26 Jul
2004

Ascott Opens Somerset Bencoolen Amid Strong Demand For Serviced Apartments

Singapore, July 26, 2004 - The Ascott Group, a leading international serviced residence operator, has soft-opened the 107-unit Somerset Bencoolen in Singapore’s CBD amid strong demand for serviced apartments.

Somerset Bencoolen is located in an area being rejuvenated as Singapore’s new arts and education district. It is 10 minutes’ walk to the City Hall or Dhoby Ghaut MRT station, near theatres, art schools, museums, a university and shopping malls, and minutes’ drive to the Raffles Place financial district.

Ascott’s chairman, Mr Lim Chin Beng, said: "Somerset Bencoolen represents Ascott’s new prototype for its Somerset brand, which is a market leader in Asia Pacific. The property’s innovative features reflect Ascott’s experiences in operating serviced residences in 39 cities."

He added that Ascott’s launch of its sixth residence in Singapore is exactly 20 years after it opened its first serviced residence, the 153-unit The Ascott Singapore at Scotts Road in 1984.

The then novel property, which combined the services of a hotel with the space and privacy of a home, proved popular with expatriate executives and Ascott replicated it to open The Ascott Mayfair in London and other such residences in Asia. Today, Ascott has grown into a leading international serviced residence company with 13,800 apartments in 115 properties in 39 cities.

Ascott’s deputy chairman, and president and CEO of its parent company CapitaLand Limited, Mr Liew Mun Leong, said: "Ascott’s opening of Somerset Bencoolen is timely. Singapore’s estimated GDP growth of over nine per cent in the first half of the year is reflected in the buoyant serviced residence market. Somerset Bencoolen has achieved over 90 per cent occupancy, just weeks after its soft opening. Our five other serviced residences are also performing very strongly.

"With Singapore ranked as a preferred destination for MNC postings and a key regional financial centre, we expect the country to attract more foreign investments and higher expatriate arrivals, which are revenue drivers for the serviced residence business."

Regional Hub
Mr Eugene Lai, Ascott’s chief executive officer, said: "Singapore continues to be an important hub for the region’s serviced residence business. The improving global outlook and multinational firms’ stepping up business activity in Asia have also lifted occupancies at our properties in the region."

He added, Ascott’s managing Somerset Bencoolen is in line with its strategy to increase its fee-based income. The group will expand its portfolio of residences through a mix of management contracts, equity participation and leases.

Somerset Bencoolen
Mr Lai said that Somerset Bencoolen represents Ascott’s new generation of residences where space has been re-conceptualised to maximise living areas for the guest, and flexible space for the operator. Sound-proof sliding walls mean two-bedroom apartments can be immediately converted into one-bedroom apartments when required.

Fittings can be customised to guests’ lifestyles – kitchens for instance, can be transformed into breakfast counters. Dining tables can be turned into smaller writing desks, private balconies can be used as barbecue terraces, and televisions can be swiveled for viewing from the living room or bedroom.

Facilities such as the rooftop swimming pool and lounge are designed to be attractive focal points for programmes that help guests network, integrate with the local lifestyle, and enjoy family recreation.

The lounge with clear panels flow into a landscaped sky-garden, an ideal setting for barbecue parties under the stars or group yoga at sunrise. The rooftop swimming pool with glass parapets at the roof edge provides stunning views of the city and open sky. A dip in the roof-edge jacuzzi gives guests the experience of floating in "pools in the sky".

Vibrant Architecture
Somerset Bencoolen’s modern architecture and vibrant colours reflect the mood of the art district. At the entrance courtyard, flowing fountains and colourful mosaic tiles convey cool tranquility.

At the lobby, fibre-optic lights embedded in the marble floor and water features create a chic ambiance. Back projection screens transform frosted glass panels at the front desk into fluid zones of colour.

Each of the 107 one to three-bedroom suites has broadband Internet access, a fully equipped kitchen and quality home entertainment system. For children, the residence has a marine themed children’s swimming pool and spacious playground.

Ascott’s other residences in Singapore include The Ascott Singapore; 144-unit Somerset Grand Cairnhill, 72-unit Somerset Compass and 88-unit Somerset Orchard in the Orchard area; and 193-unit Somerset Liang Court at River Valley Road.

Global Serviced Residence Operator
Last month, in line with its goal to be a leading global serviced residence company, Ascott acquired the remaining 50 per cent interest in the Citadines European serviced residence chain for Euro 74.3 million (S$154.2 million).

