The Singapore Specialist Program 2008 is scheduled to debut early this year. The Singapore Tourism Board, Americas, is developing the educational program, which will train and certify travel agents who complete an online course as Singapore specialists.
Getting there: Singapore Airlines offers nonstop service to Singapore from Los Angeles and New York. Flight time from New York comes to about 21 hours.
Transpacific flights are available from All Nippon Airways, Asiana Airlines, Cathay Pacific, China Airlines, Eva Airways, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysia Airlines, Northwest Airlines, Thai Airways International and United Airlines.
Transatlantic flights are offered by British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates Air, Finnair, KLM, Lufthansa, Malaysia Airlines and Swissair.
The two terminals at Singapore's Changi Airport (www.changi.airport.com.sg) contain comprehensive facilities as well as hotels. The Ambassador Transit Hotel (www.airport-hotel.com.sg) can be booked for onward passengers not clearing customs and immigration facilities in Singapore. Taxi fares from the airport to downtown are approximately $10 to $14.
Hotels: The 775-room Pan Pacific (www.panpacific.com/singapore) recently completed a $9.7 million renovation of its rooms and suites. The refurbishment, heavy on technological upgrades, includes the addition of multiple-port panels and improved Internet connectivity.
Each room in the hotel has floor-to-ceiling glass windows, with great views of the city or harbor. The finishing touches are the remote-controlled Roman drapes and sun filters framing the windows.
The hotel has a suite on each of its 37 floors. Each suite comes with a bedroom and attached living room, making it a good choice for families. For even more space, book an adjoining guest room. The Pacific Club rooms, suites and Presidential Duplex Suites, on floors 33 to 35, have a team of butlers on hand.
Travel agent liaison is Wong Sin Dee, director of business development ([email protected], 011-65-6826-8284).
Raffles Hotel's (http://singapore.raffles.com) 103 suites are dispersed over four wings and are inspired by the colonial bungalows of the early 20th century. Suites have 14-foot ceilings, Oriental carpets and original etchings on the walls.
The 12 Personality Suites, located along the Palm Court, are among the most requested. These are named after celebrities who were associated with the hotel in its earlier heyday. The most popular are Ava Gardner (#123), Charlie Chaplin (#212), Rudyard Kipling (#252) and Somerset Maugham (#102). Each suite has a parlor and dining area, bedroom and dressing room.
The hotel's 17 Palm Court Suites and eight Courtyard Suites, which have double queen-size beds, are good for families. The eight connecting rooms are also Palm Court Suites (#111, 112, 113, 114, 204, 205, 211 and 212). There are seven Grand Hotel Suites in the main building. These have a living and dining room, well-equipped pantry, two bedrooms and a private veranda.
Agents should book two months in advance, especially during the peak season between September and March. Travel agent liaison is Sharie Rajaratnam, sales manager ([email protected], 011-65-6412-1269).
The 400-room Fullerton Hotel (www.fullertonhotel.com), in the heart of Singapore's central business district, is within walking distance of many cultural venues, including Boat Quay, one of Singapore's most popular dining and entertainment areas. Among non-suites, the spacious Esplanade Rooms are a popular choice for their sea or river views (views from Quay Rooms two floors below are also excellent). Among suites, the Loft Suites go quickly. Each of these duplex units features high ceilings, a spiral staircase to the bedroom and French doors leading out to a balcony.
The Presidential Suite, formerly the card room of the elite Singapore Club, is the Fullerton's most exclusive suite. This 653-square-foot unit has a living room, dining room, entertainment area, bedroom, study, kitchen and glass-enclosed veranda. Fullerton Suites are a good choice for larger families. These are on the top level of the hotel, overlooking the river or sea, and have outdoor terraces.
Agents can direct inquiries and special requests to Marina Buenaventura, director of sales ([email protected], 011-65-6877-8021).
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore (www.fourseasons.com) will embark on a room refurbishment from March through July. Technological advancements include high-speed Internet access and a 42-inch LCD-screen TV.
Premier Rooms have a wide window bay that allows more light in. Being corner rooms, these are larger than the Deluxe Rooms. The most requested premium accommodation is the Executive Suite, which has a living room and bedroom, each with a separate entrance.
The One-Bedroom Suite is a good recommendation for families. Each of the hotel's Theme Suites—Ambassador, Royal, Governor and Presidential—has a dining room with a table that seats eight, living room and powder room, with a choice of one or two adjoining rooms.
City-view rooms end with odd numbers and boulevard-view rooms with even numbers. Ignacio Gomez-Tobar ([email protected], 011-65-6831-7000) is the hotel's regional vice president and general manager.
Languages: Singapore has four official languages—English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. English is the most widely spoken.
Time: Singapore is 13 hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone, 12 hours ahead during daylight savings.
Currency: At press time, one Singapore dollar equaled 69 U.S. cents.
Tour operators: Here's a list of some tour operators and wholesalers with Singapore programs: Abercrombie & Kent (www.abercrombiekent.com, 800-323-7308), China Travel Service U.S.A. (www.chinatravelservice.com, 800-899-8618), GTS Globotours (www.globotours.net, 800-988-4833), Globus (www.globusjourneys.com, 866-755-8581), Mayflower Tours (www.mayflowertours.com, 800-323-7604), Orient Flexi-Pax Tours (www.orientflexipax.com, 800-545-5540), Pacific Delight Tours (www.pacificdelighttours.com, 800-221-7179), Pleasant Holidays (www.pleasantholidays.com, 800-377-1080), Ritz Tours (www.ritztours.com, 800-900-2446), SITA World Travel (www.sitatours.com, 800-421-5643), Travcoa (www.travcoa.com, 800-992-2003).
SINGAPORE TOURISM BOARD
• New York 1156 Sixth Ave., Suite 702New York, NY 10036Tel: 212-302-4861Fax: 212-302-4801 [email protected]
• Los Angeles 5670 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 1550Los Angeles, CA 90036Tel: 323-677-0808Fax: 323-677-0801 [email protected]