Friday, March 27, 2009

Something special

Amid the current climate and in an already tight hotel market, any project coming onstream has a tougher job than usual to achieve decent occupancy. AUDREY PHOON checks out three new properties to see if their unique concepts and competitive pricing give them a fighting chance

Blazing the all-inclusive trail
IN the current market, perhaps all that a hotel needs to cut itself a slice of the tight customer pie is a single tool: an all-in-one pricing system. That's the way Far East Organization sees it, and that is the company's business approach for Quincy, its latest hotel project.

The main selling point of the Orchard boutique hotel, which officially opened on Wednesday, is that it is Singapore's first all-inclusive hotel. And what that means is that for one price (the introductory rate is currently $208++), you get everything from three meals a day and a one-way limousine transfer service from the airport to evening cocktails, Wi-Fi and free access to a well-stocked mini bar. That's on top of the 400-threadcount sheets, feather-topped beds, 42-inch screens, and Molton Brown toiletries that are standard in every room.

Pretty unbelievable services
Considering the astronomical price of some hotel rooms these days (even as rates have dropped in view of the economic downturn) and the lack of value some of them provide, what you get at Quincy is pretty unbelievable. But there's 'no secret to it', says Chia Boon Kuah, executive director of Far East's hospitality business.

He explains that the hotel is able to keep costs down because it shares its back-of-house operations with the neighbouring Elizabeth Hotel, which is also owned by Far East. The company could have used the space to merely expand Elizabeth Hotel, adds Mr Chia, but it decided against it as 'that wouldn't have added any lifestyle options to the area'. 'There's a growing awareness of boutique products and yet, no such product like Quincy as far as supply is concerned,' he says.
Indeed, the new hotel - headed by hotel manager Franck Hardy, formerly of St Regis - is one of the grooviest in Orchard. Designed by architecture firm Ong & Ong, it houses 108 rooms (all the same size but in different configurations) behind a distinctive dark glass-and-steel facade that's emblazoned with the hotel's name in a white funky font. On the 12th floor, a cantilevered pool flanked by Dedon daybeds sits alongside a state-of-the-art gym while in the LED-lit lifts, LCD screens display quirky messages from the staff. And all common toilets in the hotel are unisex.

Everything is aimed at creating a 'modern, cool, surprising' experience, says Mr Hardy, adding: 'We want to surprise you upon check-in until when you check out.'

Travellers know a good deal when they see one, which is why the hotel averaged 76 per cent occupancy last month, with 100 per cent of its beds taken up going into its second week.

Source: Business Times, 27 Mar 2009

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