Mandarin Oriental hotel gets 6-month, $135m revamp; Melt Cafe returning in new form

Mandarin Oriental, Singapore, will reopen in September 2023. PHOTO: MANDARIN ORIENTAL, SINGAPORE

SINGAPORE - Melt Cafe, a popular buffet spot among Singaporeans, will be no more after Mandarin Oriental, Singapore reopens, following a six-month overhaul at a cost of over US$100 million (S$135 million).

“The biggest transformation (among all the food outlets) is at Melt... It will have a complete reconceptualisation,” the hotel’s general manager, Mr Philipp Knuepfer, said on Thursday.

“It will still be a buffet, but on a different level, and the current look and layout will change.”

Other popular eateries in the hotel – such as American restaurant Morton’s The Steakhouse, fine-dining Chinese restaurant Cherry Garden and the award-winning MO Bar – will all return with refreshed looks when the hotel reopens in September.

The hotel’s lobby will also lose its fountain area – which currently surrounds the lift lobby – to house a new lobby lounge instead.

The renovation of the food and beverage (F&B) outlets is part of the luxury hotel’s most extensive refurbishment since it opened its doors in the Marina Bay area in 1986. The hotel closed its doors for the revamp on Wednesday.

It was last renovated in 2004, to update the hotel’s interiors, rooms, restaurants and meeting rooms, among other areas. Formerly known as The Oriental, it was renamed Mandarin Oriental in September 2007.

This time, the hotel’s 527 rooms will be completely redesigned and refitted by interior design firm Design Wilkes, which was also behind Mandarin Oriental’s refreshed Tokyo and Bangkok properties, and its new Dubai property, which opened in 2019.

The hotel’s suites, which currently face the city, will face the Marina Bay area after the revamp.

“When this hotel was built, the emphasis was towards the city because, back in 1986, no one had envisioned the Marina Bay area becoming the focal point of the area,” noted Mr Knuepfer.

He added that the hotel will also house 45 serviced apartment-style units with kitchenettes, as well as washers and dryers, with the units ranging in size from 80 sq m to 300 sq m.

The refreshed hotel is set to reopen in September, in time for the Formula One (F1) Singapore Grand Prix. The hotel is situated along the F1 street circuit, and traditionally enjoys brisk business in both room bookings and its F&B outlets during the race week.

Already, 80 per cent of the rooms, including the top suites, have been booked for the F1 week. The race will take place from Sept 15 to Sept 17.

Asked if he was concerned about potential construction delays, Mr Knuepfer said: “We deliberately didn’t want to do it (the revamp) during Covid-19 because we would run into issues... but now the world is back to normal, and things like supply chains and labour have been restored.

“If there’s one place in the world we can pull it off, it’s Singapore.”

While Mandarin Oriental, Singapore is the only hotel in the Marina Bay area currently undergoing a revamp, it comes amid a slew of rebrandings, renovations and new hotel openings in the Republic, where hotel owners are jostling to capture the influx of tourists and corporate travellers who are returning to Singapore after two years of pandemic restrictions.

These have mostly centred around the Orchard Road area.

For instance, Mandarin Orchard Singapore at 333 Orchard Road reopened in early 2022 as Hilton Singapore Orchard, while Accor’s Pullman Singapore Orchard opened on Dec 1, 2022, at the site of the former Grand Park Orchard at 270 Orchard Road.

Around nine new hotel brands are due to open along the popular shopping strip in the next two years.

Singapore Tourism Board projections see 12 million to 14 million international visitor arrivals to Singapore in 2023, with a full tourism recovery expected by 2024.

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