of the Conrad Hotel Seoul
By Lee Hyo-sik
``Watch out Lotte and Shilla! Here we come.’’ This is the message sent out by Nils-Arne Schroeder, general manager of the Conrad Hotel Seoul, which will open in Yeouido in November.
He said the Hilton Hotel Group’s premier luxury brand will steal guests from Lotte and Shilla, as well as from the Hyatt, Walkerhill and other multinational hotel franchises already operating in Korea.
In an interview with The Korea Times, Schroeder said Conrad Seoul will offer both Korean and non-Korean guests ``smart luxury’’ services they have never experienced before at existing five-star hotels.
``There is traditional luxury and smart luxury. I think traditional luxury is somewhat extravagant and it’s all about showing off different expensive brands. But smart luxury is really about being yourself,’’ Schroeder said. ``Through smart luxury, our guests will experience flawless services and being connected to other people in the world.’’
Guests at the Conrad Seoul will be able to use the Apple-based in-room technology the general manager said.
``When you arrive in your room, you will see only a TV which you will simply click and connect to your own personal world. We know what is important to you and we want to deliver that,’’ he said.
Conrad Hotel will also have a new generation of employees who understand what smart luxury and real-time connection are. ``We are investing a lot into our team members and trying to understand what customers are really looking for. That’s smart luxury. The true differentiation is about people, passion and energy.’’
Schroeder said Conrad has found three main things that customers are really looking for at hotels; flawless service, easy access and being able to be themselves.
``Our connectivity is at any time of your choice and in any language of your choice. Our guests can operate the room not just in English, Korean, Japanese and Mandarin. It offers any language of your choice. This is one of the many examples that we care about small details, which makes us different from other hotels in Korea,’’ the general manager stressed.
The Conrad Seoul, located in one of the four towers of the International Finance Center (IFC) in Yeouido, will offer 434 guest rooms, a variety of restaurants and leisure facilities such as a spa and fitness center. The IFC includes financial firms and shopping malls with a subway station located beneath it.
Under the global slogan of `The Luxury of Being Yourself,’’ Conrad operates 20 hotels around the world, including 10 in Asia. The Conrad Seoul is its first in Korea.
``Along with smart luxury services, we will change the old paradigm of the Korean hotel industry by introducing a new generation of `luxury leaders.’ Our employees will really look after customers and are interested in their needs. We will bring new culture, passion and energy into the industry,’’ Schroeder said.
He said the Conrad Seoul will emerge as Korea’s top hotel. ``All hotels in Korea are great and I see them as my competitors. But we are different from them because our employees cater to every single detail of a customer’s needs, which are not available at other hotels.’’
Conrad plans to hold a job fair in September to select 200 workers. They include junior and senior staff for all positions, including VIP concierge, front office, banquets, sales, marketing, information technology, finance and culinary services.
``We already selected and sent 11 Korean team members to Singapore in April for a six-month training. They will return in early October to join us ahead of the November opening. I think investing in people guarantees great success,’’ Schroeder said.