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UOL unit unveils luxury serviced suites in Somerset

IT HAS been 28 years since Singapore’s listed UOL Group launched its last serviced apartment property, the Parkroyal Residences at Beach Road.

Now, it is entering the luxury extended-stay business with the launch of its new property, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, at 96 Somerset Road.

The new property is similar to serviced apartments but has additional luxury features such as round-the-clock personal assistants who can provide guests with local connections to business and social events.

The property is the first of five planned serviced suites that UOL is also planning in China, Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand over the next three years, said Mr Gwee Lian Kheng, group president and chief executive of UOL yesterday.

UOL’s wholly-owned unit Pan Pacific Hospitality, which owns the Pan Pacific Hotels and Resorts group of hotels, yesterday unveiled the luxury serviced suites.

The 16-storey building next to the Somerset MRT Station houses 120 one- or two-bedroom suites and six penthouses, ranging from 527 sq ft to 1,689 sq ft in size.

UOL believes demand for luxury serviced suites will rise as the number of international visitors to the region increases.

According to the Pacific Asia Travel Association, the Asia-Pacific region saw 361.7 million visitors last year, a jump of 7.9 per cent from the year before.

Mr Gwee expects another 6 to 7 per cent rise this year.

He also said some demand should be generated from a spillover effect of the current shortage of hotel rooms in Singapore.

There are at least 26 serviced residences in Singapore with about 3,500 units in all, compared with more than 37,000 hotel rooms.

According to CB Richard Ellis, the occupancy rate for serviced apartments in Singapore was 91.2 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year, an increase of 7.5 per cent from the same period in 2006.

Mr Gwee hopes the suites, constructed at a cost of $150 million, will see an occupancy rate of at least 90 per cent after the first six months.

The suites will launch early next month, and rates will range from $10,000 to $25,000 per month, or from $420 to $1,070 per day for a minimum stay of one week.

This is at a premium of 20 to 25 per cent over the market rate, said Mr Kam Tin Seah, UOL’s senior general manager of investment and strategic development.

Pan Pacific Hospitality plans to launch its second serviced suite in Bangkok a year from now. As a group, UOL also plans to roll out between 15 and 20 new hotels and serviced suites over the next three years.

Source: The Straits Times 6 Mar 08

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