Ascott said that with full ownership of Citadines, the group will be able to fully integrate the European chain with the rest of its operations to achieve greater economies of scale. Ascott targets to have 22,500 serviced apartments by 2008, from its current 13,800 units.

In June, Ascott announced that it had entered into a sale and purchase agreement to divest Scotts Shopping Centre and The Ascott Singapore serviced residence for an estimated gain of S$29.5 million. It also divested its stake in Somerset Lake Point serviced residence in Thailand for an estimated gain of S$4.2 million. The group will continue to manage the properties.

Ascott said that the divestments are part of its strategy to refine its asset structure and increase its fee-based income. The sale proceeds will be reinvested to grow its serviced residence business and entrench Ascott’s position as a market leader in Asia Pacific and Europe.

The opening of Somerset Bencoolen is not expected to have material impact on the group’s financial results for the current financial year.

 



The Ascott Group is a leading international serviced residence company with 13,800 serviced residence units in the key cities of Europe and Asia Pacific.

Ascott's global presence spans 39 cities in 16 countries. These include London, Paris, Brussels, Berlin and Barcelona in Europe; Singapore, Bangkok, Hanoi, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing in Asia; Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland in Australia and New Zealand; and Dubai in the Gulf region.

Through its marketing alliance with Equity Corporate Housing, the group also offers upper-tier serviced apartments throughout the US. Headquartered in Singapore, The Ascott Group pioneered the Asia Pacific’s first branded luxury serviced residence in 1984. Today, it boasts a 20-year industry track record and serviced residence brands that enjoy recognition worldwide.

The group’s flagship The Ascott luxury serviced residence brand projects an elegant lifestyle appealing to top executives. Its Somerset upper-tier brand offers stylish, contemporary living for senior to upper management executives. The mid-tier Oakford brand in Australia and Citadines brand in Europe provide corporate executives with comfortable city residences.

Recent awards the group has clinched include the Number One position in the 2004 China’s Top 100 Serviced Residences ranking for its eight properties in China, 2004 Best Service in Serviced Apartments awards in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and Best Annual Report and Best Operating and Financial Review awards at Singapore’s 2004 Annual Report Awards.

Listed on the mainboard of the Singapore Exchange, Ascott is the serviced residence arm of CapitaLand Limited, one of Asia’s largest listed property companies. Headquartered in Singapore, CapitaLand’s core businesses in property, hospitality, property services and real estate financial services are focused in gateway cities in Asia, Australia and Europe. The company's hospitality businesses in hotels and serviced residences span more than 60 cities around the world.

For reservations on Ascott properties, call Central Reservations on (65) 6272-7272 or visit www.the-ascott.com.

 



About Ascott’s Other Serviced Residences In Singapore

The Ascott Singapore – 153 units, Scotts Road
Located above Scotts Shopping Centre in the prime Orchard Road belt, the luxury-tier residence is near Orchard MRT station. Facilities include a swimming pool, gym, business centre and residents’ lounge. The studio suites to split-level penthouses feature elegant interiors with broadband Internet access.

Somerset Compass – 72 units, Mount Elizabeth Link
The residence is near major shopping centres and entertainment spots in Orchard Road. Facilities include a gym, children’s playground, outdoor pool, jacuzzi and residents’ lounge. Each of the one to five-bedroom suites has broadband Internet access, a fully-equipped kitchen and home entertainment system.

Somerset Grand Cairnhill – 144 units, Cairnhill Road
The residence is a short walk from prime Orchard Road. Facilities include a garden terrace with swimming pool and children’s playground, gym and residents’ lounge. The studio to three-bedroom suites feature contemporary decor, broadband Internet access, fully equipped kitchens and home entertainment systems.

Somerset Liang Court – 193 units, River Valley Road
Located above Liang Court shopping centre, the residence is near the Clarke Quay and Boat Quay dining areas and the Raffles Place financial district. Facilities include a fitness centre, sauna, steam rooms, indoor jacuzzi and residents’ lounge. Units range from one to three-bedroom suites with broadband Internet access.

Somerset Orchard – 88 units, Orchard Road
The residence is in the heart of the bustling Orchard Road shopping and entertainment district. Facilities include a children’s playground, barbecue area, fitness centre and residents’ lounge. The studio to three-bedroom suites feature broadband Internet access, fully-equipped kitchens and home entertainment systems.

Ida Lim, VP, Investor Relations & Corporate Communications
Tel: (65) 6586 7230 Hp: (65) 9628 8339 Email: ida.lim@the-ascott.com

Betsy Tan, Executive
Tel: (65) 6586 7234 Hp: (65) 9641 6920 Email: betsy.tan@the-ascott.com