Why Singapore’s Hotel Boom Is Drawing Millennial Travelers

Gardens by the Bay combines both technological and ecological innovations in its 250-acre wide expanse.
Gardens by the Bay combines both technological and ecological innovations in its 250-acre wide expanse.

Singapore is experiencing a hotel boom, which combined with new nonstop air service from the West Coast is well-timed to welcome an increasing number of American travelers. Through the first four months of 2016, more than 176,000 Americans arrived in Singapore, which is 1.5 percent up from the same period last year. That total is set to top 2015’s nearly half million visitors, itself a 3 percent increase over 2014. To accommodate them, nearly 30 new hotels (with more on the way)have opened in the city-state over the past two and a half years, representing a 14 percent increase in room stock.

A great number of guests filling those rooms will be Millennials — the one age group whose interest in visiting Singapore increased each of the last two years, according to MMGY Global’s Portrait of American Travelers. Among Asian cities it is now tied for third (with Beijing) in this regard, trailing only Tokyo and Hong Kong. Travel Agent reached out to Kershing Goh, regional director, Americas of the Singapore Tourism Board, for her take on what draws this particular demographic to the Lion City.

“Millennials travel to refresh, recharge and increasingly look for trips that inspire and encourage diverse perspectives on the world,” says Goh. “Singapore, a destination with a multitude of experiences and inventive cityscapes and attractions, is well-suited for this new generation of travelers.” She notes Singapore draws its compactness from dining and nightlife scene, and technological and ecological innovations.

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Singapore’s 250-acre Gardens by the Bay, she adds, is a great example that combines those latter two aspects in a tech-forward model of how cities everywhere “might make wise use of limited space in compact spaces boasting millions of residents and visitors. The 16-story Supertree Grove greets visitors with its nightly showcase and lush greenery, but is also part of a sustainable initiative for Singapore, helping regulate the air, water and temperature in the garden.” The Supertree Grove is home to exotic and local plant life, functioning akin to real trees, thanks to the environmental technology built within. Learning about the eco-friendly and sustainable practices behind all of this “further enhances the experience for Millennial visitors,” Goh notes.

Culinary Appeal

“We also know that Millennials are passionate food explorers [and] Singapore has a bevy of eco-friendly dining options,” says Goh. She recommends Chef Jason Tan-led Corner House restaurant — ranked number 17 on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list — for its “Gastro-Botanica concept, a new, contemporary dining experience that combines refinement with botanicals.” For something more traditional, “Singapore’s hawker street food and stalls are a must try,” Goh says. “They’re located throughout the island, but suggest checking out Tiong Bahru Market for local specialties from laksa [a spicy noodle soup] to chicken rice.”

Additionally, Singapore’s booming cocktail scene “takes eco-consciousness to a new level with farm-to-table imbibing at Open Farm Community, where you’ll find cocktail ingredients sourced from Open Farm’s own community garden,” she explains.

Hotel Boom

Among the new hotels that have opened so far this year are the M Social Singapore, a Philippe Starck-designed property along the Singapore River, overlooking the Robertson Quay precinct that is home to a variety of quaint dining, entertainment and shopping options, including Central Mall and UE Square Mall. Accor’s new hotel ibis Styles Singapore on Macpherson is complemented by the new Macpherson Mall, while InterContinental’s boutique Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong occupies a site at Joo Chiat, one of the country’s key heritage sites. Also in Joo Chiat is the new Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong.

Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview offers several dining and beverages options, and has 476 guestrooms, including nine suites, that come fitted with bay-window lounge seats.
Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview offers several dining and beverages options, and has 476 guestrooms, including nine suites, that come fitted with bay-window lounge seats.

Among the highlights of the recently opened Four Points by Sheraton Singapore, Riverview are several food and beverage options — including Japanese and Chinese restaurants, an all-day eatery and a bar with al fresco seating by the river, and servings from the brand’s signature Best Brews program, showcasing top local and imported beers.

Sofitel Singapore City Centre will be part of the upcoming multibillion-dollar Tanjong Pagar Centre near the Central Business District and Chinatown, when it opens later this year. At more than 950 feet, Tanjong Pagar will be Singapore’s tallest building.

Marriott International recently announced that The South Beach hotel — a 634-room luxury property designed by Philippe Starck, on Beach Road and adjacent to Suntec Singapore Convention & Exhibition Centre — will become JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach, with a design that fuses contemporary architecture and restored heritage. The property will be enhanced with the JW Marriott brand’s signature service and culinary offerings, including a specialty restaurant from award-winning Chef Akira Back and eight other food and beverage outlets. The majority of the hotel’s guestrooms and other facilities occupy the 45-story tower of the South Beach integrated development, while the space within the low-rise, historical buildings will be converted to house the hotel’s additional restaurant and bar concepts.

In conjunction with Marriott, Ian Schrager plans to introduce The Singapore Edition in 2019, the first in the city. The eight-story boutique hotel on the former Boulevard Hotel site on Orchard Boulevard and Cuscaden Road in the chic Orchid District, will be the brand’s first venture in the city-state. The Singapore Edition’s design and services will take into account the destination’s embrace of the future, technology, and arts and culture.

A second W Hotel in Singapore is reportedly on Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide’s drawing board. This downtown hotel would be the second W property in the city-state; the W Singapore Sentosa Cove opened in 2012. Starwood also manages the St. Regis Singapore.

New Air Services

United Airlines has launched a new, daily nonstop route between San Francisco and Singapore, the first such service between the city-state and the U.S. The new flights, which use the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, save travelers up to four hours of journey time each way vs. a one-stop flight.

United Flight 1 departs San Francisco at 10:55 p.m., arriving at Singapore’s Changi Airport at 6:15 a.m. two days later (all times local). On return, Flight 2 leaves Singapore at 8:45 a.m., arriving at San Francisco International Airport at 9:15 a.m. the same day. Flying times will be approximately 16 hours, 20 minutes westbound and 15 hours, 30 minutes eastbound.

Singapore Airlines will commence new nonstop service from San Francisco to Singapore on October 23. The new service marks SIA’s U.S. introduction of the A350-900 aircraft. The company plans to launch additional nonstop flights from Los Angeles to Singapore and New York to Singapore in 2018. SIA will continue to operate existing daily B777-300ER flights from San Francisco to Hong Kong, with continuing service to Singapore.

SIA is also growing at LAX: In October, SIA will expand to offer two daily flights from Los Angeles to Singapore, with the addition of a daily LAX-Seoul-Singapore route to complement the existing, daily LAX-Tokyo-Singapore operations.

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