Hospitality Trends and Singapore Slings at Raffles
After two weeks in Singapore, a tummy full of delicious foods and feeling inspired by the vibrant cosmopolitan atmosphere, I caught up with Andreas Wieckenberg, Executive Assistant Manager, Food & Beverage at the infamous Raffles hotel to discuss industry trends and how they keep the hotel thriving.
Surrounded by the chic, colonial decoration of Raffles’ Tiffin Room – simple, classic and practically edible it’s so stylish – Andreas explained how the bar scene in Singapore is flourishing. Small bars are popping up in abundance. While in this city-state with its rows of drinking joints, it’s not only the quantity but the quality that is on the rise (just see hang-outs such as Manhattan, 28 Hong Kong Street and Operation Dagger all appearing on the World’s 50 Best Bars list).
Going hand in hand with the bar theme, Andreas told me about beverage trends in Singapore explaining that, like in the UK, there has been a huge craze for (craft) gin. Craft beers and whiskey are also very popular while Andreas predicts that vodka will be the next big thing.
When it comes to the hotel, Raffles is careful to avoid fads. Instead, they innovate by staying aware of trends and where relevant allow these to infiltrate into the business. Take craft gin. Raffles is well known for its Singapore Sling (of course containing gin) so knowing about the trend and having such a close link already to the spirit, they commissioned Sipsmith to create their very own Raffles 1915 Gin. They didn’t just copy or start selling more gin because it was on-trend, instead they developed an already existing and authentic part of the hotel, brought it up to date and made it their own.
This just illustrates the clever thinking that runs through Raffles’ veins. Everything they do has an authentic story behind it. That’s how they keep the brand live and kicking. So rather like people still desire to buy into a classic automotive brand like Bentley – hotels like Raffles are still highly thought after as they continually evolve while still retaining their authentic heritage.
Raffles hotel offers a wide selection of 8 dining and drinking areas. Currently starting a ‘careful and sensitive restoration programme’ due to be complete mid 2018, I was excited to hear that they intend to increase their f&b offering to 10 areas. Through the development and restoration process they hope to appeal to more local Singaporeans and also, like hospitality establishments in the UK, are aware of the importance of keeping the Millennial generation engaged and excited.
Another thing I took away from our meeting was that like in the UK where people are obsessed with celebrity chefs, skilled bartenders in Singapore are becoming stars. With fame comes further opportunity as successful bartenders are leveraging their achievements to open more bars.
So all in all, it sounds like Singapore and the UK, although geographically far apart, seem to follow many similar hospitality trends. While with regards to the beautiful hotel itself, a key to keeping it as popular today as when it first opened in 1887 is to keep things authentic. Tell a real story.
By Georgie Preston, Marketing Manager, Fresh Montgomery