Serviced apartment providers are constantly striving to create functional living and working spaces that guests on the road can call their own. Julian Tan reports on the latest additions to the inventory.
Spending an awful lot of time away on business more often than not raises the stress level of an executive who has to cope with the absence of a family environment – from a home-cooked meal to the bark of his dog, or even that all-too-familiar scent of a pillow. In addition, there is the pressure of work (deadlines, emails, phone calls, entertaining the clients) to contend with. Today’s serviced residence operators understand these concerns very well and are sparing no effort to provide temporary lodgings that are not only comfortable but stylish – and in some cases – sumptuous as well.
“As companies look to stretch their dollar, serviced apartments are becoming popular due to the value they give. They offer facilities geared towards businessmen on an extended stay or expatriates who have relocated,” says Gerald Lee, deputy CEO (operations), The Ascott Group.
“Our apartments tend to be larger compared to hotel rooms. They also come with a kitchen, allowing you to whip up some comfort food after a long day at work.
“There are also living and dining areas separate from the bedroom, giving you the space to relax and unwind as you would in your own home.”
The luxury of space, convenience and privacy are features that make staying in a serviced apartment attractive. “(Serviced apartments) offer space definitely. You don’t need to go out and eat every day, you can actually entertain at your home. We can even provide a butler to cook for you in your home. It’s like bringing the whole restaurant into your living room. This is something hotels can‘t do because of the space constraint,” says Augustine M Silva, COO, Frasers Hospitality.
Belinda Kuan, assistant general manager of Signature Homes, which runs Four Seasons Place and The HarbourView Place in Hongkong, says: “(We) offer the luxury and quality of a six-star hotel room but with the space and practicality of an upscale private apartment, while a hotel room is very limited in many respects.”
Besides showering their guests with all the comforts of home, serviced apartment providers continue to keep up with the times by investing on state-of-the-art technology. Frasers Hospitality, for instance, is constantly looking at ways to upgrade technology in its serviced residences like installing internet protocol (IP) telephony to help customers save costs.
Silva says: “By using an internet line versus a telephone line, it becomes cheaper for residents to make calls. Most of our properties are IP telephony-enabled now.
“We are looking at (introducing) a system where customers who are away and coming back (to their apartment in a winter country) can use their handphones to activate the heating system. We are also looking at check in through the internet using the TV with a keyboard.”
Lee says: “At Ascott, we try to upgrade both our hardware and software to ensure our guests have a comfortable stay with us. Where possible, in our new properties, we try to provide Wi-Fi. We believe this will help business travellers tremendously in their day-to-day work.
“We also invest to meet our residents’ leisure needs. For example, at Ascott Makati in the Philippines, other than renovating to equip the property with Wi-Fi, we have also installed iPod connection in every apartment. The home entertainment system in every unit has also been upgraded, so guests can plonk in their CDs and chill out.”
In recent years, serviced residences have become part of the cityscape. In Hongkong, they continue to sprout in areas including the emerging West Kowloon district.
“Globalisation and relocation of multinational corporations have consistently fuelled the rise in demand for accommodation of this quality and type. As Hongkong is a major regional and global centre of commerce, it is only natural that these factors would lead to a particularly accelerated need for luxury serviced suites. The success of Four Seasons Place and the market’s response to The HarbourView Place have indicated that the market trend will continue to move towards convenience, accessibility and high-quality accommodation,” Kuan says.
On the following pages, we highlight the latest offerings from leading serviced apartment providers across the region.
FRASER SUITES HANOI
THE USP: All the 170 apartments have a stunning view of the West Lake.
WHERE IS IT? In Syrena Tower on Xuan Dieu Street, near the West Lake, along whose banks lie numerous palaces and monuments including Thuy Hoa Palace, Tu Hoa Palace, Ham Nguyen Sanctuary, Kim Lien Pagoda and Ngoc Dam Palace; 15 minutes from the city centre and a host of business, leisure and entertainment facilities and 30 minutes from the airport.
APARTMENT TYPES: One-Bedroom Deluxe (55sqm), Two-Bedroom Deluxe (105sqm), Three-Bedroom Deluxe (125sqm), Three-Bedroom Executive (156sqm), Three + One-Bedroom Deluxe Duplex (285sqm), Three + One-Bedroom Executive Duplex (293sqm) and Penthouse (569sqm).
