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I’m staying at the newly opened Lotte Hotel Guam overlooking the bluest, most transparent sea you ever saw. This is the Pacific at its purest. A perfect, pristine scene.
It’s a busy work day for me on our weekly e-Zine so I’m taking room service (a sensationally good Seafood Ramen with Shrimp and Clam, washed down with a cold Asahi Dry) before the real purpose of my visit kicks in.
As mentioned in my last Blog, I’m here as the only representative of the travel retail media to attend the Grand Opening of Lotte Duty Free’s new duty free, specialist and luxury retail offer at AB Won Pat International Airport. This follows a US$17 million makeover since the Korean travel retail contentiously won the contract ahead of long-time incumbent DFS Group.
Today’s a rest day (or in my case a working day spent, alas, viewing that Pacific rather than being in it) before an informal dinner tonight and all the celebrations tomorrow. I’m told by non-Lotte sources today that the stores are looking very good indeed and offer quite a point of difference to many smaller airports’ retail offers. I’ll know soon enough.
DFS, of course, still enjoys a very strong presence here in Guam, with its luxurious Tumon Bay T Galleria. And as the photos below show, it’s not missing a single trick in publicising that presence from the moment the tourist enters the country (all pictures taken just after landing at AB Won Pat International Group). On the rare occasions in its history when it has lost an airport contract in a market where it also enjoys a downtown presence, DFS has historically fought very hard to offset any impact with an aggressive campaign to promote its off-airport store and that’s certainly the case here.
It will be interesting to see whether Lotte, in time, tries to compete downtown also. That’s certainly one of the questions I’ll be asking Lotte Duty Free CEO Hong-Kyun (HK) Lee (below), who arrives in Guam today.
Mr Lee is one of South Korea’s most experienced travel retail executives, having worked for the company since 1982. He knows very well the importance of this opening to Lotte’s international ambitions. It may be a comparitively small airport currently generating sales of under US$40 million but it’s also a showcase for retailing to Japanese, Korean and Chinese passengers and Lee and Lotte want to portray a high-class proposition here.
Watch this space, as indeed I will watching Lotte Duty Free’s – with, if you’ll forgive me, the odd glimpse at the Pacific waves below.