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You get many special days in travel retail. And then you get ones like yesterday…
This Blog comes to you from The Moodie Report Interim Bureau in Seoul, where I’m battling to articulate the wondrous sights from 24 hours ago.
I ‘met’ Korean acting and musical celebrities Park Shin Hye and KS Jang (below). I took a trip not in a yellow but a red submarine around one of the world’s highest buildings. And I got up close and personal with the biggest rubber duck you ever saw.
Welcome to Lotte World Tower, maybe the most amazing place on the travel retail planet.
This astonishing building (123 storeys, 555m high when finally completed) houses some 428,934sq m of retail, leisure and entertainment facilities, including an elegant two-storey, 10,990sq m Lotte Duty Free store, featuring some of the best visual merchandising you’ll ever see in the channel.
[Virtual encounters with Korean acting idols Park Shin Hye, top, and KS Jang]
All that was captured in Melody Ng’s excellent on location report from the 21 October inauguration. What such formal ceremonies do not capture is the dazzling exuberance and pizazz of the project; its enthralling level of consumer engagement; and its thrilling quality of execution.
The duty free offer and environment oozes class and that, together with what’s around it, makes this one of travel retail’s most compelling 21st century case studies.
Think about the very best shopping mall in your city or country. Double the quality factor by two. Triple the excitement. Quadruple the consumer engagement. And still, I suspect, none will come even close to that of this new facility.
There’s so very, very much to talk about at Lotte World Tower. It is a tourist destination extraordinaire. Chinese and Japanese travellers buy day passes here and you can see why. Yesterday I spent an exhilarating (but time-wise wholly inadequate) hour walking the duty free store and the wider facilities with one of Lotte’s most respected and long-serving executives, JS Kim (Managing Director Merchandising Division 1 – Merchandising Strategy, Luxury Fashion, Perfume & Cosmetics), pictured below, and his colleagues Steve Park and Seung Min Do.
[That’ll do nicely: Selecting a bottle of Matua Lands & Legends Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand to go with lunch]
[Besides a magnificent array of wines, Peck at Lotte World Towers features the most brilliant interactive wine guide I have seen]
[The duty free store makes brilliant use of pillars to feature stunning digital imagery]
[Above and below: Lotte has dedicated a huge amount of space to Korean products, red-hot with Chinese consumers, including the best-seller Sulwhasoo]
There is so much to take in that I plan to take a more leisurely personal tour there today. I want to appreciate fully the incredible sight of a giant digital screen (the iPhone photo below hardly does it justice) that floats improbably down from the roof, carrying a series of changing (often beautiful) images and messages while dissolving into different shapes.
I want to revisit Star Avenue (below), Lotte Duty Free’s brilliantly interactive homage to the dual phenomenon of K-Pop (Korean pop music) and Hallyu (the so-called Korean wave that began with the popularity of Korean television drama in China).
[Place your hand into any of the prints in front of you and the named star appears from behind a curtain on the screen above]
[Above and below: I enter the ‘Red Submarine’ where I’m taken on a whirlwind flying tour with actress Park Shin Hye and actor Lee Min Ho, both hot names, especially with Chinese consumers]
I want to dine (as we did yesterday) again at the lovely Peck restaurant where guests are surrounded on all sides by a giant glass wine cellar, in which resides a thrilling range of great wines from around the world.
I want to study in greater detail the Rubber Duck project – centered on a 300 kilogram, 54-foot tall duck designed by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman that floats surreally in the adjacent Seokchon Lake. This art installation has found its way to several world cities including Amsterdam, Auckland, Osaka, Sydney, Sao Paulo, Hong Kong and Pittsburgh since 2007 in a bid to ‘heal wounds’ and ‘relieve tension’ wherever it goes. It sure worked on me.
[Auckland in my home country of New Zealand is just one of the many cities the duck has visited]
Finally, I just want to take in at my leisure the exquisite interior design and merchandising of the whole complex, from a department store that actually transcends such a bland title to a duty free offer of unquestionable excellence. If Lotte could bring just some of this magic to the more constrained environment of an airport (and it is trying to do just that), the result would be something special.
Hey I might even stop off for a viewing at the Lotte Cinema in the building; spend some time inside the giant aquarium; visit the world’s largest indoor theme park; and last, but a million miles from least, take in the majestic views of Hangang River, Seokchon Lake and of the great sprawling city of Seoul.
As I write from my 17th floor Interim Glass Bureau at the Grand Hyatt hotel, I am gazing over my laptop at beautiful Mount Namsan, a swathe of orange and gold in the beauty that is the Korean capital in Autumn. I’m listening to the wonderful piano work of Maria Paloma, her softness of touch a sublime and fitting accompaniment to the visual feast in front of me. All tension is gone and there’s not a giant rubber duck in sight.