CREATURE COMFORTS: Key-card elevator access, LCD TV with satellite/cable channels, DVD player, Wi-Fi, cordless phone, safe, washer and dryer, microwave and oven, steam iron and ironing board, bathroom amenities, housekeeping and monthly pest control among others.
THE EXTRAS: A gym, steam bath, outdoor swimming pool, jet pool, children’s playground and playroom, library lounge, restaurant, conference room and the interconnected Syrena Shopping Centre. Breakfast on weekdays and local newspaper are complimentary.
PRICE: US$5,700 monthly for a One-Bedroom Deluxe.
CONTACT: 51 Xuan Dieu Street, Tay Ho District, Hanoi, Vietnam, tel 84 4 719 8877, www.frasershospitality.com
ARTNOUVEAU CITY SEOUL
THE USP: 226 lavishly furnished one-bedroom suites, all in a central location.
WHERE IS IT? In the commercial area of Teheran-ro, Gangnam-gu. Exhibition visitors will find it convenient as COEX is nearby, while Yeoksam and Seolleung subway stations are a five-minute walk away. Samsung Town, LG Arts Center, Gangnam Finance Center and City Airport Terminal are also in the vicinity. Incheon International Airport is an hour and 20 minutes by car.
APARTMENT TYPES: Crystal Suite (52sqm), Sapphire Suite (65sqm) and Emerald Suite (117sqm, including a bedroom and study).
CREATURE COMFORTS: Electronic-key card entry, individual cooler and central heating, DVD player, LCD TV, high-speed internet access, daily housekeeping, coffee maker, bidet shower, microwave oven (in Emerald Suite only) and drum washer among others.
THE EXTRAS: Complimentary breakfast is served at the 18th-floor Sky Lounge. A sauna, fitness club, business centre with a conference room for 10, restaurants, rooftop garden with a terrace and parasols, mail and delivery service, travel guide, hospital guide and first-aid service, laundry and dry cleaning, humidifier and microwave oven for rent and valet parking.
PRICE: KRW3,300,000 (US$3,181) monthly for a Crystal Suite.
CONTACT: 701-1 Yeoksam-Dong, Gangnam-Gu, Seoul 135-080, Korea, tel 82 2 560 9000, www.ancsr.com
MARRIOTT EXECUTIVE APARTMENTS YEOUIDO PARK CENTER - SEOUL
THE USP: This 103-unit, smoke-free property is near the Han River and next to the Yeouido National Park, allowing residents to experience life in a metropolis and the leafy outdoor at the same time.
WHERE IS IT? In the Yeouido financial area; near Insadong for antique shopping.
APARTMENT TYPES: Studio (45sqm), One-Bedroom (54sqm), One-Bedroom Suite (66sqm), Two-Bedroom Suite (85sqm) and Three-Bedroom Executive Suite (121sqm).
CREATURE COMFORTS: Wired and wireless internet connection, DVD player, internet browser/web TV, pay-per-view movies, individual climate control, a choice of pillows, safe, iron and ironing board, microwave and conventional ovens, dishwasher, washer and dryer, heated floors, rain shower, hairdryer, housekeeping and water purification system among others.
THE EXTRAS: A 6,600-square-metre fitness centre, including a five-lane pool with an underwater sound system, indoor golf range, squash court, SOO Fitness & Spa, restaurant and wine bar, four meeting rooms totalling 104sqm, business centre, running and bicycle trails at the adjacent Yeouido Park and complimentary onsite car parking.
PRICE: KRW235,000 (US$240) daily for a One-Bedroom.
CONTACT: 28-3 Yeouido-Dong, Seoul 150-881, Korea, tel 82 2 2090 8000, www.marriott.com
THE USP: Premium residences with sweeping views of Victoria Harbour and the Kowloon peninsula. (At press time, 150 out of 266 suites were launched, as well as selected facilities like gym and lounge.)
