Cinn Tan has more than 25 years of sales and marketing management experience from international hotels in China, Hong Kong and Singapore. Her past posts include Senior Vice-President of Sales and Marketing for Jin Jiang International Hotels; and Vice-President of Sales, Distribution and Revenue for the Ascott Group. She is currently Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Pan Pacific Hotels Group, overseeing the marketing and sales strategy and synergising efforts across the Group’s portfolio.
Following a S$45-million renovation, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, owned by Pan Pacific Hotels Group, has completed its transformation into Singapore’s first ecologically-focused hotel, earning the highest accolade, 5-star Best Hotel Interior, at the International Property Awards 2021. The hotel joins the ranks of its sister hotel, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, which has been consistently awarded for its Green design. Both hotels also incorporate energy-saving and energy-generating features, including solar panels, double-glazed glass, motion sensors and food digestors. Construction+ interviewed Cinn Tan on the maintenance and management, as well as the prospect of Green hotels and the hospitality industry in the coming years.
Both PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay and PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering were designed with sustainability in mind, and both received BCA Green Mark; but is there anything that substantially distinguishes one project from the other?
Each hotel has its own character and unique features. The Green charm of PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay is communicated through its concept of springing an ethereal garden to life within the hotel itself; thus, the concept of a ‘garden-in-a-hotel’. Its public areas are populated with more than 2,400 trees, shrubs and groundcover, which act as natural air purifiers by converting carbon dioxide to oxygen.
This lush greenery is crowned by the soaring and dramatic architecture of John Portman—the original design of the building has been preserved since its construction in 1985. This decision prevented the production of 51,300 tonnes of carbon dioxide—an amount that would come with demolishing a typical high-rise. This is equivalent to preventing greenhouse gas emissions from 11,157 passenger vehicles driven for one year; or 57 million pounds coal being burnt (epa.gov).
Keeping the original structure means that the design has to employ creative ways to minimise the levels of energy consumed by a typical modern building. Double-glazed glass and the low-emissivity atrium skylight filters natural daylight into the indoor spaces, while reducing ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius, equivalent to a 2 per cent reduction in electricity use. Air conditioning and chiller pumps run at lower speeds, and soon, updated solar panel technology will enable the hotel to generate 10,083 kWh of electricity every month. Furthermore, its extensive urban farm of more than 60 varieties of edible greens provides some 20 per cent of produce to the restaurant.
Its sister property, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, differs in several ways. Visually, it is distinguished by its lush façade of vast greenery. This 15,000-square-metre vertical forest lends it a more high-rise ‘hotel-in-a-garden’ aesthetic. Beyond its arresting visuals, this design serves to reduce the urban heat island effect by absorbing heat and shading hard surfaces. Due to its open-concept architecture, two-thirds of the hotel’s corridors are naturally ventilated, enabling it to be less reliant on-air conditioning. It also has its own rainwater harvesting system that waters the gardens with gravity-driven irrigation. The system switches to NEWater when there’s insufficient rainwater.
How have sustainable designs impacted the manpower needs and the facility management in general?
Having sustainable features has in fact contributed to operational efficiency too. At both hotels, several measures have saved the manpower required for waste disposal. These include having filtered-water taps and glass bottles in each guestroom, and closed-loop digester system to break leftover vegetables and food waste down into liquid for safe disposal into a waste pipe.
Additionally, the LED walls used in PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay’s Garden Ballroom and Atrium Ballroom, as well as the LED lighting in its function rooms, require lower maintenance costs and have longer lifespans, reducing the labour hours that would otherwise be needed to upkeep and repair the lighting systems.
At PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering, xeriscaping by auto-irrigation and fertigation is used throughout its self-sustaining gardens, saving the labour that would otherwise be needed to maintain the 15,000 square metres of trees, shrubs, ground covers, vines and potted plants in the property.
Does sustainability status e.g., BCA Green Mark bring competitive edges in the market?
We have seen that a growing portion of today’s travellers, especially from the younger generations, want to stay at hotels that have integrated Green practices in a visible and impactful way. According to the Deloitte Global 2021 Millennial and Gen Z Survey, 28 per cent of all respondents said they have started or deepened their relationships with businesses whose products and services benefit the environment. Notably, a comparable number of respondents have lessened or even ceased their relationships with organisations whose offerings they believe are harming the planet.
