A Disappointing Park Hyatt Stay

by Shelli Stein

For a long while I’ve wanted to visit Busan, South Korea. While I’ve visited Seoul a few times, I’ve never explored Busan. No particular reason other than I just never made the time. For years now people have been telling me I would not only enjoy Busan, but also love the Park Hyatt Busan.

Finally, on my most recent trip to South Korea, I scheduled in some time for both the Park Hyatt Busan and exploring Busan. I’ve always said I’ve never met a Park Hyatt I didn’t love. I am sorry to say my stay didn’t turn out that way. I was disappointed in some ways and yet amazingly pleased in others.  In this review of the Park Hyatt Busan I’ll share why I have mixed feelings about the property.

Busan Diamond Bridge

Busan Diamond Bridge

How I Paid and My Room Assignment at the Park Hyatt Busan

Don’t think for a minute that I’ll go easy on the Park Hyatt Busan as I pen this hotel and hotel room review. I may be a Hyatt fan girl, but that often means I hold Hyatt properties to a higher standard. After all, first impressions matter and if you’ve not yet stayed here I want you to have the best and most informed impression possible.

I’m not writing to promote Hyatt. I’m writing to inform readers!

Specifics About The Hotel And Some Park Hyatt Busan Backstory

The Park Hyatt Busan opened in 2013. The location along the marina is stunning. The whole marina area was man-made and built on the water.

The Park Hyatt Seoul and Park Hyatt Busan have the same owners.

Park Hyatt Busan lobby

There are 269 rooms, with 69 suites total. There are 35 standard suites, 31 premium suites, and 3 top level suites.

It’s a popular choice for Hyatt Globalist members. As you read more you’ll understand why.

Each day there are on average 10 globalists in house. The property averages 80-85% of guests as Hyatt members. That’s very high!  For this Park Hyatt property, 60% of guests are first time visitors at the Park Hyatt Busan. That’s also very high!

The average occupancy rate is 70%. There were days during my stay that were  100% occupancy. On average, guests stay 2 days.

Rooms begin on the 6th floor and go up to floor 29.

Park Hyatt Busan lobby elevators

Park Hyatt Busan lobby elevators

The hotel has spectacular views of the famous Diamond Bridge, which is about twenty plus years old now. This marina area of Busan has 3000 residents. It’s a fascinating area to explore both along the water and back into the neighborhood.

Park Hyatt Busan city and harbor view

Park Hyatt Busan city and harbor view

I didn’t have much luck catching the Busan sunshine.

The hotel is known in Busan for being a business hotel because it has many corporate accounts. However, outside of Busan it is known as a leisure hotel.

Busan is a resort and beach city. That makes Busan a vacation destination.

Busan, South Korea beaches

Busan beaches are the draw for visiting Busan!

Most rooms have two beds because it’s a popular choice for families. I found that interesting and the opposite of what I’ve learned from other properties.

In case you’re wondering which months are the busiest and which months might be more off season, here’s your answer. As you might expect, winter time in Busan is their off season at the Park Hyatt. That means June, July, and August and the months when you can dip into the ocean and enjoy the beach are more popular. Though Busan doesn’t get much snow, if any, it does get cold, rainy, and windy during winter months.

Park Hyatt Busan lobby concierge desk

Park Hyatt Busan lobby concierge desk

Park Hyatt Busan lobby Park Hyatt Busan lobby


There have been a series of food and beverages refurbishments over the years on the restaurants and lobby area.

The entry way to the building is not the entry way to the hotel. You’ll experience a bit of a learning curve to figure out the elevator system and which elevators go where. The lobby is on the 30th floor.

I found out something about myself during this stay.

I’ve never liked dark hotel interiors. But I learned that I don’t care for black marble hotel interiors! Just too cold and dark for my taste.

I enjoy so many of the Park Hyatt properties because they are often older classic buildings re-designed to be Park Hyatt properties. Think the Park Hyatt Saigon, the Park Hyatt Aviara, or the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires.

