Features

Singapore's Refreshed & Revived Hotels

30 Sep 2007 by business traveller

Luxury hotels around Orchard Road are looking better than ever, having undergone a vigorous round of renewal and refurbishment. Julian Tan gets an update on their new products and services.

Over the last two to three years, luxury hotels along Scotts and Orchard Roads have gone through massive refurbishments amounting to millions of dollars, unveiling an impressive inventory of redesigned and new products and services. This is, in fact, good news for the local hotel industry, at a time when Singapore prepares to take on tourist-generating events like Formula 1, which it will be hosting next year.

Hilton Singapore director of sales and marketing, Ailynn Seah, says: “Singapore is striving to take the hotel industry forward and the efforts by Singapore Tourism Board (STB) has been very commendable. The Orchard Road area since the 1970s, has always been the city’s main tourism belt in terms of entertainment, shopping and dining, with continuous new developments in the pipeline.” 

Adds Singapore Marriott Hotel director of marketing communications, Vivian Tung: “This trend in hotel refurbishment can be attributed to a shared positive outlook for the tourism and hotel industries. Following STB’s successful initiatives and the upcoming addition of Integrated Resorts and events with the likes of F1, strong visitor growth is expected to continue.

“How this in turn translates to what we do at Marriott, is constantly backed by a strong ‘Experience Mission’. It’s all about making an emotional connection with the guest. This experiential approach means innovations even in how we approach decor and design, which leverage Marriott’s technology leadership and service culture to provide excellent products and services when and how guests want them.” 

Royal Plaza on Scotts director of marketing and brand development, Odette A Huang says a unique guest experience gives a hotel its competitive edge. “The hotel industry is a fiercely competitive one and guests have come to expect facilities such as Wi-Fi as standard. The look and feel of the hotel coupled with the level of service enhance the overall guest experience.”

HILTON

WHAT’S IT LIKE? An extensive six-month refurbishment which started in January covered 256 rooms and suites, adding LCD televisions, DVD players and work desks with LAN and Wi-Fi connection. Catering to group meetings, the 587-square-metre Grand Ballroom was outfitted with a computerised lighting system, sophisticated audio-visual equipment and LAN and wireless internet capabilities; it can host up to 600 people theatre style and 500 banquet style. A new function space for 240 guests called The Panorama was also unveiled, boasting unobstructed city views from the top 24th floor of the hotel and access to the rooftop swimming pool, where pre-event cocktail soirées popularly take place. The price tag: S$5.5 million (US$3.65 million).

The next phase of refurbishment will include the hotel’s remaining 166 guestrooms and is scheduled to finish by early next year. US design firm Bent Severin & Associates is the project coordinator.

IT'S IN THE DETAILS... What business travellers want in a hotel stay is simply a place to kick back and relax, and Hilton has it all down pat. Its newly furbished contemporary guestrooms feature a soothing taupe-hued interior, complete with soft day sheers and light clay-coloured drapes that provide cosiness. Thoughtful little touches include a custom-designed alarm clock/radio/MP3 player with one-touch buttons and Crabtree & Evelyn La Source bath range, which is offered exclusively to Hilton hotels across Asia.

RATES: Executive Floor Rooms from S$500 (US$333) nightly when booked online, for a weekday stay in mid November.

CONTACT: 581 Orchard Road, Singapore 238883, tel 65 6737 2233, www.singapore.hilton.com

ORCHARD

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Signature Club floors are the focus of the multimillion-dollar facelift of its Orchard Wing. All of the refurbished 325 guestrooms, including 260 in the Superior category, boast a contemporary decor with Oriental touches.

French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon lent his name to the hotel project, fusing Oriental decor with European styling on the Signature Club floors from 15th through 18th. The design theme features three colours that are used in traditional chinaware: red, blue and celadon (a translucent pale green).

“The Regal Red Room spells vibrancy, aided by generous doses of black in the furniture and wood panels,” Rochon said, explaining the design concept. “The Ming Blue Room is both traditional and timeless, and conjures up a sense of nostalgia for the sentimental guest, (while) the Celadon Green scheme instantly creates a bright and cheery first impression, reminding one of the freshness of spring.”

