Lotte Tour Prepares Jeju Dream Tower for 2019 Grand Opening
Lotte Tour is building a $1.4 billion integrated casino resort on Jeju Island, South Korea’s casino destination spot. When Lotte Tour’s 38-floor hotel and casino, Jeju Dream Tower, opens it will be the tallest building on Jeju Island.
Lawrence Teo, Lotte Tour COO and former executive for Melco Entertaintainment’s Altira Macau, said of the company’s development, “We want to be the Marina Bay Sands of Jeju.”
Those not familiar with Singapore’s casino industry might not know the significance of what Lawrence Teo wants, but Marina Bay Sands might be the most lucrative casino in the world. While Macau and Las Vegas generate more revenues than Singapore, the city-state has the third highest revenues of any city in the world. Where Macau has dozens of casinos and Las Vegas over 180 sites, Singapore generates its numbers with only two casinos.
About Jeju Dream Tower
Jeju Dream Tower is ambitious. It will be the site of the Grand Hyatt hotel, which has 1,600 rooms. The Grand Hyatt also will have South Korea’s biggest pool deck and a top floor observation tower. The resort will have a world class nightclub and restaurant area featuring fine dining and 24-hour Korean barbecue.
Because Jeju Dream Tower exceeds the normal limits by a factor of three, the observation tower will have an unobstructed view of Mount Halla and the Korean Sea. The resort area also will feature a jjimjilbang spa and a modern Korean designer fashion mall. The mall will stay open late into the night.
Tourist-Only Casino Business
The reference to Marina Bay Sands is important. For Lotte Tour’s investment to pay off, it must find a way to make the tourist-only gambling operation profitable. South Korea has punitive laws against Koreans gambling, so much so that South Korean residents can get in trouble if they are found to have gambled overseas.
Those laws also ban South Koreans from gambling in 16 of the country’s 17 casinos (Kangwon Land is the exception). Without South Korean gamblers, Jeju Dream Tower has to draw a large crowd from foreign tourists — especially Northern China.
It also has to tap the mass market tourism industry in South Korea. While Jeju Dream Tower cannot welcome Korean gamblers, it can welcome non-gaming visitors from South Korea. That’s why the attractions, amenities, and shopping are so important.
Forbes on Jeju Dream Tower
As Muhammad Cohen of Forbes wrote, “Making this $1.4 billion bet pay off requires that developer Lotte Tour draw the right cards in local politics, international affairs and the tricky foreigners-only casino business.”
Lotte Tour, which launched in 1971 as a subsidiary of the more famous Lotte Group, has a complicated financing arrangement with Greenland Group out of China. Jeju Dream Tower is going to have to perform — and perform quickly.
“We Know What Tourists Want”
Lawrence Teo is confident Jeju Dream Tower will hit the right mark. When Mr. Teo worked for Lawrence Ho’s Melco Entertainment, he led the Altira Macau — which was focused on VIP high rollers. Lawrence Teo knows Chinese high rollers and likely has a relationship with some of the VIPs from Macau’s gambling industry.
Which is why Lawrence Teo might have given an understatement when he told Forbes, “We know what tourists want.”