Archives for category: Korea

Seventeen years young. Born in Singapore. 86 properties across 44 key gateway cities worldwide. More than 15,000 serviced residences. Frasers Hospitality.

Fifty-three years and going strong. Graduated with distinction from Cornell University in New York. Over 30 years in the hospitality business. CEO of Frasers Hospitality. Choe Peng Sum.

To talk about Frasers Hospitality is to talk about Choe Peng Sum, the man who has been at the helm of one of the world’s leading serviced residences since its inception in 1996.

Indeed, Frasers is a young company, one which started with just two properties in Singapore before heading out into the global market to nowhere other than Seoul in 2002.

Eleven years later, Frasers has the privilege of claiming to be the fastest growing company in the hospitality industry, with the opening of its third operation ― Fraser Place Namdaemun ― in Seoul earlier this June.

And it is here in Namdaemun in the heart of downtown Seoul that Choe and more than 70 senior managers of Frasers have congregated for the 11th annual GM (general manager) forum.

“Each year, we hold it usually in cities where we have a new property, so this year, with the recent opening of Fraser Place Namdaemun Seoul in June, this city was the obvious choice,” Choe said in between a string of meetings and presentations throughout this week.Fraser Place Namdaemun Seoul

“This annual event is a great opportunity for GMs to meet and get to know each other. This is important as we need to be able to operate collectively in order to consistently deliver the brand promise,” he added.

Asked about the main theme of this year’s forum, the hotelier said, “Building the brand. It may sound rhetorical, but with evolving customer needs and a more competitive landscape, consistent brand building from all aspects is required.”

As he relishes his return to the Korean capital city, Choe reminisces, “Back in 2002 when we were still at a relatively early stage of growth with only two Singapore properties under our belt, we decided to open Fraser Suites Insadong as part of our vision of becoming a global player.

“As Asia’s fourth-largest economy, the prospects for the Korean serviced residence market are very bright indeed, especially with the influx of visitors expected to meet Korea’s goal of attracting 20 million international visitors by 2020.”

The fact that Frasers has been able to find such a strong footing in Seoul, which is seen by many as a tough challenge in the hospitality industry is very commendable.

“We have built a very strong base of residents here and Korea will continue to be a key growth market for Frasers in line with its global strategy to strengthen its footprint across North Asia,” Choe said, beaming with confidence. In this regard, he said his company is keen on expansion in Korea and beyond by introducing diversified brands, namely Modena, to serve as a second-tier serviced residences targeting “road warriors.” More recently, Capri was created with e-generation travelers mind.

On the whole, he said, there will continue to be a surge in corporate relocation activity, which will be from two areas: regional, generated from companies within Asia who are eager to capitalize on the economic growth in Asia, as well as international, reflecting a shift in strategy by MNCs (multi-national corporations) to send their employees to the Asia-Pacific region to capitalize on this growth, either through expansion, or acquisition.

“Our immediate plans are to stay focused on our growth strategy in strengthening our global footprint in markets where we have an established presence, as well as capitalize on first-mover advantage to venture into second- and third-tier cities where we see great growth potentials,” Choe said.

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Southeast Asia is looking like the ‘place to be’ in Asia for hotel ownership and development, according to the approximately 250 mostly Asia-based hotel leaders who took BHN’s survey in July 2012.

Burba Hotel Network (BHN) has released the results of its most recent Asia/Pacific hotel investment survey. Southeast Asia is looking like the ‘place to be’ in Asia for hotel ownership and development, according to the approximately 250 mostly Asia-based hotel leaders who took BHN’s survey in July 2012.

The Economy: When asked the question about which direction the respondents thought the economy in various locations (US, Europe, India and China) would be trending in January 2013, the choices were a simple – Up, Down or Flat. Suffice it to say that the optimism of past years (even in China and India) is tempered today.

Each of these locations represents large and important economies – all of which are in periods of adjustment. GDP growth expectations have been lowered in India and China throughout 2012, the US recovery is sluggish, and Europe is still in the grips of working through various national debt crisis problems. Interestingly, in none of these four important economies did the majority of respondents expect upward economic trends in January 2013. India ranked the most positive, with 44 percent believing the economy will be trending upward. For Europe, not surprisingly, this number was only 10 percent. China ranked the second most positive (38 percent) while the US followed at 33 percent. Almost half the respondents expected the economic trend to be ‘flat’ in the US in January 2013.

