The attraction may be off the shores of the Lion City, but it is hardly far from the MICE scene, having drawn association events as a one-stop destination with new products as well as rejuvenated ones
Sentosa, long known among families and leisure travellers for its sun, sand and sea, has in recent years evolved to become a one-stop destination for MICE events, including association meetings and congresses.
Today, the rejuvenated resort island houses not only the integrated Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), but also many new hotels and restaurants. Latest hotel additions include W Singapore – Sentosa Cove, along with improvements made to existing meeting facilities in hotels like Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and The Singapore Resort & Spa Sentosa.
The island is now home to 14 hotels, over 30 attractions and more than 100 F&B and retail outlets.
RWS alone houses six hotels, convention and meeting spaces, the Universal Studios Singapore theme park and a wide range of quality F&B, entertainment and retail outlets.
The 49ha mega property boasts capacity for 35,000 guests at any one time. Its event spaces include the Resorts World Convention Centre, which offers 26 function rooms and one of Asia’s largest column-free ballrooms, with seating capacity for 7,300 people.
Distinguishing association meetings and congresses from the regular MICE events, Clement Ng, a spokesperson at RWS, said: “Association events tend to be more unique as they require a higher level of customisation. Organisers also tend to prefer a self-contained destination with accommodation, business, F&B and leisure facilities all under one roof.”
Unlike leisure travellers who have the luxury of more time, Ng said congress attendees are always seeking to make the best of their limited time in a destination.
“With event duration ranging from one to three days, most networking events and after-hours social events are held within RWS. Clients enjoy the advantage of getting more (things) accomplished within a shorter time, with different venues and event programming housed in a single destination,” he explained, adding that one of the more popular RWS hotels for delegates is the 364-key Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, which is connected directly to Resorts World Convention Centre and provides “the greatest convenience” for delegates when they move between hotel rooms and conferences and meetings, while offering leisure activities at the same time.
He added: “Event venues in RWS are varied and flexible and can be configured to suit different needs, such as the Resorts World Ballroom, which can be divided into nine function halls, or combined into a single space for a mega-dinner.
“Associations can also accomplish more in a shorter time at our integrated resort, a one-stop shop catering to workshops and seminars in the day as well as post-meeting leisure and networking activities in the evenings.”
He said the events team also strive to meet special requests that clients may have. For instance, it scouted for and provided custom-made Teochew Kuay, a savoury snack item unique to the dialect group, for the Teochew Association’s event.
The number of association meetings and congresses has grown in tandem with events held in RWS since it opened in 2010, increasing by more than 30 per cent, he shared. In 2013, more than 9,500 events were hosted here, welcoming over two million MICE visitors.
Sentosa Leisure Management senior assistant director for international and corporate sales, Steven Chung, said: “With an array of leisure, hospitality and entertainment features and facilities, the island is best suited to provide bespoke packages to any meetings group for an integrated and well-rounded holiday experience.
“From conventional hotel meeting rooms that offer many amenities, tastefully decorated halls in a historical building, to the outdoors on sandy beaches, Sentosa has the appropriate meeting facilities for everyone.”
Indeed, Sentosa’s longest and broadest beachfront, Siloso Beach, is graced with an indoor event hall, Sapphire Pavilion, which offers an unobstructed oceanfront view. Touted as the “ideal locale” in Sentosa to stage any major event, it can contain 1,000 guests in a banquet setting or 1,500 for a standing reception.
Then over at the far eastern end of the island, Tanjong Beach boasts the largest capacity to host an event on its own. It can accommodate 2,650 people for a cocktail reception or 1,550 for a banquet.
Additionally, the Sentosa Pavilion @ Sentosa Golf Club offers a cosier setting for smaller association events. This air-conditioned glass pavilion, which can fit 250 people for a standing reception, is best suited for indoor private meetings, exclusive receptions and galas.
Meanwhile, unintimidated by rising competition on the island, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa in Singapore last year opened a new standalone, seafront event centre. Named Atmosphere by the Sea, the venue measures 322m2 indoors and comes with a 120m2 covered terrace and an adjoining timber deck of 120m2. These spaces are able to accommodate up to 150 guests for a seated function. Events that require even more space can take up the lush, sprawling lawn which can accommodate an additional 100 guests or more for a standing cocktail reception.
And if associations just can’t get enough of the island’s offerings, there is an alternative a mere short cable car ride away from Sentosa. Faber Peak Singapore is nestled in the relaxing surrounds of a rainforest at the top of Mount Faber. The Ballroom, which opens up to magnificent views of the harbour, can fit 300 people in a theatre setting, and features floor-to-ceiling glass windows. The Private Dining Room situated at the highest point of Faber Peak can accommodate 100 people for a cocktail reception overlooking the city’s skyline.