Article Sponsored by Amara Hotels & Resorts
Dawn Teo is Director, Strategic Planning and Corporate Development, Amara Holdings Limited – the holding company of Amara Hotels & Resorts, which operates four properties in the region: Amara Singapore, Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, Amara Bangkok, and the soon to be opened Amara Signature Shanghai.
When Singapore comes to mind, travelers often think of Singapore Slings and Hainan Chicken Rice, but Dawn explained that at Amara Hotels & Resorts you can expect something different. “We want to redefine Asian Hospitality so it’s not something you’re forced to do, or in your face, but for us it’s bringing Singaporean attributes to each property – something like ‘Efficiency’ or ‘Buzzing’, and that’s what people think of Singapore.”
“We want to offer efficiency. You and I, we are time conscious. I don’t want to be asking the staff what the Wi-Fi password is, or have to keep asking housekeeping to bring me bottles of water. Those are things that are basic, so we want efficiency. We want to create a seamless experience.”
The examples of seamlessness and efficiency in Singaporean Hospitality that Amara demonstrates so well allow guests to live and work effectively while staying at the hotel; there’s a free mini bar so guests have everything they need on hand without worrying about extra charges. Indeed, at the Amara Bangkok, the hotel offers a boutique bar where guests can buy beverages from the hotel at regular market prices if the free mini bar isn’t enough.
Another key strength for Amara Hotels & Resorts is their location. “Our properties are well-located in the business district but also not too far from the other visitor sights or restaurants and bars. In Singapore, we are not actually on the Marina but we’re only five minutes away, and we’re also just a stone’s throw from Chinatown.”
“It’s the same for our Amara Bangkok – we’re five minutes from the BTS Skytrain and the MRT, right in the heart of the Sathon/Silom district, and not far from old Bangkok, Chinatown, Little India, and the Chao Phraya River and Grand Palace. Other hotels might be in what you’d call the city center, but actually they’re a long way from all these other things.”
Following this trend, the new Amara Shanghai has a similarly strategic location on the Changshou Road, a quick 10-minute drive away from the prestigious Jing’an business and shopping district in West Shanghai. “I can work hard and then after the hard working day I can explore the city without having to change the location,” said Dawn.
Dawn spends a lot of her time in planning, strategizing branding, and implementing training to staff so that the brand can consistently perform to high standards. Her hard work paid off when Amara Singapore was declared the most productive hotel in Singapore at the Singapore Hotel Productivity Awards earlier this year.
“We design the workflow, and make sure that our staff have support in the workplace so they can focus on customers,” Dawn commented about the award her hotel received.
When asked about challenges that she has faced, Dawn replied that “we do feel challenges of macroeconomics and manpower … but to overcome those challenges you just have to evolve, adapt, and keep responding to the challenges. In today’s hotel market, it’s not about having a luxurious property – it’s how to tell stories differently, getting everybody buying into that vision.”
Although Amara’s current portfolio is quite limited, Dawn was keen to emphasize that in the coming years there should be plenty of new properties on the way.“Amara is looking to create our footprint in developed markets and fast-growing markets: Japan, Australia, Myanmar, and some oldie but goodie beach destinations such as Phuket and Bali are still very interesting to us,” she explained.
However, the idea that this anticipated growth may lead to the dull corporate standardization of the Amara guest experience drew short thrift. “There will be some standardization to make our service consistent but we’re not in a hurry to go into a cookie cutter approach,” Dawn said.
Bringing Singaporean-style efficiency and know-how into a wider range of new markets will certainly be an even bigger challenge than any of Amara’s many accomplishments to date – but if it can be done, then Amara certainly have the pedigree to be the ones to do it.