The Westin hotel making comeback in Singapore

The Westin hotel is making a comeback in Singapore after a 10-year absence.

Its owner Starwood Hotels and Resorts is aiming to double its footprint in Asia in the next three to five years.

The group has about 160 new hotels in the pipeline for Asia, one of them – The Westin Singapore – is due to open this November.

It is looking to fill 300 job vacancies, amid the tight labour situation.

Located within the new financial district in Marina Bay, the 305-room hotel will serve an increasing number of business and leisure travellers in the region.

Starwood is bullish about prospects ahead. Starwood runs 1,146 hotels and resorts across nine brands in nearly 100 countries. The group is listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

Chuck Abbott, regional vice president, Southeast Asia, at Starwood Hotels and Resorts, said: “The demand is going to continue to grow. We have obviously China and India, being the two largest countries in the world, Indonesia being the fourth largest, all within five or six hours (away from) Singapore.

“Right now in Asia we have over 230 hotels, I think 160 in development. We expect in the next three to five years, we will probably double our footprint from where we are today.”

The Westin is making a comeback in Singapore after a 10-year absence, following the lapse of its management contract for The Westin Stamford and The Westin Plaza in 2002. Starwood said it has been scouting for a suitable location since and found one in Asia Square.

The hotel is holding a two-day recruitment drive starting from Tuesday to fill up to 300 positions, ranging from front office jobs to management associates.

The Westin expects most of these positions to go to Singaporeans.

As at 5pm on Tuesday, the hotel said its recruitment drive has already garnered close to 400 applicants.

Starwood said it will put in place more efficient work processes to overcome the labour crunch in the hospitality sector.

As the supply of hotel rooms increase in Singapore, analysts said it could put some pressure on occupancy rates, but they will still be at a healthy level at above 80 percent.

Alan Cheong, research head at Savills Singapore, said: “Overall this year, we will probably see between 2,600 and 2,800 rooms, next year we will see 4,600 rooms before tapering off in 2015 to 2,400 rooms, all in all it adds about 20 per cent to the room nights to the current stock.”

Market watchers said some risks for the hotel sector include manpower shortage, which could compromise service quality, as well as the strong Singapore dollar, which affects the more budget-conscious travellers.

Last year, about 14 million international visitors came to Singapore, spending about S$23 billion.

Analysts said the tourism sector performance for the next two years should not stray too far from what has been achieved in 2012. Outlook remains bright, barring any unforeseen events.

Source : Channel NewsAsia – 9 July 2013

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