Flying the Singapore Flag High

Singapore-based Ascott, the world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator, celebrates being a Singapore brand this National Day

Issue: Aug 2015

The Ascott Raffles Place Singapore - offering guests a luxurious home away from home experience in a heritage building
The Ascott Raffles Place Singapore – offering guests a luxurious home away from home experience in a heritage building

Come National Day, Kenneth Long, 41, will be celebrating the country’s 50th birthday just like any Singaporean, except he will not be doing it at home. The Financial Controller of The Ascott Limited’s (Ascott) Bangkok office, is one of 280 Singaporeans working in over 200 Ascott properties in key cities of the Americas, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Gulf region.

“We may be away from Singapore but we are still very much a part of the country. As a Singapore-based company, Ascott helps us stay in touch with home. We have an additional SG50 holiday just like everyone back in Singapore,” he said.

“I am very touched that they gave us a day off even though we are abroad. It makes me feel connected to home even though I am working in a different environment,” agreed Loh Shan Li, 32, Country Financial Controller in the Philippines.

The world’s largest international serviced residence owner-operator, Ascott has been proudly flying the Singapore flag for 31 years, bringing to residents throughout the world a unique brand of service that exemplifies the credo of its parent company, CapitaLand - ‘Building People, Building Communities”.

Offering Enhanced Experiences

Ascott’s three award-winning serviced residence brands - Ascott, Citadines, and Somerset – own and operate more than 41,000 apartment units in the Americas, Asia-Pacific, Europe, and the Gulf region. Despite their geographical spread, Ascott ensures that its distinctly Singapore commitment to excellence is evident in each of its serviced residence, no matter where they are located.

Ascott is constantly innovating and looking at new ways to delight its guests. The first global serviced residence company to embrace smart home technologies, it has forged an exclusive partnership with Samsung Asia to jointly develop Internet of Things-ready smart solutions customised for its serviced residences. Guests will be able to use their mobile or wearable devices to control devices such as washing machines, refrigerators and smart TVs. Ascott aims to test bed the technologies at selected serviced residences by the first half of 2016, with plans to roll out to properties globally in phases.

While boldly embracing the future, Ascott also values the past. To give guests luxury in a heritage setting, it restored the former Asia Insurance Building in Singapore. Once Southeast Asia’s tallest tower in the 1950s, it is now the premier, Ascott Raffles Place Singapore after a $60-million conservation effort that took two years.

To provide wholistic, localised experiences to guests, Ascott introduced the Ascott Lifestyle, a specially curated selection of experiences from cultural to gastronomical, local delights, and wellness programmes - designed to delight and entertain every guest. Residence Managers and hosts well-versed in local history, culture, and attractions prepare and sometimes lead the city-specific itineraries.

Sharing the Ascott Brand

Serena Lau has worked as an Assistant Residence Manager at Springdale Serviced Residence Guangzhou, China for three years
Serena Lau has worked as an Assistant Residence Manager at Springdale Serviced Residence Guangzhou, China for three years

“There is a lot of excitement working in China. I have learned to adapt to local cultures while incorporating the HQ initiatives and directions to deal with local mindsets and work styles,” said Serena Lau, 35, Assistant Residence Manager, Springdale Serviced Residence Guangzhou, China.

All this is possible because Ascott makes sure all its employees are kept in step with its DNA.

Roy Liang, Residence Manager, Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is glad to be able to work for a Singaporean company
Roy Liang, Residence Manager, Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is glad to be able to work for a Singaporean company as the values, culture and way of doing things are all very familiar and close to his heart

“The company’s key messages, directions, and values are continually reinforced and we have regular sessions with our Singapore-based senior management. We are continually engaged and even though I work abroad, I feel very much a part of the Singapore family,” said Roy Liang, 29, Residence Manager, Somerset Ampang Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Residence Manager, Citadines Kuta Beach Bali, Indonesia, Bernard Siew, 49, adds, “One of the best things about working with a Singapore company like Ascott is that there is consistency and stability.”

Ascott’s branding is so strong and consistent that even guests are aware of it.

“Because customers and business associates know we are a Singapore company, they expect the same speed and efficiency that Singapore is known for wherever we are,” said Ng Kai Quan, 32, Residence Manager, Somerset Berlian Jakarta, Indonesia.

In fact, some seek out Ascott precisely because it provides the same high standard in every country as it does at home.