WHERE IS IT? Occupying the 50th to 70th floors of The Cullinan II Tower at the International Commerce Centre complex in Kowloon, which also houses the W and Ritz-Carlton hotels and Elements mega mall. Three minutes from the Central commercial district, 20 minutes from the airport (the Kowloon Airport Express/MTR station is right below) and 30 minutes from the Lok Ma Chau border checkpoint toward Shenzhen.
APARTMENT TYPES: Standard and Deluxe Studios (43sqm-63sqm), Standard and Deluxe One-Bedrooms (75sqm-106sqm), Two-Bedroom Suite (107sqm-117sqm), Three-Bedroom Suite (132sqm-151sqm) and 70th-floor Presidential Suite (213sqm-304sqm).
CREATURE COMFORTS: DVD player, LCD TV, iPod dock (unavailable in a studio unit), Wi-Fi, safe, Sealy mattress, pillow selection, washer and dryer, dishwasher (except studio) and housekeeping among others.
THE EXTRAS: A health club, lounge, rooftop heated pool on the 76th floor, laundromat, multipurpose function room, reading area with internet access and car park.
PRICE: Between HK$29,000 (US$3,713) and HK$100,000 (US$12,805) monthly.
CONTACT: 1 Austin Road West, Kowloon, Hongkong, tel 852 3718 8000, www.harbourviewplace.com
KNIGHT ON WYNDHAM
THE USP: Single-floor, themed apartments in a prime location.
WHERE IS IT? A stroll from the Central business area, as well as Lan Kwai Fong and SoHo for dining and nightlife.
APARTMENT TYPES: Measuring about 58sqm each, nine one-bedroom apartments are named after the nine values of knighthood – Justice (Brian Boru), Courage (Mulan), Glory (Sir Lancelot), Integrity (Ilya Muromets), Dignity (St Maurice), Gallantry (Joan of Arc), Chivalry (Don Quixote), Honour (Toyotomi Hideyoshi) and Loyalty (Yue Fei), captured by original artworks in the styles of Wang Guang Yi, René Magritte, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Keith Haring, Valerio Adami, Henri Matisse, eBoy and Damien Hirst respectively.
CREATURE COMFORTS: 32-inch LCD TV with cable channels, cordless phone with IDD and voicemail, plug-in and wireless broadband connectivity, DVD player, audio system with iPod dock, safe, washer/dryer, microwave oven, secure key-card entry and Nintendo Wii among others.
THE EXTRAS: Daily maid and concierge services, secretarial assistance like postal, fax and photocopying, dry cleaning and laundry, limousine hire, complimentary daily newspaper and VIP access to the ground-floor Qube club.
PRICE: HK$26,000-30,000 (US$3,328-3,840) monthly for a One-Bedroom.
CONTACT: 41 Wyndham Street, Central, Hongkong, tel 852 2536 0808, www.knightonwyndham.com
THE USP: Private homes-turned-boutique apartments in a culture-rich neighbourhood providing a sense of belonging. “We wanted to retain the essence of being in Hongkong. We didn’t want to try to be a serviced apartment that you could transport to New York,” says Alex Bent, who co-founded Kush with Dinesh Nihalchand.
WHERE IS IT? On Hollywood Road in Sheung Wan, a heavily residential district on Hongkong Island. A 10-minute stroll from SoHo takes you past art and antique galleries. A park and old Chinese temples are nearby.
APARTMENT TYPES: 28 One-Bedrooms (60sqm each, two units on each floor). Of these, two units have a terrace and two units come with private roof. Guests have a choice of brown or black interiors.
CREATURE COMFORTS: Mood lighting, customised decoration pieces, Bose DVD player, Bang&Olufsen phone, 42-inch plasma TV, Wi-Fi, iPod dock, open-glass shower, washer and dryer, safe, in-room wine list featuring unique vintages and key-card entry among others.
THE EXTRAS: Kush Envy Card entitles residents access to gyms, spas, restaurants and clubs, an Octopus card for travel around the city and an art gallery on the ground floor.
PRICE: HK$35,000 (US$4,480) monthly for a One-Bedroom.
CONTACT: 222 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hongkong, tel 852 2850 5866, www.kushliving.com
V CAUSEWAY BAY
THE USP: 133 stylish residences including private roof garden penthouses that offer a resort lifestyle for the urbanite.