“What a difference a half-a-year makes! With the lower expectations for economic growth, the most recent BHN survey indicates that the Asia-Pacific hotel investment community has lowered its revenue and capital markets growth expectations substantially from the beginning of this year,” said Jim Burba, President and co-founder of BHN.

Hotel RevPAR: It was no surprise that RevPAR (Revenue per Available Room) growth is expected to be the strongest in SE Asia, with 82% expecting growth, and half of this expecting it to exceed 5% in 2012. Korea is expected to outpace (72% positive RevPAR) both China and India. Australia/New Zealand, China, India and Japan followed SE Asia and Korea in that order. India had the most divergent views, with the largest amount of negative RevPAR growth expectations (20%). Over half the respondents expected Japan RevPAR to be flat or negative in 2012.Where is the New Construction Money for Hotels?

“Construction money availability appears to be following RevPAR expectations. This is a GOOD thing if it turns out to be true, as the opposite (new hotels in downward trending markets) can be problematic, putting it mildly” said Bob Hayes, Vice President and co-founder of BHN.

SE Asia leads the pack with the 82% believing more money will be provided this year, as compared to last year. India, Korea and China follow in that order – roughly similar to the RevPAR expectations.Interestingly, Australia/New Zealand, while showing good RevPAR expectations for the year, is lagging considerably with regards to the expectations of increased money’s being provided for new development. This reality in Australia is, no doubt, a part of Tourism Australia’s recently announced efforts to raise awareness of the opportunities to invest ‘down under’.

Is the Hotel Industry More or Less Lucrative Today? This question measures how people feel about our business today when compared to the past. Is it a better place to be (i.e. more lucrative) than it was in the past. China, Southeast Asia and India all scored very well as being more ‘lucrative’ then in the past, at approximately 60% each, with China leading the way. All the destinations, except Japan, reported ‘As Lucrative’ and ‘More Lucrative’ scores combined of 80% or more – indicative of the optimism about our industry throughout Asia/Pacific.With Japan, nearly 50% of the respondents believed the business opportunities were less lucrative today then 10 years ago.

This is no doubt due to the fact that Japan is a large and mature hotel market, the economic growth has been sluggish when compared to its Asian neighbors, and there are often high barriers to entry with new product.Two other things of interest: When respondents were asked to ‘write in’ a HOT SPOT city for investment in 2013. Jakarta barely edged out Singapore and Yangon as the top three spots in Asia/Pacific – more positive news for Southeast Asia.

The survey also asked “How Important” various regions were for the respondent’s company growth plans. The markets ranked as follows with respect to being viewed as VERY IMPORTANT:
1. China 70%
2. SE Asia 63%
3. India 47%
4. Japan 27%
5. Korea 25%
6. Australia/New Zealand 25%

For more than 20 years, Jim Burba and Bob Hayes have been partners and are co-founders of Burba Hotel Network, the worldwide leader in developing and producing conferences for the hotel and tourism investment community. Since 2000, their events have attracted more than 70,000 international delegates in 22 countries. For more information on Burba Hotel Network, please visit http://www.burba.com

At the Somerset Palace Seoul, a serviced residence in the heart of Seoul, we decided, among various adaptations towards “going green,” to do away with the takeout disposable cups in the Residents’ Lounge.

While there were some minor comments initially, residents quickly agreed that it was for the best since the disposable cups were creating so much garbage. After about a month, no one even notices. Everyone is happy with the reusable mugs and the porcelain coffee cups that we provide. Coffee and tea taste so much better in those.

This is just a small contribution and one of the ways that we at The Ascott Limited try to make our environment cleaner and safer and help save it.

The Earth, our only home, has been sustaining life in a unique cycle of self-renewal for so long that we often take it for granted.

But the Earth is under severe threat. Its resources are being depleted faster than they can be replenished, and it is suffering the ravages of imprudent use and abuse. The only way we can slow down, and perhaps even reverse, the damage that has already been done is to transform our business practices and cultivate a green mindset.

The Earth needs more than just our understanding. It needs us to take action; we need to be responsible for the Earth because quite simply it is the only one we have.