Even some of the newer buildings, such as the Park Hyatt Melbourne, are designed to feel like older classic hotels. The Park Hyatt Bangkok, for instance, which is a relatively new Park Hyatt, is a modern design but with warmer colors in browns and beige tones. The new Park Hyatt Kyoto design also comes to mind. The designs and interiors of both these hotels cast off a much warmer and more welcome feeling than the design of the Park Hyatt Busan.

Maybe the black speckled marble hotel design was popular when the Park Hyatt Busan was built. I don’t know. Never the less, I didn’t care for the design and feel of the property. Generally way too dark, even in the hallways!

My recent stay at the Park Hyatt Busan was for four nights. I could have used a World of Hyatt free night award or booked nights with Hyatt points. Hotels in South Korea and Busan can be super pricey. The all cash rate hovered over $250 a night so I decided to use points for my stay.

Remember, if you’re paying cash for a hotel stay, let Pruvo monitor your rate for price drops!

Park Hyatt Busan is a World of Hyatt Category 5 property, meaning free nights for me averaged 21,000 Hyatt points per night.

My Check-In Experience

Checking in to the hotel went smoothly. Check-in is at 3pm. I arrived in the evening so there was no wait for my room. When I arrived I was happy to hear I had been upgraded to a Park Premium Suite. It’s a property that doesn’t hold back Globalist upgrades if they are available!

Usually when I check into a Hyatt property there is some acknowledgement of my Hyatt Globalist status. Staff usually say, “Thank you for your loyalty to Hyatt,” or some such greeting. Nothing upon check in from this staff.

Another off-putting issue for me was that at the Park Hyatt Busan employees do not wear name tags. When checking in guests, staff is directed by management to introduce themselves, which they did not.  During my stay I had to keep asking employees what their names were. Annoying!

Maybe it’s me but when I stay at hotels I always address employees by their names. I am friendly and polite 🙂

When I sat down to talk with management about why employees don’t wear name tags I was told the idea was that the Park Hyatt is a luxury property, so no name tags. I told them directly this made no sense to me. It didn’t at all make the property more luxurious. In fact, it felt like employees were hiding and hoping I wouldn’t ask their names.

It was the first time I’d seen this no name tag policy at a Park Hyatt hotel. I explained the awkwardness of having staff know my name but me not knowing theirs unless I asked. And if I wanted to thank them later in my stay, or praise them to management, it made that more challenging as well.

This conversation with management went very well and I’m hoping the next time I visit, or when you stay at the Park Hyatt Busan, you’ll notice name tags.

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Using my Hotel Room Scorecard I broke down the individual elements of my Park Hyatt Melbourne room which scored a 24 of 40 points.

Location (3/5)

I asked both hotel staff and many people I know who favor this Park Hyatt why they choose this Hyatt property over other hotels in Busan. Again and again I heard LOCATION location location! People love the area near the hotel because it close to the beach. For me this is a huge plus as well.

However, the location is isolated. It is either an hour plus on the subway to the tourist areas such as BIFF Square, or at least an hour by taxi to these sites. I did use the subway system in Busan. It does take time to get places because Busan is spread out. I still preferred the longer subway ride to taking a taxi. Traffic in Busan is awful. At least that was my experience.

Plan accordingly. The concierge team will tell you 15-20 minutes to wherever you go in Busan but that’s not always the case. Again, this was my experience during the off season in Busan.

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Lighting (2/5)

Overall, the suite was dark and the hotel halls were dark. This also has to do with the suite design which was dark wood. I’ll get to this more later in the suite review.

Park Hyatt Busan suite entrance

Entry way to the suite was way too dark!

The suite did have natural lighting, with two floor-to-ceiling windows, one in the bedroom and one in the living room. Besides overhead lighting there were two standing lamps, one in each room.

