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Korea's Jeju IslandApril 21, 2009 By: Mark Rogers Travel Agent
When Koreans want to dial down their stress levels, their thoughts turn to Jeju Island, which lies 60 miles off the southern tip of the Korean peninsula, about an hour flight from Seoul. The island’s unique scenery of black lava rock walls and houses, verdant hills covered with evergreens and palms, and its subtropical climate has earned it the reputation of being Korea’s Hawaii. Jeju Island is also the country’s prime spot for honeymooners. Visitors will see their fair share of swan boats and museums geared toward newlyweds—such as the Jeju Teddy Bear Museum or the Museum of Sex and Health—but the island is so beautiful and rich in history it will appeal to all market segments.
The 21-acre Shilla Jeju sits on a cliff overlooking the Pacific.
In 2007, Jeju garnered major attention when the island’s dormant volcano Mount Halla—with its lava tubes and the 597-foot-high coastal crater “Seongsan Ilchulbong” (Sunrise Peak)—was designated a UNESCO World Natural Heritage site. Visitors can make the easy climb along a trail to the rock cave at the cliff on the southwest side of Mt. Halla. The cave contains a huge Buddhist statue, and the view from the cave’s mouth presents spectacular sea and coastal views.
Another must-do excursion—especially in the hour before sunrise—is climbing the stone steps to the top of Seongsan Ilchulbong Peak, located on the eastern end of the island. At the top is a huge crater 61,968 feet in diameter and 295 feet deep. Here, too, clients will be rewarded with stirring sea views.
The Jeju Folk Museum gives a nice overview of everyday life on the island, with exhibits of useful items made from bamboo, rice straw and black lava rock. The outdoor exhibition area displays 143 signature whimsical stone carvings called Jeju Mushin Gung statues. The people of Jeju believe that praying to the statues will bring them happiness.
Hiking and cycling are popular on the island. Equestrian activities include horseback riding and watching the horse races at Jeju Race Course from July to August, where horses compete on a track made of sand.
Golfers can tee off at championship-level courses including Jeju Country Club, the Ora Country Club and the Jungmun Golf Club at the Jungmun Resort, a tourist enclave with deluxe hotels and numerous recreational facilities.
Where To Stay
High season on Jeju Island is July to August, so book well ahead for those months.
The Shilla Jeju, a member of The Leading Hotels of the World, is considered one of the most luxurious resorts on the island. The 21-acre clifftop resort overlooking the Pacific Ocean has hosted such luminaries as Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev. The Luxury Room category in the New Wing offers good value with ocean views in both the new and the old buildings. The Pacific Deluxe Suite (#783) is popular for two reasons: It has wide windows presenting stunning ocean views, and several Korean TV dramas have been filmed in the suite. The room is popular with honeymooners, since it has a Jacuzzi offering views of the sunset. The Family Twin room category is definitely the most suitable room for a family of three to four with a double and a single bed.
The resort also has Korean-style Ondol Rooms—Ondol is a traditional Korean method of heating a room from beneath the floor. These rooms, which are decorated in the Korean style, are a good choice for those clients who want to really feel like they’re in a foreign country.
A Hyatt Regency Jeju Guestroom Twin with a balcony view of Jungmun Beach
The Presidential Suite (#787) is the top accommodation at the resort. Guests get the dual drama of ocean views and a peek at Mt. Halla.
The Shilla Jeju Guerlain Spa has 11 treatment rooms (none of these is a suite). The most popular treatment is the Guerlain Imperial Body Treatment, a lymph-draining,
Swedish-style total body massage using Guerlain Imperial Body Massage Cream.
The general manager at the Shilla Jeju is Choi Tae Yung; travel agents can reach him through his personal assistant at [email protected], or call 011-82-64-735-5705.
While the resort doesn’t have a designated travel agent liaison, agents can direct queries and requests, including spa appointments, to the Travel Plan Office ([email protected], 011-82-22-230-3685).
The five-star Hyatt Regency Jeju has a superb setting on Jeju Island’s Jungmun Beach overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Quick to book are the Regency Club Ocean View Rooms located on the 9th to 11th floors. These have private balconies with ocean views. Guests also have access to the Regency Club Lounge, which serves daily continental breakfast, tea, coffee and cookies throughout the day, as well as a full bar and a variety of canapés from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Your clients can save by booking one of the Mountain View Deluxe rooms. Steer families toward the Hollywood Twin Rooms where they’ll have a queen bed and a single bed.
The Presidential Suite is the ultimate accommodation at the 224-room hotel, with wrap-around terraces, living room, dining room, kitchenette, work area with high-speed Internet, guest bath, master bath with jetted spa tub and rain shower, and king bedroom.
The hotel’s spa has six treatment rooms, including a couple’s suite. Guests can book appointments up to three days in advance by contacting the spa director, Carol Kim ([email protected], 011-82-84-735-8471). The travel agent contact is Hally Choi, associate director of sales ([email protected], 011-82-64-733-1234).