by Deanna Ting | January 15, 2013
Resorts World Sentosa has helped put Singapore on the international meetings radar

For many, Singapore is a destination most often associated with business. Last year, the Union of International Associations named it the top international meeting city for the fifth year in a row. The fact that Singapore can also be an enticing - and fun - incentive destination is often overlooked. "We've always been acknowledged as an easy place to do business, but there's also a rich concentration of experiences that we have, all in one destination," says Serene Tan, regional director, Americas, for the Singapore Tourism Board. "While we've seen a dip in incentive groups in the last two years, we've seen groups return. We're also very capable of hosting large incentive groups, like Herbalife, which held its 2012 Extravaganza in Singapore in May 2012."

Since the debut of Marina Bay Sands (MBS) and Resorts World Sentosa in 2010, the Southeast Asian island has seen even more new developments and attractions, all designed to appeal to travelers from around the world. From unique boutique hotels to impressive nature attractions, it's clear that Singapore is enticing incentive groups in more ways than one.

Back to Nature
The Gardens by the Bay, a "garden-within-a-city" attraction that has seen more than one million visitors since opening in June 2012, is an impressive feat of sustainable engineering. Its domed conservatories, a five-minute walk from MBS, house more than 250,000 rare plant species, including 16-story-tall Supertrees.

In December, Resorts World Sentosa opened the world's largest oceanarium, Marine Life Park, where visitors can snorkel over an active coral reef with more than 20,000 different fish. Ocean Suites, priced at $1,965 per night, let you "sleep with the fishes" quite literally: a floor-to-ceiling acrylic panel in each bedroom lets you peer inside the aquarium's Open Ocean habitat.

In early 2013, a new River Safari attraction, an extension of the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari, will debut. "The different rivers here are meant to emulate the aqua systems of different ones around the world," explains Tan.

More Hotels
The number of new hotels opening in Singapore continues to rise. "In the last five years, the hotel scene has really bloomed," says Tan. She says that Singapore had added 53,000 new hotel rooms by the end of 2012.

The 367-room eco-friendly PARKROYAL on Pickering hotel is scheduled to open in January in Singapore's central business district (CBD). Last fall, Singapore welcomed its first W hotel, the 240-room W Singapore-Sentosa Cove, on the nearby island of Sentosa, which is just minutes from downtown Singapore.

In March, the 229-room East Village Hotel is set to open near Changi International Airport and across from the bustling Parkway Parade shopping center.

Singapore is also home to a growing number of design-driven boutique hotels like the newly opened, 79-room Naumi Liora in Chinatown. "Our boutique hotels have really been able to deliver an experience that can allow them to demand a premium," Tan adds. Many of these new boutique hotels are housed within converted shophouses and post-war colonial buildings in cultural enclaves.

In a way, the new boutique hotels - transformations of the old into something new - are representative of a destination committed to perpetual evolution. "Singapore constantly reinvents itself," says Tan. "We appeal to travelers who are open to discovering the unexpected and having brand-new experiences, and we're a city that's constantly ahead."