That was what the staff of hotel Royal Plaza on Scotts, which also manages Singapore’s newest serviced residence 8 on Claymore, did when a guest made a wish for a prowling tiger in his room.

The guest who made that request six hours before arriving for a night’s stay was surprised to find just what he asked for on opening the door.

“We did whatever we could, so we framed a photo of a tiger and placed it in his room – along with a chilled Tiger beer, of course,” recalls Mr Patrick Fiat the hotel’s general manager.

Mr Fiat who is also CEO (Chief Experience Officer) at 8 on Claymore adds, “we’d do the same for long-term guests at 8 on Claymore.”

And why not.

The new kid on the block offers suites that are big, not just in service but also space.

Just steps away from Royal Plaza on Scotts, the serviced apartment enjoys hotel-trained staff and service on par with a hotel, such as room service and breakfast.

As for space, the refurbished apartment block features a variety of living areas, from penthouse to three- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as studio units.

A partial interior view of a three-bedroom unit (photo: 8 on Claymore)

The 85-unit development, launched in June this year, brings the number of serviced residence units in Singapore to about 4,500, compared to some 3,600 recorded in 2002.

Home Away from Home
The idea of serviced residences was first introduced to Singapore in the late 1960s.

However, the industry didn’t peak until 1998 when construction of such developments picked up pace.

Today, the serviced residences market is booming not just in Singapore but also Asia, helmed by home-grown firms.

Ascott – owned by CapitaLand – is the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator with more than 28,000 units, in Asia Pacific, Europe and the Gulf region.

In November, the group unveiled plans to build new serviced residences in Foshan and Hong Kong, after entering the Macau market earlier this year.

As for Singapore where Ascott is headquartered, it has eight serviced residences.

With intense competition coming from more experienced rivals, is latecomer 8 on Claymore left with, well… no room?

There’s room for more
“There is more demand than supply at this moment” says Mr Fiat of 8 on Claymore.

“There’re about 4,500 units in Singapore and an ideal supply of serviced residences units is about 10,000,” he adds.

Looking ahead, he believes it might take five to seven years to reach optimum supply and by that account, Singapore is still an untapped market for serviced residences.

Even then, Mr Fiat says he’s confident the market will thrive when there is sufficient supply.

He says: “Singapore ranks third – behind US and UK – in terms of countries for relocation, so there’s a lot of potential for serviced residences here.”

Indeed, 8 on Claymore’s late entry to the market is no stumbling block.

Within four months of its launch, the development hit an 85 per cent occupancy rate, better than its forecast of 80 per cent in four months.

Mr Fiat says serviced residence remains a preferred choice for overseas companies when arranging accommodation for their staff.

“Serviced residences are more flexible in that companies don’t need to sign any lease so if they need to recall their staff back, they can do so as long as they give us two weeks’ notice.”

Monthly rates for a studio unit start from S$8,500 a month, while it’s S$11,900 and S$14,875 a month for a two- and three-bedroom unit respectively.

A partial interior view of the penthouse in 8 on Claymore (photo: 8 on Claymore)

And at the end of the day, Mr Fiat argues that the corporate accountant will still be smiling.

“For a half-month stay, the cost is 15 to 20 per cent cheaper than putting up at a five-star hotel. Or for the minimum one-week stay, it’s still about 10 per cent cheaper.”

Seven days is the minimum occupying period for all serviced residences in Singapore, under the Urban Redevelopment Authority’s (URA) guidelines.

Apart from cost-savings and flexibility, guests at such developments can be guaranteed support services such as concierge, housekeeping and/or laundry, as required by URA.

Over–the-top service
To ensure 8 on Claymore can match up to its guests’ expectations, Mr Fiat says he looks at what competitors are offering and try to do better.

“But what is difficult to replicate is the quality of service, which our hotel-trained staff members have,” he says.

On average, one staff member takes care of three units, which is a manageable ratio, according to Mr Fiat.

What that translates into, is very happy guests.

“Every time a staff sees me in the building, I’d be greeted by name. I can’t even remember theirs!” says 26-year-old Kevin Fransen, an IT engineer from the Netherlands who’s in Singapore for an eight-month project.

And when guests have late-night requests such as order-ins or a change of linen, there’s always the nearby Royal Plaza on Scotts staff to save the day, or night – even if they ask for a tiger.

from http://www.channelnewsasia.com

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