The 18th-floor Signature Club Lounge, which has a room for small meetings and an open kitchen with a chef (who will gladly prepare traditional English coddled eggs for you), embodies the theme of “East meets West” through a clever use of red and black. Other new services that resulted from the refurbishment include lifts offering a LCD information panel and key-card access, and the Kids’ Club and Hospitality Room.

IT'S IN THE DETAILS... Intimate spaces like the wardrobe took some careful planning. All 16 Signature Suites have walk-in wardrobes and each of the 29 Signature Club Rooms and 20 Signature Club Deluxe Rooms opens up to an armoire (or a freestanding wardrobe), which screams “boudoir glamour”. Elegant yet functional, the armoire is fitted with a laptop safe and charger.

Bringing an Oriental feel to the room, headboards are covered in red, blue or green fabric and flanked by wooden panels. Embroidered silk cushions and Chinese-style lampshades are also used to enhance the mood.

RATES: Signature Club Rooms from S$435 (US$290) nightly when booked online, for a weekday stay in mid November.

CONTACT: 442 Orchard Road, Singapore 238879, tel 65 6734 7766, www.orchardhotel.com.sg

MARRIOTT

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Room refurbishment was carried out floor by floor between October 2006 and April this year. It resulted in newly decorated Junior Suites equipped with the latest technology, like LCD televisions and digital plug-in panels called the Remote Jack Pack, which allows guests to connect their laptop to the TV monitor for surfing the web, playing DVDs and video games or playing videos from camcorders and viewing pictures from digital cameras. It also resulted in the installation of the luxurious Marriott Revive® bed.

Business Rooms were also launched to provide business travellers the comforts of a “home away from home”, like an LCD television, minibar, the Revive® bed, unlimited internet access, complimentary pressing of two shirts or blouses per stay and free local phone calls. Another new room category, the Premier Rooms on level 29 provide executives an ergonomic working environment; there are 12 of them in the collection.

And that’s not all that Marriott has to offer. Early extensive works last year saw the unveiling of nine deluxe Pool Terrace Rooms on level five, providing an oasis in the heart of Orchard Road. Marriott’s Executive Lounge also reopened after an expansion, sporting a palette of cream and dark brown complemented with polished marble flooring and plush carpets and two 40-inch LCD-screen televisions.

IT'S IN THE DETAILS... Luxury is the name of the game: Bvlgari amenities, adjustable mood lighting, and of course, the Revive® bed with a 10-inch mattress, fluffy Euro pillows and a feather duvet with 300-thread count duvet linen are part of the Premier Room package.

RATES: Executive Level Rooms from S$520 (US$346) nightly when booked online, for a weekday stay in mid November.

CONTACT: 320 Orchard Road, Singapore 238865, tel 65 6735 5800, www.marriott.com/sindt

GRAND HYATT

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The Terrace Wing is the latest of its major refurbishment, showcasing new Grand Rooms, Grand Club Rooms, a Grand Club Lounge and Suites including three Presidential Suites. Work on Grand Hyatt’s other wing, the Grand Wing which comprises 403 Grand Deluxe Rooms and Suites, completed in 2004 at a cost of S$30 million (US$19.9 million).

Dato Willi Martin, general manager and area vice-president of Hyatt International Hotels & Resorts, sums up the efforts. “The key to our refurbishment was for form to meet function, and ensuring both wings (Grand and Terrace) and the hotel main areas are aligned in terms of feel and design,” he reveals.

“We engaged Beatrice Girelli (the principal designer of Santa Monica, California-based Indidesign) once again to work her magic on our Terrace Wing after she completed the renovation at Grand Wing. Much consideration was given to reconfiguring guestroom and suite layouts to expand the usable space and promote functionality.

“The open layout makes a world of difference especially when the alcove made way for a seamless workstation, complete with modern entertainment units. Allowing more natural light to diffuse into each room and bathroom was an instant hit with (our) guests.” 

IT'S IN THE DETAILS... Oasis, the 110-seat poolside restaurant for all-day dining located on level five of the newly refurbished Terrace Wing, was introduced to Grand Hyatt’s guests in March last year. To complement its open-air lush surrounding, Oasis uses natural construction materials like teak wood panels for the ceiling and wooden art pieces placed on the side wall, one easily guesses it is the creation of renowned Japanese designer Super Potato.

