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Closer to home
NOT just for those with limited leave and miniscule budgets, staycation deals are increasingly attracting Singaporeans, who are splurging out on the quickie respites that don't even 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 locals are funnelling the time and money usually spent on overseas travel into living it up at a hotel closer to home.
According to online hotel booking portal Hotels.com, staycation searches in Singapore last year increased by over 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 over 4,000 new hotel rooms unveiled here last year, according to property firm Chestertons.
"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," says Vincent LeLay, cluster general manager of Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort and Spa and Sofitel So Singapore at Accor.
The only property with direct access to Tanjong Beach that opened in November last year, after changing hands and being refurbished from the former Beaufort Hotel, the Sofitel Sentosa Resort and Spa reached almost full occupancy during the year-end festive season.
And the trend of vacationing at home has been on the rise over the years as the size of affordable living spaces dip and the culture of adult singles still living with their parents - yet seeking spaces for socialising with their peers - persist.
"It is definitely more affordable to pick a staycation over travelling overseas, especially during peak seasons when flights and hotels are expensive," says 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.
"It's also a quick and easy getaway from the stresses of city life and you don't need to go through all the hassle of multiple bookings and packing."
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, DIY gel manicure set and even a beer pong table set-up.
"We see the 'daycation' becoming something we would like to embrace as it gains popularity here," says Clifford Weiner, general manager of Hotel Jen Tanglin, which has been rebranded from the former Traders Hotel.
"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 generous free-flow which local diners really enjoy and 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 face-lift. The 403-room hotel hopes to tap a market of Singaporeans looking to rediscover the heritage of their own island nation.
"With the growth in stay options, hotels are increasingly offering more value adds to stay relevant and attract locals," says Rex Loh, Intercontinental Singapore's director of sales and marketing.
"Instead of cramped living conditions, I believe more Singaporeans look to staycations so as to experience an alternative stay environment.
"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, housed within heritage sites, is also banking on its proximity to cultural sites to attract local residents who haven't had the chance to explore all that the city has to offer.
"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," says Jan Buttgen, general manager of The South Beach.
"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."
Overseas without the hassle
WHY worry about ferry safety or having to find a last-minute flight that doesn't break the bank, when you can opt for a spontaneous island getaway to Sentosa? The Sofitel Sentosa Resort and Spa's location within 27 acres (11 ha) of tropical woodlands makes guests feel like they're nestled within a lush sanctuary, miles away from the bustling city. Chic decor touches such as a mini bar and 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, over 30 cheeses and hand-crafted chocolate truffles. Or if you're seeking a much-needed post-festive detox, check into the world's largest So Spa. The wellness refuge boasts a Mud Pool to lend a dewy glow to even the driest of skins using New Zealand volcanic mud, and personal trainers for a workout session to shed those extra calories from that extra slice of cake, followed by a massage to ease tensed muscles.
- Room rates start from S$390++ per night Tel: 6708-8310 www.sofitel.com
HE is known for designing The Delano in Miami, so it's perhaps apt that Philippe Starck's first hotel here is The South Beach. Oozing with design inspirations at every turn (stripes, pop hues and marble in one room? Why not?), the perfectly curated design elements assault and soothe the senses in turn, culminating in the thankfully restrained interiors of the guest rooms that each boast a panoramic view of the city. A veritable visual feast, the hotel features a mural by homegrown illustrator Soh Ee Shaun, and a video wall spanning six by seven metres showcasing a conceptual work by Korean artist Lee Lee Nam. The former Beach Road camp also includes high-tech amenities: guests tweak their room environments using a Room Control Unit, via the remote control on the Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) or with physical wall controls; while rooms include up to nine high-speed USB power sockets and a mobile Wi-Fi phone which can be utilised anywhere on The South Beach premises. 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 laidback gastrobar, and Prefix a cosy lobby lounge with a colour coded display of tomes.
- Room rates start from S$450++ a night Tel: 6818-1888 thesouthbeach.com.sg
Perfect stay with loved ones
MOST hotels would frown at guests throwing parties in their rooms. But while Hotel Jen Tanglin probably doesn't quite encourage you to release your inner Keith Richards, the new property is made for hosting a gathering with loved ones. The S$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 an affordable Sunday Brunch at $$138++ with free flowing Perrier-Jouet champagne. Aimed perhaps at hipster millennials, what with caged lightbulb fixtures adorning lift lobbies and faux wood tiles, it is nonetheless a perfect stay with the brood. A family package allows kids under the age of 12 to eat for free, while a pantry makes reheating children's meals very convenient. Or plan a "workcation" and get that urgent project done without the distractions of nosy colleagues or micromanaging bosses, using an in-room workspace with a view of swank Tanglin Road bungalows.
- Room rates start from S$165++ per night till Jan 31, 2016 Tel: 6738-2222 www.hoteljen.com
Getaway with a cultural twist
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 re-screening 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, while lining the walls of the corridor way is a series of art pieces by local artist Gladys Chow that combine traditional Chinese motifs and mosaic tiles with an old world design. Every Saturday afternoon, the hotel also conducts a two-hour Heritage Walking Trail that has been curated with the Singapore Tourist Guides Society, taking guests through areas such as Waterloo Street and Albert Street that are not usually explored for their historical pasts.
- From S$350++ a night till March 31, 2016 Tel: 1800 787-1221 www.ihg.com