I did ask for extra lighting in the room and the guest services team easily obliged and added another lamp to the living room. This made a huge difference.

Even the bathroom was dark, and that’s so unusual. Usually a bathroom is the brightest space in a hotel room.

Yes, I recognize that the average guest stays maybe two nights, but there are guests who work or just want to sit on the couch and read with proper lighting.

Window Access (4/5)

Having floor to ceiling windows in both the bedroom and suite living room area made a big difference. Natural lighting in a hotel room makes for a whole different experience.

Park Hyatt Busan suite bedroom

There are two levels of window shades, one for sun/privacy and one for black-out darkness.

Bed Comfort (3/5)

The bed was too hard for me, but not as hard as some beds at other hotel properties I’ve stayed at. I do recognize that hotel beds in Asia do tend to be hard. Yet every so often I find one that isn’t 🙂

Park Hyatt Busan suite bedroom

The pillows worked well and there were already different pillow types on the bed, so I was able to choose which worked best for me. Too often all the pillows are the same, but not in this case.

Bathroom (2/5)

I didn’t care for the bathroom at all. It was dark, even with a window on one side of the tub. There was one towel hook on the wall that was loose and needed fixing.

The toilet was in a separate area. In my opinion, pocket doors on toilet rooms work best. This toilet had a heavy weird door that was difficult to open and close. And the doorknob was broken.

Park Hyatt Busan bathroom Park Hyatt Busan shower Park Hyatt Busan bathroom

Park Hyatt Busan bathroom floor odd coloration

Bathroom floor odd coloration.

a close-up of a grey tile floor

Why didn’t housekeeping notice a broken knob or a loose hook and have them fixed?

One of my pet peeves in shower stalls is that there is no place to put your sundries other than on the floor. Having a ledge for sundries is a simple thing that those of us who are now (or always did) bringing their own sundries when they travel might really appreciate. In this case there was a shelf behind the shower head. Perfect!

There was no double light in the bathroom. There was only one switch and it provided the light. I can’t recall the last time I was in a hotel room where the bathroom didn’t have lighting options. It’s handy to have a nightlight in a bathroom.

Interior Appointments and Furnishings (3/5)

As you can see from the photos, the entry way to the room was dark and so uninviting. The suite is dark wood throughout.

Park Hyatt Busan suite entrance

Entry way to the suite was way too dark!

There wasn’t a closet. Just a luggage storage area in the hallway for hanging clothes.

Park Hyatt Busan closet

Park Hyatt Busan suite hallway version of a closet.

The couch in the living room was a dark red striped pattern and I thought the overhead light in the living room was ugly.

Park Hyatt Busan chandelier with too many glass balls

Park Hyatt Busan chandelier with too many glass balls

Park Hyatt Busan chandelier with too many glass balls

Both the dark red striped couch and the overhead light, which took up a lot of space, made the living room even less welcoming.

Park Hyatt Busan suite living room couch

Dark colored couch added to the darkness in the suite.

As you can tell, I was really disappointed in the way the suite was decorated.

A lot of wasted space in the living room area that could be put to better and more creative use.

My suite matched the one you’ll see online, both in design or layout. That’s a good thing because too often guests’ expectations are set by photos they see on hotel websites. And when the photos don’t match the reality it makes sense that guests take issue.

In this case though, when actually in the suite versus seeing it online, the in person experience was not a good one. It felt too dark and unfortunately matched my dislike for the general darkness of the entire hotel.

Park Hyatt Busan living room

The artwork was minimal. I prefer this because taste in art is so individual and I prefer that hotel rooms don’t overdue it on the art.

The living area had a very functional round table as well as a table by the couch.

Park Hyatt Busan living room

The temperature and HVAC controls were confusing. There was one control for the whole suite. So the living room was hot and the bedroom cold. Most suites I’ve stayed in with two separate rooms attached by a long hall have multiple room controls. This suite could have benefited from allowing guests to control each room separately.