RATES: Club Rooms from S$470 (US$313) nightly when booked online, for a weekday stay in mid November.

CONTACT: 10 Scotts Road, Singapore 228211, tel 65 6738 1234, singapore.grand.hyatt.com 

ROYAL PLAZA ON SCOTTS

WHAT’S IT LIKE? The hotel closed for a multimillion-dollar renovation in October 2006 and reopened this January, making headlines as Singapore’s first “100 percent smoke-free hotel”. It celebrated its grand opening in May. Odette A Huang, director of marketing and brand development, Royal Plaza on Scotts, says: “Demand for rooms has actually gone up (since the hotel reopened). In fact, 90 percent of our bookings had been for non-smoking rooms prior to our renovation. This prompted us to increase the number of non-smoking floors from three to nine out of a total of 12 floors.

“The stance to go non-smoking in public establishments is increasingly becoming a global trend which makes it easier for our guests to adapt to our no-smoking policy.”

IT'S IN THE DETAILS... A brand-new two-storey glass-clad facade was built at the hotel’s main entrance along Scotts Road.

Within, each of the 511 guestrooms features the Dream Bed with a Simmons Beautyrest mattress to provide a good night’s sleep, down feather pillows and a 320-thread count duvet. Minibar service and internet access, both wired and wireless, are complimentary.

New dining options include the Carousel, which opens 24/7 and has a contemporary look enhanced by stylish colourful furniture matching its four themed seating areas: the Terrace (where diners can enjoy a meal under the skylight), the Living Room (with polished parquet flooring), the State Rooms (two of them, the pièce de résistance is a crystal chandelier; degustation menu is offered here) and the Veranda (avant-garde backlit glass walls mounted with Austrian red mosaic cut glass). Asian and Mediterranean fare and seafood are served, and there’s also a rotisserie station. Designer-clad butlers serve to spoil the diners with food recommendations.

A lounge called Heat plays ambient and Latin house music and can seat 85 people.

RATES: Deluxe Rooms from S$640 (US$426) nightly when booked online, for a weekday stay in mid November.

CONTACT: 25 Scotts Road, Singapore 228220, tel 65 6737 7966, www.royalplaza.com.sg

MERITUS MANDARIN

WHAT’S IT LIKE? This 1,200-room property underwent a multimillion-dollar facelift of its main lobby, Premier Rooms, Meritus Club Lounge and Mandarin Ballroom last year.

IT'S IN THE DETAILS... The lobby makeover included two main columns that were refinished in burl timber veneer to create a soft and warm ambience, mirrored panels on both sides of the columns framed in burl veneers to create a sense of space and custom-designed wall lighting fixtures. The Meritus Business Lounge, formerly the Mandarin Club Lounge, was unveiled in March boasting an increased floor area of 483sqm. Located on the 31st storey, the lounge boasts an earth-toned interior and offers services like complimentary internet access, use of the Business Room, a range of magazines and newspapers and snacks and beverages among others – all for S$60 (US$40) per person per day.

Premier Rooms in the Grand Tower were redesigned, revealing a contemporary style. Ample work space, a 25-inch flat-screen TV, CD/VCD player, teleconferencing facilities, a writing table with separate dataport for modem, an elevated bed with duvet and a massage armchair are room standards. There’s also a marble bathroom with glass panels allowing a view into the bedroom and a shutter screen that can be drawn for privacy, and a Pharo Moonlight Shower Panel with therapeutic massaging hydrojets.

For functions, Mandarin Ballroom on level six of the South Tower is pillarless, providing flexible options for event planners. Up to 1,200 guests can be accommodated in the 1,020sqm ballroom, which features a contemporary design, plush carpeting, a state-of-the-art audio-visual system and wall-to-ceiling lighting – wall lighting motifs are designed to enhance the effects of lighting on ambience and thematic settings.

RATES: Meritus Club Grand Tower Rooms from S$500 (US$333) nightly when booked online, for a weekday stay in mid November.

