Sprawled over 1.4 million square feet along Singapore’s most scenic waterfront at Marina Bay, The Fullerton Heritage is an integrated dining, hotel and retail development comprising seven heritage and new buildings – The Fullerton Hotel Singapore, The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore, The Fullerton Waterboat House, One Fullerton, The Fullerton Pavilion, Clifford Pier and Customs House.
Beginning with the retrofitting of the iconic Fullerton Building in 2001 to become the Fullerton Hotel, the group has given a new lease of life to heritage icons Clifford Pier (built in 1933) and Customs House (built in the 1960s), transforming them into swanky F&B destinations. Collectively, these developments have added vibrancy to the waterfront area and attracted guests both foreign and local.
In recognition of its achievements in heritage preservation, community engagement and environment protection, The Fullerton Heritage won The Hoffen Award at the recent SME One Asia Awards. Established by APF Group Pte Ltd, these Awards recognise and honour the business success and leadership achievements of SMEs in Singapore and Asia.
Meaning “hope” in German, The Hoffen award is given to companies that inspire community renewal and human development. It acknowledges the work which companies do to “revive our loving spaces” and “contribute significantly to improving human lives and their environment”.
To find out more, I had the privilege of interviewing Mr Giovanni Viterale, General Manager of The Fullerton Heritage. Here are some highlights of my interview:
How does The Fullerton Heritage differentiate itself from other retail and F&B players around the Marina Bay area?
In addition to featuring some of the best views along Singapore’s waterfront, we hope to create a meaningful experience for both locals and travelers with our unique blend of the historical and the contemporary. We had the well-heeled discerning jetsetters and travellers in mind when we conceptualized The Fullerton Heritage.
The precinct is master-planned to complement the Marina Bay waterfront, as well as the surrounding arts, culture, and financial districts with its mix of hotels, high-end retail, restaurants and bars. Having a right mix provides our guests with an array of lifestyle choices – including upscale accommodation, dining, shopping and entertainment – all within The Fullerton Heritage.
What are the various ways in which the company has woven heritage, art, community and environmental sustainability into its business strategies?
Over the past 10 years, we have successfully restored key iconic landmarks that played significant roles in Singapore’s history. The respect for heritage and the integration of heritage into a lifestyle destination is a unique and distinct element of The Fullerton Heritage precinct.
In July 2010, we launched The Fullerton Heritage Gallery at The Fullerton Hotel to showcase the legacy of the hotel to both locals and travelers from abroad. The 800-square foot gallery features photographs, maps, stamps and philatelic materials that date back to 1932. Many of our guests will visit the Gallery to peruse and admire the displays. In addition, many teachers organize educational tours for their students to our Gallery.
A heritage red pillar post box first used in Singapore in 1873 was brought to The Fullerton Heritage Gallery. Various signs were put up at different levels of the hotel to mark historical points of interest. With the support of NHB’s Heritage Industry Incentive Programme (HI²P), we worked with Singapore Philatelic Museum to develop The Fullerton Heritage Trail map to guide visitors on a walking trail to learn about the rich history and culture of the precinct.
The Fullerton Heritage has also initiated the “Art in the City” programme to infuse local art and culture within the cityscape, showcasing art exhibitions and activities in the Fullerton Heritage precinct. We also work closely with our adopted charities MILK (Mainly I Love Kids) Fund and Beyond Social Services to organise various initiatives and events which allow staff to raise funds and interact with the underprivileged.
On the environmental front, The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel engages in and encourages all staff and guests to adopt green practices such as the reuse of bedlinen and towels. All restaurants and bars at The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel have since removed shark’s fin from their menus, in heeding the call for the conservation of sharks.
How does The Fullerton Heritage feel about winning the award?
We are extremely honoured to be chosen to receive the very first Hoffen Award. We have actively sought to bring new life to these important heritage buildings along Singapore’s waterfront over the past 14 years. As this year marks the completion of The Fullerton Heritage precinct, the Award is a prized recognition of our dedication and efforts.
What were some of the major challenges faced by The Fullerton Heritage over the years? How did the company overcome these challenges?
When we were transforming The Fullerton Building into a hotel in 1998, our challenge was to protect its architectural integrity and to combine its rich history with the highest levels of modern luxury and technology. Similarly, the conservation of Clifford Pier from 2006 to 2008 included extensive restoration works as well as new works such as the installation of glass panels to facilitate the air-conditioning of the building.
With The Fullerton Bay Hotel, it is a much-treasured opportunity to be able to develop it on the site that it rests on – between Clifford Pier which was built in 1933, and the Customs House which was built in the 1960s. Both public buildings had played important roles in the modern history of Singapore. It is with great honour that we can help bring this piece of history to our guests through integrating it into our hospitality experience. This was a new challenge as we had to infuse the theme of heritage into a new building.
Together with our architects and designers, we overcame the challenge by placing the entrance of the hotel at Clifford Pier. Hotel guests will thus experience the transition from the past to the present the moment they step into our hotel. The materials and colours of the new building were also carefully chosen to harmonize with the characteristics of the heritage building. To further impart the historic significance of the site into the hotel, soft furnishings including vintage nautical maps, heritage photos of the locale as well as specially commissioned art pieces that reflect the harmony between old and new Singapore were chosedn for The Fullerton Bay Hotel.
The Fullerton Heritage is part of two large property conglomerates. How has this benefited them?
The Fullerton Heritage precinct is developed by Sino Land Company Limited, a publicly listed arm of Sino Group, which is one of the leading property developers in Hong Kong and the sister company of Singapore’s Far East Organisation. We gleaned much knowledge from the experience that our parent’s company has in property development which greatly helped us in the planning and development of The Fullerton Heritage precinct.
For instance, to facilitate seamless connectivity between the seven properties within The Fullerton Heritage precinct – rather than developing each property independently of each other – we built and are building more public walkways and promenades to connect the properties. This includes a new covered underpass connecting The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel.
Looking ahead, what are the future plans for the property?
We are presently appointing a professional tour guide who will conduct a complimentary tour of The Fullerton Heritage (starting from The Fullerton Hotel) for our guests. This will complement the self-guided Fullerton Heritage Trail Map which we created together with the Singapore Philatelic Museum last year. We’re also constantly seeking ways to provide our hotel guests and dining patrons with more enriching experiences when they return to The Fullerton Heritage precinct.
Is there anything else that you’d like to share about the journey towards winning the award?
Amidst Singapore’s rapid progress and transformation, The Fullerton Heritage upholds the history and legacy of the precinct. We wish to bring refreshed and relevant lifestyle choices to Singaporeans and travelers while retaining and educating customers on the historical value of this significant locale.