With business travel, we are seeing more MNCs beginning to include sustainability as one of the requirements when selecting corporate travel accommodation. This might have been spurred by several countries committing to reduce emissions; for instance, the landmark Paris Agreement, where European countries have pledged to reduce emissions by 55 per cent. Closer to home, the Singapore government has targeted to halve emissions by 2050, as outlined in the Singapore Green Plan 2030. These initiatives are giving a strong push for Green business travel options.
We believe that the sustainability status meets the growing demand and expectations of sustainable hospitality, and at the same time, helps us to build trust and recognition among our current and potential guests.
How do specific designs contribute to the user experience?
The biophilic design that our hotels are known for succeed greatly at creating a ‘wow’ impact. With PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, a centrepiece bridge takes guests on a ‘treetop’ walk through 6-metre-tall trees flanking the entrance, before revealing the drama of the cinematic architecture. PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering’s unconventional curves lined with contrasting greenery present an unexpected and understated silhouette that draws the eyes from every angle. But designs serve more than just an aesthetic experience of course; for example, one could be sitting in the atrium lounge enjoying an afternoon cocktail while being serenaded by the resident songbirds; or wandering through the airy corridors and admiring the verdant flora of the high-rise garden.
Ultimately, each thoughtful feature also serves to immerse the guest into nature, so that they may come to care more for the environment. The hotels have also adopted features that aim to involve guests in the sustainability journey. For instance, both properties have placed recycling bins in all guestrooms and public areas to encourage waste sorting and recycling, and the urban farm is open for guests to visit and learn about the types of greens that can be harvested for consumption in their very own homes.
How has the hotel industry in Singapore been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic? How about the hospitality sector in general?
As international travel came to a halt due to the pandemic, the hospitality sector is one of the hardest hit sectors. However, with the aid of government initiatives, the industry has nimbly shifted its focus to domestic demand. Our focus continues to be on the staycation market, which has been buoyed by the extension of the SingapoRediscover Vouchers to end-December 2021.
COVID-19 has also heightened our awareness of the importance of hygiene, and now, rigorous sanitisation routines and cleanliness measures have irreversibly become a base requirement for consumer trust. This is one aspect of hospitality that we can no longer imagine living without. It has inspired us to create standardised heightened hygiene and cleaning across properties as well.
In parallel with this, the industry has also seen a wave of digitisation and technological advancements, accelerated by necessity during the pandemic—stepping into the online food pick-up and delivery space, exploring a keyless check in system and rolling out digital concierge. With hybrid and online meetings now a staple, there is a demand of virtual meeting rooms too, which could be fitted with green screens to give corporate clients an extra boost.
Still, hospitality is a service business, where the human touch is still important. Hence, technology should be seen a tool to maintain sincerity in service though all touch—and touchless—points.
How are Green hotel trends expected to emerge in the next five years?
In some ways, the pandemic has sparked a growing appreciation for the environment and nature, with many seeking out ways to adopt and express the sustainability ethos. We are seeing more use of electric vehicles and sustainable Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) offerings, reducing overall carbon footprint of the industry. More hospitality players are also shifting towards digitalisation, moving towards a future of cleaner and affordable energy. We expect that wellness experiences will also go hand-in-hand with such Green developments.
More conceptualisations of urban farms and smart cities have also wormed their way into commercial conversations. With this, we anticipate that back-to-nature concepts will rise to become one of the top hotel trends in the coming years, and this will likely be accompanied by the implementation of vertical farming at an even greater scale than currently seen.
We are also seeing a movement towards plant-based F&B menus, with more vegetarian and vegan choices for consumers. This demand has already begun to sway the F&B offerings at our hotels and we look forward to seeing how it might take root in other brands and hospitality offerings across the sector.
As food delivery and pick-up services have also gained much traction during the pandemic, and with F&B being a key revenue stream for more and more hospitality players, the industry may start to give recycled materials in meal packaging even greater consideration in the years to come.– Construction+ Online