Banyan Tree to open first resort in Singapore at Mandai

Channel NewsAsia 11 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: Banyan Tree Holdings will open its first resort in Singapore with a new eco-friendly development at Mandai.

The luxury resort operator has been appointed to set up the new development, which will be owned by Mandai Park Holdings and operated by Banyan Tree, the Mandai precinct developer announced on Wednesday (Oct 11).

This will be the first time guests can stay in "full-service accommodation" at the "doorstep of Singapore's wildlife parks", Mandai Park Holdings said in a press release.

With an estimated 400 rooms, the resort will provide an "immersive stay close to nature", Mandai Park Holdings said. It added that guests will be able to explore the precinct's five wildlife parks, nature-themed indoor attractions and public green spaces.

Located on a 4.6-hectare plot of land at the eastern end of the Mandai precinct, the resort will provide standard and family rooms as well as elevated cabins or treehouses.

Guests will also be able to go on guided nature walks, native wildlife spotting tours and recycling workshops. It will also adopt environmentally friendly design and construction and operate along sustainable principles.

A 15m-wide strip of land along the edge of the Upper Seletar Reservoir will also be set aside to create a buffer for plants.

The resort hopes to appoint a designer by 2018, with construction to start in 2020 and expected to last for two-and-a-half years. The development will be capped at four storeys - or 21m - high.

The resort is expected to create 400 jobs, Mandai Park Holdings said.

The development is part of the Mandai nature and wildlife precinct's overall aim to "inspire guests to value and conserve biodiversity through memorable experiences," said the group CEO of Mandai Park Holdings Mike Barclay.

The Mandai precinct is undergoing a rejuvenation project, which will see the relocation of Jurong Bird Park and the development of a new Rainforest Park in the same area as the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari.
Source: CNA/nc

Banyan Tree to run new eco-friendly resort in Mandai
SIAU MING EN Today Online 12 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Luxury resort operator Banyan Tree Holdings will be operating an eco-friendly resort that features “elevated” cabins surrounded by tree canopies, as well as other amenities, when a new mega-nature attraction in Mandai opens in 2023.

The company and Mandai Park Holdings, which manages wildlife attractions such as the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park, jointly announced the news on Wednesday (Oct 11).

This will be the first time visitors to the wildlife parks in Mandai can get to stay in a full-service accommodation. The Singapore Zoo already offers overnight camps.

Mr Mike Barclay, group chief executive of Mandai Park Holdings, said at Wednesday’s press conference that the resort is expected to offer a range of room types, from budget to exclusive options. These include standard and family rooms, cottages in mid-air or “treehouses”. Details are not known yet on how the high-level cabins will be constructed. There will be up to 400 rooms available.

Mr Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree, said that while people generally associated the Banyan Tree with expensive resorts, the upcoming one in Mandai has the potential to offer different price points to remain accessible to Singaporeans and foreign visitors.

While the new resort will be targeted at young families, the parks’ core clientele, Mr Barclay said that the two companies plan to have some “very unusual experiences” that would be finalised when their design partner is selected next year.

Some of the proposed plans are for guests to go on guided nature walks and wildlife spotting tours, or attend recycling workshops and educational movie screenings. These will create “an immersive stay” that is “close to nature” and inspire them to care for biodiversity and develop sustainable behaviour.

Construction work is expected to begin in 2020 and will take about 2.5 years to complete.

This will be Banyan Tree’s first resort in Singapore after setting up 43 in 25 countries in the last 23 years. It operates a spa in Marina Bay Sands here.

By 2023, the area in Mandai will be expanded to include the relocated Bird Park and a new Rainforest Park. The Bird Park and Rainforest Park are scheduled to open by 2020 and 2021, respectively.

Mr Barclay said that Banyan Tree was picked from among eight hotel groups which had competed for the project. It aims to be the “most environmentally progressive resort” in Singapore, where guests could be reminded to be more thoughtful when using resources. They will be notified of their water and electricity usage levels in their rooms and could receive credits on their bill if usage is low.

The resort’s name – which will be determined at a later date – will be associated with the Banyan Tree brand, one of the four brands under the operator. The other brands are Angsana, Cassia and Dhawa.