Corporate responsibility

We constantly try to provide valuable information about the environment and its protection to guests because they are the ones who make a difference. Here is some information as well as tips on how you can take simple actions to make your life and our Earth’s better.

Did you know? For every ton of paper you recycle, you save 7,000 gallons of water, 380 gallons of oil, and enough electricity to power an average house for six months.

The energy saved from one recycled aluminum can will operate a television for three hours. The energy saved from recycling one glass bottle will light a 100-watt light bulb for four hours.

Recycling a glass bottle causes 20 percent less air pollution and 50 percent less water pollution than when a new bottle is made from raw materials.

Recycled paper produces 73 percent less air pollution than if it were made from raw materials.

The hospitality industry is among those with a significant environmental footprint, and we believe we have to act responsibly. As the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator with a presence in over 20 countries across more than 70 cities, we believe we are uniquely positioned to play an active role in transforming business practices and employee mindsets to make them more eco-friendly.

Going green is not just an investment for the long term. With more breakthroughs in green technology and practices, and more products available, we can be green while maintaining our characteristic excellent quality of service. In fact, being part of the experience makes us all direct beneficiaries of green creativity and innovation.

Going green also opens up new opportunities to work with other eco-minded associates and clients who would otherwise not have crossed our paths. This widens everyone’s network and increases relationships.

Of course, being green goes perfectly with our ultimate commitment to people. We show we care for people by showing our care for the very Earth we all share.

Green vision

Climate change is happening right now and experts agree that is a phenomenon of global concern. Global warming will affect how we live, work, play and do business.

As the leading international serviced residence owner-operator, we, at Ascott, believe it is our responsibility to do our part to help our hurting Earth wherever we have a presence.

We have set a target to achieve 15 percent savings in water and energy consumption by 2015, using 2008 as the base year. In 2011, Ascott consumed 9 percent less water and energy compared with 2008.

To help us stay focused in implementing our green vision, Ascott has developed a five-point framework that maps out areas that we can focus on to bring about change. A set of tools has also been developed to help us move forward together as a green serviced residence company.

The Five-point Framework lets us track our green efforts and identifies concrete targets that can be measured so we can monitor performance in the following targets:

Ascott will incorporate green elements into all new properties to be built or renovated to create sustainable serviced residences that are both comfortable and resource and energy efficient. This includes the use of sustainable building materials or products that are locally sourced, more energy efficient and more durable, which consequently have less impact on the environment.

At Somerset Palace Seoul, we have installed a rooftop garden that is fascinating from the perspective that it sits high in the heart of downtown Seoul. Enormous efforts were made for the creation of the garden which houses more than 300 species of plants and trees.

Our aim is to contribute to the well-being and success of the people who choose to stay with us when they live and work away from home. By incorporating green elements to our buildings, we are creating sustainable residences that are both comfortable and energy efficient. These translate to cost benefits as well as resources and operational efficiencies.

Ascott has put in place comprehensive environment, health and safety (EHS) procedures across its serviced residences. EHS practices are implemented across our properties to minimize pollution, and health and safety risks.

EHS is a key element in the Five-Point Framework. It is important that the staff embrace these practices in their day-to-day work to minimize pollution and health and safety risks.

Water, energy, paper, waste reduction

Ascott has implemented green practices to promote the conservation of water, energy and paper as well as to reduce waste.

At the Citadines Trafalgar Square London, we have installed “Save-a-Flush” devices in our water cisterns. “Save-a-Flush” is a bag which is placed at the bottom of the cistern beneath the flush float.

Within six hours, the bag swells up to displace one liter of water so that each time the cistern fills, it needs one liter less water. We save one liter of water per flush which usually uses eight liters. The property saves approximately 12.5 per cent of its previous yearly water consumption.

At Somerset JieFangBei Chongqing, we replaced 800 11-volt lamps with four-volt lamps in public areas. This translates to savings of approximately over 3,500 kilowatt hours per month, which can power up to 25 average-sized refrigerators.

The company as a whole is trying to go as paperless as possible in its corporate work. Since 2009, we developed an electronic version of the Ascottour Serviced Residence Directory, and made it available for download online. This has helped us reduce the number of print copies; saving approximately over 8,160kg of paper per year.

