-demand to ultra-fast internet access. 

High-speed laptop connectivity is also available at speeds up to 100 times faster than conventional data modems, and one of two phones in each guestroom has data-port and speakerphone capabilities. 

Designed to “surround each guest in calm and comfort”, guestrooms feature the luxurious W bed with its pillow-top mattress, 250-thread-count linens and goose down comforters and pillows, as well as other signature features including oversized desks, an upholstered chaise lounge or banquette and a “Munchie-Box” filled with quirky beverages and snacks. Other amenities include lush terry-lined, cotton-pique W bathrobes, Aveda bath products, coffee makers with W’s own blend of coffee and W Hotels’ third CD compilation, Rhythm & Muse II.

Every W phone features a Whatever, Whenever button, which allows guests to request anything, anytime, while the brand’s Sensory Set-Up is designed to stimulate the five senses and enhance productivity and motivation at corporate meetings.

Its service philosophy seems to be paying off - in a recent Market Metrics Hotel Index survey, W Hotels finished first in customer satisfaction - ahead of Four Seasons and Ritz-Carlton. Not bad for a brand that is not quite five years old. 

“I really feel that Asians and those living in Asia will rapidly embrace this new-style hotel - it won’t just be a place to stay, but a venue to experience whenever they have free time,” says Jones. 

“This will be the first of many to come once everyone realises just what W is and what W means. It’s not just another brand or another name - it’s a new lifestyle in hospitality.

“Many think they can simply build a funky hotel and it will work in the same way, but this is far from true. The entire service philosophy, the attitude and substance that go with the style is what makes a W a W, and not just another new hotel.”

Surprises on the menu

“OUR F&B will be an amazing experience,” says Jones. “Far from being mere hotel restaurants, they will be great venues that have chosen to be in the W because they are also cool and fun. Their substance is great food and great service - with value for money.

“We’re catering to the locals big time and we want to be their local hangout for lunch or dinner, a workout or a session in Seoul’s first true spa and a night drinking in the city’s coolest bar. 

“At the same time, not being priced like a 5-star hotel, but ensuring great value and great repeat business.”

© Copyright HOTEL Asia Pacific


Subscription Information
Hotel Asia Pacific
Steve Shellum
158 Wong Uk Tsuen
Yuen Long
New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2882-7352
Fax: +852 2882-2461
[email protected]

Also See The Inside Story on How InterContinental Hong Kong Managing Director Jennifer Fox Teamed Up with Michelin Chef Alain Ducasse to Create a New Benchmark for Hotel Restaurants in Asia / Steve Shellum, HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003
Chiller Replacement Project; How The Grand Hyatt Singapore Applied a Holistic Commercial View / HOTEL Asia Pacific / October 2003
Assessing Hotel Security; HOTEL Asia Pacific Magazine / Pertlink Re-Issue Hotel Security Checklist / August 2003
Pressure Cooking: Florian Trento, Executive Chef at the Peninsula Hong Kong, Explains How He and His Team Coped During the Bleakest Days of the SARs Crisis / HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003
Crisis Management: Could You Cope if the Unthinkable Happened / HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003
Back to Normal After SARS? Let’s Hope Not.../ HOTEL Asia Pacific / June 2003
Fighting Spirits! Rank-and-file Staff at Bali InterContinental Resort Talk About Their Hopes, Fears, Dreams / HOTEL Asia Pacific / April 2003
On the Chopping Block; Are You Prepared If You Get Your Marching Orders? / HOTEL Asia Pacific / April 2003
Trevor Bilney, Executive Chef at the Bali InterContinental Resort, Fights Hard Since Last October 12; Keeps Morale Up  and Costs Down / HOTEL Asia Pacific / March 2003
Hotels Stepping Up Security; Learning to Live with the Threat of Terrorism as Part of Conducting Everyday Business / HOTEL Asia Pacific Survey / March 2003
50% of Hoteliers Have Not Increased Investment in Security – More than a Year After the September 11 Attacks / HOTEL Asia Pacific Survey / December 2002
Security: Something No Hotel Can Ignore / Geoff Griswold / Summer 2002
Biometrics Lend a Hand to Hotel Security / Feb 2002
Hotels Near Airports Provide Better Safety and Security Features According to The Center for Hospitality Research - Cornell Hotel School / Dec 2002

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