It will sit on a 4.6ha plot of land — about the size of six football fields — on the eastern end of the Mandai precinct.

Part of the land is now occupied by back-of-house facilities for the existing wildlife parks, such as a sewage treatment plant, animal quarantine facilities and workers’ quarters. These will be de-commissioned and the land cleared for the resort.

Both Mandai Park Holdings and Banyan Tree said that the design and development of the resort would be done with “careful consideration to the surroundings”, and based on principles and parameters in the environmental impact assessment report approved by the Government.

A nine-member multi-disciplinary working group, led by Mr Tai Lee Siang, chairman of the World Green Building Council, has been formed to provide expert advice in the areas of design and sustainable operations.

The resort will also be a “low-intensity” development and built sensitively around existing vegetation. For instance, the height of the resort will be capped at four storeys, so that they remain below the tree canopies.

A 15m-wide strip of land along the edge of the Upper Seletar Reservoir will be set aside as a buffer with retained vegetation, while the site will also be designed such that native wildlife may move around and to their habitats.

Within the resort, specific measures will be in place to control lighting and noise emissions. Sustainable designs to reduce and reuse energy, waste and water will also be adopted, such as allowing natural ventilation and daylight, and using renewable energy sources and materials with lower carbon emissions.

Banyan Tree to run resort at upcoming Mandai nature hub
Eco-friendly hotel will be ready by 2023, and cater to visitors to area's five wildlife parks
Audrey Tan Straits Times 12 Oct 17

Visitors to the wildlife parks in Mandai will in future get the chance to stay in the area past nightfall.

By 2023, they can spend the night in an eco-friendly hotel run by Banyan Tree Holdings, a Singapore-based hotel chain known for its luxury resorts around the world.

When opened, it will be the chain's first resort in the Republic.

Banyan Tree and Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) announced plans for the hotel yesterday.

MPH is spearheading plans to turn Mandai into a nature destination with five wildlife parks. The relocated Bird Park from Jurong and Rainforest Park will join the Singapore Zoo, Night Safari and River Safari currently there.

The hotel will be capped at four storeys and occupy 4.6ha of land on the existing compound. It will have a variety of offerings, from standard and family rooms to elevated cabins and tree houses, to cater to guests with different budgets, MPH group chief executive Mike Barclay said ata briefing.

The hotel can have up to 400 rooms - the maximum number set out in an earlier environmental study, which looked at how the development could be done in a way that would least impact the sensitive habitats and wildlife in the neighbouring Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

The hotel will also offer a variety of activities, such as talks on conservation and guided nature walks.

"This stayover experience forms an integral part of our overall vision for the Mandai nature and wildlife precinct - to inspire guests to value and conserve biodiversity through memorable experiences," said Mr Barclay.

Banyan Tree was selected as the hotel operator following a request for proposals, which saw submissions by eight companies. Construction is expected to start in 2020, after design and operation plans for the resort are finalised.

Yesterday, MPH and Banyan Tree said the upcoming hotel will be designed in an eco-friendly way. Flora of conservation value will be protected, and a 15m-wide vegetation buffer will be retained between the hotel and the adjacent Upper Seletar Reservoir.

Dr Guan Chong, head of the marketing programme at the Sin-gapore University of Social Sciences' business school, said the hotel will differentiate itself from others, being located so close to the wildlife parks.

"Currently... tourists who visit the parks have to travel back to the city centre after their visit.

"Being the first to be there, the Banyan Tree resort in Mandai can cater to the needs of park visitors and will face less competition as compared with hotels in the downtown area."

But concerns have been raised by nature enthusiasts about the impact the hotel's presence will have on wildlife there.

Mr Barclay said its design is paramount. "Two children in a swimming pool located at the edge of the resort could result in noise travelling to the reserve. But by placing the pool in the centre of the resort, and using buildings and other noise abatement strategies, this can be reduced," he said.

Nature guide Ivan Kwan hopes the resort will be designed and built in such a way that the abundant bird life will not fly into hotel structures.

