askST@NLB: Hotels must create new experiences to avoid staycation fatigue

SINGAPORE – Enticing discerning, and possibly critical, local staycationers is a tall order for hoteliers.

But brands must continue to come up with new offerings if they are to stave off staycation fatigue, especially after the past 18 months of no travel.

Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s (PPHG) chief executive Choe Peng Sum said: “Someone from overseas, they come to Singapore, they’re so excited. Everything is new. Whereas for Singaporeans, they already know the country. So it’s about creating new experiences.”

He was speaking to The Straits Times (ST) travel editor Lee Siew Hua about local and global hotel trends as part of the askST@NLB series, a collaboration between The Straits Times and National Library Board.

The virtual talk was shared on ST Facebook’s page at 7pm on Friday (Sept 24).

For instance, wellness, a rising trend in recent years has taken on a new dimension. Ms Lee observed that more are focusing on mental health, rest and mindfully slowing down, especially amid the pandemic.

In response, PPHG teamed up with holiday group Club Med, known for all-inclusive resort getaways, to offer a Body and Soul staycation package with prices starting at $255.

Available at ParkRoyal Collection Marina Bay, the package includes access to spin, meditation and yoga sessions, a farm-to-bar cocktail class and tours of the hotel’s urban farm.

Beyond stays, hotels also woo guests with their food and beverage offerings. Here, too, they must think in terms of experiences.

“It is not just food but creations. Mixologists, bartenders, chefs – people come to see them in action,” said Mr Choe.

With wedding banquets pared down to more intimate affairs, Pan Pacific Singapore now offers solemnisation packages at unique spaces on its property, such as a Japanese-style garden pavilion. Guests can then go for a meal at Japanese restaurant Keyaki.

As with many food and beverage (F&B) players, pivoting to home deliveries during multiple rounds of dining-in restrictions was a move that paid off.

In Singapore, Pan Pacific Orchard is slated to open in the fourth quarter of next year. PHOTO: PAN PACIFIC HOTELS GROUP

During Mother’s Day  in May and Father’s Day in June, Mr Choe said, PPHG hotels here sold $60,000 worth of burnt chocolate cheesecakes. The group runs five properties in Singapore.

Other offerings, such as work-cations and housing returning travellers on stay-home notice, have also contributed to cash flow and helped the hotels stay afloat.

Even as it brings fresh experiences to travel-hungry locals, PPHG continues to make its mark around the world.

The home-grown hotel group opened Parkroyal Monash Melbourne in April and Pan Pacific London this month, and plans to add 13 more properties to its portfolio by 2024.

In Singapore, Pan Pacific Orchard is slated to open in the fourth quarter of next year. Billed as a verdant retreat and zero-waste property, it will feature a rainwater harvesting system, a recyclable water system and a compactor to transform food waste into nutrient water for the hotel’s sky gardens.

Mr Choe said: “During Covid-19, we’ve been busy. We don’t keep still, because this is the best time to look out for contrarian opportunities, which present themselves even during a crisis.”

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