New hotels further boost 'vibrant, historic' Katong

Traditional features and Singapore scenes take centre stage at the new Peranakan-themed Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong.
PHOTO: The Straits Times

Two new players - Hotel Indigo Singapore Katong and Holiday Inn Express Singapore Katong - have joined the fray in the Katong hotel cluster but the competition is "welcomed".

Holiday Inn, which opened at East Coast Road in June, is the third and largest in the Express chain in Singapore, with 451 rooms.

Just next door stands Hotel Indigo, the first under the brand to open here.

Infused with Peranakan-inspired design elements, the 131-room boutique hotel is housed in part of the former Joo Chiat Police Station, a conserved building.

Both hotels are under the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG).

Asked why it chose to open two hotels so close to each other, vice-president of operations at IHG, South-east Asia and Korea, Leanne Harwood, told My Paper that they are"two very distinct brands appealing to different travellers".

She added that Hotel Indigo caters to those "who appreciate design and locally inspired touches" and who "seek to immerse themselves in the local culture".

Holiday Inn Express caters to "savvy, independent travellers looking for a hassle-free stay at an affordable rate".

The Katong area is already home to a cluster of hotels, including Hotel Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy, Santa Grand Hotel East Coast and Village Hotel Katong.

Klaus Gottschalk, general manager at Grand Mercure Singapore Roxy, said the 576-room hotel which has been around since 2001, "appreciates and welcomes new supply since it... further promotes the vibrant and historic Katong district".

As for ways to stand apart from competition, he added that the brand would "continue to focus on our key strengths and unique features".

He noted that the hotel, which caters to groups like corporate customers, leisure travellers and families, has "very generous room sizes which set us apart".

The hotel has had its guest rooms and public areas refurbished in the past two years, and travellers can look forward to an upgrade of its facilities and other refurbishments including its Peranakan buffet restaurant, Feast@East, this year.

Hannah Chang, assistant professor of marketing at Singapore Management University's Lee Kong Chian School of Business, said there is potential for growth in the hotel industry in Katong.

She added that the area has a mix of culture, heritage and cuisine while being both near to the beach and city centre.

"The hotel industry was once considered a saturated market," she said.

"However, globally, we have seen changes in the composition of traveller types over the last decade."

Today, there are more independent travellers - many of whom are millennials, she noted.

Barkathunnisha Abu Bakar Maricair, a tourism practitioner, lecturer and trainer at Kaplan, said travellers are also moving away from "somewhere to go" and "something to do" to "something to experience".

"The millennials are anticipated to replace the baby boomers and become the dominant consumer group for the hospitality industry.

"There is a need for hotels to fight with the Airbnb and Homeaways to target the growing millennial market.

"Also the need for authentic, local experiences is on the increase," said Ms Barkathunnisha, adding that Katong can meet this need.

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