March 4, 2024

BASS

Booking Travel

Asia’s Billionaires Ramp Up Hotel Investments In Singapore Amid Post-Pandemic Travel Boom

Singapore’s robust travel rebound has captured the attention of many of the region’s richest hoteliers. At least 10 billionaires, including the likes of Hong Kong’s Pansy Ho and Indonesia’s Sukanto Tanoto, are now investing more than S$6 billion ($4.4 billion) to build new hotels and expand their operations across the city-state.

Singapore’s main shopping strip on Orchard Road will be the home of several of the city-state’s newest hotels as part of its rejuvenation plan for the surrounding area. The UOL Group is already busy developing the site of the Faber House building on Orchard Road into a 19-story hotel that promises to offer 200 rooms for its guests. And that project got underway shortly before UOL opened another hotel just a few blocks away,

Located just behind the Thai Embassy, the Pan Pacific Orchard opened its doors for the first time in June. The 347-room luxury hotel showcases four open-air terraces, with more than 7,300 square meters of foliage covering the 23-story building. The nature-inspired hotel has become one of the flagship properties of UOL, which is controlled by Singaporean banking and property billionaire Wee Cho Yaw.

In February last year, Indonesian billionaire Mochtar Riady’s OUE reopened the Hilton Orchard, which was formerly the Mandarin Orchard. The 1,080- room had been extensively refurbished with a design that reflects the Singapore’s agricultural heritage.

On nearby Orange Grove Road, fellow Indonesian billionaire Bachtiar Karim’s Invictus Developments is building a 143-room boutique hotel under its trendy brand, The Standard. That property is slated to open next year right next to the Shangri-La.

Just off of Orchard Road, the COMO Metropolitan Singapore is set to open this month. The 156-room hotel and shopping complex was developed by Como Hotels & Resorts, the Singapore-based company founded by Christina Ong, wife of Hotel Properties managing director Ong Beng Seng.

Singapore’s expanding lineup of new lodgings stands to benefit from the country’s robust post-pandemic comeback. Visitor arrivals in the Lion City doubled to 1.42 million in July from a year ago, bolstered by the return of Chinese travelers, data from the Singapore Tourism Board showed. The government expects as many as 14 million tourists to visit the country this year, spending up to S$21 billion.

And those visitors are driving room rates to record levels, according to a report by travel management firm FCM Consulting. Average room rates this month have risen to S$880 per night so far, a 27% jump compared to year-ago levels, as the city-state hosts a string of marquee international events such as the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix, it said.

“Singapore is a sufficiently indispensable business/financial center and popular tourist destination that supports the high rates.”

Robert Hecker, managing director of hotel consultancy Horwath HTL Asia Pacific

Hotels around the Formula One circuit have been able to charge a premium, with room rates at the iconic Marina Bay Sands (MBS) going for about S$2,000 a night during the race weekend of September 15 to 17 from S$800 a night last month. MBS is building a new tower to add another 1,000 suites to its current inventory of 2,561 rooms as part of its expansion plan that includes the construction of a 15,000-seat entertainment arena.

On the other end of Marina Bay, IOI Properties—controlled by Malaysian billionaire brothers Lee Yeow Chor and Lee Yeow Seng—is developing a hotel as part of a mixed use residential and commercial project.

In Tanjong Pagar on the edge of the Raffles Place central business district, Indonesian billionaire Sukanto Tanoto’s Pacific Eagle Real Estate opened its first Singapore hotel in July. The 304-room Mondrian Duxton Singapore near Chinatown was built at a cost of S$400 million.

Mondrian Duxton’s general manager, Robert C. Hauck, is upbeat about the hotel’s prospects. “We have to compete regionally with other cities, but right now Singapore feels like the center of the world,” he said.

Across the Keppel Harbor, billionaire Asok Kumar Hiranandani’s Royal Group is working overtime to complete the construction of their luxurious all-villa Raffles Sentosa Resort and Spa on Sentosa Island in time for next year’s grand opening.

Royal Group also plans to redevelop the Ming Arcade, an aging shopping mall on Cuscaden Road near Orchard Road, into a boutique hotel. On the same street, Pansy Ho’s Shun Tak Holdings will open in November the 142-room Artyzen Singapore, which features a rooftop garden where guests can swim in the 25-meter cantilevered infinity pool.

Also in November, billionaire Kwek Leng Beng’s City Developments and Hong Leong Group will open Singapore’s first Edition hotel, a 204-room boutique hotel that’s part of the upscale mixed use development that includes the Boulevard 88 residential condominium beside the Four Seasons Hotel.

Elsewhere in Singapore, billionaire Choo Chong Ngen, who made his early fortune from budget hotel chain Hotel 81 in the city’s red light district, has been expanding rapidly into mid tier markets. Led by his daughter Carolyn, Choo’s Worldwide Hotels bought the 542-room Parkroyal on Kitchener near Little India for S$525 million in July from Wee’s UOL Group and is rebranding it as Novotel Singapore. The company is spending another S$1.1 billion to open two brand new hotels in the Lion City by the end of the year.

“The outlook is very positive,” Carolyn said in an interview published in the September edition of Forbes Asia. “It’s just that with high interest rates, a lot of investments will need a very long term horizon.”

—With additional reporting from Gloria Haraito and Jessica Tan.

link