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For a luxury getaway, look no further than Busan : Korea’s second city is home to opulent hotels and unique attractions

Aug 30,2017
The outdoor lounge bar at Hilton Busan in Gijang, eastern Busan, has become the hot luxury travel destination for travelers after it opened its doors in July. [HILTON BUSAN]
Paradise Busan renovated its hotel recently, building the BMW Kids Driving Zone to entertain young guests and give moms a chance to take their attention away from the kids for a while. The hotel also renovated its dining area where diners can simply step outside to a terrace connected to the beach. [LEE SUN-MIN, PARADISE BUSAN]
Yeongdo District in southwestern Busan, which hasn’t attracted many travelers in the past due to its residential vibe, is now the home to trendy cafes like Carin. The cafe has expert baristas from overseas, top, and features a rooftop terrace with a view of the Busan Harbor Bridge. [LEE SUN-MIN]
BUSAN - As much as people want to get out of the country on vacation to enjoy something different and luxurious that they don’t get to enjoy much everyday, they also long for cutting travel time short and finding that luxury experience within the country.

While Seoul has seen more business hotels opening in recent years, Busan, on the other hand, has become an attractive city for companies and entrepreneurs specializing in luxury experiences.

The latest high-end addition to the city’s array of lodging options arrived July in Gijang, located in the eastern part of the city. Hilton adds its name to the list of big-name brand hotels opening locations in the harbor city, but its quiet coastal location is away from the crowded beaches and skyscrapers of Haeundae Beach. The definition of luxury here is ultimate relaxation, and guests are never too far away from the calming sounds of small waves crashing against the rocky coastline. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, guests can easily find themselves feeling that they have booked a stay at a secluded resort that is more often found in a coastal town on Jeju Island. Visitors can choose to take a dip among the hotel’s four pools; one open to all guests, one reserved for adults only, one kept at a warmer temperature, or a rooftop pool reserved for guests staying in the hotel’s larger suites.

The hotel has its own shopping and dining arcade available to guests looking to do more than swimming or walking around the hotel grounds. Popular Seoul restaurant Volpino opened a branch at the hotel, and Italian coffee shop San T’eustachio has opened its first shop in Korea in the arcade. A bakery inside the hotel has many specialty goodies that are only available at the Hilton Busan, such as bread made with seaweed or madeleines garnished with what looks to be a sailboat. A bookstore stocker with about 20,000 books gives guests a chance to enjoy the luxury of having a variety of literature close by without needing to carry heavy books in their suitcases.

Above all, the most eye-catching features of the hotel are the curvy ceilings seen throughout the property. When guests walk into the hotel’s lobby, they cannot miss the wavy motifs mimicking the waves of the ocean. The view gets even better in the hotel’s lounge and bar, where the first sight they will see is a decorative pool reflecting the curvy white accents that surround the space.

The venue is easily accessible for international travelers from nearby countries like Japan, China and Southeast Asia looking to hold special gatherings or just a simple vacation.

For those looking for a piece of luxury close to the always active Haeundae Beach, Paradise Hotel Busan has renovated some of its rooms, a dining hall, and has recently introduced exciting new facilities like the BMW Kids Driving Zone.

Nestled in the busiest part of the town, the hotel provides a peaceful escape inside its doors to overnight guests. One of the most popular features here are the outdoor pools filled with warm water. The area is filled with hot tubs of different sizes and temperatures. However, for those looking for a long swim, the outdoor infinity pool is the best choice. The pool is usually less crowded after dark and has a cafe area where guests can pick up simple drinks and snacks and enjoy themselves on the sunbeds nearby.

For those looking for unique luxury experiences outside of the hotel, Busan is well equipped as well. Busan opened a cable car service that takes riders over the ocean starting at Songdo Beach in June, and it has quickly become one of the must-visit destinations among both locals and visitors. Songdo Beach opened in 1913 and was the first public beach in Korea. Over time, the beach saw its popularity fall with the rise of Haeundae Beach. The cable car is expected to attract crowds once again.

Many come to check out the views both during the day and the night as the ride operates until after dark. Check the weather before visiting, as the ride may be closed under some harsh conditions. For more information about cable cars, visit www.busanaircruise.co.kr

Another kind of luxury can be found at the newly opened coffee shops in Yeongdo District, a part of the city that is growing quickly. Filled with homes, the district is not thought of as a destination for locals or travelers from outside the city, but two manufacturing companies are providing a new energy to the district with their newly opened coffee shops.

Carin, a local sunglass maker, not only built its show room in the same building as its coffee shop of the same name, but also set up display rooms underground filled with Nordic-style furniture and interior decorations the company’s president has collected. The building is a perfect spot to get a good view of the harbor and the Busan Harbor Bridge. Customers who purchase a pair of sunglasses are given two free cups of coffee.

The brand was a part of the design process of the building, which is influenced by scenes and the ambience of Gothenburg, Sweden - a city that the company’s president thinks is similar to Yeongdo in Busan. Two of the baristas at the cafe are from Gothenburg, giving the coffee shop an international feel.

Sinki Industry, which makes steel products for homes and offices, was the first to open a cafe in Yeongdo. The building that houses the cafe is made out of large shipping containers, and a view of Busan Harbor Bridge can also be seen from the top. The company has a store next to it and sells many items decorated with popular cartoon characters.

BY LEE SUN-MIN [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]