WHERE IS IT? Right smack in Causeway Bay with a plethora of shopping malls, restaurants and cinemas; and accessible from the Causeway Bay MTR station and tram stops.
APARTMENT TYPES: Studio, One-Bedroom, Two-Bedroom, Two-Bedroom with roof garden and Penthouse, ranging from 26sqm to 149sqm in 40 varied layouts.
CREATURE COMFORTS: Simmons mattress, duck down pillows, 360º revolving 42-inch plasma TV with cable channels, Wi-Fi, iHome dock, DVD/VCD/CD player, walk-in closet, safe, Wii console and games upon request, complimentary toiletries upon check in, V teddy bear, seated rain-shower stalls, fog-free mirror, Italian-designed faucet, equipped kitchen and housekeeping among others.
THE EXTRAS: VCD/DVD library upon request, business centre, self-service laundry, car pick-up service, complimentary access to gyms and swimming pool nearby, and dining privileges in Central, Wanchai, Happy Valley and Kowloon.
PRICE: HK$32,500-45,000 (US$4,163-5,765) monthly for a One-Bedroom.
CONTACT: 9 Yee Wo Street, Causeway Bay, Hongkong, tel 852 3602 2388, www.theV.hk
THE USP: 208 well-appointed residences located in the Tianhe business district. This is the first Ascott property in south of China.
WHERE IS IT? On Tianhe East Road, the “Wall Street of Guangzhou”. Restaurants, sports complex, entertainment centre and the SOS International Medical Center are in the vicinity. The nearest subway stations are Tianhe Shipai and Tiyudong, while the Baiyun International Airport is a 45-minute drive away.
APARTMENT TYPES: Studio Executive (51sqm), One-Bedroom Deluxe (55-57sqm), One-Bedroom Executive (60-67sqm), Two-Bedroom Deluxe (86-91sqm) and Three-Bedroom Executive (120sqm).
CREATURE COMFORTS: Siemens kitchen gadgets, Bose Hi-Fi system, private phone number upon request, broadband internet access, maid service, safe and key-card access among others.
THE EXTRAS: Five meeting rooms and one function room, a business centre, gym, sauna and steam room, aerobics room, barbecue area, outdoor pool and kids’ pool, reading room, residents’ lounge and programmes, Wi-Fi zones, spa, laundry and dry cleaning, restaurants and grocery shopping service.
PRICE: CNY15,000 (US$2,179) monthly for a One-Bedroom Deluxe, valid until August 31.
CONTACT: 73 Tianhe Dong Road, Tianhe District, Guangzhou 510630, China, tel 86 20 8513 0388, www.the-ascott.com
SHAMA LUXE CHANG AN, BEIJING
THE USP: Part of premier tier collection Shama Luxe, this is Shama’s only property in the Chinese capital.
WHERE IS IT? Adjacent to Chang An Avenue with easy access to the central business district, the Ancient Observatory and China World Trade Center to its east, and Oriental Plaza and Wang Fu Jing shopping street to its west.
APARTMENT TYPES: A total of 225 residences – One-Bedroom (56-114sqm), Two-Bedroom (126-156sqm), Three-Bedroom (155-166sqm) and Duplex (178-283sqm).
CREATURE COMFORTS: Customised pocket spring mattress, complimentary Molton Brown amenities upon check in, washer and dryer, complimentary internet access, flat-screen TV, DVD player, Bose audio system, iPod dock, safe, water purifier and maid service among others.
THE EXTRAS: A DVD library, fitness centre, aerobics and yoga room, indoor swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms, a clubhouse with bowling alley, table tennis and billiard, children’s indoor play area, designer-landscaped garden, privilege and lifestyle programme introducing the best of dining, partying, shopping and pampering, airport limousine service, business centre, conference room, onsite grocery store and café.
PRICE: CNY16,000 (US$2,325) monthly for a One-Bedroom.
CONTACT: 9 Gong Yuan Xi Jie, Jian Guo Men Nei, Dong Cheng District, Beijing 100005, China, tel 86 10 6525 6456, www.shama.com
OAKWOOD PREMIER COZMO JAKARTA
THE USP: A cosy atmosphere and personalised services, all in 205 luxury apartments, the first Oakwood property in Indonesia.
