Singapore has opened the first of two casino resorts – part of a multi-billion dollar effort to establish itself as a hot tourist destination and reduce the economy’s reliance on manufacturing.
The casino at Resorts World Sentosa welcomed its first customer at the auspicious time of 12.18 pm on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year. When pronounced in the Cantonese dialect, 12.18 sounds like ‘prosperity’.
The resort is on Sentosa island, a former British garrison linked to the main island by bridge. It will be followed by the Marina Bay Sands resort, with both offering a range of glitzy hotels, restaurants and luxury goods shops.
Singapore, host to thousands of multi-national corporations, is already a major travel draw because of its reputation for safety, cleanliness and efficiency, as well as man-made attractions such as high-end shopping malls.
However, it’s a tiny island, which lacks the white sand beaches and breathtaking scenery found in neighbouring countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, and the government is continually searching for new ideas to create a buzz about the city-state.
It’s aiming to attract 17 million visitors a year, generating more than US$21 billion (£13 billion) by 2015, up from 9.7 million visitors last year. Analysts expect the casino resorts to help the city meet those targets.
by Andy Moreton, with Agence France Presse
Luxique offers a choice of seven luxury hotels in Singapore including, of course, the historic, world-famous Raffles.
One of the most famous hotels in the world – Raffles in Singapore – is reported to be up for sale.
Prince Alwaleed of Saudi Arabia is apparently seeking a buyer for the holding company Fairmont Raffles Hotels International in spite of the depressed state of the property market. The asking price is quoted as anything between $450 million (£309 million) and $670 million (£460 million).
The Prince is a multi-billionaire and 22nd on the Forbes Magazine rich list, but like so many others, he’s been hit hard by the credit crunch. Said one commentator: “He’s down to his last $13 billion (£9 billion).”
Industry sources say the Prince is also looking for a buyer for one of London’s most famous hotels, the Savoy. The price for that could be more than $290 million (£200 million).
The Raffles hotel is a reminder of British colonial times in Singapore. Its clientele have included the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, the writers Rudyard Kipling, Noel Coward and Somerset Maugham and the actresses Liz Taylor and Ava Gardner.
There are many stories about Raffles. In 1902, a circus tiger escaped and took refuge in the hotel’s billiards room before being shot by a local hunter. And Raffles will be forever associated with the Singapore Sling, a gin-based cocktail that was invented in the hotel’s Long Bar shortly before the First World War.
by Andy Moreton
Raffles Hotel, which consistently wins top travel industry awards, is bookable through Luxique at the best rates available as well as several other award winning luxury hotels in Singapore.