New hotels ride on staycation wave in Singapore
NOT just for those with limited leave and minuscule budgets, staycation deals are increasingly attracting Singaporeans, who are splurging out on short respites that do not require a passport. Scooting off to Bangkok or a Bintan beach used to be the default option for whiling away a long weekend but these days, time-strapped folks are opting to live it up at a hotel closer to home.
According to online hotel booking portal Hotels.com, staycation searches in Singapore last year increased by more than 80 per cent from 2014.
The Holiday Value Report by travel site Tripadvisor also noted that the Republic was the third most popular destination during the last June school-holiday season. Furthermore, to fuel this movement, there were more than 4,000 new hotel rooms unveiled here last year, according to property firm Chestertons.
Vincent Lelay, cluster general manager of Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort and Spa and Sofitel So Singapore at Accor, says: "We believe that Singaporeans will be seeking a getaway locally with the softening of the economy and potential threats abroad - potentially in getaways on Sentosa Island or a staycation in town."
The only property with direct access to Tanjong Beach, the Sofitel Sentosa Resort and Spa, which opened in November last year after changing hands and being refurbished from the former Beaufort Hotel, reached almost full occupancy during the year-end festive season.
Mya Kay, a public relations consultant who spent her last birthday at the Marina Bay Sands hotel and ushered in the new year in the year-old Hotel Jen Orchardgateway with friends, says: "It is definitely more affordable to pick a staycation over travelling overseas, especially during peak seasons when flights and hotels are expensive."
To attract the younger crowd, the recently opened Hotel Jen Tanglin, the second mid-range tier property by the Shangri-La Group here, has unveiled innovative promotions, including a Party Staycation package that includes a watermelon vodka punch bowl, canapes, a Smeg fridge filled with cocktail mixers, a DIY gel manicure set and even a beer pong table set-up.
Clifford Weiner, general manager of Hotel Jen Tanglin, which has been rebranded from the former Traders Hotel, says: "We see the 'daycation' becoming something we would like to embrace as it gains popularity here.
"We want Hotel Jen Tanglin to be a home at home, or from home, for locals as well as our overseas guests. For example, we have a very popular super-Sunday brunch with a DJ and a generous free-flow which local diners really enjoy and they are encouraged to stay on and use the pool facilities afterwards."
Meanwhile, the Intercontinental Singapore is anticipating even more local guests - which make up 15 per cent of its occupancy - following a multi-million-dollar facelift. The 403-room hotel hopes to tap a market of Singaporeans looking to rediscover the heritage of their own island nation.
Rex Loh, Intercontinental Singapore's director of sales and marketing, says: "With the growth in stay options, hotels are increasingly offering more value-adds to stay relevant and attract locals.
"For example, some locals choose to go on a staycation simply to enjoy recreational facilities such as the gym or swimming pool, while others may choose to stay at hotels which would provide them with convenience and ease of access to explore areas in local neighbourhoods steeped in heritage, for example, Bugis, Tiong Bahru or even Chinatown."
Featuring 654 Philippe Starck-designed rooms, the four-month-old The South Beach hotel is poised to be the go-to staycation destination for design aficionados. The French designer's first hotel project here is housed within heritage sites.
Says Jan Buttgen, general manager of The South Beach: "In Singapore, many residents live out of the city and, as such, the trend is to find the perfect place located in the heart of the action and closer to the city's attractions.
"Surrounded by infinite interest points, from the new National Gallery to a myriad of cultural, business and entertainment facilities within walking distance from the hotel, The South Beach is an ideal new destination that supports this notion."
And with another long, four-day Chinese New Year break early next month, here are some reasons to hang loose within Singapore.
OVERSEAS WITHOUT THE HASSLE
Room rates start from $390++ per night
The Sofitel Sentosa Resort and Spa's location, within 11ha of tropical woodland, makes guests feel like they are nestled within a lush sanctuary.
Chic decor touches such as a mini bar, an Illy coffee maker housed within a cylindrical chiffonier, Lanvin toiletries and fuchsia flamingo sculptures perched within a pond infuse contemporary French flair into the historical colonial building.
Time your stay with the hotel's Magnifique Champagne Brunch, which offers a free flow of Tattinger bubbly as well as an epicurean spread of live seafood, a foie gras gallery, succulent oysters, more than 30 cheeses and handcrafted chocolate truffles.
Or, if you are seeking a detox, check into the world's largest So Spa. The wellness refuge boasts a Mud Pool and personal trainers.
Room rates start from $450++ a night
He is known for designing The Delano in Miami, so it is perhaps apt that Philippe Starck's first hotel here is The South Beach. The hotel is oozing with design inspirations at every turn that assault and soothe the senses, culminating in thankfully restrained interiors of the guest rooms that boast a panoramic view of the city.
The former Beach Road camp also includes high-tech amenities. Guests can tweak their room environments using a Room Control Unit via the remote control on the Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) or with physical wall controls.
Drinkers will also appreciate having a tipple at each of the property's experiential bars. The soon-to-be opened Court Martial Bar offers bespoke cocktails while Laugh is a relatively laid-back gastrobar and Prefix is a cosy lobby lounge with a colour-coded display of tomes.
PERFECT STAY WITH LOVED ONES
Room rates start from $165++ per night till Jan 31
Most hotels would frown at guests throwing parties in their rooms. While Hotel Jen Tanglin probably does not quite encourage you to release your inner Keith Richards, the new property is made for hosting gatherings with loved ones. The $45 million makeover includes 565 rooms that are all decorated differently with localised wallpaper designs, Instagram-worthy touches such as a massive flamingo float in the pool, old school fixie-like bikes, pull-out sofa beds in the executive suites and Sunday Brunch at $138++ with free-flowing Perrier-Jouet champagne.
A family package allows kids under 12 to eat for free, while a pantry makes reheating children's meals very convenient.
GETAWAY WITH A CULTURAL TWIST
From $350++ a night till March 31
Embark on a trail through cultural enclaves, admire the gold-gilt lacquered cupboards that house your mini bar and even rest against a padded silk headboard block-printed with a contemporary interpretation of Peranakan tiles.
For those who are after a staycation that goes a little beyond a marathon rescreening of Game Of Thrones while lying on 1,000-thread-count sheets, the newly refurbished Intercontinental Singapore is a getaway with a cultural twist.
The facade of the hotel is an iconic representation of the two-storied houses that used to line the streets of the area in the past. Every Saturday afternoon, the hotel conducts a two-hour Heritage Walking Trail, taking guests through areas such as Waterloo Street and Albert Street.
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