A world away, without leaving Korea

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A world away, without leaving Korea


It’s a tempting idea to spend your vacation surrounded by lush tropical gardens in while sipping a cool cocktail. But life is all about compromise. If you are an average office worker in Korea, chances are you might have less than one week of vacation all year.
If that’s the case, there are better options for your precious holidays than suffering jetlag after flying 12 hours, especially if you wish to simply relax.
Sometimes, reading your favorite novel while lazing on freshly-changed linen in a Korean resort will be enough to soothe your exhaustion.
You can swim, golf, walk around barefoot, hang out at a poolside barbecue, enjoy the summer breeze or whatever you want for the day and be home again the next morning.
Sounds tempting? Here are some of Korea’s resort options.

Damyang Resort (061) 380-5000 ― This resort opened in 2003 in the small county of Damyang in South Jeolla Province ― an area known for its local bamboo. But it wasn’t until news spread that the place was frequently visited by former President Kim Dae-jung that the resort began attracting a tasteful crowd of vacationers.
Indeed, on a recent weekend the resort was surrounded by security guards wearing badges from the Blue House, and the rooms unavailable for all but select “VIPs.”
Damyang Resort describes itself as “a bamboo leisure town.” That’s an adequate description for the four-story building that has tall, stylish bamboo sprouting in its center. The place is often mistaken for an upmarket “love hotel,” but its exterior and rooms are of four-star standard. It has a vast arboretum, a lake, a jogging path and a swimming pool, plus one of the best spas in the country.
In addition to spacious tubs in every room, the spa offers mineral baths at 34 to 38 degrees centigrade (93-100 fahrenheit) with bamboo leaves, pine needles, green tea, mugwort and other natural ingredients wrapped in cotton cloths and added.
The resort has karaoke rooms, but as far as entertainment facilities are concerned, that’s pretty much it. It does, however, have a massage room, a restaurant and a skin-care salon.

Pinx Resort (064) 793-7001 ― This quiet golf resort on Jeju Island was hailed by “Golf Digest” last year as one of the world’s 100 greatest golf courses.
Opened in 2001 by a Korean-Japanese owner of a bento (Japanese-style lunchbox) chain in Japan, the place is attached to the Podo Hotel, a small, single-story boutique hotel designed by Itami Jun.
Architecturally, the hotel is exquisitely designed, down to the smallest details. (It was featured as the architect’s main body of work in an exhibit last summer at the Guimet Musee National des Arts Asiatiques in Paris.) Viewed from above, the hotel is shaped like a bunch of grapes. The number plates on each suite are made of ceramic tiles fired from local clay and the garden is decorated with volcanic rocks that resemble local houses.
Even in terms of management, the hotel has recognized its philosophy of remaining truly local and only hires staff raised on the island. That is even true of the general manager, who used to be a ranch-head of the farm located here before the resort was built.
The golf course made news by installing work by a local sculptor as tee markers. It is a full 18-hole course, but larger greens can be found elsewhere on the island.
The hotel has only 22 rooms. The deluxe rooms feature hinoki bathtubs, a traditional Japanese wooden tub which exude a deep scent, making the bathing experience almost spiritual.)
The only drawback is the price for non-members. Expect a hefty burden on your next credit card bill. But for an extravagant experience, this is definitely worth checking out. The architect, whose work often treads the fine boundary between art and architecture, definitely knows how to use space to please guests.

ShineVille Luxury Resort (064) 780-7000 ― This is one of the most luxurious resorts in Korea. It is familiar to many Koreans as the setting of the hit TV drama “All In.” The Jeju Island resort offers luxury suites and a fine spa with panoramic views of the ocean and is a haven for honeymooners.
The resort is divided into two compounds: RoyalVille is the resort’s version of suite rooms in a villa style. ShineVille is in residential units; both offer delightful views of the sea. All face the 16-hole mini golf course, a swimming pool opening to the shore and a private garden with palm trees.
The resort offers all kinds of water sports and leisure activities. There is an exclusive marina on its premises, offering sea activities such as fishing, yachting, skin and scuba diving. During summer, the resort offers boat fishing trips leaving from in front of the resort. A two-hour boat trip, including fishing gear and bait, costs 150,000 won.

Mauna Ocean Resort (054) 7400-500 ― Mauna is a golf resort in Gyeongju province but is also an increasingly popular destination for visitors to Ulsan. The resort offers views of the East Sea and the golf course. The rooms are in the European style and ideal for family visits. During summer, the resort offers special golf packages.

Hotel Mayfield (02) 6090 5602 ― The Hotel Mayfield is an urban resort near Gimpo Airport built in the style of a European villa. It has a spacious lawn where competitors in the last Miss Korea beauty pageant were photographed for the swimsuit section; an indoor driving range, a swimming pool, squash gym and a fitness center. Its Italian restaurant La Festa is considered by Korean business clients as among the best Italian restaurants in town for taking VIP guests, according to a local gourmet magazine. The chef uses a variety of fresh herbs he grows in a garden outside the restaurant.
One of the advantages of an urban resort is that it has all sorts of entertainment nearby, including shopping facilities and movie theaters.
During the World Cup period, the hotel is selling “football room packages” that offers wine and tapas served in a room decorated with uniforms, balls and souvenirs donated by players of Korea’s National Football team.

by Park soo-mee
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