Back in June, news broke that the Hilton Singapore would become the voco Orchard Singapore from January 2022, a brand under the IHG umbrella (in a game of musical chairs, the existing Mandarin Orchard would become the new Hilton Singapore Orchard).
It’s no secret that the Hilton Singapore was/is in dire need of a makeover. When I stayed in October 2020 the room I had was downright depressing. Think peeling wallpaper, exposed wiring, light switches right out of the 1980s, and the overwhelming sense of faded grandeur.
I was therefore curious to see what the voco Orchard Singapore would have in store.
Well the first pictures of the “new” property have gone up, and…not a lot has changed.
First look: voco Orchard Singapore
voco Orchard Singapore’s website is now live, with the hotel accepting bookings from 1 January 2022 onwards. The following room types are currently listed:
|Executive Club||32 sqm|
|Executive Club with Balcony||32 sqm|
Based on what we know from the Hilton Singapore, Standard, Deluxe, Premium and Executive Club rooms are exactly the same in terms of architecture, with differences coming in terms of floors and fittings (e.g. Nespresso machines, larger TVs, rain showers instead of bathtubs).
When I first wrote about the voco conversion, Terrence on the comments had the following to say:
VOCO is a brand where each hotel “has its own style” and is sold to hotel owners as a chance for the asset to join the massive IHG distribution system, whilst allowing each hotel to have its own style and hence not requiring massive renovations to meet IHG’s renovation and build guidelines for their mainstream brands like Crowne Plaza, or Holiday Inn.
I expect there to be minimal renovation to inch pass the VOCO’s versatile requirements, be part of the IHG system for perhaps 2-3 years, before doing large scale renovation some time in the future.
He was right. The voco brand is pitched to property owners as having “a flexible approach to brand standards”, and “well-suited for conversion” with “lower capital outlay(s) compared to other brands”.
They weren’t kidding about that. Here’s what the current Deluxe/Deluxe Plus/Premium rooms look like at the Hilton Singapore.
And here’s what they’ll look like at the upcoming voco Orchard Singapore.
Frankly, I’m struggling to spot the differences. All I can think of are the yellow throw pillows on the chair and a few new paintings. They haven’t even added built-in USB charging to the bedsides; the Hilton Singapore had an alarm clock with USB ports, and it looks like they’ll take the same approach here. This indeed is a “flexible brand identity, designed to complement an existing hotel’s character and locale which ensures a smooth and time-efficient conversion”.
Bathrooms look identical to the status quo, with the exception that Apotheke amenities have been added.
Here’s how the hotel describes the rooms
Rejuvenate in 32sqm rooms with full length windows offering city views. Sink into plush king beds and stay connected with high speed wifi and an ergonomic desk and Herman Miller chair. Other features include modern bathrooms with Apotheke amenities 55 inch smart TV mini bar and USB charging ports.
Unless they’re doing some wet works I’m unaware of, “modern bathrooms” is a real stretch. At least it sounds like the hotel will upgrade all TVs to 55-inches and keep the Herman Miller chairs, which can’t be a bad thing.
There’s even less change in the suites, where the Hilton Singapore’s version…
…is basically the same as voco Orchard’s rendition, bar a different painting photoshopped above the headboard.
To be fair, the suites are arguably the least in need of renovations, since they were already the most modern part of Hilton Singapore.
We don’t have any other photos apart from what’s presumably a stock photo of a man reclining on a bed at a very different-looking hotel…
…and this very Sylvia Plath-esque photo of a lady in a tub who’s decided she’s just about had enough of life, or the lack of renovations at the voco Orchard Singapore. This looks to be a freestanding tub, but don’t get too excited- I’m virtually certain there’ll be nothing of the sort at the upcoming hotel.
Elsewhere around the hotel, there are some minor cosmetic changes in the lobby, with a different coloured backdrop for the check-in desk as well as some new panelling.
There’s no changes of note at the rooftop swimming pool, right down to identical-coloured towels.
While club lounges aren’t a common feature at voco hotels (only the Dubai and Riyadh properties have one), it looks like the voco Orchard Singapore will continue to operate one. That’s good to know, because the renovated lounge was one of the few bright spots about the Hilton Singapore.
According to the website, the F&B outlets will remain the same, with Opus Bar & Grill, Iggy’s, il Cielo, D9 Cakery and Sky Bar still listed.
What about rates?
Despite the lack of a major renovation, it appears that rates at the voco Orchard Singapore will be significantly higher than Hilton Singapore.
I don’t have a similar date to compare, but flexible rates at the Hilton Singapore start around S$200++. The same room at voco Orchard Singapore starts from S$285++. Well, I guess the pitch deck did talk about “profitable revenue built in”.
In terms of redemptions, award nights start from 30,000 IHG rewards points (remember, IHG uses dynamic pricing now, so the cost will differ depending on when you book). You can reduce that to 20,000 points by partially paying in cash.
The sense of deja vu invoked by the voco Orchard Singapore should perhaps not be surprising. The entire brand, after all, is positioned as a way for property owners to reflag without having to incur a whole lot of capital expenditure.
So if you like the current Hilton Singapore, don’t worry- nothing much is going to happen to it. If you’re looking for something refreshing and new, the renovated Hilton Singapore Orchard (apparently delayed till March 2022) might be more for you.
What do you make of the upcoming voco Orchard Singapore?