6 Things The Singaporean In Me Loves About Japan

Scoot Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Pretty cabin lights during my Scoot flight to Osaka :)

I’ve been to Japan twice this year, revisiting cities I love: Osaka, Tokyo, Kobe, etc. In this blogpost, I’d like to share with you the reasons why I have no trouble at all with visiting Japan twice in almost consecutive months. But first, like all true-blue Singaporeans, let me point out one complaint I have on the Scoot flights to Japan. :D In case you are wondering, no, it’s not the wonderful cabin lights (those are beautiful). It’s actually got to do with the seats and the Call-An-Attendant button…

Scoot Boeing 787 Dreamliner seat

Scoot went all out in announcing its new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners, and flights to Osaka, and I had high hopes for the airline. As it turned out, even before the plane took off from Changi Airport, the cabin crew had to come round and tell us (and a couple of other passengers) that we had accidentally pressed the Call-An-Attendant button. It’s impossible not to hit the button by accident if you use the armrest. I don’t know which genius designed these seats… but seriously… it must be pissing off a lot of flight crew because they cannot ignore those signals when they light up, but 99% of the time, passengers had pressed them by mistake. (@_@)

And now… on to the GOOD stuff, a.k.a what I go to Japan for :D

(1) Melt-in-your-mouth Kobe Beef

Steak land Kobe Beef

We don’t really get such yummy beef in Singapore, unless you are ok with it costing an arm and a leg. But Steak Land in Kobe is pretty popular among tourists and locals alike. You can choose your preferred beef grade and enjoy it for lunch or dinner.

I’ve been to the same outlet twice and observed that the standards differ. One young chef cooked us really tasty beef but another older one gave us slightly tougher beef in meatier chunks.

So, if you happen to be served by the right chef (teppanyaki style), you can look to the heavens and say, like one happy Minister, HENG AH! :D

I’m no food blogger, so the way I’ll describe the beef is to compare it to marshmallows. The texture is just so soft! Make sure you head to Kobe and try Kobe beef even if you only have plans to visit Osaka, Kyoto, etc, as it’s pretty close by train.

(2) Japanese Curry Rice

Best Curry in Osaka

beef curry rice

I love the beef in Japan, but I love their curry too. And beef + curry is a match made in heaven. And at places where you can order an additional topping of an onsen egg, my goodness, you stop chatting with your dining companion because the food DEMANDS all of your attention. :D

Japanese food is simply put… worth getting fat for. And I’m really thankful that budget airlines are flying to Japan because I really do need to head over again just for oishii meals!

(3) Queuing For Japanese Cheesecake

Japanese cheesecake

Like all astute Singaporeans, we know that something must be good if there is a queue for it. And even if we don’t know what people are queuing up for, it is ok, just join the queue first and find out later…

It was exactly what happened one sunny, summer morning in Osaka. A long line of elderly men and women were queuing up outside a store which sells tidbits. We didn’t know what they were queuing up for, but we joined the line anyway and waited for our turn in the sweltering heat. After sweating for a good ten minutes perhaps, we got to the front and chose 3 packs of snacks (there was a limit of 3 packets per person) and continued queuing in line in order to make payment. Apparently there was some promotion going on that day. And if SO MANY old folks queued up for this snack, it must taste heavenly, right?


It was crunchy, no doubt. But rather tasteless and a waste of time to queue for.

Japanese cheesecake, however, is AMAZING! If you have the chance to eat a slice of cake in store when it’s fresh out of the oven and warm, you won’t forget that taste. Some have raisins in them too. SO GOOD…

(4) Plush Toys From UFO Machines

Little Twin Stars plush

I got this Little Twin Stars unicorn from one of the UFO machines. Probably spent less than S$10 to get this plush. Japanese UFO catcher machines are all programmed in such a way that it’s near impossible to get the toy without spending, say, S$40 or more.

I’m not going to give away the secret here, though. :D

About 2 years ago, he and I brought back a HUGE bag full of plushies. This year, we stopped at one. Hehehe!