Other examples of sustainability initiatives at Ascott’s properties include offering long-stay residents the option not to have daily housekeeping, the installation of water-saving devices in toilet cisterns, the use of recycling bins and providing reusable eco-bags or shopping trolleys which reduce the use of disposable grocery bags.

Stakeholder engagement

An Ascott Earth Day is held every first Friday of the month at Ascott’s offices and properties worldwide. On this day, our staff and residents are encouraged to dress down while the air-conditioning temperature at the offices and properties is turned down to conserve energy. Similarly, staff and residents in temperate countries are encouraged to wear warmer clothing as the heater temperature is reduced. Ascott’s offices and properties will also switch off beacon and other non-essential lights for 10 hours from 8 p.m.

And how does this work out at the ground “roots” level, you may ask? Let’s revisit our Somerset Palace Seoul and look at some of the green practices we have in place:

– Switching over from regular copy paper to “Forest Stewardship Council” paper. This is not only a commitment to preserving renewable paper sources but also a is source of cost reduction in paper usage

– Promoting electricity efficiency among residents through voluntary programs and competitions, such as: “I am switched off,” whereby residents are encouraged to go green by ensuring all AC units are switched off, when not in the room. In return, a monthly winner is recognized for their efforts, and wins a special gift. Another initiative is for residents to “opt out” of daily towel replenishment and housekeeping cleaning services, voluntarily.

– Installation of high grade eco-friendly amenities, such as shower gels and shampoos from wall-mounted dispensers instead of “little bottles.”

– Implementing the use of eco-friendly housekeeping products, such as water-based non-hazardous and environmenfriendly degreasing and deodorizing enzyme liquids for treatment of drainage pipes and waste water.

– Use of eco-friendly deodorization products, which enables us to clean and clear even the most stubborn odor- related issues in an apartment – effectively and quickly

These are just a handful of initiatives to showcase, and we assure you there’s definitely more to come – it will be just a matter of time before more make this list.

One of the most important necessities in our daily lives is food.

We would not be able to survive without it. And since we consume it every day, it is also the major source of waste. Excess trimmings of meat and vegetables, cooked or uncooked leftovers, fruits, and all of the edible matters that are usually found in our kitchens come in just small quantities.

Hotels, restaurants, food chains, food factories, and big establishments have bigger contributions to add to the mix.

Imagine how much food waste we produce in just a day, and how we produce such each and every day. It just adds up and continuously adding up. Where does all of that go?

Every bit of waste is not worthless if we only realize how we can still make use of it and how it can actually help our environment perform the cycle of life.

Composting is a way of nature to recycle all the biodegradable materials.

It takes place every day of our lives but to shorten the process, we must contribute our efforts to make sure it produces ideal results. The whole society can benefit from that.

Composting food wastes is more extensive than composting other organic matters. We must mix the appropriate ingredient to produce healthy soil good for planting.

Jean Keijdener assumed the role of country manager for the Singapore-based Ascott Limited and general manager for the Somerset Palace Seoul in July 2008. Since his appointment, Keijdener has been active in the impletation of the company’s environmentfriendly program under his responsibility.

 

 

I wanted to find information about the life in Korea and I found this article written by Jalel Marti Sager (http://www.transitionsabroad.com)

It’s very interesting even if we don’t speak about serviced apartment for rent in Korea…

Working in South Korea willchange your life. This is guaranteed. Exactly how it does this depends largely on how you begin. There are three keys to being a successful “native speaker,” as you will be known. The first is to find the right working and living conditions. The second is to understand Korean culture and attitudes toward work. The third, and probably most important, is your own attitude.

South Korea is a country of rugged and unsurpassed beauty, covered with mountains, surrounded by seas. Its people are some of the warmest and most generous on earth. Its culture is ancient, refined, and filled with vitality. There is little crime here—cars are left untended and running, house doors unlocked, and goods out in the open. For a westerner, the way Koreans trust one another seems at first naive, almost childlike. Soon one realizes this is the way things should be. Spending a year in a country with its social fabric still largely intact is endlessly refreshing.

As far as work goes, it is plentiful—South Korea’s citizens place a (sometimes disturbingly) high value on English acumen. As a result there is a booming expat community in every major city. With a college degree you are virtually assured of a position. Living is cheap, and money can be saved without a great sacrifice in one’s quality of life. But in the end it is the secondary benefits that make teaching in Korea a wonderful deal.

