Sophia's Allure

Citadines debuts in Singapore with its Mount Sophia apart'hotel

Issue: Aug 2009

Mount Sophia
A view of the city from banker Kevin Ho's apart'hotel at Citadines Singapore Mount Sophia
Step into Kevin Ho's room on the top floor of the Citadines Singapore Mount Sophia and you will be struck by the view. City lights twinkle below as night drapes the sky.

"Sometimes it looks so busy down there, but I never hear anything. I like the quietness," said the 41-year-old Hong Konger, who also enjoys taking in the sunrise while he prepares for work every morning.

Singapore Debut

Pictures of old Singapore toys, like this paper ball, adorn the corridors of the Citadines
This is the first Citadines apart'hotel in Singapore. It opened its doors in January 2009 and is part of CapitaLand's Wilkie Edge, a mixed-used development comprising office, retail and serviced residences.

Citadines, a well-known brand in Europe, was bought over by the Ascott Group in 2004. It has since been growing its presence in Asia steadily. All the apart'hotels are carefully designed to blend with local cultures.

Here at Mt Sophia, photographs by renowned Singaporean photographer Russel Wong grace the walls of every lift lobby, lending a subtle Asian touch. There are pictures of old local toys like chateh and five stones lining the walls of the upper floors - giving the place a strong local flavour.

While its location along Wilkie Road may not be familiar to many foreigners, it is very close to Orchard Road, arts institutes, museums and the Singapore Management University.

Home Sweet Home

Ho, an investment banker, appreciates the simplicity of the furniture and layout of the Citadines unit, and feels at ease with the apart'hotel concept. "It's my home away from home," he said.

An apartment hotel is usually fitted with everything the average home would require, and is touted as a prime serviced residence that offers residents the flexibility to pay only for services they require.

Ho likes the "ala-carte nature" of the housekeeping services, as he only requires his apartment to be cleaned once a week. "There's only me here, how dirty can it get?" he chuckled.

Aside from that flexibility, residents at Citadines Singapore Mount Sophia enjoy broadband access and a stylish home entertainment system with an LCD TV. The residents can also use a gym and order breakfast if they wish, all within the comfort of Citadines.

A Cut Above

Kevin Ho calls his Citadines unit on the 12th floor his home away from home.
"I've seen a lot of apartments; they're a bit too pretentious with their big foyers. I like the neutral colours of the walls and drapes here. I'm glad there were no cushions on the sofa because I would have chucked them out," said the self-confessed picky minimalist, who had specifically chosen the unit on the 12th floor when he came in January 2009.

It also takes a mere 10 to 15 minutes to get to his office at Raffles Place in a cab. "You know what Singapore is notorious for, that you can't get cabs when you need them? Well, that doesn't happen here. I can flag one down quite easily," said Ho.

"The supermarket is also nearby, which is great as I like my ingredients fresh when I cook," he added.

Ho liked the serviced residence so much that he extended his stay beyond the original four months, till June 2010, making him the longest staying resident at the apart'hotel so far.

Another reason that he was sold, was the staff's attentiveness to his few requests. The staff made efforts to reserve the unit for him, and got him a hands-free phone for his business calls that he might have had to get himself if he lived elsewhere.

Sold on Service

Citadines resident Kevin Ho says the serviced residence's attentive staff won him over
"Staff is important. These guys," he said, pointing to a service staff member present at the interview, "are one of the reasons why I'm here." Ho said he appreciates the consistency in the attitudes of the staff at Citadines.

"I always give business to people who care. It's something in addition that you can't get anywhere else. You can copy this building layout but human beings are unique," said Ho. The banker had shopped around for alternatives but chose to remain here as the others "didn't sound that enthusiastic."

This was music to Ms Judy Wong's ears. She had overseen the property's development with CapitaLand when she was its Residence Manager, and was clear about what she wanted customers to take away from their stay.

"At a serviced residence, there are more opportunities for staff to get to know the customers because of the nature of extended stays," said Wong, who is now the General Manager of Corporate Leasing and two other Somerset serviced residences. "When the client leaves, we hope to still keep in touch through e-mail, which some of my staff do."

"I make sure that the staff here are also well equipped with knowledge about the amenities within 5km so that they can assist any guest with their queries," said Wong.

Exuding quiet pride, Wong added that occupancy levels have reached more than 90%, an enviable achievement amidst the economic downturn when people usually cut down on travelling.

While many Asians are still not used to the idea, there is a growing demand for such accommodation, especially among expatriates as well as visiting researchers, academia and foreign students from the Singapore Management University and the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts.

"It's a new concept, especially to Asians. Currently, most of our customers here are Europeans since they are probably more familiar with Citadines, but we think there is potential for this market to grow," said Wong.


Citadines Singapore Mount Sophia
8 Wilkie Road
#01-26 Wilkie Edge
Singapore 228095

Tel: (65) 6593 8188

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