Mr Tai Lee Siang, chair of the World Green Building Council and a member of Mandai's Environmental Advisory Panel, said such incidents could be reduced with the use of fewer reflective surfaces.

Mr Kwan said: "Another concern would be how the resort will deal with wildlife that the guests and staff will inevitably encounter.

"The resort will need to have proper guidelines for human-wildlife interactions, and ensure these are followed by the guests."

No conflict of interest in selection: Developer
Audrey Tan Straits Times 12 Oct 17;

Developer Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) said there was no conflict of interest involved in the selection of Banyan Tree Holdings as the operator of an eco-friendly hotel in the upcoming Mandai nature hub.

Mr Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree, is married to Ms Claire Chiang, former chairman of Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) - the operating arm of MPH that manages the wildlife parks.

Ms Chiang is currently senior vice-president at Banyan Tree Holdings, and one of 10 directors sitting on the MPH board.

The WRS board was dissolved in October 2015, when MPH was established to oversee WRS and Mandai Park Development - MPH's development arm.

An MPH spokesman said: "Ms Claire Chiang recused herself from the entire Request for Proposal process and any deliberations by the MPH board. She was neither involved in Banyan Tree's proposal submission nor MPH's evaluation and selection process."

MPH group chief executive Mike Barclay said Banyan Tree has a strong track record in developing and managing resorts that are sensitively located and sustainably operated.

"Through its global portfolio of resorts, it runs many meaningful environmental conservation and community programmes. In this regard, we are deeply aligned," he added.

Audrey Tan

Mandai resort could be novel staycation option and draw tourists who enjoy the tropics
SIAU MING EN Today Online 11 Oct 17;

SINGAPORE — Banyan Tree Holdings’ future resort at the Mandai mega-nature attraction will appeal to both local and foreign visitors, and could get tourists to spend an extra day or two in Singapore, said tourism experts.

The 4.6 hectare resort, which will be sited near the zoo and could open in 2023, will have a mix of room types, such as standard and family rooms as well as treehouses, said Mandai Park Holdings and the luxury resort operator on Wednesday (Oct 11).

It will offer a novel staycation option for locals and appeal to young families as well as regular visitors to the zoo, bird park and other attractions under Mandai Park Holdings, said tourism experts.

Tourists from Australia, Europe and the United States who are attracted to tropical destinations such as Singapore could also sign up as guests, said National University of Singapore marketing Professor Jochen Wirtz.

The resort would attract visitors drawn to eco-friendly facilities, said Dr Michael Chiam, senior lecturer in tourism at Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

“I think generally, these are the groups of people who are quite tired of the run-of-the mill hotels, (such as) the typical concrete-jungle type of hotels,” he said.

Given the Banyan Tree Holdings brand is “quite well-known” in China, the resort can expect travellers from the country, said Dynasty Travel public relations and communications director Alicia Seah. Singapore is already a top Asia-Pacific destination for Chinese tourists, and some analysts believe the future resort could provide a reason for repeat or longer visits to the Republic.

“Singapore tries very hard to create things (where) the average length of stay of the tourists increase… (The resort) could easily add two days (to) their holiday,” said Prof Wirtz.

The resort, which will have up to 400 rooms, will be bigger than Banyan Tree’s usual resorts that typically have a hundred or fewer rooms, he said.

But would it be big enough to meet potential demand? Prof Wirtz said it would depend on prices charged, which can be adjusted to manage demand.

The rooms could be priced similarly to five-star hotels or those at Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), which offer a mix of room types, said observers. Rooms can cost about S$290 to S$1600 per weekend night at RWS’ hotels, which cater to groups ranging from families and couples on a romantic getaway, to visitors who want to feel closer to nature.

In addition, the appointment of Banyan Tree Holdings to operate the resort could create jobs for Singaporeans, said Ms Shirley Tee, course manager for Nanyang Polytechnic’s Diploma in Hospitality and Tourism Management.

Church worker Steven Loh, 45, whose family used to visit the zoo about six times a year, said he would consider taking his family to the resort if it is not too expensive.

The father of two girls aged 5 and 10 is planning to stay at a similar resort in Taiwan during an upcoming vacation.