A wealth of developments

Major redevelopment plans on Sentosa Island are set to lower costs and draw more business events to the destination

Upcoming developments slated for Sentosa Island are poised to mould Singapore into a stronger magnet for meetings, conferences and incentives, as the island prepares to welcome new facilities catering to the mid-tier business segment.

The first of these developments are three mid-range hotels operated by Far East Hospitality (FEH). They are Village Hotel at Sentosa, offering 606 rooms; as well as The Outpost Hotel with 193 keys, which features a stylish adults-only colonial island concept.

Aerial view of RWS area in Sentosa

In 3Q2019, the old-school luxury-styled Barracks Hotel will accompany its sibling properties along Artillery Avenue, bringing 40 rooms within a conserved colonial building. These three properties will raise Sentosa’s total room count to more than 4,000.

With the entry of FEH’s more affordable accommodation options, Sentosa is expected to gain points with the business events segment.

FEH’s CEO, Arthur Kiong, said: “Sentosa is a driver of business and is very popular, but it’s interesting that 90 per cent of its 3,200 rooms are in the luxury class. (Our new cluster) caters to families, groups, MICE and niche segments.”

He added that the rooms will be “egalitarian” and “priced effectively”, and that FEH is “working on establishing key partnerships with attractions on Sentosa”.

For the past decade, midscale conventions were largely limited to facilities at Resorts World Sentosa, said Judy Lum, general manager, Diethelm Travel (Singapore).

“Sentosa is a great MICE destination. Greater availability of midscale properties should stabilise hotel pricing on the island, which would in turn be able to attract more events,” predicted Lum.

Cyril Constantino, Asia Pacific supplier management lead, CWT Meetings & Events, concurred.

He said that while Resorts World Sentosa and Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort are popular choices for corporate events, “the hotels in Sentosa are typically priced slightly higher than those in the city”, and that “rates have been rising significantly on the island due to limited availability”.

He added: “We expect that Village Hotel at Sentosa will generate considerable interest for corporate meetings and events, as it will provide a more cost-effective option compared with most of the alternatives which tend to be high-end luxury properties.”

This range of more affordable accommodation will appeal particularly to the European and UK markets, opined Guy Allison, director of procurement, Tour East Holdings. He observed that in recent years, European and UK visitors have eschewed five-star luxury accommodation for three- to four-star boutique hotels.

He remarked: “Sentosa is starting to attract people to stay in Singapore for not just one or two nights, but three or four – maybe even a week. With the new developments, it might even become a destination in itself.”

He also expressed assurance that while Singapore is costlier compared to its neighbours, the country is “becoming more value-for-money”, and more affordable, compared to five years ago.

In the near future, Sentosa will be expanded to provide more leisure and business facilities.

Sentosa Development Corporation’s (SDC) assistant chief executive and chief financial officer, Chin Sak Hin, told TTGmice that in these plans, the nearby Pulau Brani will be “transformed” into a part of Sentosa, “retaining the island charm with new attractions and nature zones”.

“We always say that we are a world-class destination, but this will bring us to another level. We are working closely with other government agencies on planning this whole area, and we are now at the masterplanning stage,” said Chin. SDC is also currently developing the Sentosa 2030 masterplan.

The tides of change are also rolling beyond Sentosa. In October last year, senior minister of State for Trade and Industry Chee Hong Tat announced major rejuvenation plans for the nearby Tanjong Pagar waterfront.

This 1,000 hectare area, which Chee said is “as large as Sentosa island itself”, will be branded the Southern Gateway of Asia.

FEH’s Kiong commented that this development is set to be “the harbinger of very, very exciting developments for Sentosa, as well as the rest of the precinct”.

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