Marina Bay Sands' game plan

Eight years ago, Marina Bay Sands and Resorts World Singapore transformed Singapore's skyline when they opened. More will be done - last week, it was announced that the two integrated resorts will pump in $9 billion to build world-class attractions. Senior Correspondent Joyce Lim looks at how the pair are appealing to the wealthy global audience Chinese national Jessica does not bat an eyelid dropping $5,000 for a T-shirt or $100,000 for a watch during her weekly shopping jaunts.



Among attractions that engage visitors are the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (above) and the casino. Top spenders come from China, Malaysia, and Indonesia.ST PHOTO: KELVIN CHNG, FILE PHOTO

In addition, Marina View Residences is part of the Government Land Sales project. This new mixed development project will be launched in the Central Region, strategically located at the intersection of Union and Shenton Way, District 1, Singapore. The project is expected to be developed into high-end commercial retail, office, hotel, serviced apartments and high-end residential areas. Includes TBA units with family options from 1 spacious bedroom to 5 luxurious bedrooms and exclusive penthouses. Easy access to Shenton subway station serving the Thomson East-Coast Line.

Continue to explore this location and its amenities by approximate distance.


The 600 sqm Chairman Suite at the luxurious Marina Bay Sands Singapore costs about $17,000 a night and features a private gym, a karaoke room and four bedrooms, each with a rain shower and a jacuzzi. It is decorated with handmade carpets and silk drapery and boasts a baby grand piano in the living room. There is also a dedicated butler team available.PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

And her favorite destination is the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), which offers an array of her favorite luxury brands - Hermes, Chanel, Van Cleef & Arpels, Louis Vuitton, Patek Philippe.

"I am quite an impulsive shopper. There are many things that I bought here last year which I still have not used, including two "Ai Ma Shi" baobao (Hermes handbags)," the 36-year-old said in Mandarin.

Jessica, who asked that her real name not be used, moved to Singapore in 2017, but would still book the hotel's suite to rest in between shopping. She has stayed in the most expensive 600 sqm Chairman suite which costs about $17,000 a night. It features a private gym, a karaoke room and four bedrooms each with a jacuzzi.

Jessica, who does not work and whose businessman husband is based in Hong Kong, belongs to an elite group of big spenders both locals and tourists which MBS is aggressively wooing - and successfully winning over, to some extent.

Its mall racked in a record revenue of US$179 million (S$243 million) last year. Top spenders come from China, Indonesia, and Malaysia.



    On average, in a given week, we witness multiple purchases for pieces averaging in the six-digit range, and we see discerning shoppers from the region return to purchase their one-of-a-kind pieces ranging anywhere from upwards of half a million.


Last year, MBS, which is owned by Las Vegas Sands, scored a coup when it was featured in Hollywood rom-com Crazy Rich Asians as the go-to shopping destination for its monied characters.

Coupled with 15,000 sqm of gaming space - the size of three football fields - MBS hauled in US$3.07 billion of net revenue last year, making it one of the world's most profitable properties. Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou was reported to have lost $2 million in two days at MBS' casino which courts high-rollers with complimentary hotel rooms, meals by celebrity chefs, concert tickets and VIP airport transfers.

Over 330 million visitors - or 120,000 a day - have walked through its doors since it opened on April 27, 2010. The competition for the ultra-wealthy is global.


To up its game, the mall doubled its luxury brand footprint in 2012, such as by bringing in new labels and housing luxury fashion houses in duplexes. There are now 17 duplexes - the largest collection of duplexes under one roof in Singapore.

These, in turn, stock unique items such as a $1 million Jaquet Droz Tropical Bird Repeater watch, while French perfume house Henry Jacques concocts a personalized scent for more than $45,000 a pop.

"On average, in a given week, we witness multiple purchases for pieces averaging in the six-digit range, and we see discerning shoppers from the region return to purchase their one-of-a-kind pieces ranging anywhere from upwards of half a million," an MBS spokesman told The Sunday Times.

As Singapore's resident rich population swells - latest statistics from Credit Suisse Research Institute shows there are 183,737 millionaires in Singapore - MBS is also going all out to entice them to shop at home rather than jet off to other destinations.

Mr. Jason Tan, 35, who has been working for one of the luxury brands since MBS was opened in 2010, said: "MBS has changed a lot. It used to be deserted as there were not many big brands back then.

"My customers used to be mostly tourists. Today, about half my customers are locals and it's normal for them to spend $4,000 to $5,000 per visit."

Before the Chinese authorities started to clamp down on its people leaving the country with large sums of cash in 2017, many Chinese tourists would pay for purchases with wads of banknotes.

Some shops even have note-counting machines, said Jessica, who now pays for her purchases with credit cards linked to her bank accounts in Hong Kong.

MBS was bustling when The Sunday Times visited it on Thursday evening. Shoppers throng the luxury boutiques which stay open till 11pm. People streamed into a spa which offers massage and facial services till 2 am.

At the waterfront promenade, house pours wine and beer were sold for just $10 after 10 pm at alfresco dining restaurant JustIN. The late night shopping and city views have kept the crowd till past 11 pm, said local celebrity chef Justin Quek who runs JustIN.

To maintain its pole position, MBS has put some $1.6 billion into capital reinvestment since 2010.

Of its total workforce of 10,000, about 3,500 are professionals, managers, executives and technicians (PMETs), in roles such as sales and marketing managers. Of these, 7percentnt are held by locals.

Last Wednesday, the Government announced that MBS and Resorts World Singapore will pump in $9 billion to build world-class attractions. For MBS, this includes a fourth hotel tower - adding 1,000 suites to the current inventory of 2,561 rooms and suites - and a 15,000-seat entertainment arena aimed at attracting A-list artists.

The glitzy complex is not free of controversy. More people are seeking help for their gambling problems including those who frequent the MBS casino.

A 40-year-old Singaporean businessman who frequents MBS said that he welcomes the new levy hike to deter locals from entering the casinos. Singaporeans and permanent residents now need to pay $150 instead of $100, while the cost of an annual pass has been increased to $3,000 from $2,000.

The Paiza gold member at MBS who drops between $100,000 and $300,000 for every round of Baccarat said: "It's the middle-to lower-income people who will get into debt while the wealthier can afford to lose.

"I don't think the casinos are after them because they are not significantly contributing to the profits. I am surprised they took so long to increase the levy.

At the same time, other casinos in the region are also going all out to woo the ultra-rich, said the Singaporean, who gets free business class flights and hotel stays in Macau when he travels there for poker games every month.

"It is clear that the new MBS will seek to attract wealthy gamblers. To compete with Macau, the local players need to up their perks."

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