South Korea’s telecommunications company KT Corp says it has opened a tech-centric hotel in central Seoul that offers guests artificial intelligence (AI)-based features around the clock.

The Novotel Ambassador Hotel and Residence, built on the site of its former Euljiro office in Jung-gu, was South Korea’s first-ever “AI hotel”, KT said on Wednesday.

The hotel, which opened on July 3, has 523 rooms with Accor Ambassador Korea handling the management.

We will offer a new concept of hotels and services to guests in and outside the country by injecting KT’s IT infrastructure [and] provide tourists with innovative conveniences and new experiences
Choi Il-sung, CEO of KT estate, the company’s real estate subsidiary

The hotel features KT’s voice-recognition AI platform, Giga Genie, which enables guests to control lighting and television as well as air conditioning and heating through voice commands or with a touch-screen display.

Guests can also request amenities such as bath gels using the AI features.

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KT, which is the nation’s second-largest mobile carrier, said that it would continue to enhance its technology to offer AI concierge services to guests.

The additional services would allow guests to check out of the hotel from their room and order room service by voice commands.

The company said its AI hotel system was capable of recognising English and that it expected positive feedback from foreign guests.

It planned to add Japanese and Chinese to the voice-command system as early as November to attract more foreign guests, it said.

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KT will also offer a smartphone, the “Genie phone”, which guests can pick up at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport or at the hotel.

Guests can use it to make international or domestic calls, obtain data and get tourist information.

KT has been expanding its hotel business, with real estate sales estimated at about 400 billion won (US$355 million) last year. It said it planned to increase the figure to 700 billion won by 2020.

The company’s hotel business uses sites of its telephone offices, which were built in prime locations nationwide but are no longer in full use.

KT said it planned to open three more hotels with advanced technologies in Seoul by 2022, including a hotel brand under Hyatt near Apgujeong Station, which is expected to open next year.

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“We will offer a new concept of hotels and services to guests in and outside the country by injecting KT's IT infrastructure,” said Choi Il-sung, CEO of KT estate, a subsidiary dedicated to the real estate business.

“We will provide tourists with innovative conveniences and new experiences while offering local communities an opportunity for new growth.”

The company, which was a public enterprise until former president Kim Dae-jung’s government privatised it in 2002, operated telephone offices around the nation.

However, the properties are increasingly being merged, with some falling into disuse because of rapid developments in technology which have led to the phasing out of wired telephones.

FT estate was set up in 2010 to develop the real estate at the unused properties.

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This article was originally written by Jun Ji-hye for The Korea Times.