International

Singularly Singapore

By Deanna Ting
January 1, 2013

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When the Marina Bay Sands resort debuted in June 2010, it signaled a major turning point for Singapore. With its sleek, futuristic structure, breathtaking rooftop infinity pool, and nearly 1.3 million square feet of meeting and convention space, it forever changed the Singapore skyline - and, in many ways, the way the world thought of Singapore as a place for business. 

While Singapore has long held a reputation as a key global business and meetings destination - the Union of International Associations named it the top international meeting city for the fifth year in a row in 2012 - the Marina Bay Sands and a slew of other new developments have cemented its status as a top MICE destination.

"All of this new development has contributed to Singapore's position as a leading meetings and incentives destination," says Serene Tan, regional director, Americas, Singapore Tourism Board. Tan says that the openings of the two integrated resorts in 2010 - Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Sentosa - have also encouraged the city's existing MICE players to upgrade, including major convention centers Suntec Singapore and Singapore Expo.

"The Singapore Expo is adding more meeting facilities, like the new Max Atria convention wing, and Suntec has embarked on a $140-million modernization program," says Tan. "You can see that it's not just about the new players that are coming in; Singapore Expo and Suntec are keeping up as well."

Suntec Singapore's renovations are meant to increase the convention center's flexibility, functionality, and convertibility with advanced technology. New features will include a two-story interactive digital wall and a new, modernized facade for the exterior. The new 135,070-square-foot Max Atria convention wing at Singapore Expo, which opened in March 2012, was the first MICE venue in Singapore to receive a Building and Construction Authority (BCA) Green Mark Platinum Award from the World Green Building Council.

Going Green
The Max Atria wing at Singapore Expo is not the only new green attraction in Singapore, which is often referred to as "Garden City." In June 2012, the Gardens by the Bay officially opened and has since welcomed more than one million visitors. This massive "city in a garden," a five-minute walk away from Marina Bay Sands, spans nearly 250 acres and houses more than 250,000 rare plants, including Supertrees, 16-story-tall vertical gardens that collect rainwater, generate solar power, and act as venting ducts for the park. It also has its own dedicated event space overlooking the Marina Bay waterfront and is surrounded by lush flowers, including the 12,917-square-foot Jubilee Hall that holds up to 1,100 people.

The new PARKROYAL on Pickering hotel, scheduled to open this month, was also designed with sustainability in mind. This upscale 367-room hotel, located in Singapore's central business district (CBD), has 16,146 square feet of gardens, waterfalls, and planter walls - more than twice the hotel's total land area. It also earned a BCA Green Mark Platinum Award.

Hip Hotels
The flagship PARKROYAL on Pickering is just one of many new hotels to emerge. "In the last five years, the hotel scene has really bloomed," says Tan. "New big developments that are coming in offer a wide range of accommodations to choose from and we are expected to grow by some 53,000 rooms by the end of 2012. Occupancy is very high and that shows the demand and need."

In September 2012, Singapore welcomed its first W hotel, the W Singapore-Sentosa Cove. The 240-room hotel has more than 16,146 square feet of meeting and event space, including the 7,879-square-foot Great Room. Attendees can make a grand entrance into the Great Room, thanks to the W's exclusive private berthing stations along the shores of Sentosa Island - a first for any hotel in Singapore.

Tan adds that Singapore is also home to a growing number of inventive, design-driven boutique hotels. "We've been riding a wave of boutique hotels that have come up in the past few years," she says. "There's The Wanderlust in Little India, Chinatown's New Majestic Hotel, and many more that are based outside the CBD and in our ethnic enclaves. Our boutique hotels have really been able to deliver an experience that can allow them to demand a premium."

New Attractions
A number of new attractions are also appealing to groups. In December 2012, Singapore welcomed the world's largest oceanarium, Marine Life Park at Resorts World Sentosa, housing more than 100,000 marine animals. Here, guests can actually snorkel over a coral reef filled with more than 20,000 fish and ride on Southeast Asia's first hydro-magnetic roller coaster.

In early 2013, a new River Safari attraction will also debut. Like Singapore's famous Night Safari, it introduces visitors to wildlife found along the world's rivers, including a pair of giant pandas from China. The River Safari attraction is an extension of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, transforming the area into "a very complete nature attraction," says Tan.

Going forward, Tan says you can expect to see even more new developments. "My city will continue to change over the next few years," she says. "You can go again and again and have a different experience each time. What sets us apart is one of rich experiences, all in a single destination. The second part is that it's so easy to enjoy it. It's comfortable, efficient, and it continues to surprise and to change. It's constantly reinventing itself."   This page is protected by Copyright laws. Do Not Copy

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