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Home For The Holidays
IT’S NO SECRET that Singaporeans love to travel. So much so that if you’re not fast enough, you’ll find flights and hotels for popular holiday periods snapped up a year in advance, if not longer. But what is a little less known is that even when Singaporeans are not travelling overseas, they are still going on vacation – at home.
According to travel brand Expedia’s 2018 Singapore Staycation Study, a good six in 10 Singaporeans have done at least one staycation in the past 12 months, and seven in 10 are planning one in the next year.
Simon Fiquet, Expedia’s managing director for global series markets, notes that there has been a year-on-year increase in local hotel bookings by Singaporeans on its website. “Not only does this underscore the growing appeal of Singaporeans being tourists in their own backyard, staycations have also become quick and easy alternatives for them to take a short break without the need for detailed planning or extensive travelling,” he says.
So, it looks like the local tourism boost thanks to Crazy Rich Asians is seeing a spillover effect as Singaporeans look to re-discovering their own city. What with Raffles Hotel re-opening, new and rebranded hotels and plenty of new bars to hang out in, staycations could well be the next national pastime.
THE CAPITOL KEMPINSKI HOTEL
15 Stamford Road
Great for: Living it up like a Crazy Rich Asian
When The Capitol Kempinski Hotel opened its doors on Oct 1, industry players, travel bloggers – not to mention rabid staycationers – had something to cheer about. Finally, the hotel at The Capitol that seemed destined to remain hospitality folklore, could throw open its majestic doors.
Blame it on an earlier business dispute between previous co-owners, Perennial Real Estate Holdings and Pontiac Land, which stalled the development of the heritage site, including the site that would have been The Patina Capitol hotel.
In May 2018, Perennial took full ownership of the development when it acquired Pontiac Land affiliate Chesham Properties’ 50 per cent stake in Capitol Singapore. Perennial then appointed Europe’s luxury hotel group Kempinski Hotels SA to operate the hotel.
The 157-room hotel is spread across two buildings – Capitol Building, which was built in 1933; and Stamford House, completed in 1904. The buildings, which boast colonial art deco and Victorian aesthetics, are the handiwork of Pritzker Prize Architecture Laureate Richard Meier.
His is not the only big name involved in the project. Both the interiors and furnishings were designed by the late Indonesian designer Jaya Ibrahim. Under his watch, the interiors have all the requisite grandeur associated with its stately past, but infused with the warmth of a family home.
Except that “home” is one opulently finished in rosewood lacquer and Italian marble floors. With high corniced ceilings, limestone columns and dramatic archways, all you need is an elephant and some over-the-top wedding guests to complete the picture.
If you’re not getting married, then just check yourself into one of its eight categories of rooms. Each promises plenty of space and a deep bathtub to submerge in, because you won’t come out of its luxurious bathroom anytime soon. Just to remind you that you’re in Singapore, lamps in the rooms bear a design to emulate the scales of the Merlion.
You can also indulge in a uniquely Singaporean massage at the spa, featuring a blend of Chinese, Malay and Indian massage techniques.
As the restaurant and bar will only be ready by December, breakfast is served at the lobby lounge. But it doesn’t mean you lose out on the Kempinski experience. Look out for the Lady in Red - the Kempinski’s brand ambassador - who will greet you at the door and introduce you to a world of European luxury, right in your own backyard.
Room rates start from S$568.
ORCHARD RENDEZVOUS HOTEL
1 Tanglin Road
Great for: Families and fans of old-world charm
Located on the quieter end of Orchard Road, the old Orchard Parade Hotel is now known as the Orchard Rendezvous Hotel.
Arthur Kiong, chief executive officer of Far East Hospitality, says the rebranding is part of the company’s efforts to meet the demands of the growing mid-tier market.
He adds: “In an age where new hotels offer smaller rooms with limited services, Orchard Rendezvous Hotel offers larger rooms that are also highly differentiated from existing hotels.”
All 388 rooms have been renovated, and the hotel now offers nine different room types including one-bedroom suites and family rooms. The one-bedroom suites come with kitchenette and separate common areas, while the family suites are large enough for four people.
The hotel still cherishes its heritage, and draws inspiration from the time when the land the property stands on was once a pepper plantation. To reflect its historical significance, the interiors have been refurbished to incorporate elements of the pepper plant. These include the delicate pepper leaf chandelier and pepper plant motif in all the rooms.
The hotel has also partnered local art organisation, Sense of Arts, for handmade and pressed orchid products in the form of personalised cards and stationery that guests can bring home.
Room rates start from S$270.
CUBE BOUTIQUE CAPSULE HOTEL
55 Bussorah Street
Great for: A comfortable capsule hotel experience
Japan’s capsule hotels are a quirk of a society that has made living in small spaces an art form. The box-like capsules are a lifesaver for salarymen, out drinking - or working - till the last train has long gone. Cheap and efficient, it also became popular with tourists curious to try out such compact accommodation for themselves.
The concept has since spread overseas, including Singapore, where a handful have sprouted, including the latest CUBE Boutique Capsule Hotel in Kampong Glam.
Founders Benedict Choa and Sonia Tay had noticed a dearth of accommodation catering to digitally-inclined young travellers when they opened their first CUBE in Chinatown. It did so well that they opened another in Kampong Glam. Both locations were picked for their proximity to MRT stations as well as to various neighbourhood attractions.
The Kampong Glam hotel fits 56 capsules into its specially configured conservation shophouses. Each accommodates a single or queen-sized bed, fitted with plush mattresses and 250 thread-count cotton linen. Each capsule is designed to moderate its own temperature, and is insulated to block out noise from neighbours.
There are thoughtful features built into each capsule, such as universal plugs, USB phone chargers, a safe, mirror/vanity area, bedside light, hanger space and a locker drawer with digital security for personal storage.
The rooms’ configurations vary between two and 18 capsules. For larger groups, pick a private capsule room, which can fit up to six people.
Bathrooms have to be shared, but they are spacious, with showers, hairdryers and toiletries. You even get a dental kit, slippers and a towel when you check in.
Capsule rates start from S$50 per night.
READ MORE: Drink And Stay The Night