SINGAPORE — Luxury resort operator Banyan Tree Holdings will be operating an eco-friendly resort that features “elevated” cabins surrounded by tree canopies, as well as other amenities, when a new mega-nature attraction in Mandai opens in 2023.
The company and Mandai Park Holdings, which manages wildlife attractions such as the Singapore Zoo, River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park, jointly announced the news on Wednesday (Oct 11).
This will be the first time visitors to the wildlife parks in Mandai can get to stay in a full-service accommodation. The Singapore Zoo already offers overnight camps.
Mr Mike Barclay, group chief executive of Mandai Park Holdings, said at Wednesday’s press conference that the resort is expected to offer a range of room types, from budget to exclusive options. These include standard and family rooms, cottages in mid-air or “treehouses”. Details are not known yet on how the high-level cabins will be constructed. There will be up to 400 rooms available.
Mr Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of Banyan Tree, said that while people generally associated the Banyan Tree with expensive resorts, the upcoming one in Mandai has the potential to offer different price points to remain accessible to Singaporeans and foreign visitors.
While the new resort will be targeted at young families, the parks’ core clientele, Mr Barclay said that the two companies plan to have some “very unusual experiences” that would be finalised when their design partner is selected next year.
Some of the proposed plans are for guests to go on guided nature walks and wildlife spotting tours, or attend recycling workshops and educational movie screenings. These will create “an immersive stay” that is “close to nature” and inspire them to care for biodiversity and develop sustainable behaviour.
Construction work is expected to begin in 2020 and will take about 2.5 years to complete.
This will be Banyan Tree’s first resort in Singapore after setting up 43 in 25 countries in the last 23 years. It operates a spa in Marina Bay Sands here.
By 2023, the area in Mandai will be expanded to include the relocated Bird Park and a new Rainforest Park. The Bird Park and Rainforest Park are scheduled to open by 2020 and 2021, respectively.
Mr Barclay said that Banyan Tree was picked from among eight hotel groups which had competed for the project. It aims to be the “most environmentally progressive resort” in Singapore, where guests could be reminded to be more thoughtful when using resources. They will be notified of their water and electricity usage levels in their rooms and could receive credits on their bill if usage is low.
The resort’s name – which will be determined at a later date – will be associated with the Banyan Tree brand, one of the four brands under the operator. The other brands are Angsana, Cassia and Dhawa.
It will sit on a 4.6ha plot of land — about the size of six football fields — on the eastern end of the Mandai precinct.
Part of the land is now occupied by back-of-house facilities for the existing wildlife parks, such as a sewage treatment plant, animal quarantine facilities and workers’ quarters. These will be de-commissioned and the land cleared for the resort.
Both Mandai Park Holdings and Banyan Tree said that the design and development of the resort would be done with “careful consideration to the surroundings”, and based on principles and parameters in the environmental impact assessment report approved by the Government.
A nine-member multi-disciplinary working group, led by Mr Tai Lee Siang, chairman of the World Green Building Council, has been formed to provide expert advice in the areas of design and sustainable operations.
The resort will also be a “low-intensity” development and built sensitively around existing vegetation. For instance, the height of the resort will be capped at four storeys, so that they remain below the tree canopies.
A 15m-wide strip of land along the edge of the Upper Seletar Reservoir will be set aside as a buffer with retained vegetation, while the site will also be designed such that native wildlife may move around and to their habitats.
Within the resort, specific measures will be in place to control lighting and noise emissions. Sustainable designs to reduce and reuse energy, waste and water will also be adopted, such as allowing natural ventilation and daylight, and using renewable energy sources and materials with lower carbon emissions.