Warehouse Hotel at heritage site

Warehouse Hotel at heritage site
They will be operating Warehouse Hotel on Havelock Road, which is currently being built.
PHOTO: ST

When the Warehouse Disco opened in 1986, the converted three-warehouse complex on the corner of Havelock Road and Saiboo Street became Singapore's biggest party haven for music-loving youths.

Nearly 30 years later, the disco has long since gone and the space, now marked a heritage site, sits as a silent shell.

But it will once again be a hive of activity when lifestyle company The Lo & Behold Group opens a boutique hotel there next year. It will be the group's first foray into hotels.

Called Warehouse Hotel, it will have 37 rooms and is expected to open by the fourth quarter of next year.

It is owned by I Associated Company and will be operated by The Lo & Behold Group.

Mr Wee Teng Wen, 34, co-founder of the group, told SundayLife!: "I never actually set out to run a hotel. Warehouse Hotel was marked a national heritage site, so it was preserved almost pristinely.

"The more my team and I read up about its rich heritage, the more I knew this was the hotel for us."

He adds that "falling in love with a space and its potential" has always been the starting point for each project he embarks on.

He did not say how much has been invested in the project, but says that his group will also conceptualise the hotel's restaurant and bar.

Records available on the Urban Redevelopment Authority's website show that the government-owned land covers a space of 1,536.2 sq m (slightly larger than an Olympic-size swimming pool) and the lease is for 60 years.

The hotel is not the only big project Lo & Behold has in the pipeline.

It is also rolling out three new restaurants in the next few months: a cafe called The Daily Roundup in Keong Saik Road; a second OverEasy diner-style eatery at Liat Towers; and a fine-dining restaurant at the National Gallery Singapore, which will be headed by French chef Julien Royer.

OverEasy Orchard will open in September, taking over the 3,500 sq ft space formerly occupied by Wendy's fast-food restaurant.

Mr Wee says it will be a "classic diner", offering OverEasy favourites such as burgers, macaroni and cheese and milkshakes. There will also be a dedicated space for beer pong.

The second branch will include a holistic breakfast and brunch offering, given that it is in the heart of Orchard Road and will see more all-day foot traffic than the first outlet in One Fullerton, he says.

The Daily Roundup opens next month, at The Working Capitol, a co-working space in the Keong Saik area. The cafe will serve galettes and crepes, as well as homemade spritzers.

These new additions will bolster the group's F&B portfolio - which includes pizza chain Extra Virgin, restaurant The White Rabbit at Dempsey, rooftop bar Loof in North Bridge Road and restaurant-bar Tanjong Beach Club in Sentosa - significantly.

Mr Wee says this year - which also happens to be the group's 10th anniversary - "marks the perfect time for us as a company to expand".

He adds that the group made a decision to hold back on expansion plans two years ago to "focus on crystallising our company culture and finetuning systems and processes to optimise operations as a group".

In the past year, the group has also beefed up its team with the hiring of Julian Serna, of famed Sydney bar Eau-de-Vie, as the group's bar mentor. He has been working to lift the cocktail offerings across the group's outlets.

Next month, he will relaunch the garden bar at The White Rabbit as a gin specialty bar, offering 15 varieties of the spirit.

Asked if he foresees any challenges ahead in expanding aggressively, Mr Wee says: "The challenge is ensuring my people remain happy and fulfilled both personally and professionally.

"I strongly believe in a staff-first culture, for it is only through passionate people that one can create the most awesome experiences."

melk@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 21, 2015.
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