By Deanna Ting
January 1, 2013
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
"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.
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.
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
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."
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
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