Raffles Singapore: Farewell Old Friend, Hello New Beauty
In the mercilessly competitive world of five-star hotels, even legends have to fight to stay in the game among the upper echelon of the hospitality industry’s glittering options for sophisticated travellers. The peerless Raffles, the grandest of dames among colonial-era hotels in Asia, this week is checking in with the renovation doctor for a nip/tuck to revitalise the dowager of Singapore. Every 130-year-old should look so good, but looking good for its age is not of interest to the hotel; as always, it has to look/feel/be not just good but spectacular.
It is not with a little trepidation that guests may wonder what the new Raffles will be like, having admired the current Raffles for so long and loving it just as it is. Knowing Raffles, though, the management will get everything not just right, but perfect. The hotel’s powers that be are fully aware that retaining the intangible spirit and heritage of Raffles is of paramount importance. After all, the hotel has undergone renovations before and always emerged as more alluring a destination because of them.
As a trip down memory lane, Raffles in partnership with Singapore’s National Heritage Board offered over the first two weeks of August a series of tours of the property for one last look back at the decades of history created within its hallowed walls. A recreation of famed author Rudyard Kipling’s suite was part of the tour, showcasing both the high standard of luxury that has existed at Raffles since it opened its doors in 1887 and the preference of the hotel by well-heeled travellers of yesterday, today, and tomorrow who sought and will seek to stay in one of the world’s most celebrated guest mansions. For that is the feeling for guests here, that they are in a spectacular private home that happens to have on its premises excellent places to sleep, dine, shop, and enjoy a Singapore Sling, the signature drink invented at the hotel.
Phase One of the renovation began in February, sprucing up the social areas of the Raffles Arcade adjacent to the hotel. Today’s start of Phase Two will see the beginning of work on the suites. Raffles will remain open for a shot while until Phase Three begins later this year when the hotel closes down completely for its final stage of rejuvenation. The hotel will unveil the results of all the hard work in mid-2018. In the meantime, the Raffles we already know still offers the apotheosis of hospitality among the staff, the ultimate in homelike accommodation in its suites, and the last word in fine dining in the city-state of Singapore. None of these things will be replaced, but they will certainly be enhanced to make the Raffles Singapore experience somehow even more enjoyable than it already is.
Raffles Singapore is still open for business for a short while longer. Hardcore nostalgia buffs may want to a beeline for Raffles for a last stay in the hotel as it is today before the 21st-century model makes her debut on the catwalk of the world’s most extraordinary hotels.