Friday, November 13, 2009

Singapore Hotels here going the extra mile to welcome Apec visitors

They're ready to handle tall orders
[Photo above: WELCOME TO SINGAPORE: Guest services manager of Orchard Hotel Rajagopal Rajkumar with a tray of mocktails specially prepared for Apec delegates. With him are three members of his team.]

WHAT do you do when a hotel guest says he can’t touch any electrical appliances?

That was the predicament staff at Rendezvous Hotel Singapore faced recently when they had to host a group of Jewish guests.

Mr Kellvin Ong, the hotel’s general manager, told The New Paper: “(They were) escorted up the lift by our staff as they (could not touch the lift button).

“The room was also kept in darkness and the door was kept open.”

Although the guests did not say why they could not touch any appliances, it is believed the reasons had to do with their religious beliefs.

Some Jewish schools of thought say the use of electricity is prohibited during the Shabbat (the Sabbath, in Hebrew), which is observed on Fridays and Saturdays.

With a flood of high-powered individuals converging in Singapore for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) meetings, hotels here are bracing themselves for unusual requests.

After all, the rich and powerful can have their quirks.

Take Ms Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska and the Republican running mate in the US presidential elections last year.

Entertainment website reported that she takes her mocha very seriously – no whip, with a specific “thin red straw”.

Red, after all, is the Republican colour.

Local hotels would not say if they had received outlandish demands from Apec visitors, citing privacy concerns. But they said they were ready for any unusual requests that may come their way.

Mr Antoine Chahwan, regional vice-president and general manager of Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, said: “As long as the requests are legal and above-board, we’ll try our best to fulfil them.”

The Regent Singapore – reported to be where Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be staying - also believes in going above and beyond the basics.

A spokesman for the hotel said they once had a guest from Hong Kong who insisted on Chinese medicated oil from a Chinese medicinal shop.

But the nearest shop to the hotel in Tanglin Road was at Bugis.

So a concierge offered to buy it for her, as there was a shop near his own home. He got her 10 bottles.
Said a spokesman: “The guest from Hong Kong was touched and very appreciative of the gesture.”
At Orchard Hotel, Mr Rajagopal Rajkumar, 51, has been appointed its Apec ambassador to handle the delegates’ concerns.

Recently promoted to guest services manager from chief concierge, one of Mr Rajkumar’s new tasks is to ensure the delegates have newspapers from their own countries, as well as sufficient copies of the International Herald Tribune (IHT).

He said that because Singapore is the host country for Apec, it’s significant that they understand the needs of their guests.

“So we have swung into full gear, running into details to ensure that everything goes off without a hitch.”
With 30 years of hospitality experience under his belt, he is no stranger to dignitaries. He said he once served former US president Bill Clinton, who visited Singapore in 2005 as a special United Nations envoy for the tsunami reconstruction efforts.

Mr Rajkumar said: “My impression is that he’s a down-to-earth gentleman.”

Orchard Hotel will be hosting delegates from eight countries and has ordered newspapers from those countries.

The hotel’s spokesman said they have also ordered extra copies of major financial newspapers such as the IHT, Asian Wall Street Journal, Financial Times and Business Times.

She added: “Other foreign papers are also available on request as we work with foreign newspaper vendors.”

Other delegates have asked for non-smoking rooms and specific types of pillows which includes feather, therapeutic, anti-snore, hypoallergenic, high-density foam, cotton and buckwheat.

Mr Rajkumar said: “We have to be very careful because people can be sensitive to smoke and dust.”
The hotel also has stocks of extra ties, tuxedos and cuff links in case the delegates lose their luggage.

Mr Rajkumar said: “We have associates available 24 hours to provide these things. Sometimes, incidents such as lost baggage may occur so the guests may not have the clothes they need.”

Over at Fairmont and Swissotel the Stamford, at Raffles City, a group of delegates have asked for access to their local TV channel to keep abreast of the news in their native language.

The hotel spokesman said: “We’ll be specially subscribing (to the channel) just for this period, to cater to their needs and, in the process, turning the moments into beautiful memories for our delegates.”

At the Royal Plaza on Scotts, there are dedicated staff members attending to the VIPs, which include finding out their likes, dislikes and dietary requirements.

All the hotels hosting Apec delegates have been given the recipe for the Apec mocktail, to be served at check-in and on request.

Source : AsiaOne
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