While boutique hotels were once considered the sole purveyors of individualistic styles, distinctive amenities and personalised touches, larger hotel chains are differentiating themselves to become destinations in their own right.
One property that has successfully done so is the JW Marriott Singapore South Beach. Despite having gone through a transitional phase – it was previously a self-managed property in 2015 – the 636-room property has managed to retain a distinctive touch while delivering a sense of homogeneity befitting that of a luxury hotel chain.
Glitzy food offerings
“We’re in [the business of] luxury, and Marriott is very strict about how luxury can be done – it’s not just about managing a hotel and putting our name on it.” -Stephane Fabregoul, managing director, JW Marriott Singapore South Beach and The St. Regis Singapore.
One of the hallmarks of an iconic lifestyle destination is food and beverage, and part of the strong DNA of JW Marriott is to “provide authentic, local and crafted culinary experiences,” said Stephane Fabregoul, managing director of JW Marriott Singapore South Beach and The St. Regis Singapore.
What’s got him most excited now is the April 23 opening of The Non-Commissioned Officers (NCO) Club, a post-war Modernist three-storey clubhouse which houses four new F&B concepts.
“The NCO Club will be the heartbeat of the South Beach precinct. With the melding between the old and the new, we hope to offer a glimpse of Singapore’s evolution from sea to sky right here at what was once the island’s central social district,” he said.
Anchoring the entertainment lifestyle destination is Madame Fan, a partnership with restaurateur Alan Yau who is behind the famous Hakkassan and Wagamama in London.
The restaurant features a unique “etiquette-free dining concept grounded in old school classics” where food is presented on sharing plates. “It’s a departure from your usual traditional Chinese restaurant – that’s what makes it so exciting,” remarked Fabregoul.
The NCO Club also includes Cool Cats, a live music entertainment and speakeasy venue; Stags’ Room, a wine room showcasing exclusive and vintage labels from Stags’ Leap and Penfolds; as well as Fish Pool, a champagne, caviar and oyster bar in collaboration with Louis Roederer.
Making a statement
Design is another prevailing theme at the hotel, which features modern architecture conceptualised by international architects Foster+Partners and design firm Aedas, and sleek interiors courtesy of Philippe Starck. Built on storied grounds comprising four 1930 Art Deco Army heritage buildings, it features a seamless blend of old and new.
Welcoming guests at the entrance is a breathtaking 7m by 6.5-metre video wall by South Korean artist Lee Lee Nam, who used LED monitors as a canvas to create an “artistic symphony”, fusing art with technology.
The Court Martial Bar, formerly a vehicular garage for the military camp, incorporates old vehical repair bays in its bar design and features furniture constructed from automotive parts.
There are also more than 30 works of art scattered around the hotel premises.
But beautiful designs must have“alignment with the hotel’s intrinsic personality”, according to Fabregoul who refers to staff development here.
“We’re in [the business of] luxury, and Marriott is very strict about how luxury can be done – it’s not just about managing a hotel and putting our name on it.”
Every new staff is put through a rigorous 30-hour training to deliver what the brand calls ‘The JW Treatment’.
Personalisation through technology is also key. For instance, its housekeeping team uses an application to monitor and follow up on guest requests in a timely manner. This is especially important to a property which caters to a large segment – about 20 to 30% – of corporate travellers.
“With technology, staff can now spend time on the smallest details such as placing slippers and bottle of water on your preferred side of the bed without being told. What we are trying to say is ‘we understand you, and know what you want’.”