by Michael J. Shapiro | August 01, 2011

With a 30 percent increase in international meetings, Seoul is growing as a popular destination for groups. According to the Union of International Associations, the number of international meetings held in the South Korean capital jumped from 151 in 2009 to 201 in 2010, pushing Seoul into the fifth spot worldwide, four spaces higher than the previous year.

New infrastructure, including new hotels and event facilities, are poised to draw more international meetings in the near future.

Hotel update A 20-minute subway ride from Gimpo International Airport, the 201-room Best Western Premier Guro Hotel opened in December 2010. The new-build property features one meeting room for up to 90 people, a fitness center, a bar/lounge, and a restaurant featuring both Korean and Western cuisine.

Poised to open this October, the Stanford Hotel Seoul is 15 minutes from downtown, 20 minutes from the 590,000-square-foot Korea International Exhibition Center, 45 minutes from the 4.8 million-square-foot Convention and Exhibition Center and 30 minutes from Incheon International Airport. The 239-room property features a fitness center, a pool, several food-and-beverage outlets and nine function spaces, the largest of which seats 350.

Slated to open next year, the Conrad Seoul complex will feature a 446-room hotel, a cinema and a luxury shopping mall. The hotel will offer a pool, a fitness center, a spa, several restaurants and a 1,076-square-foot conference hall.

Also in 2012, the Lotte City Hotel Gimpo, near Gimpo International Airport, will open with 200 guest rooms and two meeting rooms.

Venue highlights Set in the Han River, the Floating Island is a 99,114-square-foot man-made island complex expected to open in September. The site consists of three islets -- or small islands -- with walkways for pedestrian access to the shoreline. The largest islet, Vista, has a 7,663-square-foot convention hall, capable of accommodating up to 570 people. Viva, the second largest islet, offers a 10,882-square-foot entertainment hall for performances, exhibitions and dining events, while Tera houses watersports facilities and a 1,000-inch LED screen that can be split into four sections and used for multimedia shows or live entertainment events.

Nearby in downtown Seoul, the Dongdaemun Design Plaza project currently is under construction. Expected to open in April 2013, the complex will feature 86,876 square feet of function space. Set in the trendy fashion and design district, the venue also will include a museum, a library and other design-related facilities.