Friday, March 27, 2009

Rolling out the red carpet - all the way

EVEN as many hoteliers are reining in the luxuries and counting their dollars, one new project is rolling out the Rolls-Royces for its guests in a bid to stay competitive in the market.

Like its surreal landscape of manors, villas and lush rainforest, Capella Singapore - which will open on Monday - seems to be operating on a different plane altogether. But this, according to its general manager Michael Luible, is exactly what the hotel's target audience - independently wealthy individuals and business leaders such as CEOs and entrepreneurs - is looking for.

'The Capella guest is someone who knows what he wants and is used to luxury,' he says, adding that the hotel's client segment, in particular, is likely to choose 'understated luxury over more ostentatious offerings in the current economic climate'.

It is those preferences that the 111-room Capella seeks to fulfil. Developed at the cost of $400 million, the property aims to raise the bar in hospitality excellence both on the island and beyond with its 'architecture and design, luxury of space, unparalleled level of personalised services, and the opportunity for guests to experience exactly what they desire', pronounces Mr Luible.

Certainly, it's of the right pedigree: the project was designed by London's Pritzker Prize-winning architect Lord Norman Foster, with interiors by Jakarta-based Jaya Ibrahim, one of the world's top interior designers. New Yorker Elizabeth Weiner is the resort's art consultant while Honolulu firm Belt Collins International is responsible for its 30-acre landscape.

Luxury of space
Those sprawling premises are also being capitalised on by the hotel to differentiate itself from other luxury properties. 'Capella Singapore is the only resort-style hotel in Singapore that can afford such a luxury of space,' says Mr Luible, adding that the hotel's rooms, which start from 77 square metres, are some of the most spacious anywhere.

With so many big names behind it and room rates ranging from $660 to $7,500 per night, however, guests are bound to expect much more than large rooms and pretty views from their big picture windows. So Capella is going even further to provide its privileged guests with an ultra-luxurious experience, beginning from the moment they make a booking.

'Once guests confirm their reservations at Capella Singapore, they will gain access to a personal assistant, who will contact you before you arrive to help customise your stay,' says Mr Luible. This, he adds, should come in especially useful for business travellers as the assistant can arrange everything beforehand, from the use of one of the hotel's conference venues to reserving the best seats at one of Singapore's top restaurants.

Leisure travellers who wish to explore the city, meanwhile, won't have to trundle around in the likes of ungainly Ducktours vehicles - the resort has a chauffeured Rolls-Royce Phantom just for that purpose.

So far, the hotel has received 'a healthy number of advance bookings' boosted by the fact that its 'opening period coincides with several important holidays in Capella Singapore's key markets', says Mr Luible.

Still, it remains to be seen if all this is something that travellers will continue to fork out for in the coming months. Capella, however, is convinced that it is heading in the right direction. 'Hotels are increasingly moving towards providing differentiated products to emerge from the competition. For Capella Singapore, our key differentiation is to create experiences for the guests that will not be
able to be replicated at other hotels.

'As we build momentum with our sales and marketing operations and as we commence operations, we anticipate a strong interest,' Mr Luible concludes.

Source: Business Times, 27 Mar 2009

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