“Ascott is able to maintain the high service standard that Singapore is known for, even in its properties away from home,” said Kit Hong Seng, Police Attache, Embassy of the Republic of Singapore in Jakarta, Indonesia who has been a guest at several Ascott properties.

For all its efforts, Ascott has been garnering awards worldwide. In 2014, it was the proud recipient of TripAdvisor’s top accolades with 28 properties having won the Travellers’ Choice Award and the Certificate of Excellence Award. This year, 56 properties bagged the prestigious Certificate of Excellence Award and 12 properties won the Travellers’ Choice Award. Most recently, it was named Best Serviced Apartment Company Middle East by the Business Traveller Middle East Awards 2015. In 2014, among several country-based accolades, it also won the titles of Leading Serviced Apartment Brand and Leading Serviced Apartments in eight countries at the World Travel Awards.

Extending its Footprint

Ascott is continually expanding its reach. It has 23 new cities to its portfolio and in April 2015, its Citadines brand was introduced in Vietnam, Sabah, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for the first time. Earlier in the year, it stepped up its presence in several cities including Iskandar Malaysia with a third property in Nusajaya, Citadines Medini Nusajaya; Beijing and Hong Kong, China with three more properties. It also made successful forays into Istanbul, Turkey; Cyberjaya, Malaysia; Sri Racha, Thailand; and Hai Phong, Vietnam. This way, travellers can enjoy the Ascott experience wherever they go.

Wong Ming Chee, Residence Manager, Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City, Vietnam who has been with the company for 21 years
Wong Ming Chee, Residence Manager, Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City, Vietnam who has been with the company for 21 years says constant communication with the head office in Singapore means consistent Singapore-centric values and cultures

“I’m proud that this company provides safe and quality living for expatriates working abroad, a place they can call ‘home’. Being an expatriate myself, I know the value of safe quality accommodation,” said Wong Ming Chee, 52, Residence Manager, Somerset Central TD Hai Phong City, Vietnam.

Guests like Joanne Ng agree. She is an Ascott resident in Hanoi, Vietnam who has been loyal to the brand because it lives up to its promises.

“Ascott exemplifies Singapore's spirit of excellence through its constant efforts to provide even better service and to create an even warmer and lovelier "home away from home" for all its residents.”

Aiming for More Units

Because of its efforts, Ascott exceeded its target of 40,000 apartment units globally six months ahead of its end-2015 schedule. It secured 10 new contracts in the growing cities of Nantong, Xiamen, Hangzhou, Tianjin, Wuxi, and Nanjing in China; Jakarta in Indonesia; Bangkok and Sri Racha in Thailand; and Muscat in Oman.

Next stop - Europe. By 2020, it aims to have 10,000 apartment units in that continent in addition to its current 5,000 units across 42 properties in six countries.

“Europe remains one of our key markets. Our asset size in Europe is over S$1.5 billion. We will continue to deepen Ascott’s presence in gateway cities where we have properties such as Paris, London, Hamburg and Munich, as well as explore new markets,” said Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer.

For Singaporeans travelling and living abroad, the knowledge that a Singapore company is taking care of them is as close to home as they can get. Indeed, that was Lai Ying’s consideration when she first went to Hanoi, Vietnam to work three years ago.

Assistant Vice President, Business Development & Asset Management, China, Brandon Li, travels extensively for work
Assistant Vice President, Business Development & Asset Management, China, Brandon Li, travels extensively for work and considers Somerset Emerald City Suzhou his favourite because of its warm and excellent service

“My two considerations for choosing to stay at Somerset Grand Hanoi (SGH) was the close proximity to my work place and the fact that it’s a Singapore brand known for its excellence. SGH has stayed true to its name and brand all this time. Its biggest asset – its staff – they just know how to make one feel at home. This is truly my ‘home away from home’.”

In spreading its name far beyond Singapore’s shores, Ascott has not only put the island-nation on the world stage, it has brought a taste of home to Singaporeans all over the world. As we celebrate SG50, this sense of home shared by Singaporeans abroad takes on added significance.

“It hasn’t been easy for Singapore to come so far and achieved so much in such a short period of time. I wish Singapore will enjoy another 50 years of prosperity and growth,” said Brandon Li, 34, who works as an Assistant Vice President, Business Development & Asset Management at Ascott in China.

“I won’t be back in Singapore for her 50th birthday, but I will be singing “Home” to tell her how much I miss her!” added Genevieve Khua, 27, Assistant Manager, Sales & Marketing, Ascott China.

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