Innovative Minds Part VII: Lotte Hotel ventures into the heart of New York

LOTTE New York Palace Hotel

At 455 Maddison Avenue sits one of New York’s most iconic buildings, the LOTTE New York Palace Hotel. On September 16, 2015, Lotte have officially unveiled the LOTTE New York Palace after taking over the historic New York Palace Hotel. The Lotte Group has recently purchased the New York Palace hotel as the Group looks to expand into the overseas hotel business. The deal reflects the plans of Shin Dong-Bin, chairman of both the Asia Society Korea Center and the Lotte Group, to grow the company into one of Asia’s top three brands. Lotte currently operates ten hotels in Korea and five overseas including opening and buying hotels in Russia, Vietnam, Uzbekistan and Guam. It is also in the process of building hotels in China and Myanmar and is aiming to acquire around 40 hotels worldwide by 2018, including a new boutique hotel in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Asia Society Korea Center met with Chairman Shin to talk about this historic purchase.

What are some reasons for you wanting to expand into the global hotel market?
We have been operating Lotte Hotels and Resorts in Korea since the opening of our first hotel, Lotte Hotel Seoul, in 1979. After years of developing our expertise, we decided to open our first overseas chain, Lotte Hotel Moscow, which opened in 2010 and which amazingly was also voted best Moscow hotel in 2015. It makes sense for us to want to expand and improve the hotel industry worldwide.

What opportunities do you think the American market will give you?
As we will be the first Korean brand hotel to operate on the main street of Manhattan in New York City, we see a lot of opportunity. We see this as a chance for Lotte to strengthen its competitiveness in the global market based on the recognition of its hotel brand. We are a world leader in luxury accommodation and what better place to bring this to than New York? We are confident in our ability to deliver a quality product and look forward to showcasing this to the people of America.

Why did Lotte decide to choose The Palace Hotel?
For me, history and tradition are very important. The Palace Hotel possesses a prestigious heritage dating back to 1882, and this was a factor in why I was determined to acquire the hotel for Lotte. The hotel was built as the mansion of the well-known railroad financier to Henry Villard and has long been recognized as an important New York City landmark. The building has underwent a lot of transformation and renovation since its erection, but has always maintained its tradition in blending into the New York landscape. In this aspect I see similarities to Lotte Hotel Seoul; a modern contemporary hotel situated in the historical downtown of the city. It made sense for us to stick with tradition and purchase a property of significant cultural heritage. 

What does Lotte hope to accomplish with The Palace Hotel?
The New York Palace Hotel has played host to a long list of foreign leaders and dignitaries throughout the years and has forged a reputation as being one of the top luxury hotels in the city. Lotte Hotel Group has a very similar reputation and we believe that we can use our experience in the hospitality industry to strengthen and develop the New York hotel. We have been continuously looking for overseas opportunities with symbolic significance and we believe that we have found one in New York. We are excited to operate a premium luxury hotel in the heart of an amazing city.