Built To A Tee

Acclaimed hospitality group Dusit Thani makes its way to Singapore amid a pandemic.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Acclaimed hospitality group Dusit Thani makes its way to Singapore amid a pandemic.

A rendering of the grounds of Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore.

We don’t usually associate Singapore with resorts and sprawling golf courses. Space – or the lack thereof – is a perennial problem, which makes whatever existing golfing facilities even more of a luxury for domestic golfers.

With ongoing travel restrictions, hitting the greens here remains the only option – just as well, too, because Thai hospitality group Dusit Thani (DT) is opening its first property in Singapore: a five-star urban resort built in partnership with Laguna National Golf & Country Club (LNGCC). While the 198-room property will be offering all the bells and whistles – including extensive sports facilities and compelling dining options – expected of any luxury property, this will all be behind a scenic backdrop of the courses.

The Peak speaks to Eric Piatti (EP), general manager of DT Laguna Singapore and Mark Isley (MI), general manager of LNGCC about the trends in golfing and hospitality, and how technology is changing the game. 

What's behind Dusit Thani's decision to open in Singapore? 

EP: Singapore is a gateway to business and leisure travellers from key cities around the world. In line with Dusit Thani’s aim of expanding its footprint internationally, the brand needs to have a presence in a key city like Singapore.

Millennials aren't golfing. Do you see this as a problem?

MI: Golf as a sport will never go away. In fact, with the recent global pandemic, interest in golfing has increased since it’s a sport that allows for distancing in large, open spaces. Golf clubs also have strict policies on privacy, which adds a sense of safety and security for members.

In recent years, Laguna National has introduced facilities and initiatives aimed at giving golf a more social image. The club is also committed to grooming young golfers at The Leadbetter Golf Academy (LGA) in Laguna Practice. It has a dedicated classroom, short game practice zone and high-tech equipment. The globally renowned academy is staffed by accredited LGA professionals.

With the launch of the new clubhouse, Laguna National will be offering cutting-edge facilities such as Laguna Putting powered by Nicklaus Design – a nine-hole putting course spanning 600sqm that sits on premium-grade synthetic turf with the look, feel and bite of natural grass. All these are making the sport a lot more exciting and accessible.

My Reading Room

Eric Michel Piattim (left) and Mark Isley (right).

With international tourism on hold, what is the potential of the domestic market for Dusit Thani Laguna? 

EP: Given the current travel restrictions, residents are seeking the next best experiences that give a sense of escape. We are blessed to be the only resort in Singapore with specially granted access to two championship golf courses. This allows guests to play rounds of scenic golf while staying with us. The unique co-location also allowed us to roll out our Stay and Play experience.

Our opening marketing strategy aims to capitalise on the rise in wellness tourism. We’ve curated our suite of wellness experiences to target the domestic market. We’ve also rolled out a host of Discover Dusit staycation packages centred around different interests, including gourmet, golf and wellness experiences.

DT Laguna Singapore will also be collaborating with local partners to organise curated adventures, such as scenic cycling tours within the charming eastern precinct and nature brisk walking.

What are some of the more unique changes you've seen in hospitality?

EP: There is a whole new generation born out of this pandemic that is not defined by age but by a shift in personal paradigms. The demand for wellness experiences is expected to continue upwards as people become increasingly health-conscious. Hotels will be looking at integrating more holistic wellness journeys that go beyond having just an on-site spa. Wellness experiences will become more thoughtful and deliberate, even for city-centre hotels.

DT Laguna Singapore has adopted a holistic wellness approach covering various aspects of living. For example, health-conscious guests will appreciate the Dusit Wellness programme. We offer an innovative, plant-based Healthy Power Foods menu that ranges from fresh salads prepared with ingredients harvested from the resort's Laguna Organic Farm to low-carb and gluten-free options. 

There are also fitness programmes, spa treatments and nutrition workshops, as well as retreats and programmes that facilitate group involvement and community building.

There is a whole new generation born out of this pandemic that is not defined by age but by a shift in personal paradigms.

What does luxury mean to you today? 

MI: At Laguna National, we believe luxury is about paying attention to every little detail from before tee-off to the finish.

For those seeking a truly luxurious experience, we recommend booking the VIP Golf Experience. This includes a pick-up service and the use of our private VIP Changing Room with private bathroom suites, branded amenities, relaxation lounges with TVs, well-stocked mini-bars with top-shelf beverages, and F&B service.

On the golf course, we’ve enhanced the golfer’s experience through technology. For instance, all of our buggies have a Visage Global Positioning System (GPS) that’s designed as an interactive experience for golfers. Apart from high-resolution images of each hole with accurate yardages and tracking to every landmark on all 36 holes, golfers have access to weather updates, promotions, and notifications.

EP: Luxury has as many faces as we have consumers, hence the emotional intelligence of our team members is essential to meet the acute needs and individual demands of today’s consumer. Space, for example, is a luxury in Singapore, and the vast landscapes of LNGCC allow us to showcase a variety of outdoor spaces that can cater for safe distance event planning as well.

Luxury hospitality doesn’t always have to be extravagant. It can also be as small and simple as creating a meaningful experience for guests, showing care or creating surroundings that guests can have an emotional connection to.