It's one year to go before the rubber hits the tracks on 28 September 2008, and already, hoteliers in Singapore are buzzing about what hosting the world's first Formula 1 night race will do their city and, more importantly, room rates.
The cocktail party circuit is buzzing with talk on rates that hotels on the race circuit will be charging. Hotels away from the main action are also anticipating strong demand "because maybe not everyone wants to be where the circuit is," said Mr Patrick Fiat, General Manager of Royal Plaza on Scotts.
As soon as the date for the race was set, Mr Fiat offered a minimum four-night package of S$900 per night on his hotel's website and got one booking instantly. "I was just testing the market and this booking came in almost immediately, paid and guaranteed through the web."
There's been talk of S$2,000-plus rates being bandied about by hotels on the race circuit, although no one has yet played their hand. But with the recent Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) confirmation of conditions attached to the event, hoteliers will now be clearer about how to set their terms.
Following consultation with the Singapore Hotels Association (SHA), the MTI has proposed the following levy – 30% of total revenues from rooms and room packages for trackside hotels and 20% for all other tourist hotels.
The levy will be effective for a period of five nights from Wednesday, 24 September to Sunday, 28 September.
Based on current circuit design, 11 trackside hotels are identified as: Swissotel The Stamford, Raffles The Plaza, Pan Pacific, Fullerton, Ritz-Carlton Millenia, Oriental, Marina Mandarin, Raffles, Conrad Centennial, Carlton and Peninsula Excelsior.
The success will be in the press coverage
The confirmation of terms has sent hotels back to the drawing board to determine their rates. But what is definite at this stage is that hoteliers are all revved up about an event they believe will put Singapore on the world map.
Mr Tony Cousens, General Manager of Marina Mandarin, said he expected his hotel to be full for at least three days. "A success would be for the Marina Mandarin, the Marina Bay trackside hotels and Singapore to garner positive press from this inaugural world-class event, setting the platform for future years."
Marriott's General Manager Mr Greg Allan said: "As this is the first Formula 1 event in Singapore, we are still in the midst of gathering all necessary information to help us finalise our plan. Nonetheless, excitement has definitely been brewing already; judging from some early enquiries we've received."
Surge in enquiries, especially for events
Mr Thierry Douin, Area Manager and General Manager of Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore, said: "Despite being so far away from the race "tracks", we have been receiving a lot of enquiries, especially for events in the function rooms. Given the heightened interest for this inaugural race, I am sure that hotel rooms will be in short supply."
He added: "The tactical plans we implement in October 2008 will not compromise our long term business strategy and partnership with business partners. While we have not finalised the plans for this period, I am confident that they will be mutually beneficial to our customers and our owners."
Hoteliers have expressed some reservations about a five-day minimum package, saying they do not anticipate most visitors wanting to stay for the full five days. "Unless they are technical crew or media, I think most people will come for three days," said Mr Fiat.
He added he would be working with travel agents to sell packages through them. "It would be good, especially in year one, to work together."
He said they needed to avoid situations where a lot of rooms were left empty: "All the corporate market will avoid Singapore during that time and we have to manage inventory well."
Tour East's General Manager-Marketing, Ms Judy Lum, said it hoped to promote the F1 through packages to be sold in various countries via its principals "but this is still in preliminary stages and we are still awaiting a response from the FI organisers regarding the ticket sales".
Work begins on street circuit, Pit Building
Meanwhile, work has begun to get the infrastructure ready for the race. Minister for Trade & Industry Lim Hng Kiang officiated the groundbreaking event for the S$33 million Pit Building on Friday, 31 August 2007.
This milestone comes after three months of intense planning by various government agencies with the race promoter, Singapore GP Pte Ltd. Targeted for completion by 31 May 2008, the three-storey Pit building will house race control facilities, garages for the teams, hospitality lounges, Media Centre and other facilities.
The Land Transport Authority (LTA) is slated to begin road works some time next month, once the circuit route is finalised by the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile), the international governing body for motorsports.
Covering a gross floor area (GFA) of more than 18,000 square metres, the Pit Building is designed by Architects 61 Pte Ltd, which was also behind other significant buildings in Singapore such as UOB Plaza, The Heeren, The Concourse and Singapore Exchange Centre. Singapore GP is appointed the project developer and will work with the main contractor, local firm Jurong Primewide Pte Ltd, to ensure that construction meets the stringent requirements of Formula One Management and the FIA.
The proposed street circuit is approximately 5km long and offers a number of overtaking opportunities, fast turns and technically challenging sections for F1 race drivers, which, in turn, will present viewers with compelling race action to keep them on the edge of their seats.
More than 70% of the street circuit is made up of Singapore's existing road network.
The project team needs to work within a tight timeframe of fewer than 16 months to put in place the necessary infrastructure for the 2008 race. A high level of coordination between government agencies and related stakeholders is required to ensure that the necessary infrastructure can be delivered in time.
Mr Lim Neo Chian, Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive of the Singapore Tourism Board, who chairs the event's working committee, said that Singapore is also waiting for the FIA confirm soon whether Singapore will stage a race at night, and become the first venue in the F1 calendar to do so. Preliminary lighting trials conducted in France in July, he added, suggest that the proposed lighting system is able to meet the stringent requirements for driver safety and High Definition television broadcast. Another series of trials overseas is scheduled for next month followed by more tests here.
"Over the next few months, more pieces will gradually come together as we plan the biggest leisure event that Singapore has ever hosted," Mr Lim said.
Mr Colin Syn, deputy chairman of Singapore GP, said, "It's going to be very exciting to see all this take shape. The sheer scale of the task required is simply staggering, but the support that we've received from all the government agencies involved has been tremendous."
Source : STB
[tags : malaysiahotelnews hotels malaysia resorts news travel tourism travel vmy2007]