The luxury market has shifted in the past few years. The most luxurious hotels are moving away from opulence and extravagant facilities toward offering discretion, simplicity and attention to each guest’s individual needs.
“Luxury needs to be relevant. It’s about being subtle and relaxed,” said Diana Banks, vice president of Raffles Brand and Luxury Sales, when I met her on my recent trip to Raffles Singapore.
“In Raffles we believe in emotional luxury, where guests can be themselves and have real choice, where they know someone is always thinking about what they need,” Diana said. And that is exactly how I felt during my short stay at Raffles Singapore prior to the opening of a Jakarta branch this December.
I was greeted by a very resourceful butler, who escorted me to my suite. The suite was reminiscent of the colonial era; old-fashioned ceiling fans, timber window shutters, creaky floorboards and well-crafted vintage knobs. It was beautifully maintained in its original style.
The check-in was completed quickly in my suite, while the thoughtful butler stayed one step ahead of me. When I thought that everything had already been explained, she muttered, “I think you’ve forgotten something -- the WiFi. Here is the password.”
The 127-year-old Raffles Hotel has a nostalgic charm. Every single corner of this Victorian establishment tells a story. Whether it’s about Singapore’s last tiger, which was chased under a table in the Bar and Billiard room, the never-ending parties in the lobby or the creation of the Singapore Sling at the Long Bar, the hotel is the birthplace of stories and legends.
So what can we expect from Raffles Jakarta?
“It won’t have the same history as Raffles Singapore, but it will tell another story and will have the same level of service,” said Jeff Tisdall, vice president of FRHI, the group that manages Raffles, Fairmont and Swissotel.
Besides the hotel, which will be located at Ciputra World 1, Raffles will also open Raffles Residences in the same block, and at the same time.
Raffles Residences Jakarta will be one of the most luxurious vertical residences in the city, with each unit occupying roughly 470 square meters.
Residence owners will be able to enjoy all Raffles Hotel’s services. They will also become “Raffles Ambassadors”, entitling them to privileges in all Raffles properties.
Having knocked back a Singapore Sling in the Long Bar, I ended my stay with dinner in the historical Tiffin Room. The Raj-inspired buffet was probably one of the best Indian meals I have ever had.
It was not the most complete of buffets, but the atmosphere and the intimacy created by the staff make me realize that luxury is not about what you get, but it's about how you feel.