Hotel room rates set to hit record high during F1 race

Hotel room rates are set to hit an all-time high when the Formula One Grand Prix comes roaring into Singapore this September.

Visitors can expect to pay nearly 100 percent more, even if they are staying at a mid-range hotel.

Over 90,000 die-hard fans are expected to catch Singapore’s first Formula One Grand Prix from the race ground.

But as the speed demons burn up the asphalt, the accommodation may burn a hole in their pocket.

Some mid-range hotels which Channel NewsAsia approached declined to be interviewed, but a check showed that room rates during the tail-end of September are set to double.

And they will be the highest ever seen in Singapore, according to the National Association of Travel Agents.

However, some hotels said it is hard to price rooms because the race organiser has not released figures for its ticket sales so far.

Robert Khoo, CEO, NATAS, said, “It’s hard for them to gauge at this moment what is the actual price that the public will pay, so in order not to lose out, they are currently pegging their price at quite an unrealistic level to make sure that they don’t lose out, in the event that demand is really high. So I think along the way, I hope they can do some adjustment to react to the actual booking situation.”

For instance, a standard room at Furama City Centre hotel in Chinatown costs S$350 (plus taxes) during peak period.

But come end September, it will shoot up to S$488 a night (excluding taxes) from September 22 to 26; and S$888 a night (excluding taxes) from September 26 to 29 – with a clause of a minimum three nights’ stay.

At Bayview Hotel near Bencoolen Street, a standard room which goes for S$300 (plus taxes) per night will cost S$800 (excluding taxes) from September 24 to 29. And guests will have to stay for at least five nights.

It will also be more expensive to put up at Hotel 81 branches in Chinatown, Bugis and Bencoolen.

Prices will jump from between S$149 and S$189 a night to about S$450 – from September 26 to 29 – with a minimum stay of three nights.

Meanwhile, rooms at Allson Hotel along Victoria Street will go up from S$300 a night (excluding taxes) to S$700 (excluding taxes), from September 24 to 29.

On top of that, guests will have to stay for at least five nights, and pay an extra 20 percent for CESS tax which will be imposed on hotels near the racing ground.

NATAS acknowledged the acute shortage of rooms in Singapore, but said that on the whole, hotels should raise their rates gradually.

Mr Khoo said, “Hoteliers have the tendency to keep rates high and at the last moment, when they can’t sell the rooms, they will lower the rates and throw all these rooms out for the travel agents, but sometimes these happen too late and agents are not able to utilise these rooms, so it’s a waste actually.”

NATAS expects many hotels to hire more staff to cope with the increase in occupancy rate, from the current average of over 70 percent to about 90 percent. And it said many of these workers are likely to be foreigners.

Therein lies another concern that service standards may be affected.

In the long run, as room rates trend up, the other worry is that this might deter travellers from visiting Singapore altogether. – CNA/ms

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 28 Mar 2008

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