How Singaporeans are spending the SG50 weekend

Victoria Li, owner of Old Hong Kong Kitchen.
Victoria Li, owner of Old Hong Kong Kitchen.PHOTO: ST FILE

Many are turning the Golden Jubilee long weekend into a family affair, with picnics, parties and staycations. And this is good news for caterers and hotels.

Chinese restaurant Old Hong Kong Kitchen already has more than 100 catering orders for the Aug 7-10 holiday, and expects this to double. Many orders, said its owner Victoria Li, are for over $1,000. "Families are making big orders for club houses and condominium function rooms. Offices are also ordering from us," she said.

To prepare for the surge, the restaurant in Novena has hired four extra part-time food packers, and frozen leave over the period.

Indian restaurant Riverview Tandoor has received around 80 catering orders, some for as many as 200 people, said director of sales and operations R.K. Bhandari.

It typically gets just three orders a day on weekends.

Other firms The Sunday Times contacted, including Thai restaurant Nara and caterer JR Foods, also said business has been brisk.

Peach Garden has put together National Day "Party Packs", which provide food for 10 people for around $200. Its spokesman said this has proved a swift seller among families staying home to watch the parade live.

Hotels are also doing good business. Pan Pacific Singapore is fully booked, with Singaporeans making up 42 per cent of guests over the long weekend.

Millennium and Copthorne Hotels expects its five hotels here to be full; Royal Plaza on Scotts is 85 per cent full; and Resorts World Sentosa's six hotels are 90 per cent booked. The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore's Golden Jubilee package is sold out, and so is Marina Mandarin Singapore's NDP staycation package which involves a minimum three-night stay.

Some firms are letting staff make use of their good vantage point.

DBS Bank, which occupies 18 floors of Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3, is letting staff plan gatherings in the office and invite families and friends. Standard Chartered Bank is opening up the 21st floor of its Battery Road premises to more than 200 staff, and their families and friends, to watch the fireworks.

Others are planning more intimate gatherings. Ms Jen Chua, 44, will be frying noodles and making sandwiches for a family picnic at the Promontory at Marina Bay. She also plans to take her three children to some of the free attractions around the island. She said: "I told my children, Mummy and Daddy can celebrate Singapore's 50th birthday with you, but by the time Singapore is 100 years old we may not be around any more."

Singaporeans overseas also have plans to celebrate. About 100 of them are tuning in to the live telecast of the parade at a Harry's Bar in Suzhou, with organiser Suzhou Singapore Club setting off fireworks later. Club president Ang Kian Teck, 45, said: "This is the first time we are organising a live telecast, simply because it is SG50."

In Australia, around 1,000 Singaporeans will visit a carnival at Brisbane City Hall on Aug 9. Similar events were organised by Singapore student associations in the area for past National Days, but this time they have doubled the budget to include more food, for instance.

Mr Alfred Bay, 28, a civil engineering student at Queensland University of Technology, is helping to organise this year's event. He said it will be heartwarming when they all stand up together to "sing the National Anthem along with those back in Singapore".

Travel agents, too, are smiling.

Bookings at Chan Brothers Travel jumped threefold compared to the last National Day. At SA Tours, bookings are up 40 per cent compared to last year. At Dynasty Travel, the spike is about 20 per cent compared to the Hari Raya Puasa three-day weekend which started on Friday, July 17. Spokesman Alicia Seah said people need to take two to four days of leave to enjoy a seven- to 10-day holiday.

Most bookings, said the firms, are for destinations in Australia, China, Japan and Europe.

Mr Fabian Loo, 37, will be heading to Australia for six days with his wife. The marketing manager said that of his team of about 30 people, half are travelling. "We are a bit sad to miss National Day, but we will carry the celebrations with us."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 02, 2015, with the headline 'SG50 weekend set to be a feast for all senses'. Print Edition | Subscribe