CONTACT: 333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867, tel 65 6191 4411, www.mandarin-singapore.com

SHERATON TOWERS

WHAT’S IT LIKE? Newly refurbished ballrooms and function rooms, Executive Lounge, business centre, Italian restaurant DOMVS, gym and spa facilities are all part of an S$8 million (US$5.3 million) upgrading project facilitated by Hirsch Bedner Associates, which began in August 2006 and is scheduled to complete by January next year.

IT'S IN THE DETAILS... Travellers on the road will appreciate the efforts made to the Executive Lounge on level three. All of 437.5sqm in a contemporary setting, it comprises the Main Lounge, a Library Lounge, two workstations with internet connection, three function rooms and a boardroom. Seating capacity is for 68 in the 178-square-metre Main Lounge for buffet and TV viewing. The Library Lounge, which features LCD televisions mounted on a backlit onyx feature wall, can accommodate 14 people, while three function rooms offer natural daylight and measure a total of 150sqm, each equipped with audio-visual equipment and space for food set-up. Alternatively, the boardroom is spacious enough for 14 people with additional seating at break-out corners; it has a 42-inch LCD television panel and projector screen and ergonomic Herman Miller chairs.

The business centre has been relocated to the ground floor and now operates 24/7 with full secretarial services like laminating and book binding, four workstations with flat-screen monitors and broadband internet connection and a conference room for four people with an LCD projector.

For leisure, a new glass-covered gym will satisfy health buffs. Other additions are a pool bar and two spa treatment rooms. Now, say “ohm...”.

RATES: King Rooms from S$410 (US$273) nightly when booked online, for a weekday stay in mid November.

CONTACT: 39 Scotts Road, Singapore 228230, tel 65 6737 6888, www.sheratonsingapore.com

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Come December, Singapore’s shopping and entertainment strip of Orchard Road will be transformed with the opening of St Regis (an artist’s rendition pictured). The ritzy 299-room property is the third St Regis in Asia, the other two being Beijing and Shanghai. The minimum room size is 50sqm.

The guest profiles are “C-level management and luxury leisure travellers”, according to Wong Wye Leng, director of marketing communications, St Regis Singapore.

The hotel package will feature the signature St Regis butler services, Asia’s first Remède Spa, a fleet of customised Bentleys, one of the most priceless private art collections (including works by Joan Miro, Chagall, Botero, Chen Wen Hsi and Georgette Chen) and a skylight ballroom. Other facilities include over 1,500sqm of meeting space (the John Jacob Ballroom accommodating up to 800, five multipurpose function rooms and one boardroom), an outdoor swimming pool, a fitness centre with cardio and exercise equipment and an air-conditioned tennis court. Fine-dining experiences can be had at French restaurant Les Sens and YAN for Cantonese. Other F&B outlets are LaBrezza for Mediterranean, Decanter wine bar, Astor Bar and The Drawing Room for tea drinking.

THANK YOU, PHOENIX

Hotel Phoenix closed on August 1, making way for redevelopment. The 35-year resident of Orchard Road was a landmark no one could miss, despite the many temptations along Singapore’s famed shopping and entertainment strip.

The man behind the 392-room hotel was industry veteran Noel Hawkes, who describes himself as “the longest serving GM of a hotel in Singapore”. “The hotel brings back many happy memories for me. I arrived there in 1986 as a young bachelor from Kuala Lumpur and expected to stay for a few years at best,” says Hawkes, who was Hotel Phoenix’s last managing director having worked there for 20 years.

“Little did I realise that I would make Singapore my home and get married to a lovely Singapore lady, Nancy. Our son, Brian, spent his first eight years during childhood in the hotel and despite now living in Sentosa Cove, he really misses room service, Hokkien mee, roti prata and housekeeping.

“In all honesty, I miss all of these just as much,” he reveals.

When asked what he misses fondly about the hotel, Hawkes says “the wonderful staff and the ‘esprit de core’”.

He adds: “I believe the incredible success of the hotel was due to the dedication and care the staff gave to our guests... I have no doubt that the Phoenix will rise again from the ashes in two to three years from now as a fabulous new hotel. Who knows who the GM will be then?”

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