Monday, April 20, 2009

STI: Residential tourists

April 21, 2009

Residential tourists

'Staycations' are getting popular as Singaporeans book weekend stays in hotels here for relaxation

By rachael boon and natasha ann zachariah 


When Mrs S.L. Teoh was looking for a weekend getaway, she chose to stay in a hotel with a beautiful river view, a swimming pool where her four-year-old son could play and a gym where her husband could work out. Their rest and relaxation holiday last month cost her only $171, inclusive of breakfast for two.


After this short break, the 30-year-old secretary returned home to Bedok in just 20 minutes. She and her family had stayed one night at Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel in Havelock Road.


She says: 'My husband and I wanted a weekend break but didn't want to take leave. Going anywhere with my son is tiring. We have gone overseas with him before but only he enjoyed it. Also, in a local hotel you don't spend so much.'


While some might scoff at the idea of spending money to stay in a hotel here, Mrs Teoh is among a growing number of Singaporeans who are opting for 'staycations', rather than going overseas.


Local hotels more than welcome the interest in staycations, particularly because the number of tourists has been falling due to the global recession.


According to the Singapore Tourism Board, there were only 771,000 tourist arrivals here in January this year, down from 883,000 in the same period last year - a drop of 12.9 per cent.


Ms Alice Ee, executive assistant manager of sales and marketing at M Hotel, says: 'In general, occupancy in Singapore hotels has fallen by about 10 per cent.'


Some hotels have seen a drop of as much as 20 to 30 per cent in the first quarter of the year. The occupancy rate is about 70 to 80 per cent.


The hotels have started courting the local dollar to make up for the falling tourist numbers.


Singaporeans can now take their pick of various hotel deals. M Hotel, for instance, has introduced the Manic Mondays No More at M package. Ms Ee says: 'It's targeted at Singaporeans who wish to take a hiatus from their schedules, within their means.'


Hotels even throw in complimentary nights' stay and spa treatments in their packages just for locals.


They are also doing everything to make the stay as fuss-free and comfortable as possible. There are free parking services and free Internet services.


Mr Colin Koh, assistant director of sales at Link Hotel Singapore, confirms the trend of Singaporeans staying in for a break, rather than going overseas.


He says: 'This year, 10 per cent of our rooms are booked by Singaporeans, many of whom booked via the Internet. They also make up 60 per cent of our patrons at Louver Cafe Lounge.'


Similarly, Mr Mark Winterton, general manager of Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, says: 'On weekends and public holidays, we see a 15 per cent increase in local guests.'


M Hotel also reports that bookings by Singaporean guests have increased from 7 per cent in 2008 to 14 per cent this year.


Staycations are getting more popular because they are cheap, hassle-free and quicker than short overseas trips.


Mrs Teoh, who has a staycation once or twice a year, says: 'You don't have to think about the hassle that comes with a holiday abroad. Everything is within the room.'


Sales manager Marcus Tan, who had a weekend holiday last month at the InterContinental Singapore, says: 'It was more of a quick getaway. I wanted to do something different because I've been to Tioman and Langkawi for short trips. I just wanted to spend some time to relax in the hotel.'


But the 28-year-old stresses that a vacation in a local hotel is not a substitute for a holiday overseas. 'When you go overseas, it's for a particular reason, such as the nice beach in Tioman,' he says.


Staycations are also popular with couples with young children, simply because staying in a local hotel is convenient.


Single mother Pamela Heah, who is in her 30s, says: 'My two girls are 11 and 12 now. But when they were five and six, it was troublesome to go overseas because I had to look out constantly for their safety. Here, I don't have to be that uptight about security.'


The accounts manager has since introduced staycations to her friends and they are planning to book a room in M Hotel next month. 'The buffet is really good. We'll stuff ourselves, have a drink and after that, crash in the room,' she says of their plans.


Boutique hotels are also popular with Singaporeans for their hotel rooms and personalised service.


Hotel Re!@Pearl's Hill in Chin Swee Road is a modern retro-themed hotel, where each room has a different colour scheme and life-sized pictures of icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Bruce Lee.


Its marketing manager, Ms Jessica Loo, says: 'The decor of our rooms is very different from regular four- and five-star hotels. The rooms are an attraction in themselves.'


A hotel's strategic location is also a lure for locals booking a staycation.


