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The Pavilion has been popular with corporate clients and for wedding solemnisation. It also features a terrace with outdoor grill kitchen for barbeque parties (above)

The Pavilion has been popular with corporate clients and for wedding solemnisation (above). It also features a terrace with outdoor grill kitchen for barbeque parties

That magical feeling just got better with the 20th floor getting a revamp, as part of Four Seasons' 20th anniversary celebrations

A wine appreciation cruise onboard a catamaran offers a view of Singapore from the sea that people rarely get to see

The garden truly comes alive at night, when the coloured LED lights that Mr Phua specially installed are switched on

Celebrate in style

The year-end party scene is expected to hot up as 2014 draws to a close. If you are hosting one anytime soon, these four revamped event spaces might be perfect for leaving an impression with your guests.
31/10/2014 - 05:50

Experience a 'different dimension'

The Pavilion, Shangri-La Hotel

HIDDEN away in the Garden Wing of the Shangri-La Hotel is a little building with a rich history that not many people know about. The single-storey building is now called The Pavilion, but it was once known as the Hollandse School at Orange Grove Road.

The Dutch school was started in the early 1920s at the initiative of a Dutch company, now known as Ned Llyod, which is still recognised as one of the founding members of the school. When it was first established, there were only five students, but that grew to 221 by 1958. In 1982, the land on which the building stood was sold to the hotel. The hotel has been using it as an event space, and minor refurbishments were done regularly.

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The Pavilion recently reopened with a complete restoration, to the tune of about S$1.5 million. Surrounded by lush greenery, with squirrels, birds and pollinating insects dropping by and being in a quiet spot, the building could easily have been converted into a guest suite but the hotel did not want to do that.

Reto K Klauser, the hotel's vice-president and general manager, says that in the Singapore society, there is an increasing thirst for authenticity. The hotel's guests are constantly on the search for real experiences.

"The truth is that almost everything we do today is hardly in its original environment any more. The Pavilion, being Singapore's first Dutch school since 1928, adds a truly different dimension to the events space in Singapore. This heritage site evokes a sense of nostalgic charm complemented by our chefs' innovative outdoor grill concepts," he adds.

The new interiors were designed by Hong Kong-based Leese Robertson Freeman Designers Limited (LRF).

The original structure from the former Hollandse School was retained, such as the walls and the beautiful Gable Roof. What is new are the motifs, interior walls and soft furnishings.

"The brief to LRF was to maintain the architecture of the heritage building," says Mr Klauser. "Based on the keywords 'simplicity' and 'elegance', LRF was to create an inviting yet unique venue for bespoke events."

Mood boards for The Pavilion are dominantly white and earthy tones with hints of blue and silver. Another feature was added to the original building: the terrace with outdoor grill kitchen. Previously a courtyard with water fountain, this beautiful events space was created to deliver a unique dining experience not available in other venues.

So far the Pavilion, which can seat about 70 to 100 people, has been popular with corporate clients and for wedding solemnisation.

The hotel is offering a festive rate from Nov 24 to Dec 26, for rental of The Pavilion from S$90 per person for lunch for minimum 50 people.

Highlights of a rooftop bash

20th Floor, Four Seasons

Hotel Singapore

IF you have attended an event on the 20th floor rooftop of the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, you would know that stepping into the space is much like being away from Singapore. Sure, you still see the familiar city skyline, but the indoor space is done up so elegantly, it's like being in a fancy home overseas.

That magical feeling just got better with the 20th floor getting a revamp, as part of the hotel's 20th anniversary celebrations. The last time the floor had a revamp was several years ago.

Austin Watkins, director of marketing for the hotel says, the space is one of the important revitalisations this year. "A key integrated event space with stunning function rooms and resort-style swimming pool featuring gorgeous cityscape views, post-launch it has brought even greater interest and bookings from many corporations, brands and guests looking for a luxurious, intimate and unique space for their events."

Acclaimed design firm HBA/Hirsch Bedner Associates was engaged to create a sophisticated and compelling space in the spirit of Four Seasons and the facelift cost the hotel S$1 million.

The 20th floor's two majestic event rooms provide two different takes on classical modernity - one in white wood and the other in dark wood, while new Preciosa crystal glass chandeliers add luxurious accents. The rooms are more than just good lookers. As part of the revamp, new thoughtful amenity solutions for guests have been added. They include one-touch automated draperies across all windows, smart TVs with Internet surfing options, Bose sound systems, new one-touch canopy for the wide balconies should guests wish to extend their event spaces outward and enjoy beautiful skyline views, and new customised planning such as culinary menus and floral arrangements tailored to guests' needs.

The rooftop pool is also transformed into an urban oasis, with a newly-installed poolside bar that illuminates at night, new poolside menus for handcrafted drinks and culinary delights, relaxing music, and new landscaping for a resort-style feel.

No surprises then that the 20th floor is popular with wedding solemnisation. "We have also had lunch or dinner weddings in majestic intimate settings with breezy pre or post-cocktails by the poolside bar, premium property launches, brand launches from fashion to jewellery to tipple, VIP events, even birthday parties for pets," he says.

