by By Tom Isler | November 01, 2008
suntecLand is Singapore's scarcest commodity, but the government is so committed to bolstering its tourism and meetings in­frastructure that it has opened up more than a dozen plots since 2006 for the creation of some 5,000 new hotel rooms.

New construction and economic development are sources of intense pride for this island nation, and a cutting-edge meetings product is an integral part of Singapore's mission to gain in stature among the globe's top business hubs. For Americans, the country is a particularly comfortable corner of Southeast Asia, due to the prominence of the English language, thanks to its British colonial history.

Integrated resorts
The most highly anticipated developments coming on line in the next two years are two "integrated resorts," mixed-use projects that include thousands of hotel rooms and lots of meeting space, plus casinos, theaters, restaurants and retail outlets.

The US$4.5 billion, 2,700-room Marina Bay Sands will have the country's most expensive room rates when it opens as Singapore's first casino resort next year. Rising close to the financial district, the property will offer more than a million square feet of meeting space, two theaters with a combined seating capacity of 4,000, and a rooftop garden that will span all three of the hotel's monumental towers.

Resorts World, on the island of Sentosa (primarily a leisure tourism destination), will have six hotels with 1,800 rooms, 300,000 square feet of meeting space, a Universal Studios theme park, and a high-end spa. Everything should be open in 2010.

This past January, Changi Air­port unveiled its US$1.2 billion Terminal 3, which now handles passengers bound for the United States, western Europe, northern Asia, and Australia and New Zealand. T3 features high-end retail shops and restaurants.

Opening in 2010 is a new international cruise terminal, being built in Marina South, which will double Singapore's cruise capacity. Tourism officials hope to attract 1.6 million cruise passengers by 2015, a 70 percent increase from 2007 totals.

The 299-room St. Regis Singapore opened earlier this year just off of Orchard Road, the country's prime upscale shopping destination. The hotel has more than 16,000 square feet of meeting space and Asia's first Remède Spa.

The 320-room Crowne Plaza Changi Airport opened in May, connected to the new airport terminal. The hotel offers more than 13,000 square feet of meeting space.

The 778-room Pan Pacific Singapore wrapped up a US$9.7 million renovation late last year.

The 769-room Fairmont Singapore, formerly a Raffles hotel, opened last December with 70,000 square feet of meeting space in the Raffles City Con­vention Centre.

Meeting space
The new Changi Exhibition Centre, with a 430,500-square-foot exhibit hall and more than a million square feet of outdoor display space, opened in February by hosting the inaugural Singapore Airshow. The venue is 10 minutes from Changi International Airport.

Singapore has two other convention facilities: the Suntec Singapore International Convention & Exhibition Centre and Singapore Expo.

Other development
The Singapore Flyer, the country's version of the London Eye, opened in February, offering indoor and outdoor venues for group functions.

Clarke Quay, along the Singapore River, has been reinvigorated with a spate of new clubs and restaurants with private dining rooms. Many have special offerings for groups.