Behind the scenes of Singapore’s hotels


STB Business of Happiness - Singapore's hotels

Image adapted from: @cheerierinterior, @fairmontsingapore, and @stregissg

Whether it’s the silky feel of clean bedsheets or the lavish spread of seafood, we’ve come to expect a certain standard from Singapore’s best hotels. But Singapore’s hotel industry keeps pretty tight-lipped when it comes down to the nitty-gritty. Besides weekend staycays and gorging ourselves silly on buffets, we regular folks don’t really know what goes on within the hotel industry.

Here, we’ve gone behind the scenes of Singapore’s hotels: read on to find out what happens to buffet leftovers, how to clinch the lowest room rates, and how celeb guests receive special perks.


1. How do some hotels make sure their guests get the royal treatment?


STB Business of Happiness - Raffles Hotel

Image credit: @cheerierinterior

Whew, the number of A-listers that have flooded our local hotels – the list goes on and on, peppered with names like Michael Jackson and Karl Lagerfeld. Our own Raffles Hotel has seen its fair share of blue-blooded celebrities sipping Singapore Slings by the hotel bar.

Thanks to dedicated hotel staff who take charge of welcoming these celebrities, there’ll be regular services like airport and ground transfers, along with luxe treatments like afternoon teas held in the drawing room or full-blown floral designs.

Designer Michael Kors even got an orchid named after him when he stayed at Raffles Hotel, and it was also proudly displayed in the Grand Lobby of Raffles Hotel.

STB Business of Happiness - Michael Kors orchid

Image credit: Michael Kors

Now botany books will forever have Dendrobium Michael Kors, with its reedy stems and lilac flowers. But if you’re a normal plebeian like all of us, you won’t be getting an orchid named after you any time soon, but at least Raffles Hotel still gives all guests a heck of a royal treatment.


2. What are the strangest requests they’ve gotten?


STB Business of Happiness - Jeff Goldblum at Marriott Hotel

Image credit: Cornwallis1 on Imgur

The Jeff Goldblum scenario wasn’t exactly something that went under the radar: guest Elliot Woolf made a simple request to have a photo of actor Jeff Goldblum to be placed in his room at the Marriott Hotel, but turned up to find a massive collage along with his photos strewn all over the room. In the case of Marriott Hotel, they didn’t just entertain strange requests – they went the extra mile.

STB Business of Happiness - Jeff Goldblum request at Marriott

Image credit: Cornwallis1 on Imgur 

They’ve received a few other strange requests too, ranging from photos of Bruce Lee to scattering the room with plushies of Marriott’s own monkey mascot, Fred the Monkey, for a 5-year old girl. There’s no feat too large for the Marriott Hotel: they even agreed to host a special Mid-Autumn dinner in the comfort of a guest’s room – complete with decorations.


3. What is the trick to getting the lowest room rate?


STB Business of Happiness - Room rates

Image credit: @stregissg

Ah, now this is something we all want to know: lowest room rates so we can stay in plush luxury hotels without having to increase our credit limit. We asked St. Regis to share their tips on this, so here goes.

STB - Business of Happiness deals

Deals like this on 15% off or more if you book by 8 April. 

If you’ve ever browsed through external booking sites like or Expedia, you’ll notice that they make frequent claims to having the lowest rate. In actual fact, this is what they call Rate Parity – meaning that yes, we can confirm that all websites will list consistent room rates. But this doesn’t mean that there aren’t lower rates up for grabs.

Websites will always have their own promos, so keep a keen lookout to make sure you’re not missing out. Otherwise, you can always book through the hotel direct: they have their own revenue and sales & marketing teams that work with analytics and modelling, so their room rates are always priced fairly. They often run bundled promos too, with themed weekends and dinner & stay packages.

The takeaway advice? Don’t be lazy – compare all websites thoroughly for the best room rates, and make sure the sites you’re using are legit.


4. Are hotels as pantang as some of their guests?


STB Business of Happiness - Grand Hyatt's koi for good luck

Bringing good luck and fortune with these brightly-coloured koi. Image credit: @tharvey72

Many of us knock on hotel room doors before entering, just in case. Well, just like us, hotels can be superstitious too. It’s not just about having a mirror in an opportune position or keeping a pond filled with koi, but the entire space as a whole. We reached out to Grand Hyatt Singapore for their thoughts.

When the hotel first opened in 1972, monk Seck Hong Choon immediately noticed that the entrance doors were straight and parallel with Scotts Road – a huge no-no since “ominous entities” travel in straight directions. Slanting the doors slightly seems to have done the trick, and their business has been booming since! Notice their doors the next time you walk to Far East Plaza.

STB Business of Happiness - feng shui hotels

Image credit: Grand Hyatt Singapore

Since then, Grand Hyatt’s certainly embraced the water element of fengshui with strategically-placed fountains near the entrance, a gushing water feature near the reception, and a towering waterfall that flows over four floors. Their staircase to restaurant mezza9 is specifically 32 steps since “32” translates directly to “business all the way” in Cantonese.


5. Who eats the leftover food from hotel buffets?


STB Business of Happiness - buffet spread

Image credit: @mentalforpolish

At the back of our minds, we’d wonder about the food leftovers at hotel buffets – are they delivered to charities? Do hotel staff bring leftovers back home? What actually happens?

STB Business of Happiness - seafood buffet

Image credit: @leslietwelve

At Shangri-La, Singapore due to safety and hygiene reasons, all leftovers will be disposed of – especially meat and seafood, because their dedicated hygiene team doesn’t want to accidentally send people into bouts of food poisoning.

But if you’re concerned about food wastage, Shangri-La’s chefs carefully curate menus on a daily basis, based on the number of hotel guests and reservations. Their strict no-wastage policy means that they’ll also use their experience to cleverly plan ahead to limit the amount of food waste.

STB Business of Happiness - in-house farm

Image credit: One Farrer Hotel & Spa

Other hotels are also conscious of their food waste, with a few backing the farm-to-table trend. For instance, One Farrer Hotel & Spa has its own in-house farm, that’s carefully tended to by their Landscape Team. Besides making sure that the crops are looked after, the team of 4 works tightly with the F&B team so that they can estimate the amount of harvest needed – to cut down on any food waste.


Backbone of the hotel industry: the incredible people behind it


STB Business of Happiness - hospitality of hotel staff

Image credit: Business of Happiness

Even if Singapore’s hospitality industry keeps tight-lipped on what happens behind-the-scenes, it looks like they simply have one core trait in common: keeping guests happy. And this they certainly do. Get insight into the lives of hoteliers with stories from Singapore Tourism Board’s initiative: Business of Happiness.

Whether it’s the analytics team keeping hotel rates fairly priced or the food hygiene team actively lessening food waste, hotel staff are the backbone of every memorable hotel stay.

Find out more about Business of Happiness here!

This post was brought to you by Singapore Tourism Board.