This article was first published on 18 December 2020 and has been updated with the latest information on the opening of Connect@Changi business travel facility on 18 February 2021.
After initially delaying the opening of Connect@Changi, Singapore has now opened its borders to business travellers from all countries under a new quarantine-free segregated travel lane called Connect@Singapore. According to the Connect@Changi website, bookings are only available from 8 March 2020.
This segregated travel lane is aimed at a limited number of businesses, official and high economic value travellers from all countries, and will aid in the broader goal of progressively opening Singapore’s borders, boosting the aviation as well as MICE and hospitality industry, and spurring wider business activities. It will also be complementary to other travel lane arrangements we already have in place.
All travellers are required to stay in a “bubble” at dedicated facilities. The first of such facility to be announced is Connect@Changi, set to open to business travellers on 8 March. This will put Singapore on the map as the world’s first business travel exchange for travellers conducting business with Singapore or to use as a trusted meeting location with business travellers from the region.
The pilot short-stay facility will be located at Singapore Expo Hall 7 – a 5-minute drive from Changi Airport – and is specially designed for Singapore and international travellers to conduct business meetings and engagements in a safe and contained environment. The facility will offer an integrated ‘test-stay-work-meet’ experience, complementing Singapore’s SafeTravel programme.
At the opening, Connect@Changi will have 150 guest rooms and 40 meeting rooms. A quick check at the website showed that prices for room bookings on 8 March starts from $410.88 a day to $462.24 – depending on the type of room travellers choose. Bookings have to be for a minimum of 24 hours, and subsequently, can be booked on an hourly basis.
When fully constructed later in 2021, Connect@Changi will have than 1,300 guest rooms and about 340 meeting rooms.
Here are 5 things you need to know about Connect@Changi facility before booking a business flight to Singapore.
#1 COVID-19 Testing Procedures Are Included
Guest travellers arriving in Singapore under the new segregated travel lane are required to undergo a rigorous COVID-19 testing regime. Besides presenting a valid negative COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test prior to leaving their home country, business travellers to Singapore must undergo another PCR test on arrival, as well as Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) on days 3, 5, 7, and 11, of their stay.
The cost of the on-arrival PCR test is not included in the room rates. The cost of testing procedures that are conducted at the Changi@Connect facility, as well as prior to departing the facility for their home countries, are covered in the room rates.
#2 Visitors Will Be Transported To And From Airport And Kept Separated
Business travellers arriving under the Connect@Singapore initiative will be transported to the hotel facility in batches according to the flights they arrive on. They will also be separated and admitted into the facility with minimal contact, as most of the registration and administrative work will be done before they arrive.
This is to reduce contact with staff at the registration desk. Even the entrances, exits and ventilation systems for both guests and Singapore-based visitors are separated.
Facilities for checking in and out will be separated too. From the moment travellers arrive in Singapore and clear immigration, they will be kept segregated from the public as well as within their pre-declared travel group of up to 5 travellers. They will also not be allowed to mingle with other travellers.
Those staying at the Connect@Changi facility will not be allowed to leave the facility to visit other parts of Singapore.
#3 Facility Is Designed For Safe Meetings In Self-Service Rooms
Guests can meet their local counterparts or other guests from the region safely in specially designed meeting rooms outfitted with air-tight glass panels, reducing the risk of transmission. Both parties will have separate entrances, and be able to exchange documents through transfer boxes fitted with ultraviolet lighting for disinfecting.
Each room is fully equipped with high-speed internet access and audio-visual equipment.
These meeting rooms are meant to be self-serviced to minimise contact with local staff, and can sit up to 22 people. Smaller meeting rooms for 4 to 8 people are also available for in-house guests only.
In addition, meals will be delivered to pre-installed shelves located outside guest rooms, and guests can also opt for additional F&B options via vending machines and delivery services. Coffee is provided by a self-service Starbucks kiosk.
Meeting room rates are charged separately.
#4 Four-Star Accommodation With Amenities
Hospitality group The Ascott Limited is part of the consortium behind Connect@Changi – the world’s first business travel exchange – so expect your visitors’ stay to be as comfortable as possible. Besides Ascott, the Singapore consortium is Temasek-led and includes Changi Airport Group, Sheares Healthcare Group, SingEx and Surbana Jurong.
Room rates start from about S$390 per night for an Executive room and S$430 per night for a Premier room for a three-day stay. This includes the cost of testing, three meals per day, and transfers from and to the airport.
Within the facility are indoor courtyards for a relaxing environment and 24-hour contactless GymPods that are available for booking via a mobile app. Reception is open 24 hours although e-concierge services for food and shopping are available via mobile app.
Travellers can stay at Connect@Changi with ease of mind as all rooms will be cleaned and disinfected in accordance to the guidelines set out by the Singapore Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environmental Agency (NEA).
#5 There May Be Other Facilities Like Connect@Changi
Connect@Changi is currently a pilot project but the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) has said it plans to appoint additional facilities in the next few weeks.
The ministry is also inviting other service providers to submit their proposals if they are interested in participating in the Connect@Singapore initiative. Proposals should be submitted to the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) by 31 December 2020.
(Additional reporting by Dinesh Dayani)
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