(5) Brands + Huge Discounts

Adidas running shoes

I’d bought this pair at a sporting goods fair in Singapore before heading to Japan, and thought I’d bagged a good bargain. Turns out it’s even cheaper in Japan! (@_@)

Many Singaporeans THINK that everything in Japan is expensive. But this pair is about S$50 after the conversion. :D Also, if you’re a Daiso fan, Daiso items are sold at 108 yen (about S$1.20) so that’s way cheaper than in Daiso stores in Singapore. Also, there are Hello Kitty Daiso items you can only get in Japan, and not in Singapore. :D Getting an authentic Hello Kitty item for just S$1.20 is UNBELIEVABLE. Check out some of the kitty items I got here.

(6) Spacious and Comfy Hotel Rooms

Osaka Floral Inn Namba

Another misconception that some Singaporeans have about Japan is that the hotel rooms are TINY. This room is in Osaka Floral Inn Namba, and this picture does not do it justice because the “walkway” (space beside the bed) is pretty long and if you need to lay out 5 open suitcases, you can.


On my most recent trip to Japan, we had our wifi devices sponsored by Ninja Wifi and it is amazing! We had undisrupted wifi throughout and did not have to struggle to connect to some hotels’ lousy wifi networks.

If you’re traveling to Japan and love being connected while you’re at it, then make sure you book a device early and pick it up at the airport…

Ninja Wifi

Easy pickup at the Arrival Hall…

Global Wifi Kansai International Airport

Park Hotel Alexandra: Crystal Club Lounge

Park Hotel Alexandra Crystal Club Lounge

I’ve had a most enjoyable stay in Park Hotel Alexandra’s Crystal Club room (click on the link to check out my review) and the Crystal Club Lounge is part of the experience. Located on the 19th floor as well, the lounge offers a quiet setting and great views. I love that there are only a few people at the lounge each time I visit. :D

Park Hotel Alexandra Crystal Club Lounge

Park Hotel Alexandra’s Crystal Club Lounge has a panoramic view that I think you’ll love too. So go check it out if you get the chance. :) And complementary hors d’oeuvres are served at the lounge from 530pm to 730pm* while light refreshments and non-alcoholic drinks are available throughout the day.

*During those 2 hours in the evening, you can drink your fill of the alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and nibble on some of the fruit, cheese and cake. I’d recommend couples to book a staycation in a Crystal Club room and enjoy these perks. I sure had a great time chatting with him over drinks. Too often, we are consumed by work and don’t spend quality time together just chatting with each other over drinks and taking in a scenic view at the same time. :D

Park Hotel Alexandra Crystal Club Lounge

Park Hotel Alexandra staff have impressed me during this visit:

  1. I wanted to head downstairs to the lobby to meet Feby from Febspantry as she’d some cupcakes for me. Alan exited from one of the lifts and I stepped right in, but alas, the elevator was heading upwards instead. And Alan waited for the next lift with me and even apologized for not reacting fast enough in helping me to stop the previous lift (totally not his fault). :D
  2. Sabrina did a great job in the morning, chatting with guests as they waited for an available table for breakfast. *Tip: Head downstairs for breakfast (at The Carvery) EARLY if you don’t want to end up queuing.
  3. Eileen was the only one attending to all the Crystal Club guests during the evening when we had our (free) drinks. When I was eating the coleslaw, she came over with a fresh tray of lemon meringue tarts and offered to replace the one I had taken – she said they taste better when cold.

Park Hotel Alexandra Crystal Club Lounge

After which, she made sure to come by our table, address us by our last names, and ensured that all was well. She also offered me Bailey’s and gin & tonic, and even brought us a bowl of cashew nuts because it seemed like we were happy with our drinks and weren’t going for more food. :D

Free drinks, good service and a great view. What more can one ask for?

Park Hotel Alexandra Crystal Club Lounge


As for breakfast, it was not at the Crystal Club Lounge during my stay. We headed downstairs for breakfast with all the other hotel guests, at The Carvery. *Breakfast at the Club Lounge (for Club guests) will commence in September 2015.

Park Hotel Alexandra Buffet Breakfast

As with most hotels, there’s an omelette station which serves decent omelettes. The siu mai and pau are pretty good too! But I love the pastries the most! I actually neglected to take a picture of the pastries because I was happily enjoying them! :D

We had a workout session at the gym and also a swim in the hotel’s infinity pool before breakfast, and we were famished. Thankfully, the food did not disappoint. Some angmoh ladies sat at the table next to ours and even they were impressed by the breakfast options.