Essential Questions for a Good Start

Where?

The bulk of English teaching jobs are in hagwons, private language institutes. Schools and colleges also hire native teachers, but these posts often go to people who’ve done a stint in a hagwon or are in the country already. College jobs are plums. The public school positions vary—most offer more time off than hagwons (school vacations), but there is little difference in pay. Generally, the higher the grade level, the better the job. Those with previous teaching experience, TOESL certificates, or the ability to get to Korea on their own (without travel expenses) may want to look into schools and colleges.

Think of Seoul as New York, Busan as San Francisco, smaller cities like Daegu, Incheon, and Kwangju as Seattle or a milder upstate New York. The rural areas are like…rural areas. Expect less pollution, more cultural immersion, and fewer native speakers to consort with.

Who?

Something else to consider: the age of prospective students. The younger the children are, the more your vocal cords will be strained. Kids are kids—though they are more rambunctious than disrespectful. There is some “police” work to be done in a large classroom, and the language gap can make this especially difficult. Of course, with children, the emotional rewards can be greater. I taught many kindergarten-age classes and grew to love each student. If you enjoy kids, or you feel your ability to teach English might be less than spectacular, go young. If you want quieter, less chaotic days (or have a weak larynx) request adult classes.

How?

Many Korean schools and hagwons use recruiters to secure their foreign workforce. It doesn’t really make a difference whether you are hired directly by a company or through a headhunter—in fact, it can be a blessing to have a third party involved. Usually they will mediate any disputes. What’s more, school directors are often harried. If you’re smart or neurotic or both, a lot of questions will occur to you during the hiring process. While it’s the full-time job of the recruiter to answer these, a busy school employee will have much less time for niggling questions about the layout of your apartment.

Either way, you want to be sure about your situation. Ask for the email address of a native teacher currently employed by your potential bosses. This should be no problem. If it is, you might wonder why. Google the institute or school. If there is a lot of negative feedback on Internet bulletin boards (see Wonderland Institute), you might look elsewhere. These bulletin boards can be wonderful sources of information in general (see links below). Scour them.

Once you’ve engaged with an employer, they will walk you through the bureaucratic side of things. This usually involves mailing copies of passport and university transcript and degree, some back and forth with the Korean consulate in Washington or New York for the E-2 teaching visa, etc. This takes a few weeks and provides a good opportunity to feel out your prospective job. You will be sent a contract at some point. Read it closely, ask questions, and photocopy it.

Your travel to and from South Korea will always be paid for. Once you get there, you’ll have the choice of going half and half with your employer on medical insurance, or doing the same on each doctor’s visit as it arises. Medicine is generally very cheap. Most foreigners, however, get sick at least once. If your constitution is hardy, you might want to pay as you go. Otherwise, the insurance option is your best bet. Taxes should be about 3.5 percent of your monthly income. (Note: if your employer is not paying the tax office, but still deducting from your salary, you are entitled to get it all back at the end.)

Salary and accommodation are the two biggest concerns. Two million Korean Won ($1,733.00) is the benchmark for a 30-hour teaching week. This is often slightly negotiable, but if you ask for more, you might offer to work an extra hour or two a week. There’s no need to be greedy, however. The average family of four in South Korea lives on less than what you’ll make. Unless you plan to stock up on electronics or be a nightclub high-roller, you’ll easily sock away half your salary each month. With the slightest frugality, you can save upwards of 75 percent. (Warning: a side trip to Japan for more than a weekend will eat up a month’s salary, easy. Prices in Nippon are ten times those in South Korea. China and Thailand are much more economical.)

Apartments in Korea can be nice. Mine was a small studio in a brand-new building. It had a balcony, sliding glass door, and ample light. Some employers will give you the choice of sharing an apartment or living alone. If you share, chances are you will get a larger space. Living alone, however, may be a better bet, else you may end up living with a couple or someone unpleasant. Korea is a very safe country, so the security of living alone should not be a concern. If you liked the way you lived in college, or if you have no choice, ask for any potential roommate’s email addresses, if possible. The apartments will be furnished (often a TV, VCR, microwave, and even a rice cooker are included). There are horror stories in this realm, of course. Question your correspondents closely on living arrangements. Proximity to the school is important. As is your neighborhood (industrial? commercial? residential?). Will you be living in one of Korea’s ubiquitous high-rise concrete blocks? (Likely, if you share.) Or in a smaller building of studios (“one-room apartuh,” as they are known).

