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Singapore F1: Hotels in Marina Bay say rooms are sold out or left with suites for Oct 2 weekend

SINGAPORE — With just two weeks left until the first Formula One (F1) race in Singapore since 2019, fans who have yet to book a room may be fast running out of luck as many popular hotels have been fully booked up.

An aerial view of the Marina Bay area in September 2019, with several hotels in the background overlooking the lighted street circuit for the Formula One night race in Singapore.

An aerial view of the Marina Bay area in September 2019, with several hotels in the background overlooking the lighted street circuit for the Formula One night race in Singapore.

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  • Hotels in the city centre are fast getting booked up with two weeks left before the Singapore leg of the 2022 Formula One season
  • After a two-year hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, hotels are seeing earlier interest for rooms than in 2019
  • Some said enquiries were made “almost as soon as” this year’s race was announced
  • Stakeholders are expecting this year’s event to draw the biggest crowd since the very first night race here in 2008

SINGAPORE — With just two weeks left until the first Formula One (F1) race in Singapore since 2019, fans who are looking to book a hotel stay around the Marina Bay street circuit for a view of the action may be left with the most expensive rooms or none at all because many popular hotels are sold out on rooms.

Hotels that offer views of the night race such as The Ritz-Carlton is fully booked for that weekend even for rooms that do not have the bay views. Pan Pacific and Marina Bay Sands are no longer listing available rooms over the race weekend on their websites as of Friday (Sept 16), and others such as Mandarin Oriental are only listing bigger rooms or suites starting from S$3,300 a night.

The 2022 F1 Singapore Grand Prix, to be held from Sept 28 to Oct 2, marks the return of the annual night race after it was called off twice — in 2020 and 2021 — due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ticket sales this year have exceeded that of the last race in 2019, sparking confidence among stakeholders that the motorsport event will see the biggest turnout yet since it first flagged off in 2008.

When tickets went on sale in April, the first batch of tickets and packages released for the three-day event were sold out in six hours. However, some buyers complained about having problems with the online ticketing system, describing it as a "disaster". Organiser Singapore Grand Prix called it a "roaring success".

SUPER FAST RESPONSE AFTER RACE WAS ANNOUNCED

Some hotels that TODAY contacted saw interest for accommodation coming in faster than during past race seasons.

The Raffles Hotel Singapore, which is fully booked for that weekend, said that people were asking about room availability “almost to the minute” of when the dates of the upcoming F1 races were announced.

“Enquiries were received almost as soon as the news that F1 will be taking place in Singapore this year. And once the dates were released, bookings were confirmed.”

The Raffles Hotel Singapore was not able to make comparisons with the last race held in September 2019 because it had reopened only in October that year after a two-and-a-half-year refurbishment.

Mr Gino Tan, country general manager of The Fullerton Hotels and Resorts, said: “We have seen a strong pace of bookings for the F1 period this year, which has exceeded the pace of bookings received in 2019.” 

He added that the occupancies at the group’s two properties here — The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore — are now at peak levels.

Some hotels situated slightly further away from the race circuit, such as Capri by Fraser in China Square, are also reporting stronger demand.

Mr Vernon Lee, senior vice-president and head of Asia-Pacific operations and projects at Frasers Hospitality, which owns the property, said that they are “already hitting high occupancy rates” for the F1 week, with the number of reservations for that period still going up over the past three weeks.

“We’re confident that we will be able to close above 90 per cent occupancy during this period,” he told TODAY on Friday (Sept 16).

The hotel is an 11-minute drive away from the Marina Bay street circuit, Google Maps showed.

The hotels in the area are also adjusting their prices in tandem with the increased demand.

Ms Tan Yen Nee, director for hospitality at the Singapore Tourism Board (STB), said: “Hotel room rates are strongly influenced by the demand generated by the race event and hence, priced accordingly.”

Mr Lee from Frasers Hospitality said that Capri by Fraser in China Square “has seen the largest rate adjustment” among their hospitality properties.

The other properties it oversees are Capri by Fraser in Changi City, as well as three serviced apartments catering to long-stay guests, which are not affected by F1 demand changes.

However, some hotels indicated that not all price adjustments for their rooms are attributable to the F1 event and the tourists it draws into Singapore. 

Mr Patrick Fiat, general manager of the Royal Plaza on Scotts located in the Orchard Road shopping belt, told TODAY that the average daily rate of the hotel’s rooms has increased by almost 35 per cent compared to prices in the same period in 2019 “due to recent developments in the travel industry”.

As for occupancy rates, these have remained largely similar to the same period in 2019, he added, acknowledging that “the stay trends for our hotel is not quite F1-specific” since it is located much further away from the race circuit.

Putting aside room rates and distance from the race track, the hotels contacted have generally seen increased business during this period.

Ms Margaret Heng, executive director of the Singapore Hotel Association, which represents 160 member hotels, said: “All our members have reported improved business volume during the F1 season, including hotels outside the fringe of the race track and off-track locations.”

‘HIGHEST ATTENDANCE’ SINCE DEBUT RACE

Some travel and booking-related data pointed to a strong recovery in visitor arrivals to Singapore ahead of the F1 race.

Tourists wearing protective masks as they walked near the Formula One race track while haze blanketed Singapore in September 2019.

Figures released by STB in July showed that for the first half of this year, there were 1.5 million visitor arrivals — nearly 12 times more compared to the same period last year when border controls for Covid-19 were more stringent.

Data from Sojern, a digital marketing solutions provider for travel, showed that incoming flight bookings have risen steadily by 305 per cent as of August since the start of the year.

The firm has also seen much earlier bookings for accommodations and flights during the F1 race period this year compared to before the Covid-19 hiatus, affirming observations by the hotels that TODAY contacted.

It said in a press release on Wednesday (Sept 14): “Lead time for booking flights and hotels demonstrates very forward planning with 76 per cent of flight bookings and 88 per cent of hotel bookings being made 60+ days ahead of the race compared to only 36 per cent of flights and 12 per cent of hotel bookings in 2019.”

F1 fans could be looking at Dutch driver Max Verstappen from the Red Bull team clinching the 2022 championship title in Singapore even before the season is over.

With six more races to go including Singapore's leg, the defending champion already has 335 points after winning 11 races so far and is 116 points ahead of second-placed Charles Leclerc from Ferrari who has 219 points.

Red Bull's Dutch driver Max Verstappen during a practice session for the Formula One Singapore Grand Prix in 2019.

Separately, stakeholders in the tourism sector are optimistic about this year’s race.

In response to TODAY’s queries, Ms Ong Ling Lee, executive director for sports and wellness at STB, said that ticket sales for this year’s race have already exceeded that of 2019.

The 2019 race recorded the second-highest number of tickets sold in the race’s history, with 268,000 spectators. The first edition of the night race in 2008 drew 300,000 spectators.

“We are confident that the (2022) race will have the highest attendance since the inaugural edition in 2008,” Ms Ong said.

Organiser Singapore Grand Prix agreed, saying that “we expect a sell-out event come race day on Oct 2”. 

At the start of the year, STB and Singapore Grand Prix announced that Singapore renewed the contract to host the F1 race from 2022 to 2028.

Last month, Transport Minister S Iswaran said that after a two-year break, this year's race is set to make "a very strong comeback".

"I think it's a very clear sign of the interest and demand both locally and internationally for these kinds of sports events and entertainment," he said then.

Related topics

hotel F1 Formula One Singapore Grand Prix motorsports Covid-19

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