Sunday, June 21, 2009

STI: Suite staycations

June 21, 2009

Suite staycations

No hassle, less fatigue, as more Singaporeans take up discounted packages for staycations at local hotels

By Tan Yi Hui

Writer Shaan Moledina is an avid traveller, but a disastrous trip to Vietnam last year has left her with mixed feelings about venturing out of the country.

Her taxi driver could not speak English and had difficulty finding her hotel. When she finally arrived there, the hotel had lost her reservation and she had to find alternative accommodation, luggage in tow.

No wonder the 32-year-old will be staying with her fiance next week at The Regent Singapore, under a weekend promotion offering a suite from $295 a night.

Ms Moledina says: 'With staycations, you can avoid all that hassle. Travelling overseas can be exhausting.

'Staycations are on the rise because people are worried about the H1N1 flu so they prefer to stay in the country.'

Indeed, hotels here are reporting a spike in the number of Singaporean guests this year, especially during the current school holiday period.

As a result of the rise in staycationers, hotels are now offering tantalising packages up to August, some even till December.

The discounts can go up to 40 per cent with buffet breakfast thrown in.

At The Regent, about 18 per cent of the guests on average a year are locals. It has seen a 20 per cent increase in this segment this year compared with the same period last year. This month alone, there has been a 50 per cent increase in Singaporean guests compared to May.

A Regent spokesman says: 'The safety and familiarity of local hotels is comforting. Most people are more familiar with the service of local hotels since they might have dined or attended a function here.

'When dollars are already stretched, people might choose a familiar product rather than risk spending money and going overseas only to find that the hotel they chose was not up to par.'

Over at Meritus Hotel, it has seen a 10 per cent increase in Singaporeans checking in compared with the same period last year.

Staycations also appeal to both couples and families, says avid holiday-at-homer, housewife Adeline Lim, a mother of two daughters aged 15 and 16.

The 44-year-old's hotel of choice is Sheraton Towers Singapore and she has stayed there on various occasions with her whole family.

However, she spiced things up a little this weekend by staying with husband Leonard, 52, a business consultant, under Sheraton's 'romance' package.

This goes for $295 a night and includes a complimentary bottle of wine, fruit baskets and chocolate pralines, as well as access to its fitness centre and pool.

Mrs Lim says: 'Our daughters are busy with school holiday activities, and my hubby and I wanted some quiet time together without having to be too far away from them. This is a perfect compromise.'

Another regular guest at local hotels is Mr Derek Lam, a 42-year-old sales manager.

He and his family, consisting of wife Jass, 40, and their daughter, Megan, 12, and son, Regan, eight, stayed at the year-old Crowne Plaza Changi Airport for one night earlier this month, paying just over $250 under a suite promotion.

He says: 'The purpose of staying in a local hotel is for the family to relax. No hassle of flights, ferries or customs.'

Mr Lam adds that hotels such as the airport's new Crowne Plaza are 'not that crowded, with no buses and trains, which can be very noisy'.

Ms Moledina concludes: 'Staycations are not an ultimate replacement for travel abroad, but they are good for a quick getaway to recharge.

'Sometimes you just want to go on a holiday without actually going on a holiday.'

With additional reporting by Rachael Boon and Nur Shakylla Nadhra

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