You may request some email pictures of your apartment. Not everyone will do this, though. In the end, where you live is often a matter of luck. The more questions you ask, the more you are able to read into the answers, the less a leap of faith this area will be. But it will always be a leap of faith. Which leads us to…

Why?

Going to South Korea simply to make money is a bad idea. You will not like it. There will be too many bumps. For instance: South Koreans work harder than westerners and will expect more from you. Yes, it says the job is 30 hours weekly. But that is solid classroom time. Planning is done on one’s own time (which, depending on your ability and enthusiasm, ranges from twenty minutes to more than an hour a day). If full-time, you’ll usually spend from 35-40 hours a week at your school. The Korean work week is 55 hours, so they will have little sympathy if you complain about this. They also get little time off. If you are constantly sick or absent, you will not be well-regarded. This will lead to problems. In a hagwon, expect two weeks of vacation time a year, mostly unpaid. If you don’t mind hard work, on the other hand, and hold up your end of the bargain, you will usually be rewarded by your boss (half-days off, banquets, respect).

There are other obstacles. You might get a bad apartment. You might hate the food. (It is truly delicious, but if you’re not an adventurous eater, or if you don’t like bold and spicy food, think twice about going to Korea at all.) You will be homesick on holidays (both Korean ones and your own). The language is difficult (though not the writing system: learning its basics takes a week or two).

If you come with an open mind – to learn a new culture – these things can be handled without too much problem. If you come, however, to make easy money, and hold up your culture as the end-all of civilization, if you complain and are inflexible, these issues will pile up and bury you. You will be miserable, as will your Korean co-workers, your boss, and most people you talk to. This seems like the simplest thing in the world, but nevertheless countless foreign teachers I met in Korea suffered from a cultural superiority complex, in which they compared every situation they came across in Korea to “how things are at home,” criticized everything, and never stopped to think that different doesn’t always mean inferior. They were guests in the country, but acted as if it should be more like a quaint suburb of the West rather than a 2,000-year-old civilization with its own norms, rewards, and penalties.

Not to say the Koreans aren’t modern. Their technology is cutting edge. You can rent DVD rooms (little personal movie theaters), sing with your friends in private karaoke chambers, or play online games at the high-speed Internet cafes one finds every five steps in Korean cities. They are quickly assimilating many ways of the West, and their cities are concrete warrens of neon-lit restaurants and shops. Over the past 15 years they have become fully accustomed to foreign teachers, and in many cases go out of their way to accommodate them.

Basically it boils down to outlook. If you see the world as a place rapidly (and rightly) developing toward western norms, with yourself as favored son or daughter, you will not be happy in Korea. If you come to learn, to grow, and to experience a way unimaginably rich, with the trappings of modernity wrapped around an ancient core, if you act as a respectful guest, a temporary citizen of Korea, neither better nor worse than a native one, then South Korea will reveal itself for what it is: a jewel in the heart of Asia; a land of song, of incense-scented temples, misty mountains and calm seas, of people with huge hearts and keen minds. You will be rewarded and enriched, and carry this country in your own heart for the rest of your life.

Warning:

Though Koreans are generally less cynical than westerners, they are surely not saints. Like anywhere else, you can fall into a shady situation, find a bad boss, or get scammed. Often you’ll be able to get some sense of who you’ll be working for during the hiring process. However, if you arrive in Korea and find things are not as they should be (this is not the norm), you have two options: there is a foreign worker complaint board, and there is the much simpler “midnight run,” in which you secretly gather up your belongings and high-tail it back home. I do not recommend this last option except in the most extreme circumstances, meaning those in which your employer has lied or been otherwise duplicitous. This method loses you the money it costs to get back home (unless you hide out in a yogwon [cheap hotel] or another city and find another job), and it costs your employer your airfare. It is ethical only in cases of gross misrepresentation—not if you don’t like the food or don’t like teaching. If you prepare well for your adventure, understand what you’re getting into, and screen your employer carefully, there should be no need for this kind of thing.