With a new generation of mobile, technologically savvy corporate travellers crisscrossing the globe, hoteliers are being forced to play catch-up. Slow internet speeds coupled with connection charges just won’t cut it anymore. Furthermore, young travellers are not just after a room, they want an experience.
In a recent chat with Singapore’s Hotel Jen Tanglin General Manager, Clifford Weiner, he said guests value the experience more than loyalty points.
Clifford was speaking to me in the hotel’s Club Lounge on level 17 which has been thoroughly updated as part of the hotel’s S$45 million refresh. Old school hotel style has been shunted aside for a hipper start-up feel – it’s chic, accessible and friendly. Around us, early morning corporates sit in quiet conversation.
Hotel Jen is the newest brand in the Shangri-La group representing a complete reinvention of its former Traders Hotels across the Asia Pacific region. The Singapore offering was the first to undergo the change and it’s now very much a property exuding a contemporary style. Catering to a millennial guest means the hotel offers free Wi-Fi everywhere (all the time) and convenient mobile charging stations throughout as well as efficient, personable and informed service.
Importantly, it’s a hotel where the needs of the modern corporate traveler are truly reflected in the design. In the supremely comfortable rooms, it’s the little touches such as reduced storage capacity which grab your attention. Think about it: how often do you really unpack when travelling for business? You’re not on vacation – you want simplicity and utility. So instead of bulky cupboard space, drawers and a rickety suitcase rack, rooms at the Hotel Jen feature a reduced single cupboard beside a large, flat raised area for your suitcase and an open shirt rack above. It’s a small detail but it means you can flop the suitcase down, unzip and set-up without fuss.
Move into the bathroom and the interior of the shower features a mirrored tile for shaving. It makes sense – no need to step out to the sink for a shave. It’s a simple detail yet it somehow streamlines the experience. It contributes to an air of calculated yet laid back efficiency.
Unload your electronic kit such as your smart phone and laptop or tablet and the room features international plugs and USB charging stations as standard and the Wi-Fi signal strength is consistently high throughout the hotel.
Head down into the public areas at ground level and the hotel features a range of dining options. J65 gets its name from Singapore’s international dialling code and offers an eclectic range of South-East Asian and old-school delights. Diners are treated to a plethora of choice. This ain’t no ordinary buffet. Taking pride of place is a traditional ‘hawker centre’ style kitchen where you can order Singapore’s famous chicken rice, char siu and a range of six regional laksas. I sampled the Malaysian version laksa and it’s as authentic as any consumed street-side in Kuala Lumpur. There’s an ever-changing selection of fresh seafood including crab, prawns and mussels as well as a selection of sashimi and sushi.
For those hankering for more traditional buffet options there are salads, roast meats and a moreish dessert range including house-made ice cream, cakes and pastries.
All of this sits in a cathedral-like well-designed space melding light and darker hued timbers, steel balustrading as well as sleek orange and grey tiling. It’s a thoroughly modern hotel restaurant – light-filled and welcoming.
Also on the ground level, Hotel Jen’s Kitchen-On-The-Go offers the caffeine dependent quality coffee throughout the day and a range of quick bites. A super-stylish haunt popular with locals, the Kitchen only features locally roasted coffee and hosts occasional competitions featuring the city-state’s top baristas.
Move up to level 2 and the legendary Rumpole’s Bar (named after the late Sir John Mortimer’s irascible barrister) lives on with a thorough makeover. It’s dark wood interior harks back to a bygone era of colonial style yet it’s juxtaposed against modern graphic art making for a striking mix. On Thursday and Friday nights the bar ratchets it up a level or two and has more of a party vibe. My advice would be to select from an extensive range of cocktails or (better still) challenge the staff for something new – they’ve got the skills.
Hotel Jen does an admirable job of aiming to please the modern business traveller. While other offerings oscillate in experience and price, Hotel Jen Tanglin is a slick urban bolthole offering personable service with style – a clear cut example of what a modern business hotel should be. It’s a friendly and gentle touchdown in Singapore.