The infinity pool in front of the restaurant…

Park Hotel Alexandra infinity pool

This staycation was one of the most memorable ones we’ve had (that’s not us in the picture by the way). I’d love to head back here again soon. :) A swim in that pool first thing in the morning is pretty invigorating. You can admire the surroundings without being in a pool that’s too crowded. ;)

Park Hotel Alexandra – My Crystal Club Room Review :)

What I love most about Park Hotel Alexandra has to be its superb location. If you’re a foodie, you won’t have to venture far for good food. Within the hotel itself is The Carvery on level 7, IKEA is just next door (Swedish meatballs, anyone?), Anchorpoint and Alexandra Food Centre are just across the road, and there are a number of old-school bakeries nearby.

Also, to get your sporting goods, Queensway Shopping Centre is across the road as well. If you didn’t bring your gym gear, just head over to Queensway Shopping Centre to get a set then pop back into the hotel’s gym:

Brand-new gym that you’ll love… It’s next to the pool too. Great views!

Park Hotel Alexandra gym

*Here’s a tip for you: Queensway Shopping Centre is a place many of us locals go to for sportswear as there are so many stores there selling everything from Nalgene bottles to football jerseys and running shoes. However, there is a store at the (often-overlooked) basement that has a signboard stating ‘Queensway Sports Warehouse Sale’. The prices here are likely the lowest in the entire complex. :) I’ve bought 2 pairs of Nike shoes here on our previous visit. And he couldn’t resist either…

Queensway Shopping Centre

His Nike purchase (S$79) from this warehouse sale, and from Pedro (S$57) at Anchorpoint:

Queensway Shopping Centre and Anchorpoint

*And oh, when you’re at Queensway Shopping Centre, you can try the laksa which is supposed to be linked to the famous Katong Laksa? We had that for supper *oops*


Park Hotel Alexandra opened its doors to guests in June 2015, has 442 guestrooms and suites, and is “designed in natural woods, earthy shades and prints that embrace the botanical theme and provide a relaxed and tranquil atmosphere for guests”. I have to agree. I felt right at home here. The only downside of being so new is that it can get a bit difficult to lock/unlock the door.

There are 6 room types: Superior, Deluxe, Premier, Crystal Club, Executive Suite and Park Suite. I stayed in a Crystal Club room and I must say I love the view from the 19th floor! My room (1923) overlooks the hotel pool too! :D

 Park Hotel Alexandra crystal club room

The toilet features a standing shower with a rainshower, and comes stocked with amenities any business or leisure traveler will require.

Park Hotel Alexandra toilet

Park Hotel Alexandra toiletries

For your reading pleasure, there’s a copy of The Straits Times, TIME and Fortune magazines within the room too. The cupcakes were sent to me by Febspantry. :D

Park Hotel Alexandra

Why stay in a Crystal Club room? You get to enjoy perks like late check-out at 3pm, light refreshments and non-alcoholic beverages at the Club Lounge throughout the day (very useful if you have work to catch up on), complimentary use of the club meeting room (one hour per stay), 20% off dining at The Carvery, personalized check-out, etc.

The Coffee Belt at the hotel’s lobby offers barista coffee and artisan teas, together with gourmet wraps and homemade pastries. I haven’t tried them since the F&B at the Crystal Club Lounge is complimentary :DPark Hotel Alexandra The Coffee Belt

~ Soft-launch Promotion ~

Stay a minimum of 2 nights and enjoy 30% off Deluxe rooms, plus 20% off F&B offerings for in-house guests at The Carvery and Aqua Luna. Valid till 31 August 2015. Book via http://www.parkhotelgroup.com/alexandra

What To Do In Penang (Georgetown)

It’s my second day in Penang and I already am dreaming of staying put in Georgetown and not returning to Singapore. :D If you have been following me on Facebook, you’ll know that I had a blog coaching session here yesterday AND I also found my ‘Blogging For A Living’ books being sold in a Popular bookstore in Penang! :D

So… this might be my retirement town in future. LOL! And here’s what you should do when you come to Penang, and in particular, Georgetown:

1) Eat a lot of good food








My boyfriend and I have been here for approximately one-and-a-half days and this is not all of what we have eaten, just a portion. :D I really do love Penang’s assam laksa, hokkien mee, char kway teow, and basically, all their street food!

