As we were nearing Seoul, I decided to watch a Korean film offered on our flight to get a sense of the culture. Despite not always noticing such details, I saw that it was produced by Lotte Entertainment, probably biased by the knowledge that we would be hosted at Lotte Hotels by Lotte chairman and CBS ’81 grad, Mr. Dong-Bin Shin. I had not previously realized the importance in Korea of Mr. Shin, nicknamed by our group as “Mr. Lotte”.
A country run by cheabols, Lotte Group’s presence could be felt everywhere in the country, as perhaps the biggest cheabol focusing on domestic consumer sales. Landing at Incheon Airport, one cannot miss the Lotte Duty Free. On the way to the hotel, you can see Lotteria food courts, Lotte Mart shopping malls, and even stores of the American Seven-Eleven and Krispy Kreme chains that have been (assumingly) licensed to Lotte Group in Korea.
There are three Lotte hotels in Seoul, and Mr. Shin generously offers to host the CBS Chazen tour for free at the most prestigious of them. And the hotel staff takes every effort to make our stay enjoyable. We were greeted at the hotel by a team specifically dedicated to helping us check-in easily and seamlessly. In our rooms, blue-and-white banners welcoming our CBS 2012 tour covered the beds.
We received WiFi internet access, entrance to an amazing “happy hour” lounge that serves delicious snacks and well-drinks in the evenings, had our breakfast served in the same premium-members lounge, and access to a gym, pool and spa, all free-of-charge. The down-side of the trip is that I doubt I’ll ever receive this type of service again in my life, so I hope this does not anchor my future expectations too high…