WHERE IS IT? In the fast-developed district of Mega Kuningan, easily accessible to embassies, offices, shopping and entertainment facilities.
APARTMENT TYPES: One-Bedroom Deluxe (70sqm), One-Bedroom Executive (100sqm), Two-Bedroom Deluxe (133sqm), Two-Bedroom Executive (145sqm), Three-Bedroom Deluxe (160sqm), Three-Bedroom Executive (196sqm) and Four-Bedroom Penthouse (416sqm).
CREATURE COMFORTS: Designer furniture and accessories, master bedroom with king-size bed, study/workdesk, LCD TV with satellite channels, DVD home theatre, cordless phone with DID and voicemail, broadband internet connection, safe, carpeted and marble flooring, washer and dryer, iron and ironing board and housekeeping among others.
THE EXTRAS: A fitness centre, swimming pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, restaurant and bar, meeting room, rooftop helipad, onsite retail shops and restaurants, car park, services like babysitting and childcare, doctor on call, dry cleaning and laundry, guest activity programmes and limousine.
PRICE: US$2,800 monthly for a One-Bedroom Deluxe.
CONTACT: Jalan Lingkar Mega Kuningan, Blok E4.2 No. 1, Jakarta 12950, Indonesia, tel 62 21 2554 2300, www.oakwood.com
SHANGRI-LA RESIDENCES JAKARTA
THE USP: A convenient location and heightened security – biometric fingerprint identification is required for access to the 168-residence buildings.
WHERE IS IT? In Sudirman business district, accessible to office buildings and malls. The Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is 45 minutes away.
APARTMENT TYPES: The furnished Jasmine Tower and unfurnished Lotus Tower consist of Two-Bedrooms (175-180sqm), Three-Bedrooms (227-236sqm), Three-Bedrooms plus study rooms (318-327sqm), Garden Units (342-356sqm) with private garden and direct lobby access and Penthouses with private pool and garden (773-938sqm).
CREATURE COMFORTS: Split air-conditioning, bedrooms with built-in wardrobes and attached bathrooms, LCD TV, broadband internet access, washer and dryer among others. Furnished apartments also come with a safe, DVD/VCD player and iron and ironing board.
THE EXTRAS: A 32-metre outdoor pool, kids’ pool and indoor playroom, steam and sauna rooms, gym, barbecue area, jogging track, verandah lounge, function room and dining discount at Shangri-La Hotel Jakarta.
PRICE: Monthly rates from US$2,650 for an unfurnished Two-Bedroom and US$3,350 for furnished.
CONTACT: Jalan Jend Sudirman Kav 1, Jakarta 10220, Indonesia, tel 62 21 570 7440, www.shangri-la.com
THE USP: Personal assistants are available all day to attend to business, social and personal needs of guests of this 126-suite property, the flagship luxury extended-stay product of Pan Pacific Hospitality.
WHERE IS IT? In the heart of Orchard Road for shopping, dining and entertainment and near Somerset MRT station. The central business district is 10 minutes away and Changi International Airport is 20 minutes away.
APARTMENT TYPES: Premium Suite (47-49sqm), Executive Suite (49sqm), One-Bedroom Executive and Premium Suites (64sqm each), Two-Bedroom Executive Suite (82sqm), One-Bedroom Penthouse (121sqm) and Two-Bedroom Penthouse (157sqm), with views of Orchard Road or Sommerset Road.
CREATURE COMFORTS: Bose home entertainment system, LCD TV, iPod connectivity, wired and wireless broadband access, Molten Brown toiletries, IP phone system, specially commissioned silkscreen prints by award-winning local ink painter Chua Ek Kay, and equipped kitchen among others.
THE EXTRAS: Hydro-therapeutic spa and mineral water pools, fitness centre, lounges, reading room, meeting room, sky gardens, grocery delivery, breakfast on business days and pressing service.
PRICE: S$13,000 (US$9,498) monthly for a One-Bedroom Executive Suite.
CONTACT: 96 Sommerset Road, Singapore 238163, tel 65 6884 5222, www.panpacificservicedsuites.com