And the food here is unbelievably cheaper than in Singapore. Would you say no to a plate of yummy char kway teow that costs less than S$1.70? You just can’t.

2) Snap pictures of (or with) the street art





I definitely have more street art pictures to share with you… in my next blogpost.

The pink sling bag in the first picture is from Maku Store (20% off) at Bugis Junction #03-20. The T-rex tote bag is from Tee Saurus (www.tee-saurus.com) and so is the tee I am wearing! :D Shorts and flip flops from Aeropostale.

Maku Store Singapore

3) Forget about hotels and stay at Carnarvon House

I fell in love with this place from pictures online. Though the rooms don’t come with attached bathrooms, everything is so clean that I feel right at home here.





The first room we stayed in is called the Carnarvon room, and the second, Kimberley room. There’s cold air-conditioning inside and warm showers outside; I cannot ask for more.

The people who run Carnarvon House are also extremely friendly and very generous with recommendations of what to eat and where to go.

(More pictures in my upcoming blogpost)

4) Visit a wet market and the Clan Jetties

It is quite an experience, I tell you! You don’t usually see an array of fish on display right at your feet, ya? Look out for the bloated brown one in the second picture…



Besides seafood, you’ll find household items, vegetables, fruit, snacks, accessories, etc, all sold in the market! :)


I was initially reluctant to head to the Clan Jetties. But Eunice from Carnarvon House had recommended the jetties to us so we walked there from Carnarvon House. Probably a 12 or 15 minute walk. The Chew Jetty is more ‘happening’ than the Tan Jetty. Chew had more stalls selling souvenirs, etc. And I bought some for a giveaway (at the end of this blogpost).

The clan jetties were built by clansmen in the past and traditionally occupied by people of the same surname e.g. Ong Jetty, Lim Jetty, Lee Jetty, etc. You see?! I am destined to stay here at the Tan Jetty. Lol.

5) Buy my book at a Popular bookstore near you :D


6) Go shopping in the many malls; and share your loot with people at home



We obviously did some serious shopping. And I could continue replying to emails, whatsapp messages and also posting on Facebook while we were out because of the Global Wifi device I got from the Changi Recommends counter (available at all terminals in Changi Airport). Check out http://www.rentglobalwifi.com if you are like me and dislike having to purchase new SIM cards in your destination country and going through all the hassle of switching SIM cards.

With this wifi device, I just switch it on, then connect my handphone via wifi to have internet access. Super convenient. More about this device and current promotions in an upcoming post. It is late and I have to sleep now. ;)

But here’s a giveaway that will start on Tues (27 Jan) at 10am:


Just head to my facebook page (www.facebook.com/thegracetan) when the giveaway begins. :)

Learning Journey: HOST-ing at Grand Park City Hall

I managed to tick off one of the items on my bucket list: Work in F&B! I was invited to Grand Park City Hall (a 5-star hotel), given staff uniforms, and within 3 hours, I had the opportunity of working in F&B, housekeeping, and making a cameo at Reception as a HOST. :D

The hotel has a HOST program in which staff are trained to work in these 3 roles and get significantly higher pay than the other staff who are trained and work only in 1 role.

HOSTs get a fast track up the Progressive Wage Model, NOT by working longer hours, but by working smarter, being more productive and having more skills to contribute to various departments which are facing backlogs

They are empowered to earn more than the minimum salary per job title and they can ‘climb’ up the career ladder based on their capabilities and effort.

progressive wage model


The HOST program re-designs traditional roles to enhance employee skills and workforce flexibility through multi-skilling. So during peak periods, the HOST is fluid and skilled enough to be transferred to other sections which may be short of staff. This helps Park Hotel manage the manpower shortage faced in the hospitality industry.

I left the hotel with newfound respect for hotel staff after that learning journey.

Grand Park City Hall

I entered the hotel in my sparkly gold dress and Hello Kitty shoes, and had to change into black uniforms for each role. HR also found me some black covered shoes. I was even given a nametag; which signaled that things were getting serious.

First up, my stint in the F&B department…

1) F&B

Thankfully, there were no actual customers at that time as lunch hour had passed. So it was just a role-play. I had two pretend customers, and all they ordered was juice.

