There is always something happening at what is, outside Greater China, Asia’s tallest luxury hotel, namely the 226-metre high Swissôtel The Stamford. Since the gal’s last visit the 1,263 rooms and suites have been brought up to date, as has the now-stunning 65thfloor club lounge, which can be reached down 24 curved marble steps from the 66thfloor or, as from suite 6465, up 24 marble steps –good exercise since the club’s 65thfloor gym did not open until 7 a.m. Also new is a completely re-done lobby done, like bedrooms, by Wilson Associates,. Gone are lines of computer terminals attended at any time by six agents. In their place is a designer table holding, well, rows of computer terminals ready to be worked by guests. Each terminal has a credit card widget, or whatever the gadget that eats your money via a credit card, is called: each computer also has a stack of key cards. Four agents float, or patrol around this DIY operation, ready to help at any time. For those who still want to sit down and be personally checked in in a leisurely fashion, there is still one ‘human desk’, but tucked out of general view.
Having cleared out the long lines of yesterday, with those checking in sometimes getting muddled with those checking out, additional space was created. Brilliant. There is now a marvellous leased-out TWG tea lounge occupying the rear part of the lobby. Having seen the distinctive TWG tea canisters on so many occasions it was time to find out the brand’s story. TWG stands for The Wellbeing Group, which is now a US$90 million company. It was co-founded in 2008 by its CEO, a Dior-Ferrari fanatic called Taha Bouqdib, a law student who is one of seven children of the King of Morocco’s head of security: Bougdib met his now wife and TWG co-founder, American Maranda Barnes, a concert violinist and Tory Burch follower, in a Paris teashop. Back to the fabulous F&B here at Swissôtel Stamford, Singapore….. Prego, the Italian restaurant that started Singapore’s craze for pasta and more, is currently closed for its botox. The upstairs restaurant, on the hotel’s 79thfloor, has now emerged from its treatment session, and what is called Skai, for the reason that you do feel you are up in the clouds, is brilliant. Designed by EDG, there are 140 seats, some up high, some normal height, some bankettes, most offering superb views.
I dined in Skai with Marcus Hanna, the Australian who runs day-to-day operations for both this hotel and the conjoined Fairmont Singapore – the new culinary supremo for the pair, Emmanuel Bernardos, has come from the freestanding Loh Lik Teng Group, which includes Burnt Ends, the sexy grill restaurant whose chef, Perth-born Dave Pynt, is going to oversee quite a lot of the food at Waldorf Astoria Maldives, which opens next month. We talked about the challenges of running any food operation here in Singapore, not only a growing number of competitors but also finding staff. At the moment the authorities demand a minimum of 60% of staff, any business, to be Singaporean: this rises to 62% in 2020 and on up to 65% in 2021. Bear in mind that Singapore has an unemployment rate of only 2.2%, which includes those who cannot work for whatever reason, and the challenge for all hotels is obvious. Fortunately the lovely, friendly Swissôtel Stamford and the conjoined Fairmont have a way below city average turnover among there total-1,400 associates: one of the longest stayers is my good friend Eddy Tan, a 31-year veteran who is always there to see me in, and out of ,this comfortable luxury hotel. WANT TO SEE MORE OF THE NEW LOBBY?