TravelDailyNews: Why did Marriott International decide to bring the Courtyard brand into Singapore?
Peter Khong: Asia is home to some of the fastest growing destinations in the world and Singapore in particular has always been one of the region's key business and leisure hubs, presenting us with a wealth of opportunities.
According to the Economist Intelligence Unit, Singapore is tipped to be the most competitive city in Asia by 2025 – based on factors such as its ability to attract capital, business, talent and tourists. Singapore is now the world's fastest growing wealth hub with $1.3 trillion assets under management, and is slated to overtake Switzerland as the world's largest offshore wealth center by 2020. Moreover, business events in Singapore saw a 15% year-on-year growth in 2016 with the Singapore Tourism Board supporting more than 410 business events.
Marriott International operates nearly 600 properties across 24 brands in 24 countries and territories in APAC and we already have a strong presence in Singapore, with 13 hotels and over 4,050 rooms in operation.
Opening Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena is a significant strategic move as we see huge opportunities in Singapore and plan to further extend our brand portfolio in response to increased demand. We are confident that we can tap into this growth potential and continue building on our promise to deliver exemplary service to both leisure and business travellers in Singapore.
TDN: What's Novena potential for travelers?
P.K.: As most tourists are not first-time visitors to Singapore, we're seeing more travellers move away from the city looking to explore different parts of Singapore.
Located at the edge of the city center, Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena elude local charm while offering all the modern conveniences of being in such a prime location.
The Novena destination is a particularly attractive one due to its proximity to the Orchard Road shopping belt and access to transport links via Novena MRT, buses and taxis. A destination where old world charm meets new world modern, Novena is lined with shopping malls and local food haunts. In addition, the Novena area is also a stone's throw away to cultural attractions including the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall in Balestier.
Strategically situated at the gateway of Health City Novena, an integrated healthcare masterplan developed by the Singapore government, we foresee a demand for medical tourism and believe that Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena and the medical suites will greatly complement each other.
We believe that business and leisure guests will also enjoy the added conveniences of being part of a mixed-use development – Royal Square at Novena - with a variety of shopping and lifestyle options in one single destination. The new mall will comprise of two levels of lifestyle and dining offerings and some key tenants include popular Chinese hotpot restaurant Hai Di Lao, traditional Chinese heath store Eu Yan Sang, fresh and healthy food chain FRESH+ and one-stop beauty salon Zen Beauty among many others, all set to open from October 2017 onwards.
TDN: What is the travelers mix you are looking for and which markets you are targeting?
P.K.: Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena is aimed at attracting savvy travellers looking for a hotel located in a prime location with unique business and leisure offerings for a differentiated experience.
We are well poised to attract any traveller who desires to mix work and play. At Courtyard by Marriott, we always aim to 'Make Room for a Little Fun' during travellers' stay with us. Whether travelling for business or leisure, Courtyard by Marriott will help to put more play in your stay from public "living spaces" to encourage communal interactions to smartly designed guest rooms that offers the right balance between work, relaxation, comfort and sleep.
TDN: Which will be the possible innovations and technologies you will introduce?
P.K.: Catering to travellers on the go who are always connected and informed, Courtyard by Marrriott Singapore Novena is the smart and dynamic hotel that helps travellers make the most of their time on the road.
Delivering comfort and convenience in a smart way, the hotel is fully connected to Wifi and features multiple USB points, allowing guests to work and relax, practically everywhere. What's more, all rooms feature an IPTV system with mirroring options, allowing guests to beam anything from their smart devices to the TV.
To help lead the way in ensuring environmental sustainability, Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena will also be implementing an Eco-Digester system to recycle food waste. The system will provide a significant reduction of waste going to incinerators and landfills, hence creating a better environment with lesser emissions. This is in line with government efforts in minimizing waste in Singapore. In line with our brand values, Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena is committed to doing our part for the environment in order to improve the quality of our surroundings and thereby improving our health and well-being.
TDN: Give us a brief about the Hotel's outlook and upcoming travel trends.
P.K.: As travellers grow increasingly savvy and sophisticated, the demand for exceptional hospitality experiences is stronger than ever. Travellers today want choices and they're looking for differentiated experience, whether travelling for work or play, from the design of the hotel to the amenities and digital innovations.
In particular, more business travellers are shunning the all-work-and-no-fun grind of work trips by mixing them with vacation time. In recent years, there's been a rise of "bleisure" – where travellers mix their business trips with leisure time, allowing workers to save money and transform what can be an inconvenient trip away into a pleasurable stay.
We also found that more business travellers often choose a location away from the city centre as most business districts shut down and can be really quiet over the weekends.
That's why, Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena is the perfect location which allows travellers to mix both business and pleasure. The hotel's smartly designed guest rooms feature relaxing colours, panoramic views of the cityscape and nature reserve and thoughtfully designed spaces to deliver the optimum balance between work, relaxation, comfort and sleep.
The hotel offers three dining options - SKY22, Urbana rooftop bar and Lobby Lounge which provides an array of culinary delights to classic cocktails served at the highest roof top bar in the Novena district.
Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena also features a host of amenities and executive offerings including an outdoor rooftop infinity pool with an amazing view, fitness centre, executive lounge and two meeting rooms. What's more, guests can also make the most of their stay by participating in the fitness activities and guided community tours provided by the hotel, allowing them to maximize their business trips
TDN: What is Marriott's strategy and upcoming plans for the Courtyard brand in Singapore?
P.K.: Singapore is and will remain a key market in Asia for us in the long term. In addition to the upcoming Courtyard Singapore Novena, we are on track to add more hotels in the near future including The Singapore EDITION, a luxury and lifestyle boutique hotel.
In line with Marriott International's philosophy, we will continue to expand our global footprint in new and old destinations alike, offering global explorers truly indigenous experiences wherever they travel.
With nearly three decades of hospitality industry experience, Peter Khong joins Courtyard by Marriott Singapore Novena's pre-opening team as General Manager.
In this role, Khong will be responsible for launching the first Courtyard by Marriott in Singapore, as well as oversee all aspects of the hotels operations.
He started his career in operations with Starwood Hotels in 1989 before joining other premier hospitality brands such as Hyatt and Hilton Worldwide. Prior to this role, Khong spent 20 years in China where he was General Manager of Sheraton Shanghai Hongqiao. Before that, he was General Manager of Four Points by Sheraton Shanghai, Daning, having successfully opened the hotel within six months.
Khong attended primary and secondary school in Singapore before moving to Hawaii during his teen years. He is married with one son. During his free time, he enjoys reading current affairs, travelling and golfing.
Khong is also fluent in four languages: English, Japanese, Mandarin, Bahasa Indonesian and the Cantonese dialect.