Grand Park City Hall

As luck would have it, the kitchen had a sudden flood of orders from hotel guests who wanted food sent up to them. So the juice for these two customers took an exceedingly long time to be prepared.

I eventually spotted the lady casting anxious yet amused glances in my direction.

What I learnt:

1) Don’t offer freebies – I was more than happy to offer my guests some dessert to make up for the long wait. I must have truly felt at home. LOL.

2) Let a supervisor / manager appease angry guests – If guests are really upset, let a manager handle the situation. Usually, in the face of ‘authority’, guests are easily appeased.

3) Repeat the order before walking away from the table.

*Guess what, after this learning journey, I found myself at Xin Wang Hongkong Cafe at Plaza Singapura around 5.45pm on a weekday when there weren’t many diners yet. Our order was taken by a lady who looked like a manager, because of the outfit she was wearing. I took the trouble of repeating the order for our table of three for her. And she still managed to get it wrong, and sent us an item we didn’t order. *facepalm* On top of that, our food took really long to be served, considering there were few customers at that time, and we were nearly late for our movie. Ordinarily, I would not have hesitated about sending feedback to the company. But this time, I let it slide. It truly is tough working in F&B. On top of being on your feet all the time, you have to be careful not to spill anything or drop and break anything. Customers tend to be hungry and grouchy and if you get their orders wrong, some might give you a tongue-lashing.

Having experienced the shortest of stints in F&B, I thank staff sincerely when my food is served, and not just for demonstrating good manners. I thank those who bring me to a table, and especially those who serve the food and drink. As wait staff, it’s definitely encouraging to be appreciated by those you are serving. So, complain less, praise more, and be a better customer, ok? :D

2) Housekeeping

I was truly privileged to be taught by Jun Jie, who loves his work!

First you have to load up the heavy trolley with fresh bedlinen and all, then roll the trolley out to the rooms. In the room, you have to strip the bed, and then give it fresh bedlinen as if you have OCD (the lines on the duvet cover have to be parallel to the sides of the bed, everything must look straight and crisp, etc).

And the pillows must be placed in such a fashion that the openings on the pillowcases must be facing each other (in the center of the bed) and not outwards. And don’t even get me started on the bedsheet – at the four corners of the bed, it must be folded and tucked it precisely, with that nice straight line at the corner:

At least Park Hotel has installed an Ezy-maid system under the mattress which makes a house-keeper’s work easier, smarter and safer. The Ezy-maid helps to lift the heavy mattress up, so your hands are free to tuck the covers in properly.

Grand Park City Hall

Grand Park City Hall

And, of course, the bathroom…

On top of replenishing the toiletries, and cleaning the toilet bowl, bath tub, etc, room attendants have to leave the bathroom DRY. What this means is you wipe down everything.

I was happy to let the bath tub dry on its own after giving it a scrub-down, but nooooo… I had to dry it with a towel so there’ll be no water stains after.

Grand Park City Hall

What I learnt:

1) Details, details, details! Some guests are extremely particular about how the room looks, so every corner of the bedsheet must be tucked it neatly, the bathroom must be dry, and there must not be any funky smells in the room!

2) Don’t wait around for things to happen. While the Ezy-Maid system is automatically raising the bed to a more back-friendly level, do something else, like removing pillowcases, etc.

3) Work smart – make sure your trolley has all the correct bedlinen you require. If you have to rush back to the pantry to retrieve a missing bedsheet, you are definitely not going to turn around this room in good time.

I felt so tired after ‘refreshing’ this room (I didn’t have the chance to vacuum the carpet because we were running short of time) that I told everyone present I will not mess up hotel beds anymore. I’ll probably just sleep on the cover from now on. It’s so much work for room attendants, who are also assessed based on time taken to refresh a room!

3) Front Desk

Grand Park City Hall

I didn’t get to do much at front desk besides listening to a quick introduction of their duties. When the phone rang, I didn’t dare to answer it as who knows what the guest on the other end of the line could want, right? I let the professionals do the job. :D

*pose for a photo*

Grand Park City Hall

It’s not easy working at Reception either. A lady walked up to us with a huge frown on her face, and asked to call one of the rooms. It seems that her friend was late for an appointment with her, and she could not get in touch with the person.

I was told that people who walk up to the counter to request to phone a particular guest must have their particulars verified or recorded, because guests should not be disturbed unnecessarily, especially if this guest in question is a celebrity.


