Singapore welcomes the world in new ways

The exciting travel diary of Northstar Meetings Group's David Blansfeld to discover Singapore's latest technology, state-of-the-art facilities, and new sustainability and wellness initiatives.

Talk about events reimagined! A few weeks ago Northstar Meetings Group partnered with the Singapore Tourism Board for a "Social Fam Trip". While scores of planners from all over the world were hosted for our Meetings & Conventions Asia Singapore event, Joanne Ireland, J Grant Caplan, and Timothy Glanzer, and I were able to spend a few extra days sampling the latest technology, state-of-the-art facilities, new sustainability and wellness initiatives and range of activities available to meeting planners right now in Singapore.

Check out the video below and the recap below. 

Upon my arrival in Singapore in August, travelling from Changi Airport to my hotel, it's always inspiring to see the city's skyline in early morning. The view from the pool at the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, where I freshened up before my first full day experiencing Singapore's reimagined MICE capabilities, was pretty terrific, too.

Our first stop – the historic Chjimes building complex, which began as a Catholic convent in the mid-1800s, is now a very architecturally distinctive self-contained city block in Singapore. While there we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Lei Garden Restaurant, one of Singapore’s many Michelin-star restaurants. Joining me for lunch is J. Grant Caplan, President, Procurigence; Joanne Ireland, President, Ireland Presentations, Inc.; Derek Wee, Videographer; and Jayne Yeo, Manager, Singapore Tourism Board.

A highlight of our visit was the tours of the many amazing meeting venues. Here we toured the National Gallery Singapore, which houses the world’s largest public display of modern Southeast Asian art.

The Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay wows with its architecture, it’s quite literal farm-to-table urban farm (steps away from its primary kitchen) and it’s championing environmental responsibility, here illustrated by its 13m-tall living green wall, which greets you at its main entrance.

Chef Francois Mermilliod was our gracious host for a fabulous dinner at Bar-A-Thym, one of Singapore’s best French restaurants.

Killiney Kopitiam is the oldest Hainanese coffee shop in Singapore, established over 100 years ago. If you’re a coffee lover and you want a traditional Singapore culinary experience, you have to visit Killiney at its original location. Tip: Ask a local to translate the menu for you! And of course, no culinary adventure to Singapore is complete without visiting Lau Pa Sat, not only for the good food but to seep in the history and traditions of old Singapore.

A highlight of the visit was experiencing the Marina Bay Sands Hybrid Studio. No, the picture at the top right was not taken at the venue’s iconic rooftop pool – it’s in the studio, which simulated the pool deck experience. I addressed an audience of MICE industry professionals as a hologram, “beamed” into the conference room live from an adjacent room. Timothy Glanzer, Chief Elevation Officer, Elevated Meeting Solutions from the US; Darren Tan, Managing Director, World Express Group, from Singapore; and Marisa Lutter, Director, Wi Communications, from Germany, joined me in-studio for a “Meet Across the World” panel discussion to culminate the experience.

Looking for an “immersive” venue for an event? Look no further than the Resorts World Sentosa S.E.A. Aquarium, where we hosted a successful welcome reception. Here I am addressing our group.

Singapore is known as the “Garden City”, and there’s no better way to tour it than by bike. Specially curated cycling experiences offered by the Mandarin Oriental, Singapore combine wellness and eco-friendly tourism. After freshening up, I enjoyed visiting The Intan. Owned and curated by Alvin Yapp, this unique Peranakan heritage home-museum is a fabulous place to bring small groups to learn about a fascinating culture unique to Singapore.

After I continued the wellness theme with an early morning yoga session at the beautifully and recently restored Raffles Hotel Singapore, Joanne, Tim and Grant joined me for a personal history lesson and tour provided by Leslie Danker, the hotel’s resident historian, who recently released a memoir of his nearly 50-year career with the city’s most iconic “grande dame” hotel. Tour highlights included a back-of-the-house tour of Butcher’s Block, an avant-garde wood-fire dining experience led by Chef de Cuisine Jordan Keao, and – not to be missed – a lesson in concocting one of the 2,000 Singapore Slings that are served daily at Raffles’ famous Long Bar.

When it comes to meeting venues, there are great places to meet across the city. Want to do something completely different? Check out HUONE Meeting and Event Venues in the happening Clarke Quay District. Need something bigger and outside the city center? Visit the Capella Hotel Singapore, with it’s state-of-the-art 81 sqm LED wall and it’s healthy catering menus from sustainable food sources.

And don’t forget the airport. Adjacent to and a short 5- to 10-minute enclosed walk from Changi International Airport is the HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. There are cool meeting rooms here too.

There’s no shortage of activities in and around Singapore. Our last day on Sentosa included a tour of Sentosa Golf Club led by Andrew Johnston, GM and Director of Agronomy, who is considered one of golf’s most innovative leaders for his pioneering sustainability best practices at the world’s 55th best golf course, as ranked by Golf Digest magazine. A boat excursion and team-building exercise on St. John’s Island, where Sir Stamford Raffles made anchorage in 1819, was a highlight. We celebrated our visit during drinks at Sago House, ranked as one of Singapore’s 50 best bars, and at a rooftop reception at The Outpost Hotel Sentosa. Here I’m pictured with Sak-Hin Chin, Assistant Chief Executive and CFO of the Sentosa Development Corporation.

It was a busy week for sure, one that was filled with new opportunities and experiences, not only in keeping with the evolution of travel and meetings, but leading it. Singapore has reimagined its MICE industry. When it comes to leveraging the latest in technology, sustainability, and wellness, in a city that embraces diversity and inclusion, in Singapore the future is now.

View the highlights from Singapore’s 2022 Northstar Social Fam Trip: