Accor to manage Royal's hotel on Sentosa

Accor to manage Royal's hotel on Sentosa
Grand plan: Mr Asok Hiranandani announcing the transformation of The Singapore Resort & Spa Sentosa into the luxurious Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa. Seated are Mr Bobby Hiranandani and Mr Issenberg

SINGAPORE - Royal Group has appointed hotel operator Accor to manage its newly purchased hotel on Sentosa under the Sofitel brand, the group's second Sofitel in its portfolio.

The hotel, formerly known as The Sentosa, A Beaufort Hotel, has been temporarily renamed The Singapore Resort & Spa Sentosa, managed by Accor while it undergoes a renovation costing more than $20 million.

When refurbishments are complete in Q3 next year, the hotel will be unveiled as Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa.

"Our challenge is going to be that of taking the Sofitel brand, which is all about French elegance and luxury, and taking the hotel to a new level," said Michael Issenberg, chairman of Accor Asia Pacific.

The hotel will remain operational as the renovations will be carried out in different phases.

Spa Botanica will be the first to undergo the transformation, and be re-opened later this year as So Spa. It will feature treatment rooms, six outdoor spa pavilions and a spa garden.

Beyond the physical renovations, existing staff at the hotel will be trained to meet Sofitel's standards, Mr Issenberg said.

Bobby Hiranandani, managing director of Royal Group, said: "You are going to see a world of a difference from the service standards, to the way the design of the property will be."

Royal Group bought the property for $210.85 million from Hong Kong-based HKR International.

The resort will have 215 keys including suites and villas, with renovations handled by DP Architect/DP Green Landscape, and interiors by design house MaxStudio.

Apart from the resort on Sentosa, Royal Group owns the Sofitel So Singapore, which is expected to open at the end of May.

Located along Robinson Road, the hotel, which features a boutique design setting, will cater more to those looking for a city experience.

"We've got two Sofitels, and probably a couple more to come," said Asok Kumar Hiranandani, chairman of Royal Group, adding that the hotels would not necessarily be in Singapore.

The other hotel brands in Accor's portfolio include Pullman, Mercure, Novotel and Ibis. In Singapore, the company has four hotels, excluding the two upcoming Sofitels.

Singapore has been the company's Asia-Pacific headquarters since 2008. Accor moved its upscale and luxury brands headquarters to Singapore this year because it is experiencing the fastest growth for that market in the region, Mr Issenberg said.

Accor's largest growth markets in the region will be China, followed by Indonesia and India.

Mr Issenberg said the company's target, set in 2010, was to have 700 hotels in the region by end-2015. It has around 570 currently.

"I think we will come close, might be a few less or a few more," he said.

This article was published on April 17 in The Business Times.

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