Ms Samantha Chng recently had a post-birthday celebration weekend at the Link Hotel Singapore in Tiong Bahru Road. The 26-year-old booked a room for herself and two of her friends so that they could enjoy 'a girls' night out' of club-hopping.


'The area has a lot of nightspots, so it was very convienient for us to get back to our room after clubbing. There was a DVD player in the room, so we continued the partying by watching movies,' says the personal banker, who paid about $150 for her room.

Hotels farther away from the city, such as Crowne Plaza Changi Airport, are not missing out on the staycation business either.


Civil servant Teng Charng Ther, 30, stayed at the Changi Airport hotel over the weekend. He and his wife Anisia have a two-year-old son and another baby on the way.


'It's fun to just get away and enjoy a bathtub soak,' he says. 'We go for a hotel stay when there are favourable deals and to feel like tourists just for fun, because we live in Jurong.'


He adds with a laugh: 'My friends joke that they have to take along their passports whenever they visit me at my house.'






1 Larkhill Road, Sentosa Island

What: Family Escapade

Deluxe room at $268 per night, includes breakfast for two at Shutters restaurant, two tickets to Sentosa's Songs Of The Sea show, two tickets to the Sentosa Luge and Skyride, one complimentary Sentosa Luge and Skyride digital family photo

Who: For Singapore citizens and permanent residents

When: Till Aug 31

Reservations: Call 6825-3888 or e-mail



75 Airport Boulevard #01-01

What: City-Resort Getaway Special

40 per cent discount on the 'Best Flexible Rate With Breakfast'

Who: Everyone

When: Till Aug 1

Reservations: Call 6823-5388



1 Fullerton Square

What: Time For Two

One night's stay in a Quay Room at $398 per night, includes bouquet of flowers or bottle of house wine, selection of bubble bath and candles by the bathtub, in-room four-course set dinner for two

Who: Singapore residents only

When: Till Dec 30

Reservations: Call 6533-8388 or e-mail



81 Anson Road

What: Manic Mondays No More at M

Special room rates start from $188 (usual price $455) for two, includes buffet breakfast, one in-house movie, movie snack combo, Haach spa vouchers and one-way taxi transfer within the financial district on Monday morning

Who: For Singapore citizens, permanent residents and employment pass holders

When: May 1 to 31, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

Reservations: Call 6500-6161/6200



80 Middle Road

What: 14th Anniversary Celebration Package

Book a deluxe room ($230) at Best Flexible Rate on a Friday night and the second night is free

Who: For Singapore citizens, permanent residents and employment pass holders

When: Till July 19

Reservations: Call 6825-1000 or e-mail



175A Chin Swee Road

What: Re!laxation package

$128 per superior room per night (usual price $140 to $150 via Internet, $320 for published rates for rooms alone), includes American buffet breakfast for two and a 30 per cent voucher for the hotel's restaurant Re!Fill

What: Re!juvenation package

$218 per superior room per night, includes a one-hour Javanese massage for two and a 30 per cent discount voucher to the hotel's restaurant Re!Fill, and American buffet breakfast for two

Who: For Singapore citizens and permanent residents

When: Till Sept 30 (excluding Sept 24 to 28)

Reservations: Call 6827-8288 or visit



50 Tiong Bahru Road

What: Nostalgia

$128 per room per night, includes buffet breakfast for two at Louver Cafe Lounge and complimentary use of mini-bar, Internet and cable television, free shuttle bus service to Chinatown, Clarke Quay and Orchard Road

Who: For Singapore citizens and permanent residents

When: Only on selected Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Reservations: Call 6622-8585 or visit



41 Seah Street

What: Luxury

$260 for a premium room (usual price $420), $280 for a deluxe room (usual price $600), includes complimentary breakfast and free mini-bar, Internet connection and local calls

Who: Everyone

When: Only on weekends

Reservations: Call 6403-6000 or visit



80 Bras Basah Road

What: The 'Tai-Tai' Experience

$620 per deluxe room per night, includes Hi-Tea at Plaza Market Cafe for two, one-hour relaxation massage for two at Willow Stream Spa, a choice of private tennis lesson, yoga session or personalised training, breakfast and evening cocktails, and late 4pm check-out

Who: Everyone

When: Ongoing

Reservations: Call 6837-3883 or e-mail

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