Full house expected at hotels during F1

Guests at the Fullerton can get a full view of the Formula One (F1) cars barrelling down the clear straight stretch near Anderson Bridge.

SINGAPORE - Hotels expect booming business when the Singapore Grand Prix (SGP) zooms into town later this month.

The Ritz-Carlton, Swissotel The Stamford and Mandarin Oriental are anticipating a full house during the Sept 20 to 22 event despite higher room prices, even as others roll out new packages and fringe activities to cash in on the sixth year of the event.

Pan Pacific Singapore, for instance, has a new room package, starting from $3,199, which includes SGP tickets and a shuttle service to the shopping district and the race track. This and another package offering rooms with panoramic views at $1,100 a night have proven a hit.

"A good proportion (of the 790 rooms) has already been snapped up and we have managed to secure more group business this year as compared to the last two years," said public relations manager Nathalyn Fong.

From 2008 to 2011, the first four races here generated over $560 million in incremental tourism receipts, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.

Last year, Singapore inked a second five-year deal, starting from this edition, with Formula 1.

A SGP spokesman said 90 per cent of tickets have already been sold for this year's race, which features concerts headlined by Canadian teen sensation Justin Bieber and Grammy Award-winning singer Rihanna.

Overseas visitors have again accounted for most of the hotel bookings this time, showing that the race's position in the tourism calendar remains solid.

All the bookings at the 608-room Ritz-Carlton so far have been from abroad. "Some of the guests tend to be Grand Prix aficionados who will travel to different cities to catch the race," said director of sales and marketing Rex Loh.

Rates at the hotel, a stone's throw from the F1 Pit Building at Marina Promenade, starts at $1,250 a night. A minimum two-night booking is required.

Mandarin Oriental started to get bookings as early as last September. The hotel's location is a main draw as around half of its 527 rooms, starting at $1,350 a night, face the circuit.

Room rates typically go up during race weekend as hotels have to pay an F1 tax. Trackside hotels fork out 30 per cent of the price of each room filled, while those farther away pay 20 per cent.

Circuit-facing rooms at the 1261-room Swissotel The Stamford start from $1,350 a night, while those at the 769-room Fairmont Singapore are priced from $1,150.

Hotels are also offering other perks for guests during this period. At Marina Bay Sands, F1 ticket-holders and guests can get discounts across the development, such as 15 per cent off tickets to the ArtScience museum.

The Fullerton Heritage is providing guests guided tours around historical buildings along the racetrack, such as Clifford Pier.

According to general manager Giovanni Viterale, both its hotels - The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel - are already fully booked for Sept 21 and 22.