Now, a chalet stay could resemble a staycation in a posh hotel, with operators sprucing up the accommodation with themed rooms, open showers and four- poster beds
Mr Jonathan Quek, 46, books staycations for his family at the Civil Service Club @ Changi at least three times a year. At the resort, the family swims, bowls, cycles and takes trips to Pulau Ubin, which is just a boat ride away from the nearby jetty. The director in an insurance company is a club member, and pays a discounted rate of about $300 a night for a suite each time.
Some may baulk at the price tag for a chalet, which is comparable to a three- or four-star hotel stay, but the resort’s decor and facilities match up. The two-bedroom suite has tasteful interiors with dark wood furnishing, flatscreen TVs that offer movie and football channels and a balcony that looks out to the sea.
Mr Quek adds: “Because of the club’s location by the beach, we don’t feel like we’re in Singapore when we’re here.” He and his family have stayed at the Club more than 10 times.
Civil Service Club @ Changi is among the poshest chalets in town, after a series of renovations. First opened in 1994, it closed in 2012 for extensive redevelopment and refurbishment works. Two years and a $33-million upgrade later, the club now features suites and two-storey villas.
The villas resemble stylish private houses built by designer architects, with clean, minimalist designs and lots of windows for natural light. An outdoor darkwood patio serves as the barbecue hang-out area. Housekeeping services, fresh linen and toiletries are also provided.
“We strive to be the equivalent of a hotel,” says the club’s manager Peter Chew, 37.
In recent years, chalet and resort operators here have been sprucing themselves up to compete for a slice of the local staycation pie and reach out to visitors, including tourists. Gone are the old chalets associated with rundown facilities, dirty toilets, hard beds and ancient barbecue pits. These days, four-poster beds, towel art, open showers and themed rooms are par for the course.
The NTUC Club’s D’Resort @ Downtown East officially opened to the public last July as part of a $200-million Refreshing Downtown East project. Previously, the resort had just two room types and 163 rooms. Now, it has nine room types and close to 400 rooms. Family rooms come with themes such as Jungle, Underwater and M&M’s. Yup, the chocolate snack. There are M&M’s plushies in a double-decker bed for children, M&M’s pillows on the double bed and M&M’s murals on the wall.
Other frills and perks include in-room towel art and balloons and chocolates for children which are handed out at check-in. Chalets and resorts have also boosted their facilities beyond barbecue pits, bowling alleys and karaoke rooms.
The Civil Service Club @ Changi has several pool types, including an infinity pool. The National Service Resort & Country Club in Changi also has three different types of swimming pools – an adult leisure pool, a children’s wading pool and a children’s play pool. To cater to families, some operators such as D’Resort offer complimentary activities such as temporary hand or face tattoos and balloon sculpting. Earlier this year, Punggol Ranch Resort opened an indoor children’s playground and a bunny park within its premises, where children can feed rabbits.
These upgrades mean a slightly heavier price tag for a night’s stay. For some of the chalets and resorts, a basic room can still be had for about $100. But in most cases, a basic room now costs about $200 and can go up to $600 and beyond for a suite or villa during peak periods.
Still, the improved chalets have drawn not only a home crowd, but also guests from abroad. D’Kranji Farm Resort, which is on online booking platforms, says 15 per cent of its clientele are overseas guests. Tourists from the Philippines and South Korea have stayed there. These travellers want to experience rustic Singapore, says Ms Veronica Gan, 55, from Sun & Earth – the company which manages the resort.
HomeTeamNS’ Sembawang Resort also has 15 per cent of its guests hailing from overseas. These are usually ex-marines, seamen and New Zealanders, as the site that the resort sits on used to be known as the Aggie Weston Sailors’ Rest – a recreation centre just outside the dockyard in Canberra Road where navy folk unwound. Later, the site was used as a club for the New Zealand Armed Forces.
“We want this to be a home away from home,” says the HomeTeamNS spokesman.
D’Kranji Farm Resort
10 Neo Tiew Lane 2
From $120 for a night’s stay in a standard villa to $690 for a family suite during peak season.
