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Lunar New Year gifts: Bit of difference makes it special

Jan. 24, 2011 - 19:52 By 김윤미
With the Lunar New Year just around the corner, top-rated hotels in Seoul are busy preparing a variety of gift items including beef sets, wine sets and hampers.

The hotels’ gift items are indeed pricier than those of department stores. However, a little luxury in the quality of products and wrapping services makes a big difference, according to Julie Shim, a marketing manager in Seoul.

Shim, 32, spent 300,000 won ($268) a few years ago to buy a wine set at the Shilla Seoul for the CEO of her previous company ― a way of thanking him for being a nice boss to her and hopefully to receive more generous incentives in the new year.

“I wanted to give him something special. I could trust the hotel because such items are selected by the sommeliers themselves,” Shim told The Korea Herald.

“He thanked me and said I always more than met his expectations.”

Hotels’ wrapping services are more delicate and sophisticated than those of department stores. But it would be better to give the present directly to the person rather than ask for delivery because the wrappings are too pretty to let a stranger hand over your special gift, she said.

According to Han Mi-sun, spokesperson of Imperial Palace Hotel, the main target of the hotel’s Lunar New Year gifts is the hotel club members who are more familiar with quality services.

Unique gifts

Several top-rated hotels in Seoul have prepared unique Lunar New Year gifts that are not available in other hotels.

The Westin Chosun Seoul exclusively offers a 99,000-won Kinjo sake set selected by the Kikisakeshi, or sake sommelier, at the hotel’s Japanese restaurant Sushi Cho.

Imperial Palace Hotel offers a set of Korean traditional foods, necessary to prepare an ancestral table for the memorial services during the Lunar New Year family gatherings. The hotel’s Korean food chef prepares the foods and wraps them before families place them directly on the table. The price ranges from 650,000 won to 750,000 won. During Jan. 28-29 and Jan. 31-Feb.1, hotel staffs will deliver the set to the door of the purchaser, the hotel said.

The Shilla Seoul has “The World’s Three Delicacies Set,” priced at 1.95 million won, offering premium black truffle, foie gras and caviar.
The Shilla Seoul’s “The World’s Three Delicacies Set” features premium black truffle, foie gras and caviar.

Millennium Seoul Hilton’s chef specializing in Korean cuisines offers a 3-kilogram soy sauce-marinated crab gift set at 352,000 won.

Wine’s growing popularity

Wine demand is higher in the New Year’s season than during fall’s Chuseok festival and the wine sales at the Westin Chosun Seoul has been increasing 10 percent during each in New Year’s season, according to Kim Ju-yong, sommelier at the hotel’s Vecchia e Nuovo, Italian restaurant.

At top-rated hotels, wine sets are mostly offered at between 160,000 won and 700,000 won with recommendations by either head chefs or sommeliers.

Those who are on the hunt for good wine gifts should check out the Grand Hyatt Seoul’s “Grand Wine Sale,” which offers up to 60 percent discount on best-selling premium wines from Jan. 24 to Jan. 27 only. 
Grand Hyatt Seoul’s “Grand Wine Sale,” offering up to 60 percent discount on best-selling premium wines, runs from Jan. 24-27.

The price of French wine Chateau Lynch Bages 2007 will be slashed to 185,000 won from 250,000 won and that of Italian wine Ruffino Modus - IGT will be cut to 75,000 won from 150,000 won.

Sheraton Incheon Hotel offers Chateau Mouton Rothschild 1992 for 1.5 million won, while JW Marriot Hotel offers 30 percent discount on Chateau Margaux 2002, Chateau Haut-Brion 2002 and Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2001. The wine sets at JW Marriot range from 750,000 won to 990,000 won.

Exorbitant Lunar New Year wine gifts include the Westin Chosun’s 3 million won set of three wines (Chteau Lafite-Rothschild, Chteau Latour and Chteau Margaux) and the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas’ 9.3 million won set of five Premier Grand Cru Classe labeled wines from Bordeaux’s top five-ranked Chateau (Chateau Haut-Brion 2006, Chateau Latour 1994, Chateau Margaux 2007, Chateau Lafite Rothschild 2006 and Chateau Mouton Rothschild 2003).

By Kim Yoon-mi (