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Why are there so many famous chefs opening restaurants in Singapore's hotels?

Singapore's dining scene has never been hotter than right now.

Singapore has always been lucky enough to boast a stellar and hugely innovative dining scene but one trend that is becoming hard to ignore is the huge influx of celebrity chefs into Singapore's new hotels. From Michelin-starred Dutch chef Sergio Herman to popular French pastry chef Cedric Grolet and sustainable cooking newcomer Josh Niland, it seems if you want the wow factor dining these days, you need to head to a hotel. 

But why we find ourselves asking? What is it drawing chefs to hotels? Martha Waslen, founder and chief executive officer of DayAway, a digital lifestyle membership platform, explains the link: “As Singapore continues to attract discerning travellers and local epicurean enthusiasts alike, collaborations between respected chefs and upscale hotel establishments offer an elevated dining experience that celebrates innovation, creativity and culinary excellence. Partnering with celebrity chefs adds a prestigious element to the hotel's dining offerings, differentiating them from competitors and driving revenue. Hotels also leverage the chefs' fan base and international reputation to draw attention to their properties.”

One case in point is Josh Niland. Hailing from Australia, he partnered with The Singapore Edition to launch the more unique 'seafood-focused steakhouse' called FYSH.  “Singapore has one of the most exciting restaurant scenes in the world, which is the reason so many people want to open here. For us, it is also the ideal location, the gateway to connect to the world beyond Australia,” said Niland.  “We can reach many more guests with Singapore's international draw and the hotel operation offers multiple opportunities in a way a stand-alone restaurant would not.”

Ranim Ben Romdhane, general manager of The Singapore Edition, explained his take on this as a win-win partnership. He said: “This strategic move responds to the increasing demand from discerning travellers, particularly food enthusiasts, for exceptional culinary offerings during their hotel stays. It presents significant opportunities for hotels to establish themselves as top culinary destinations and enhance their overall guest satisfaction in Singapore's vibrant hospitality landscape.”

In Singapore’s ultra-competitive services sector, teaming up with a like-minded luxury hotel also increases a restaurant’s chances of long-term success, observed Luke Clayton, founder of WA Creations, which owns and operates the Japanese kappo omakase restaurant Zuicho at the newly refurbished Mandarin Oriental Singapore.  “Hotel guests are naturally potential guests and likely to be interested in dining at high-end destinations. We can also collaborate with the hotel for exciting events and work with the hotel's marketing teams to leverage their social media presence to increase awareness of our restaurant brands,” observed Clayton.

So - we can understand why it works for the restaurants but why are hotels so keen to persuade these ultra-luxe chefs through their doors? Well, one case study which might answer this is the Conrad Singapore Orchard. When the hotel took over and overhauled the premises of the former Regent Singapore, the team decided to retain its existing concepts, which include the one Michelin-starred Cantonese restaurant Summer Palace by executive Chinese chef Liu Ching Hai and Manhattan, which was ranked 21 on the Asia’s 50 Best Bars list in 2023. Oscar Postma, cluster operations general manager of Conrad Singapore Orchard, said these iconic establishments help to “significantly bolster” the hotel’s standing as a culinary tourism destination.“They are landmarks in their own right, integral to the fabric of our hotel's identity and the exceptional culinary experiences we are known for. With our hotel's transformation, it was important to honour the legacy we have built, including our reputation as a premier destination for gastronomy,” he said.