The Amara hotel in Singapore is undergoing not just a
physical makeover but is also overhauling its image - from
a four-star leisure-traveller oriented hotel to a five-star
deluxe business hotel right smack in the heart of the
central business district. N Gunalan reports on the new
24 August 2001
You always mostly tend to look much better after a
makeover. And to top it off, it's always flattering for
hoteliers to hear comments like "I can't believe it's the
same hotel. It's amazing the way it looks now."
15-year-old Amara Singapore has been undergoing
renovations since 1998 and will emerge with a hip new image
end of this year.
"With the transformation of the hardware, our
benchmarking with the competition has also changed," said
Gary Lim, regional director of marketing.
"We can't compare with those in the (mid-market)
Havelock Road area. We see ourselves as somewhere between
the Ritz-Carlton and The Oriental."
The hotel's also changing client mix to reflect its new
image and capitalise on its location in the financial hub
of the city.
"Before our renovations started, we were 70 percent
leisure. We're now looking for 80 percent corporate.
Gradually we'll phase out the leisure market and hit 95
percent," he said.
The 380-room Amara used to be associated with the older
Chinatown and Tanjong Pagar areas fringing the CBD although
it is equally near the financial district.
"We're emphasising our location. We want to be seen as
being in the western end of Singapore's CBD. We're also
close to the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit, the subway) and
accessibility to the airport is easy," said Lim
With the S$30 million (US$16.6 million) makeover, the
Amara is also reconfiguring the classification of its
rooms. It used to have three floors for the Leisure Club
but has since converted them to deluxe rooms.
The executive floors - the Amara Club - are now spread
over two floors.
The hotel's sixth floor has been renamed Tropical Six,
complete with a spa, managed by Aspara, and a pool.
It has also introduced a new room category - business
executive rooms - which are essentially rooms-cum-offices.
Fold up the bed and the room can be converted into a
meeting room for up to 10 people.
"This is very useful for business travellers who need to
hold small meetings," said Lim. "Our rates were S$120
before but now we're charging a promotional rate of S$160.
We're looking at S$178 eventually.
"We brought some people over to have a look and they
guessed that we were charging a much higher rate and were
surprised when they heard our rates.
"Maybe we had underpriced," he quipped.
The change into a modern, business hotel has also found
its way into the F&B outlets. It has converted the
second floor into what it calls the 'Signature Collection"
- a collection of fine dining outlets, from Japanese to
It's Wall Street café used to have a dark, pub-like
ambience but now it's brighter with posters of Wall Street
images on the walls and menus featuring items like blue
chips and commodities.
The hotel is also unveiling a new column-free ballroom
that can seat 800 and four smaller function rooms.
The man behind the design concept is the man at the helm
himself - Albert Teo, the CEO of Amara Holdings, which owns
Teo had visited the US to pick up trends which he then
incorporated into his hotel here.
But the Amara is not alone in making the transformation
into a business hotel in Singapore's CBD. A stone's throw
away, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels is rebranding its
Copthorne Harbour View and using it as a launchpad for its
new hotel brand - possibly called M Hotel - later this
The rebranding will be done once it completes its
refurbishment. With the renaming, the mainly-tourist hotel
will become a business hotel to be in sync with its
location in the central business district (TravelWeekly
East, April 20). Several hotels in the other end of
the CBD are also banding together in a joint marketing
initiative. Is Lim worried?
"Standing alone gives us an edge. We have to market
intelligently; it won't be a problem if the price is
right," he said.