More hotels jumping on staycation wagon

brown wooden house with green grass field

HOTELS shifting their focus to staycation packages are hoping that the year-end peak season and the gradual easing of restrictions would allow them to better ride through their biggest crisis in recent history.

The Parkroyal Collection Pickering, which served as a government quarantine facility (GQF), will reopen its doors from Nov 1, following a through cleaning and disinfecting of its premises. It did not, however, have any guests that tested positive for Covid-19.

From next month, the hotel will be taking on staycation guests, as well as cater to business travellers from select countries who fall under the government’s Green Lane programme, and guests serving their stay-home-notice (SHN) who must be confined to their rooms on designated floors.

“Our core business is serving guests,” said Edward Kollmer, general manager of Parkroyal Collection Pickering. “Hence, it is natural for us to reopen our doors at this juncture as the government is promoting domestic tourism to allow for more locals to enjoy this facility.”

With this, the hotel – part of the Pan Pacific Hotels Group (PPHG) – will soon start up certain facilities again, such as its in-house restaurant Lime.

Mr Kollmer added: “Bookings for the hotel are coming in briskly since the news got out about our reopening. There is pent-up demand, especially since borders are closed and locals are seeking domestic getaways.”

For PPHG as a whole, demand for Q4 is proving to be robust as holiday-starved families and young couples line up bookings for the weekends and the December holiday season, the group said.

Bookings also received a bump from news of the “SingapoRediscovers” vouchers, which can be used towards staycations. The Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Road, for instance, received some 800 bookings in the space of a week.

Other hotels that The Business Times spoke to also appear to be seeing a flurry of demand. Far East Hospitality expects occupancy for Q4 to be on par with last year, citing demand from staycationers, government contracts and workers from Malaysia displaced by the border closures.

Five properties in its portfolio are taking in domestic leisure guests presently, while three of them – Oasia Hotel Downtown, Orchard Rendezvous Hotel, and Village Hotel Bugis – cater to both staycationers and guests serving SHN.

A spokesperson for Far East Hospitality said: “In terms of local staycations, our hotels are enjoying similar demand to last year. This is great news for us considering the current circumstances. The Barracks Hotel Sentosa, in particular, has been doing well.”

Meanwhile, the Andaz Singapore, which reopened to the public on Sept 9, has been rolling out value-for-money promotions to lure guests. Amy Lu, director of operations for Andaz Singapore, similarly highlighted a strong demand for staycations, adding: “We are seeing a huge volume of first-time guests trying out Andaz Singapore.”

While it was never contracted as a SHN facility, it – like some other hotels – offered a 14-day SHN rate to guests should they choose to serve out their SHN at the Andaz, it said. Presently, the Andaz is only putting up leisure guests.

Some analysts expect demand for alternative business such as SHN and foreign workers who need to reside temporarily in Singapore to gradually decline going forward, given that Singapore has effectively contained the number of Covid-19 cases, while more travellers are being allowed to serve their SHN at home.

To be sure, not all hotels will be able to open up to the public this year as some hotels remain contracted by the government. SwissĂ´tel The Stamford, for instance, is currently temporarily serving as a GQF.

Cushman & Wakefield’s associate director of research, Wong Xian Yang, said lifestyle and boutique hotels that can serve up a unique guest experience will have an edge, as will hotels that can offer attractive wellness packages.

Hotels have also been working with banks such as UOB, HSBC and DBS to promote their staycation packages.

According to UOB’s head of cards and payments, Choo Wan Sim, spend on UOB cards for hotel bookings in Singapore surged 60 per cent month-on-month in July, and notched a further 40 per cent jump in August.

The bank rolled out some 40 staycation promotions in July, with cardmembers able to snag perks such as discounts of up to 25 per cent on the room rate, complimentary room upgrades and dining credits.

Similarly, HSBC, which is offering about 12 staycation packages with different hotel partners, noted that a recent campaign it ran resulted in a surge of enquiries and bookings of up to 10 times for some of those hotels. Last month, 50 bookings for The Fullerton Hotel Singapore at a special rate of S$297++ per night, which came with a room upgrade and S$100 worth of dining credits, were snapped up in one day.

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for DBS said that the number of DBS/ POSB cardholders in August spending at local hotels for staycations, meals or spas had recovered to levels seen prior to the circuit breaker.

Some hotels, such as Furama RiverFront, are also offering work-from-hotel schemes to drum up additional revenue.

Singapore Tourism Board’s director (hotel and sector manpower) Tan Yen Nee said: “As we progressively resume more social and economic activities, the government will continue to work closely with all stakeholders, including the hotels, to control the spread of the virus.”