Park Hyatt Busan suite hallway

The peep hole on the entrance door is placed just right for the average height of women. That’s rare. This has long been a pet peeve of mine. Do only men check who’s knocking or ringing the bell? I think not. Easier for a guy to bend down than a woman to grow a few inches to see who’s at the door 🙂

Here’s the GOOD news on the rooms at the Park Hyatt Busan!

This stay was the perfect example of the sometimes MORE is LESS principle in life.

ALL the rooms at the Park Hyatt Busan have water views!

I took a tour of both the standard room and deluxe standard room. They are great, and I think a better choice.

They have lots of space with a great layout and have a light wood design. The deluxe standard room has two sinks. They are nicer than the suites with better color scheme in browns and beiges. The couch was a light brown matching the floor colors. There is a couch and a small table. The rooms had much better lighting than the suite. The rooms have a real desk that is well lit for a work area. There are also good sized bathrooms.

So yes, I’d opt for the standard or deluxe standard rooms next time. I’d suggest you consider them as well!

Electronics (3/5)

Plugs and outlets were adequate. Not great but adequate. There were outlets near the bed but NO universal plugs and USB charging ports.

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Amenities (4/5)

The hotel does send welcome amenities to Hyatt Globalists. I received fruit, tea, fresh squeezed juice, and some sweets. Simple and perfect for me. Who doesn’t love fresh fruit 🙂

Park Hyatt Busan fresh fruit welcome amenity

Fresh fruit is always my favorite welcome amenity!

Park Hyatt Busan fresh juice welcome amenity

A fresh juice welcome amenity is a great idea!

Park Hyatt Busan tea set welcome amenity

Lovely tea set welcome amenity!

YES on providing a Yoga mat! I’ve started requesting Yoga mats when I stay in hotels. If you’ve ever taken a close look at the “need anything extra” card presented in your hotel room, you’ll notice Yoga mat is often listed. I’m starting to notice, though, how few hotels actually have mats.

The property provides water, and it was super generous whenever I requested more. It was also generous with whatever supplies you needed. That always leaves a positive impression on a guest.

When writing hotel reviews I often review the minibar and available snacks. The minibar and coffee area was well-equipped with a kettle and Nespresso style coffee maker. There was a fridge underneath the snack counter. No complimentary snacks.

Breakfast Options

For breakfast there is a restaurant area on the 31st floor. It offers a full buffet. And I do mean full! And you could also order from a menu which consisted of many Korean dishes as well as Western breakfast options.

There was whole fruit (which I very much prefer over assorted fruit cups prepared by a hotel) and an egg station, which was more like an egg restaurant with cooked-to-order egg dishes. There was also a large area with salad options—plenty of greens and veggies as well. I wish all hotel restaurants would offer salad for breakfast!

Naturally, fresh breads and baked goods (plenty of cold cereal options) as well as a cheese and assorted meats station. There were also fresh juices on offer.

Nothing was missing from this buffet! There was table service for coffee and whatever else you might need.

Service at the restaurant was excellent! Never a wait for a table 🙂

I ate well at breakfast enjoying both Korean and other Asian foods, as well as a few different egg dishes.

Breakfast is 59,000 KRW which is approximately 44.00 USD if not included in the room rate. As a Globalist breakfast was included with my room. My sense is that if you enjoy breakfast buffets, you’ll be super pleased with the one the Park Hyatt offers. You’ll leave with a smile on your face and a happy belly!

What Guests At The Park Hyatt Busan Complain About?

When I review a hotel I always wonder what complaints hotel guests have, so I ask the hotel team. This hotel’s chief complaint is one I’ve come across a few times before. It’s not one I totally understand, though.

Rooms at the Park Hyatt Busan are on floors 6-29. The chief complaint is that guests want higher floors. Keeping in mind that ALL rooms have views of both the water and the harbor, and that the hotel is not at all on a noisy road, guests still aren’t satisfied.

