Offering a more immersive local experience and lower hotel rates than its counterparts in the city, suburban hotels are gradually growing in popularity among foreign visitors, discovers Paige Lee Pei Qi
The emergence of suburban hotels into Singapore’s hotel landscape over the past few years has drawn foreign travellers with their offer of a different experience away from the tourist belt.
According to the latest statistics from the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), there were about 14 million room nights available as of November 2015, a seven per cent year-on-year increase, with hotels in suburban areas contributing most to the increase.
The April 2015 launch of Genting Hotel Jurong, sister property to Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), marks the first major hotel in the growing Jurong Lake District. The 557-room hotel is a 15-minute drive from Tuas Checkpoint, which connects Singapore to Johor Bahru in Malaysia.
“We hope (the hotel) will infuse new energy and vibrancy into this thriving business and lifestyle hub,” said Chow Keng Hai, vice president of rooms at RWS.
Genting Hotel Jurong has enjoyed a “very healthy occupancy rate” driven by both leisure and business travellers since its opening, with a strong demand from Malaysia and Indonesia, added Chow.
Likewise, the new 443-key Park Hotel Alexandra has been enjoying an average occupancy rate of 70 per cent since its soft opening in June 2015, according to its general manager Angeline Tan.
“Many travellers are increasingly looking for immersive experiences be it on business or leisure travel, and there is more to shopping and sightseeing in Singapore,” observed Tan, who counts Europe, Australia, Hong Kong, China and Malaysia as the hotel’s key target markets.
Tan believes that the historical flavour of the Alexandra-Bukit Merah area lends to the property’s unique selling points. “The hotel overlooks the lush verdant green belt of the Southern Ridges on one front and the heritage enclave of Queenstown on the other. The area itself is full of history,” she added.
Katong’s Peranakan heritage, on the other hand, is a stronger drawcard for Grand Mecure Singapore Roxy located on East Coast Road. Said Jennifer Narcis, the hotel’s director of sales & marketing: “We are located within the rich cultural district of Katong where traces of Peranakan history are found. The hotel is also a short walk away to the scenic East Coast Park.”
Meanwhile, Capri by Fraser, Changi City’s location in the far eastern corner of Singapore will enable travellers to seek out “Changi’s rich history and its great historical sites”, opined Choe Peng Sum, CEO of Frasers Hospitality, which launched the 313-key hotel residence in 2012.
For example, Choe highlighted how the hotel’s new cycling expedition in East Coast Park on complimentary bicycles, led by the hotel’s general manager, is a hot favourite among the guests.
Commenting on Village Hotel Changi Singapore, Arthur Kiong, CEO of Far East Hospitality, said: “The hotel offers guests a breath of fresh air that is unlike the densely populated urban city centre. It provides guests off-the-beaten-track experiences that enables them to experience the best of Singapore and live like a local.”
For visitors interested to see a slice of rustic Singapore, the hotel offers the Ubin Adventure package that provides complimentary bikes to explore Pulau Ubin, an island located a short ferry ride away.
Apart from the immersive experience, the strongest pull towards these suburban hotels is their competitive hotel rates, which can be 10 to 15 per cent lower than city hotels, inbound travel agents told TTG Asia.
Hardeep Singh, director of sales and operation in Chariot Travels, said: “These (suburban) hotels are attractive because city hotel rates are high in Singapore, and the good thing about them that they usually provide shuttles to the city so (location) is not a problem at all.”
On the other hand, Siam Express’ manager Daniel Goh has not received special requests for suburban hotels as they are perceived to be “inconvenient” by his clients.