“We’re probably the most Instagrammed hotel in Singapore right now,” proclaims Melvin Lim, hotel general manager at the Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay. He says this as we meander through the newly-renovated lobby lounge of the former Marina Mandarin where more than 2,400 trees, shrubs and plants now fill the atrium — a keystone of John Portman’s architectural design — and where I can see at least three people snapping selfies.
Embedded within the indoor garden are four cocoon-like pavilions, where guests can sit and chat, or reserve for afternoon tea. This is all part of a S$45 million (US$34 million) overhaul to launch Parkroyal Collection, a new brand from Pan Pacific Hotels Group.
“It’s been so exciting to witness the transformation,” Lim explains. “The brand was created specifically for this hotel.”
There are three ‘brand pillars’ behind the Parkroyal Collection: iconic design, sustainability, and wellness.
A breath of fresh air has certainly been injected into the hotel, which first opened in 1987. Curved lines, earthy tones and natural wood features not only underscore the brand’s DNA but also help to bring the ‘neo-futuristic’ building into the 21st century.
But there’s more to this transformation than meets the eye.
“We are walking the talk when it comes to sustainability,” Lim says.
“We’ve replaced all the glass panels of this building. Every window and every skylight is brand new, with solar reflective properties that reduce power consumption. So as brightly as the sun shines through, you don’t feel the heat.”
On top of this, the hotel employees a strict recycling regime, has eliminated the use of plastic straws and each guest room is fitted with filtered water systems to help reduce plastic bottles. Solar panels that generate green electricity were installed in March, while motion sensors regulate energy use.
A food waste management system also transforms kitchen waste into nutrient-rich water for the hotel’s Urban Farm, which supplies 20% of the herbs and vegetables to all-day diner, Peppermint.
“We’ve embraced a farm-to-table, farm-to-bar and farm-to-spa concept,” Lim says. Edible flowers from the garden used as cocktail garnishes, while herbs and spices like lemongrass are infused as tea served in the hotel’s St. Gregory Spa.
Wellbeing is a focus — there’s a gym, pilates studio and dedicated spin studio — and the hotel recently teamed up with Club Med to offer ‘body and soul’ packages to guests that include yoga sessions and urban farm tours.
Such experiential offers can also be extended to corporate groups as hotel sharpens its focus on the bleisure segment, which is set to rise in the wake of Covid-19.
“Moving forward, experience will be more important than selling space and we believe we have the edge,” Lim says. “We’re set-up for MICE, but our lifestyle experiences will bring an event to the next level.”
Nevertheless, the space is worth talking about. There are 17 dedicated function spaces and an alfresco poolside lawn on the way (which will cater to approx. 60 guests).
With a profiled timber ceiling and a glittering night sky of 3,000 twinkling stars, the pillar-free Garden Ballroom accommodates up to 700 people and is easily accessible from the driveway. It is also equipped with three LED walls and two projector screens. The Atrium Ballroom, which is located on level five, allows for events of up to 300 guests, and opens up to a private cocktail area overlooking the atrium garden.
A series of private meeting rooms, most of which provide natural daylight, accommodate smaller gatherings. Naturally, sustainable MICE packages are available to help meetings and events go green.
While the hotel has already hosted small corporate meetings, Lim and the team are gearing up for a swift recovery of in-person gatherings.
“Hybrid event formats will likely continue, but people still want to meet in-person,” he says.
And this is one hotel that merits an in-person visit.