Fitness and Spa Facilities At The Park Hyatt Busan

For me this was a wonderfully surprising benefit. It added tremendously to how much I enjoyed my stay.

The gym is well equipped, the pool is 23 meters, the poolside jacuzzi is large, and the women’s locker room (I assume the same for the men’s side) has both a steam and sauna.

There is a view of the bridge from the pool area because it faces the water and has a huge floor to ceiling window at one end of the pool.

The pool was never busy and neither were the steam/sauna. Is it fair to wish for these kinds of amenities at more hotels? If you’re someone who will use the spa, pool, and gym, you will NOT be disappointed!

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Hotel Service at the Park Hyatt Busan

You can tell I was not thrilled with the hotel room and the design and layout of both the suite and the hotel were not to my taste.

I was, however, VERY pleased with the service! This really does tie into my being impressed with the hotel.

Guest services staff and management staff throughout the hotel were proactive, helpful, gracious, and filled with long-time Hyatt professionals. I so enjoyed getting to know them all.

Housekeeping was always quick to deliver whatever I requested. If you’ve been traveling much these past few years you might have realized how short-staffed many hotels are. I did not find that to be the case at the Park Hyatt Busan at all.

There was never anything I asked for from housekeeping, the front desk and concierge team, the hotel management team, or the restaurant team where the staff didn’t happily oblige. I thoroughly enjoyed the friendly, warm and very helpful environment.

Final Thoughts On The Park Hyatt Busan

The Park Hyatt Busan is an unusual and wonderful hotel. It’s the only Hyatt option in Busan.

It is an expensive property, whether paying cash or using points. You’ll have to think as to whether it is a great value on points or when paying cash. I think it’s well worth the value, especially on points.

What it offers and the service were both excellent.  For sure having the spa and pool available to me made a huge difference.

The location is tricky, though.

Traffic in Busan is awful. As far as tourist sites, nothing but the beach is walkable from the hotel. I did take the subways (not the buses). The location can be inconvenient with long, round about ways to get to sites. It’s doable, though.

Using taxis is a necessity from the hotel. A 12 mile drive will take 40-60 minutes. If you arrive by bus, the station to the hotel took over an hour in a taxi. The same was true of getting to the train station from the hotel. I did not use the airport.

The Park Hyatt Busan is a luxury hotel with a certain vibe. If that suits you, you’ll enjoy the property. If you’re a fan of Park Hyatt properties, which I am, you might want to give this one a stay and see for yourself. Every Hyatt hotel is different, every staff is different, and every guest is different, right? Some properties are bound to work better than others for what you’re looking for.

Would I stay here again?

Good question! Probably so, but for sure not in the suite. I did enjoy Busan!! Putting together this review was fun because it brought back memories of an enjoyable hotel stay in a city grew quite fond of.

I think of the Park Hyatt Busan as a hotel for people who enjoy mixing their hotel stay with a great, though less central, location. If you enjoy spending time in a more local area of Busan rather than in a super touristy area, this property is not for you.

Like being by the beach? Then absolutely you’ll love this property and its location!

By all means gather up your travel gear and give this hotel a try and see what you think. Busan and the Park Hyatt Busan is definitely worth a visit when you’re in South Korea!

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Ace April 27, 2024 - 11:41 am

The weird comment about name tags is, well, weird. I can confidently say that employees of a hotel don’t want you addressing them by name – it’s a bit creepy.

In Asia particularly, the service culture is specifically trained to deliver great service but not to part of the story. You’ll never hear an employee at a luxury Asian property ask for a shout-out on Trip Advisor like they do in other parts of the world.

Shelli Stein April 27, 2024 - 12:33 pm

Appreciate your comment, Ace. However, I have traveled extensively throughout Asia and this is the rare hotel where employees weren’t wearing name tags. Sometimes it’s their surname, but still, a name tag. What’s creepy about me saying, “How’s your day going Joe?”

Art April 27, 2024 - 11:33 pm

Wrong! I did . St regis Bangkok. I got even their card.

Jacob April 27, 2024 - 4:47 pm

The comment from the hotel about not having name tags because it is a luxury hotel is absolute nonsense. I travel Asia extensively every year and stay primarily at luxury hotels (Four Seasons, Ritz Carlton, Conrad, Aman etc) and they ALWAYS have name tags. That is just an excuse they concocted. When I stayed in Seoul for a week, all the staff at the luxury hotels had name tags.

Having a name tag is very important because if a guest has a problem they know the person who is causing it or helping them solve it. If you don’t know the person’s name, how can you talk with management about this person? Go through their computer database and look at each individual employees photo?

Lastly, stay away from the Park Hyatt Jakarta. If you think the PH Busan is dark, you haven’t seen how dark the PH Jakarta is.

Shelli Stein April 27, 2024 - 9:43 pm

Thanks for reading and taking the time to add to the conversation, Jacob. You make great points and I agree with you. I don’t have PH Jakarta plans so thanks for the heads up.

Asia1234 April 27, 2024 - 9:57 pm

Appreciate your review but don’t think your comments on location are complete. The hotel is one metro stop from the largest high end mall in Busan. That may not be a priority for you (although the food court really should be) it is a huge draw for many visitors. Particularly domestic and east asian visitors. As you mentioned, Busan is spread out with no obvious alternative that is optimal. Just being central to cut down on travel time comes with some baggage. Parts of central Busan are a little sketchy (by Korean standards). I do agree the Park Hyatt is kind of isolated and have never seriously considered staying there. Hotels along the beach in Haeundae have better access to restaurants and are closer to a metro station. Also generally cheaper than Park Hyatt.

Shelli Stein April 27, 2024 - 10:02 pm

Thanks so much, Asia1234, for bringing this to our attention. Appreciate your “local” knowledge. I did find many places to eat in between the hotel and the Haeundae metro station, but I also walk a lot 🙂 Sorry to have missed that food court!

Dwondermeant May 2, 2024 - 7:48 pm

I can’t imagine bringing up the need for a name tag with management
Bigger fish to fry in the big world imo
but to each their own.Perhaps ask for their first name?
If you aren’t a fan of the decor and darkness why did you stay there?
Did you not do your research before staying there?
Before I go to any hotel I read reviews inquire about bed plushness or firmness and see if it’s a place I aspire to stay in for what is my personal taste
I’m a lifetime Globalist and I doubt I would chose the property as the property appears quite dated.subjective I suppose
Park Hyatt or Ritz Carlton’s and many other brands all have great and poor properties
You must choose wisely wherever you stay
Especially as you seem highly concerned about a number of details to best enjoy your
fuller experience

Shelli Stein May 2, 2024 - 7:58 pm

Thanks for taking the time to comment. FYI—management appreciated the conversation about name tags. Kind of snarky on the didn’t I do my research on the darkness of hotels and decor. Yes, subjective elements, for sure. Glad that your research efforts lend themselves to your choices being wise ones for you. Hope that continues going forward!

Nathan May 10, 2024 - 1:00 am

She reviews hotels, so why would she not go and stay to review the hotel herself? Doing research is irrelevant to her job of reviewing the hotel, which requires her to STAY at the property depsite whatever she may find in her research. Absolutely unsensical logic coming from you.

Shelli Stein May 10, 2024 - 9:43 am

You make a good point, Nathan. Appreciate it.

Nathan May 10, 2024 - 1:02 am

Just want to add that you forgot to mention anything about parking, which is free as of May 2024.

Shelli Stein May 10, 2024 - 9:44 am

Thanks for letting us know. You actually pointed to something I rarely ask about but should. Because I don’t take a car I rarely ask about parking. I will going forward though!


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