Hotels revved up for F1 full house

This is despite Singapore being ranked 7th among 19 race venues in terms of cost to catch event

Singapore may be one of the more expensive places to catch a Formula One race, but hotels here expect a full house next weekend.

They are also cashing in on the event with new luxury packages, such as one by Mandarin Oriental, which includes a three-day, two-night stay and a 60-minute joy ride in a Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder or Ferrari F430 F1 Spider along Marina Bay. Prices start at $5,300 for two.

"We have noticed an equally positive response in room reservations at both our hotels this year compared to the last," said Mr Tom Meyer, managing director of Fairmont Singapore and Swissotel The Stamford, reflecting the mood among hotels here.

According to travel website TripAdvisor, Singapore's race is seventh among this season's 19 when it comes to how much it costs to watch it.

The site added up the prices of a ticket, a burger meal, a pint of beer, a soft drink along with the cost of a night's stay in a hotel close to the circuit for all the host cities. It costs $622.67 in total, with the least expensive race ticket, to catch the race here. Watching it in more comfort at the Pit Grandstand sets one back by almost $1,300.

Monte Carlo, Monaco, tips the scales at the other end, with a combined cost of $1,800.78 to catch the race with the most expensive ticket. The Brazilian Grand Prix in Sao Paulo emerges a close second at $1,741.49.

The cheapest place to catch the race is in Kuala Lumpur, at $206.85 with the least expensive ticket. Shanghai follows at $247.77, while the Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka comes in third at $318.78.

However, TripAdvisor noted that Singapore hosts the only night race in the F1 calendar. Tickets to the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix "also provides access to a wide variety of food, beverage and entertainment options", it said.

This year's race features concerts headlined by pop star Jennifer Lopez, British singer Robbie Williams, American crooner John Legend, the Pet Shop Boys and Ziggy Marley.

Hotels say that enthusiasm for the race here has not diminished, even as it enters its seventh instalment. The Ritz-Carlton, Marina Mandarin, Fairmont Singapore, Swissotel The Stamford, The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel expect full or close to full occupancy during race weekend.

Singapore inked a second five-year deal for the race in 2012, which means it will take place annually at least until 2017.

At Marina Mandarin, where room rates start from $890 per night during race weekend, about 95 per cent of its 575 rooms have already been snapped up.

While room rates at The Ritz-Carlton have increased by about 5 per cent over last year, a majority of its premium rooms - which start at $1,430 a night - have been taken up.

"We anticipate a last minute pick-up in bookings in the final days leading up to the Singapore Grand Prix," said director of public relations and marketing communications Nathalyn Fong.

Room rates typically go up during race weekend as hotels have to pay an extra F1 tax. Trackside hotels fork out 30 per cent of the price of each room filled, while those farther away pay 20 per cent.

Last year, about 87,500 tickets to the Singapore Grand Prix - which generates around $150 million in incremental tourism receipts annually - were snapped up. This was the highest number since the inaugural race in 2008, when 100,000 tickets were sold.

mellinjm@sph.com.sg