New hotels opening doors in S'pore despite pandemic

More than 8,600 new rooms in pipeline; hoteliers optimistic of rebound next year

The Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay opened on Dec 1 with 200 rooms as a start. ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

Widespread travel restrictions and thinning visitor arrivals have battered the hospitality industry but new hotels continue to open, including three this month.

Optimism in the industry about a rebound next year remains robust despite this year's dismal showing.

The average occupancy rate of gazetted hotels in October was 56.7 per cent, a fall of 30.3 percentage point over the same period last year, said the Singapore Tourism Board.

Yet more than 8,600 new hotel rooms remain in the pipeline as at the third quarter of this year, according to the Urban Redevelopment Authority, compared with 8,200 or so at the end of last year.

This, despite pandemic-related construction delays for developers, said Colliers International (Singapore) research head Tricia Song.

Key openings over the next two years include the 324-room The Clan by Far East Hospitality, the 169-room Citadines Connect City Centre and the 135-room Citadines Connect Rochester Singapore.

Two new brands will also be launched with the 204-room Edition by Marriott and the 350-room Pullman Singapore in Hill Street, said CBRE Hotels Asia-Pacific associate director Zhang Jiahao, who noted the openings reflect hoteliers' confidence in Singapore.

Most of the new developments are in the upscale to mid-tier range in the Orchard area and the Central Business District.

"This signals the authorities' vision to market Singapore as a destination of choice for global travellers of different travelling budget and style," Mr Zhang said.

Singapore has reciprocal green lane arrangements for short-term essential business and official travel with Brunei, Germany, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, South Korea and six Chinese cities.

Some hotels opened this month, amid the ongoing pandemic. They include Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore, the Mint Hotel as part of One Farrer Hotel, and the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay under the Pan Pacific Hotels Group.

The Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay opened on Dec 1 with 200 rooms, and just over 100 were checked in to on the first day. All of the hotel's 583 rooms will be open by May.

Pan Pacific Hotels Group chief executive Choe Peng Sum said: "Our plans are still chugging along. The circuit breaker pushed everything back a bit, but once that was done, it was all back to work."

Demand has already been very encouraging, with support from locals, he added, noting that patrons can use its hotels as bases to rediscover areas such as Haji Lane, Little India, Chinatown and Marina Bay.

Mr Choe noted hotels also have "third places", locations that are separate from the home or workplace where people can socialise, such as cafes and libraries.

"This can help people to have 'work-cations' where they take their work to the hotel," he said.

The bullishness about a recovery is shared by other hoteliers.

Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore opened on Dec 4 at the Laguna National Golf and Country Club. It has about 150 staff and 198 rooms.

General manager Eric Piatti said: "In the short term, the industry will face challenges. But it will also be marked by innovation and new experiences, as the industry searches and experiments with new solutions.

"The demand for wellness experiences among discerning travellers is expected to continue on an upward trajectory as people become increasingly health conscious amid the pandemic."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 14, 2020, with the headline New hotels opening doors in S'pore despite pandemic. Subscribe