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Travel & Holiday

Stay in for a vacation

Despite rising hotel rates here, Singaporeans are not put off by the cost of taking a holiday at home
The Straits Times - May 13, 2012
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Stay in for a vacation Check into a Beach Villa at Resorts World Sentosa. -- PHOTO: RWS

Hotel room rates are on the up and up, but Singaporeans are still flocking to hotels here for weekend getaways and a chance to unwind amid familiar surroundings.

A recent Straits Times report showed that hotel room rates here hit a four-year high in February, with tourists paying an average of $273.70 a night that month.

Hotels that LifeStyle spoke to also say that their rates have increased between 7 and 10 per cent in the past year.

And rates are expected to increase further even as newer hotels join the fray. A recent forecast by hospitality consultant group CBRE Hotels says that room supply in Singapore is expected to increase by 1,600 this year.

But the likes of Swissotel Merchant Court and Resorts World Sentosa, which has six hotels, say that they are seeing more Singaporeans checking in for short stays.

Over at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, general manager Peter Mainguy even expects demand for the hotel's tailored packages to increase by 5 to 10 per cent, driven by a 'growing trend of Singapore residents seeking weekend staycation getaways'.

Regular staycationers also tell LifeStyle that they are undeterred by the higher room rates, and that it is just a matter of adjusting their budgets and expectations.

For example, customer acquisition officer Amanda Ng, 23, heads to a hotel 'almost every weekend' with her girl friends, spending between $200 and $600 a night. She favours boutique hotels such as Quincy Hotel and Wanderlust Hotel, as they are less pricey than hotels such as Marina Bay Sands.

Ms Ng, who will not be cutting back on staycations, says: 'Prices have gone up but if you are able to find the right people and the right deals, and make the right financial considerations, nothing is too expensive.'

The appeal of a staycation includes the convenience of not having to arrange flights or transportation, the familiarity of staying in Singapore and the easy accessibility of amenities.

IT professional Nigel Tan, 27, and his wife have headed to Siloso Beach Resort in Sentosa for three-day getaways for the past two years. Mr Tan usually spends about $1,000 over three days, and goes once a year.

'Staycations are generally cheaper than going on a holiday, even to Malaysia. Besides, we are able to spend in our currency, and we know the weather and the country, so no surprises there,' notes Mr Tan, who adds that there are many activities available on Sentosa.

Another reason cited: the facilities on offer at hotels. For example, the Amara Sanctuary Resort has a gym, a spa, four outdoor pools and activities such as pottery and cooking classes.

Art lovers who stay at The Ritz-Carlton can check out its art collection of more than 4,200 pieces, with self-guided art tours available on podcast.

Shipping assistant Shida Hussin, 29, has stayed at Changi Village Hotel four times with her husband and two young children mainly because of the hotel's 'rustic location' and 'fabulous rooftop pool'.

But what about going to nearby destinations such as Bintan or Batam instead? No, say most of the staycation regulars.

Logistics coordinator Lina Rahman, 31, goes for monthly getaways with her partner, aircraft refueller Irwan Iskandar, also 31, at numerous hotels such as Studio M, Scarlet Hotel and Marina Bay Sands.

She points out: 'The rooms may be slightly cheaper in Bintan and Batam but there is still the need to arrange transportation, and the cost of food and other activities such as sea sports and shopping. At the end of the day, what you are paying is almost the same and maybe even more.'

Besides, even with increased room rates in Singapore, there are always ways to save.

For example, Ms Shida notes that going on staycation during a quiet period, say, the day after New Year's Day, and avoiding major events such as the Singapore Air Show can get you 'quite good deals'.

Civil servant Mohamed Hidier, 31, and his family also avoid hotels in town as they are more expensive, preferring hotels in the Havelock Road and Mohamed Sultan Road areas.

While civil servant Sim Siew Noi, 23, says she may cut down on her quarterly staycations with friends and her boyfriend, she is not about to do away with them completely.

'After splitting the cost among friends, we think that it's still worth the money spent for a night's stay once in a while for us to catch up and chill together.'

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RESORTS WORLD SENTOSA

What: The resort's Breakfast Like A Star package includes a one-night stay in a deluxe room (Hard Rock Hotel, Hotel Michael or Equarius Hotel) or deluxe family room (Festive Hotel), a breakfast set for two at Universal Studios Singapore, a one-day pass to Universal Studios for two (usual price: $148 for two adults during peak periods), an RWS gift voucher worth $25, a complimentary welcome drink for two and complimentary tickets for two to the Maritime Experiential Museum (usual price: $10 for two adults).

Valid until Dec 31, excluding the hotel's super peak dates.

Price: $578 to $678 nett, depending on whether it is peak period, at Equarius Hotel; $528 to $628 nett at Hard Rock Hotel, Hotel Michael and Festive Hotel

Info: Go to http://www.rwsentosa.com, e-mail reservations@rwsentosa.com or call 6577-8899

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QUINCY HOTEL

What: The hotel's Qool Weekend package includes breakfast, set lunch and dinner for two, Internet access, local calls, evening cocktails from 6 to 8pm, a bottle of red wine, all-day coffee and tea, a one-hour cupcake baking class and movie nights in or by the pool on Saturdays, complimentary minibar and late check-out till 3pm (subject to availability).

Price: From $348++

Info: Go to http://www.quincy.com.sg, e-mail reseasy@quincy.com.sg or call 6496-7699

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SWISSOTEL MERCHANT COURT

What: The Kids Room package includes overnight accommodation in a double room with a connecting or adjacent room for up to two children. The parents' room is priced at regular rates, while the kids' room (left) comes at 50 per cent off.

The kids' room is set up with amenities for children aged from two to 17, with entertainment options including Xbox, Wii, toys, books and games. There are also slides and a wading pool located on level two of the hotel.

Breakfast is not included in the basic package, but comes with bookings of Swiss Business Executive rooms and upwards.

Price: From $330++ a room a night

Info: Go to http://www.swissotel.com, e-mail reservations.merchantcourt@swisshotel.com or call 6337-9993

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THE RITZ-CARLTON, MILLENIA SINGAPORE

What: The hotel's Happy Birthday package includes one night's stay in a deluxe room (right), buffet breakfast for two, a surprise birthday gift, two glasses of champagne in-room, a Ritz-Carlton lion beanie soft toy, late check-out at 3pm and upgrade to a premier suite, subject to availability.

Valid for check-ins on Fridays and Saturdays only, and only during the guest's birthday month.

Price: From $390++

Info: Go to http://www.ritzcarlton.com, e-mail sinrz.leads@ritzcarlton.com or call 6434-5111

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FULLERTON HOTEL

What: Fullerton Hotel's Weekend Escape Room Package includes one night's stay in a Courtyard Room (left), buffet breakfast for two at Town Restaurant, daily dining credit of $88 nett (which can be used at the hotel's dining outlets such as Jade Restaurant), complimentary late check-out till 3pm and complimentary Internet connectivity.

Valid for Singaporeans and local residents and for check-in on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays till Dec 30. Rooms are subject to availability and advance reservations are required.

Price: From $308++ a night

Info: Go to http://www.fullertonhotel.com, e-mail reservations@fullertonhotel.com or call 6533-8388

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