Yanolja’s gentrification of South Korean love hotels has brought the company a valuation of more than $1 billion (£788 million) from investors keen to capitalise on the globalisation of a novel approach to short-stay accommodation, its chief executive told Reuters.
It aims to conduct an initial public offering (IPO) as early as next year, Kim said in an interview.
Yanolja’s emergence coincides with a time of flux among hoteliers, as legislators are at loggerheads with market disruptors such as Airbnb Inc – through which private home owners can let rooms for short-term stay – while a government campaign to reduce working hours promises to free up more leisure time for short breaks.
Love hotels have occupied a peculiar space in the broader market, offering privacy for as little as a few hours at minimal cost for, for instance, young couples living with their parents.
Popular association with extramarital affairs, prostitution and hidden cameras, however, has sullied their reputation, exacerbated by their often garish decor and low-key lighting.
Yanolja sought to dispel any stigma with its bright, modern franchised love hotels, targeting millennial couples but also budget tourists seeking short-term accommodation.
The firm, which began as an online search portal for love hotels, also lists hotel, pension and guest house rooms on its website at prices ranging from 50,000 won (33 pounds) a night at budget hotel Ben-Hur to 200,000 won at five-star Hyatt.
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