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THERE are plenty of places in Singapore that are difficult to get into - the exclusive JetQuay CIP Terminal where VIPs aren't subjected to the rigmarole of travelling quite so intensely as the rest of us, the latest celebrity chef restaurant opening and, of course, the top ten primary schools in the country.
Joining this list of coveted establishments is Club 39, where prospective members go through a screening process, designed to identify an individual's personality and lifestyle interests, before their names make it to the roster.
Head of Memberships and Marketing, Kelly Bogaert, is part of the screening panel. She says: "Part of the process is meeting prospective members in person, and I'm the one who does that. What we're looking for is someone who's quirky, funky, and friendly - all the characteristics you'd want in your community." While the primary criterion is a person's personality, their professional profile, age and what they "bring to the table" is also considered.
Ms Bogaert, 34, explains: "It sounds abstract, and it can be subjective, but we're not doing it to exclude people. We're actually trying to build up a community of like-minded folk, so it's fundamental to screen them beforehand. We don't want to end up with a mish-mash of people that may not necessarily get along, because then why have a members' club to start with?"
Founder Andrea Radrizzani, a member of exclusive clubs in London and New York, felt that the concept was missing here. The founding partner of sports media rights giant MP & Silva said: "There wasn't a place that offered an element of privacy, while also providing you with the opportunity to meet people with varied and interesting backgrounds. Through business travel, I have gleaned a better understanding of different cultures and expectations, and I believe members are looking for a 'home away from home' environment."
The four-storey townhouse is 400 square metres in size and offers various facilities for its members to enjoy. It has two bars helmed by award-winning mixologist Mark Graham Thomas, two restaurants managed by Chilean head chef Rodrigo Guerrero, a private gym where two people can work out at any one time, two lounges, and meeting facilities which can be booked at no extra cost.
As the space is limited, there is a membership cap of 200 people. Ms Bogaert says: "Our club is special because of both the members we have as well as our facilities. We have a few members who've built up really strong friendships with other members, and they may not have had the opportunity to do so otherwise."
Club member and CEO of TrakInvest Bobby Bhatia agrees: "For me, what makes Club 39 unique is the people - both the ones managing the place, and my fellow members."
The club's location at Duxton Hill is an ideal one, according to Ms Bogaert. She explains: "Other than being in a great central location and being set in an alcove of bars and restaurants, it's a charming historical site which gives you a feeling of not being in the city, while actually being there."
Club 39, which opened on May 13, currently has 75 members ranging in age from 35 to 45 years, and they pay S$2,000 nett per annum for the privilege. Other than the permanent facilities, members also have access to an ever-changing events programme that includes whisky tastings with extremely rare whiskies, wine dinners with Fazil Mohammad, who was crowned Champion at the National Sommelier Competition 2014, and an introduction to modern and contemporary art.
Ms Bogaert, a former independent marketing and communications consultant with a specialisation in Art, expands: "We will be holding a session on how to collect art from a real perspective, without there being any commercial interest on our side. It's about the intricacies of the art world and how to deconstruct those, because unless you work in the industry, it can be difficult to collect art without any external influence."
There are three ways to become a member: the first is to be personally invited by Club 39's management team, the second is to be referred by an existing member, which improves your chances of being approved, and third, by applying online.
Once the club receives an application, they invite the applicant for a face-to-face meeting and also to show them the premises. If the applicant is still interested, a panel of six people vote on whether or not to accept them, and the majority vote prevails.
The process takes about a week in total, but "once you're in, you're in". There is no minimum monthly spend, and activity at the club is monitored, but has no effect on your standing as a member.
Ms Bogaert says: "Some of our members are of a certain profile and they travel a lot and have a family, so we understand if they're unable to come to the club as much as others. We don't judge our members by how or how often they use the club, it's really for them to enjoy it as they choose."
Club 39 is on 39 Duxton Hill. Opening hours are from 8.30am to midnight, from Monday to Friday; and from 10am to midnight on Saturday & Sunday. For more information, please call 6221-4235, or go to www.theclub39.com