Book at www.dkranji.com.sg
D’Kranji Farm Resort is not a typical farm stay with basic rooms, where the focus is on an authentic, kampung-like experience. Instead, each of its 35 villas comes with comfortable beds and plump pillows. Some of the rooms also offer outdoor jacuzzis, saunas and open showers with greenery shielding guests from the public eye. The resort has private car porches for each villa, which make guests feel like they are driving into their own landed property.
While there are no chickens pecking about the premises, the resort has maintained a rustic vibe. Some of the attractions include ponds for prawning and a museum that showcases swiftlets, the species that produces the delicacy bird’s nest.
The resort also offers bicycles for rental, massage and spa services and farm tours and has several food and beverage outlets: a cafe, a seafood restaurant and a beer garden. This weekend, the resort is holding a farmers’ and artisan market, where visitors can buy produce from neighbouring farms. The market is held on the last weekend of each month until September.
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Civil Service Club @ Changi
2 Netheravon Road
During off-peak season, members pay $148 for a superior single bedroom suite and up to $466 for a premier, two-storey villa with three bedrooms and a seaview.
Book at www.cscchangi.sg
You do not have to head to the nearby Indonesian islands of Bintan or Bali to enjoy a seaside resort experience. The Civil Service Club @ Changi will give those places a run for their money. The club, which overlooks Changi Creek, re-opened with a refreshed image in 2014 following an extensive two-year refurbishment. The suites and villas are spacious, with floor-to-ceiling windows, large beds and woodgrain design tiles.
The club’s manager Peter Chew, 37, says they are almost 100 per cent occupied on weekends and about 60 per cent occupied on weekdays. The chalet also offers a range of facilities which includes an infinity pool, a 20-lane bowling centre and a bike gym. If guests want to venture beyond the club, they can eat their way through the many famous eateries at the nearby Changi Village. Pulau Ubin is also a short bumboat ride away.
D’Resort in Downtown East
1 Pasir Ris Close
From $118 for a basic room to about $350 for a suite.
Book at Go to www.dresort. com.sg
With nine different room types and a host of complimentary activities for children, families will be spoilt for choice at D’Resort in Downtown East. Opened since last July following a revamp, the resort now has close to 400 rooms comprising both family chalets and suites, which offer guests park, mangrove or beach views. The airy rooms feature artworks and the walls in the family rooms depict cheerful scenes from the jungle, ocean and of M&M’s cartoon characters. The family rooms also come with bunk beds, which are a hit with children.
The room rates for a night’s stay depend on the room category chosen, but prices begin at about $100 for a basic room.
Outdoor activities include art jamming, cycling around the nearby Pasir Ris Park and guided mangrove walks. By the end of the year, the water theme park on its premises, Wild Wild Wet, will be expanded to twice its current size. The resort is also rolling out guest excursions to kelongs and visitors will soon be able to try urban farming at the resort.
Punggol Ranch Resort
900 Punggol Road, Track 24
$190 on weekdays, $230 on weekends
Book by e-mailing enquiry@ punggolranch.com, or call 6690-0900
Punggol Ranch Resort wants to create a Wild, Wild West in Singapore – complete with horses and wagon-style chalets. The resort’s 29 rooms feature chairs with wagon wheel motifs and brass horse heads which adorn towel racks.
Most of the rooms come with a double bed and a single bed. Daily housekeeping and toiletries are provided, although breakfast is not.
The ranch is home to 40 horses and 20 ponies. Guests can take joyrides on them, or simply watch them graze. A stable tour where guests can get up close to the horses can also be arranged.
Since last year, the resort’s owners have spent about $500,000 to expand the resort’s offerings beyond horse-related activities. To attract more families with young children, there is now an indoor playground with swings, a slide and ball pit, an art-and-craft room and a bunny park where children can feed and interact with rabbits. Older children can try their hand at archery or rent bicycles to cycle to the nearby Punggol Beach and Coney Island.
By next month, the resort will unveil new food and beverage options. There will be Western cuisine, an ice-cream stall and a beer garden. Halal eateries will serve Singapore delights such as mee siam and mee rebus. These eateries will be open to the public, as are the resort’s facilities.
Mrs Mani Shanker, 50, who is one of the resort’s owners, says: “With our unique offerings, we hope guests will feel they are away from Singapore even though they are in Singapore.”