Lots of thanks to the patient and ever-smiley Jun Jie for showing me the ropes, and Amrit for teaching me how to be a good HOST :)

Grand Park City Hall

Do fill out a compliment card for these two the next time you visit Grand Park City Hall. It’ll help tremendously in their careers! :) And don’t be surprised too if you find that the front desk staff who assisted with your check-in yesterday, is the one serving you in the restaurant today, and cleaning your room after you leave the hotel tomorrow! You may have just met a multi-skilled HOST! :D

Let the HOST team share more with you in the video below:

Lunch at Mezza9 – Grand Hyatt Singapore


I had lunch today at Mezza9 at Grand Hyatt – it was my first time having a meal there, apart from the time I attended Stella’s wedding there. Stella is the mom of my twin godsons. Gee, I feel old now.

Anyhow, I googled ‘Mezza9’ while on the road (I wasn’t the one driving) and got my hopes up at the mention of “Mezza9 at HYATT – The Award-Winning Restaurant & Bar”.


And you know what people say about how the higher your expectations are, the greater the disappointment?

I ordered the lobster set in the picture above. It costs S$54++.

The seaweed soup was close to tasting bland. The chili lobster wasn’t spicy at all and the “chinese white noodles” it was sitting on were laksa(?) noodles and not quite exciting either. The steamed prawn dumplings were good but not extraordinary like what I would expect from an award-winning restaurant. Haha! And as for ice cream? The two tiniest scoops of chocolate ice cream I have ever seen. It was like ice cream in ‘bite size’.

I think the Thai fish cakes and spring roll appetizers, ordered by those who picked the lunch sets, were good.

The wagyu burger was served with a burnt patty so… there is no need for any other comment. :P

For about 20 dollars more, the dinner buffet at Marriott Hotel would be more enjoyable and better value for money. :D

Still, the company I had for lunch was great! The rush to get there after zumba class was worth it. :)

Review: Boss Suites Nana Hotel – Bangkok


The hotel looks great in pictures online but it’s actually not that awesome. The bed is huge but hard. And shower facilities are old.


The hotel is pretty far from the BTS station. So they provide a free “tuk tuk” service to Nana BTS station. There’s no particular schedule to this. You can get a ride any time when you are leaving the hotel in the morning, but on the way back, there is no way of knowing when you can hitch a ride back. So we walk.

Grand Sukhumvit is much nearer to the BTS station. Boss Suites is another 10 – 15 minute walk from GS.

The massages here aren’t more expensive than outside the hotel though. So that’s good. 300baht for an hour of foot massage is just what I need after a long day of shopping. Great that I can just head back to the hotel room and wash that massage cream off immediately.


We must have unknowingly booked a hotel in the ‘red light district’. At night, one cannot help but come across streetwalkers at every corner. Others work in pubs and wear the skankiest of outfits while they stand at the door and beckon to passerbys. If you’re a guy in search of nocturnal adventures, you’ll be very happy in Bangkok.


Also, there are mothers (some very young) begging at street corners and on bridges while carrying their infants. It is a sight I don’t see in SG but it is pretty common in BKK. I have so many questions: Where’s the kid’s dad? Why do you have to beg for a living? Why don’t you get a job or start a stall selling something? These questions will probably never get answered.

Getting from Don Mueang Airport to Mo Chit BTS then Grand Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok

[Day 1 in BKK – Travel journal]

Scoot flies only to Don Meang Int’l Airport in Bangkok now. So when you reach the airport, head to Gate 6, and wait for bus A1. The fare per pax is 30baht. The bus was packed but we managed to get seats. :)



Alight at the second stop and follow the crowd to Mo Chit BTS station – up the second escalator.

It costs 42 baht per pax to get to Nana station (near the hotel). Get train tickets via the machine. You can exchange your notes for coins at the passenger service counters.

The Grand Sukhumvit Hotel Bangkok is located very near to Nana station – probably a 3 minute walk. You can spot the hotel from the train platform too. :)


The staff seem overworked but are friendly enough. Lots of PRC people here though.

