A Resort for All Seasons
The Berjaya Jeju Resort gets ready to start building a landmark Jeju Island resort
Balmy weather, sandy beaches, blue skies. That’s what you get in Bali, Phuket - typical resort destinations. And yes, Jeju Island is also balmy, sandy and blue. But the southern Korean island features three distinct seasons in addition to summer. And it is this year-round potential that drew the Berjaya Group, a Malaysian developer, to Jeju five years ago.
“In terms of perfect natural environment, Jeju has it all,” said Tang Vui Woon, project director of the Berjaya Jeju Resort. “Therefore Jeju has great potential to be developed into a world-class resort destination.”
The largest integrated resort development in Jeju history, the Berjaya Jeju Resort will begin phase one of construction before the end of the year. The project is being developed by the Berjaya Jeju Resort Limited (BJR), a joint venture between the Berjaya Group (72.6 percent of the equity stake), Jeju Free International City Development Centre (19 percent), a Korean government agency, and a U.S. investment holding company called Swan Street Partners (8.4 percent). The development makes Berjaya Jeju’s largest foreign investor and is forecast to generate 5,000 jobs.
Officially begun in 2008 and designated a Foreign Investment Zone in 2009, the $2.4 billion development in Jeju’s Yerae-dong is scheduled to be complete in 2017. Facilities will include a 1,531-unit condominium, 3 hotels, a full-fledged casino, what will be Jeju’s largest shopping mall and a medical center, spa and museum.
Tang’s team is working now to attract a casino operator from the United States and a doctor from Seoul’s Gangnam area to open a cosmetic surgery hospital in the 744,207m2 resort town.
“With more variety, Jeju will be able to attract recurring tourists,” Tang said.
The new resort could help increase the international appeal of Jeju, an island not widely known as an international tourist destination due to a lack of international infrastructure and brands despite its great influx of tourists, he added.
The BJR aims to draw the most tourists from China, considering the recent increase in Chinese investment in Jeju, as well as from Southeast Asia, home to the Berjaya Group, which is known for its Malaysian island resorts.
The BJR’s journey has not been without its challenges. Uncertainties caused by Korea’s property market led the developer to put the project on hold from 2009 to early 2010. In June of 2011, in an effort to find the right marketing strategy, the BJR appointed a creative marketing project manager to help redo the resort’s entire master plan, which was approved last May. Compared to the previous master plan, the new plan better harmonizes the resort town with Jeju’s natural environment and accommodates dynamic market needs.
One of the seven natural wonders of the world, Jeju Island is home to a UNESCO World Natural Heritage and has preserved well its rich biodiversity. This is why the BJR wanted a new plan that centers around Jeju’s natural offerings and that better accommodates locals less supportive of the development and in favor of keeping things more natural.
“Ever since we revealed our new master plan, we have been receiving positive response and opinion from local and abroad,” said Tang.
The project director and his staff are now focused on starting phase one of construction and opening a BJR promotion center near Seoul’s Gangnam Station this month.
“Our long-term goal is to develop a world-class resort which will position Jeju in the international tourist map,” Tang said.