Lush and suite

The Magnolia suite (left) in the new Raintr33 hotel, which is housed in two colonial buildings. The hotel rooms' wash basins are placed in the balconies to get guests to go out and enjoy the outdoors.

Amid the ongoing rejuvenation of the Changi Point area, a new boutique hotel has opened, turning old military premises into a cosy jaunt.

The $5-million Raintr33 hotel that opened last week has 50 rooms spread out across two colonial buildings at 33 and 42 Hendon Road.

While Block 33, called Angsana, is fully operational, the other, called Lantana, will open by the end of the month. A family runs this hotel, which is leasing the land from the Singapore Land Authority, though they decline to be identified.

Both three-storey blocks have 25 rooms each, with suites, deluxe rooms and superior rooms. Room rates for now are between $220 and $330.

Ms Corina Chong, Raintr33's executive director, says the hotel is a good getaway from the city for locals and has a rustic, laidback vibe.

It is also looking to attract tourists who have a short transit time - it is a 15-minute drive from Changi Airport - and business travellers who might have to work at the nearby Changi Business Park.

"The hotel has a different character from those in the city. As it's surrounded by so much greenery, it would suit those who want to relax. And business travellers and tourists in transit don't have to travel far to get here," Ms Chong says.

The hotel's opening, after a 19-month overhaul of the dilapidated buildings, adds vibrancy to the area which has been designated for lifestyle developments. Another hotel, the 112-room Changi Cove in Cranwell Road, across the road from Raintr33, opened early last year.

Other accommodation options in the area include Village Hotel Changi and the Aloha Changi chalets in Netheravon Road. There are at least seven dining options in the vicinity such as The Coastal Settlement, which serves Western fare and local delights, and Ponggol Choon Seng Seafood Restaurant.

This development at the Hendon Cluster, as it is called, in Changi Point is part of a broader Rustic Coast Plan unveiled by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2002 to revamp the coastal areas of Pulau Ubin, Changi Point, Pasir Ris, Coney Island and Punggol Point as recreational destinations.

Raintr33's interiors and fittings, such as lamps made out of palm leaves that hang over the reception desk, reflect its lush surroundings and are decorated in shades of green and brown.

Artworks by budding China artists, chosen by the hotel's concept designer, add pops of colour to the space.

There is also a restaurant, Queen's Garden, and Cedro, a retro-themed bistro-bar that has been decorated with old HDB flat doors and cement screed. There is also a function room on the property.

The hotel rooms, which range from 24 sq m to 42 sq m, have windows that open up to the lush scenery of the surrounding coastal area.

Most have generous balconies too - a feature of these buildings, which were built between 1930 and 1936.

Other signature design features from that era include the overhanging clay tile roofs for tropical weather protection. The buildings' military history - Block 42 was the headquarters of the Royal Engineers after World War II - is also evident.

Inside the buildings, there are no lifts. Old staircases have been kept as they are, with wooden banisters.

A 176 sq m garden shed, which was probably used to store mechanical equipment, has been repurposed as a space for outdoor functions. Ms Chong says: "We've put in lights and fans and spruced up the place. It's a venue for those who want something different."

To keep guests entertained, the hotel is coming up with cycling routes - bicycles can be rented from the front desk - and tours of Changi. The itinerary could possibly include a night walk that features ghostly tales of the area, in particular, the Old Changi Hospital.

She is not afraid the area's alleged spooky past will frighten guests. "Why not? There're people who love that part of Changi and want to find out more about the history. We would love to tap into that."

This article was first published on Dec 20, 2014.
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