The function room event rates depend on lunch, tea or dinner menus with a minimum 30-people booking, starting from S$138 per person for lunch. They can also be customised according to guests' needs, such as having pastry chef Yoshihide Hamamoto, a 23-year veteran who just joined the Singapore hotel this year from Four Seasons Tokyo, to create customised birthday or wedding cakes, or have the hotel's resident florist Linus Loh to create bespoke floral arrangements.

There is also a special 15 per cent savings package for cocktail parties and dinners in honour of the hotel's 20th anniversary.

Wine, wind and water

Sunreef62, Blue Star Yachting

Wine appreciation get-togethers are dime a dozen, but how about one onboard a yacht? Blue Star Yachting offers it on the Sunreef62, a luxurious catamaran which it has been renting out since September.

"It is a beautiful, balmy way to experience a view of Singapore, at sea, that people rarely get to see," says Celine Flamain, captain of the Sunreef62. A three-hour cruise usually begins at 6pm, starting from the Republic of Singapore Yacht Club at Clementi. The yacht sails down to Lazarus and St John's Islands, then towards the coast of Marina Bay to catch the view at sunset, then back along the coves of Sentosa before ending at the Singapore Yacht Club.

For its wine appreciation cruise, a wine expert will be onboard to introduce the wines. Blue Star Yachting offers a package that incorporates a champagne, two whites and two reds, with complementary platters of food. Some of the wines that were recently served onboard include Trentham Estate Murphy's Lore Sparkling Brut Reserve, Wignalls Unwooded Chardonnay 2011 and Oscar Vineyard Estate Shiraz Viognier 2010.

The price of the package depends on the number of guests onboard - the yacht can take up to 37 guests, with a captain and two crew members.

It can accommodate eight guests overnight. A sunset cruise for up to 23 guests costs S$2,050, the wine appreciation experience is an add-on and costs from S$90 to S$120 per person depending on the number of wines selected. "Since we launched the service, we have had several wine appreciation cruise bookings," says Ms Flamain. "We designed the wine appreciation cruise to give our patrons more choices."

The Sunreef62 caters not only for sunset and wine appreciation cruises but has other sailing itineraries as well, such as one around Singapore's Southern Isles, and even to Pulau Tioman and the Seribuat Archipelago.

At 62 feet, the Sunreef62 is one of the largest sailing catamarans available for charter in Singapore. It is air-conditioned and has two ensuite queen-size cabins, two ensuite double cabins, with expansive lounging areas across its aft deck, nets and fly bridge. It also comes with a fully equipped kitchenette.

The yacht carries inflatable floats, kayaks and snorkelling masks which can be used to explore the surrounding waters when it is anchored. Alternately, guests may relax in the hammocks or on the nets on board with a cold drink.

Guests are welcome to bring their own chosen food to the yacht or arrange for their own catering to be delivered to the yacht prior to the cruise, but a self-catering fee of S$200 is applicable which includes use of the barbecue and kitchen equipment, disposable cutlery and full service by the crew. Alternately guests can choose from several barbecue menus.

"We charter to corporate clients who want to entertain their customers; to families who want to picnic and go to the beach at Lazarus or St John's Islands, and we also cater to groups of people who would like to experience the wine appreciation cruise," says Ms Flamain.

Hosting a garden party... indoors

The Royal Greenhouse Garden, Orchidville

LANDSCAPING specialist Joseph Phua wants to make popular the concept of indoor landscaping. "People think that plants can only be grown outdoors, but by selecting the right plants, greenery can be brought indoors too," says Mr Phua, who is also the owner of Orchidville, an orchid farm at Sungei Tengah.

Mr Phua has over 20 years' experience in the horticulture industry, and has also done landscaping for several big hotel chains here. His pride and joy at his orchid farm is his Royal Greenhouse Garden, a vertical indoor landscaped garden with tens of thousands of living plants and herbs, forming the backdrop.

The garden comes with carpet grass flooring, rustic wooden floorboards, and is well-ventilated so the plants can grow. Mr Phua also installed a special system which reflects sunlight throughout the day into the indoor space, so the plants can grow healthily.

The plants are grown on moss attached to pillars, and they resemble the Super Trees at Gardens by the Bay, but are much smaller. Some of the plants growing on these pillars include Fittonia, Osaka, Scindapsus and Juncus. These plants were selected not only because they grow well indoors, but also because they grow at a slower rate, thereby requiring less maintenance.

The indoor garden is not only a space for Mr Phua to show potential clients that indoor landscaping is possible. "I want to show that indoor landscaping is also good for events," he says.

By day, the possibility of indoor landscaping is evident when one enters the garden. Furthermore, the plants help lower the indoor temperature. But the garden truly comes alive at night, when the coloured LED lights that Mr Phua specially installed are switched on. Think of it like being at Gardens by the Bay but in a more intimate setting.

The garden has been popular with corporate clients who hold their dinner parties there. Sit down meals can be arranged, or if clients want, a more casual setting is available too.

Mr Phua declined to reveal the cost of the use of the garden for a night, but says, "it will definitely be an unforgettable experience".