(Close to midnight: time for bed)

8 Ways Sheraton Towers Hotel Is Gaining Productivity – The Insider Tour

I went on a behind-the-scenes tour at the Sheraton Towers Hotel last month and got a sneak peek into hotel operations. It was an eye-opening experience, with parts of the tour resembling scenes from an Iron Man movie – I’ll show you which in a bit. :)

With 420 guest rooms, you can imagine how difficult it is to manage just the housekeeping aspect of things. It has 33 Room Attendants who are paid about S$1300 each per month, and they have to clean 14 rooms within an 8 hour period, which is no easy feat. Plus, the oldest Room Attendant is 73 years old! Impressive!

Due to the scale of their operations, the hotel has tapped on various funding sources such as the Inclusive Growth Programme by e2i to invest in technology to make their associates’ jobs safer and easier. These investments also resulted in greater accuracy in the work done, quicker response time and increase in productivity.

1) E-Housekeeping System – All Room Attendants get a Galaxy Note just for work purposes. This system helps managers monitor productivity at a glance. ;) If the ‘play’ button is shown, it means the attendant is working inside the room so that there will not be any duplicates or uncertainties.

Sheraton Ehousekeeping

Sheraton Ehousekeeping

[ What the colors mean: Blue = Cleaned, Green = Inspected, Red = Not Yet Cleaned]

2) Minibar – Previously, the hotel used codes which the room attendants had to memorize and key in accurately. Naturally, mistakes occurred from time to time, and refunds had to be made sometimes. Now, the Room Attendant just looks at the pictures and clicks on the items which have been consumed by the guest. Thus, staff at the front desk know how much to charge the hotel guest immediately. And bill accuracy levels have gone up!

Sheraton Hotel Mini Bar

3) Lost-and-Found items – The Room Attendant can send descriptions of lost-and-found items to Security via the phone. If guests have left the hotel, and discover they left something behind in the room, their call can be routed to Security for them to be given an instant answer.

4) Room Setup – If attendants forget what the room setup should look like, they can view a picture of it within the phone.

5) Faulty items – The Room Attendant can send pictures of items not working properly, e.g. lamps, to Engineering, so the latter know which tools to bring up to fix the issue.

6) Bed-making made Ezi – King sized beds weigh over 70kg and could injure the Room Attendant’s back if not handled carefully. Sheraton has invested in the Ezi-Maid system where they can use a remote control to adjust the height of the bed according to the attendant’s height so as to prevent the Room Attendants from sustaining back injuries when going about their duties.

Sheraton Hotel Bed [Bed fitted with the Ezi-Maid system]

7) The Iron Man machine – Instead of the old school arduous task of ironing, the hotel invested in a 3-in-1 machine which allows the collars, cuffs and body to be ironed in less than 30 seconds with just the press of a button.

Fit the shirt onto the machine:

Sheraton laundry

* Sure looks like something from an Iron Man movie! *

Sheraton laundry

In 20 seconds, the shirt is neatly pressed:

Sheraton laundry

[ About 300 shirts are ironed this way in a day ]

8) The Trousers – Why stop at shirts when trousers can be ironed as easily too! Technology like these also helps counter the manpower shortage issue and gets work done faster too.


A firm believer in productivity growth, NTUC’s Secretary General Lim Swee Say says that Singapore needs to take a three-pronged approach, which involves the cooperation of every sector to increase productivity through innovation, helping less productive sectors to lower their reliance on labour and more on technology, and be future-looking in using these tools (technology) to increase worker’s salaries.

With their e-housekeeping system, even the 73-year-old Room Attendant, who has never used a handphone before, can now use the gadget to help in her work. With her work becoming easier, she now has more time for guest contact. Sheraton does believe in taking care of their associates so their associates will take care of their guests. They have an astounding 64% customer retention rate, testimony to the hard work of all their associates!

What impressed me about Sheraton:

*Having a Juice Lady at breakfast. Guests can get fresh fruit juices from her – she even keeps a record of which juices the regulars drink!

*Benefits of greater productivity: Staff receives $100 incentive each month if there are no guest complaints

*Hiring no foreigners in HR, Finance and Sales departments.

*Their work-life excellence programme – the company pays for activities such as bowling, running, etc, and the privilege is extended to the families of staff members too!

*Sponsoring the diploma studies for older staff, as well as for ITE graduates.

*Training staff makes them more marketable, and more mobile. However, Sheraton still manages to retain 74% of staff after training them!

*Their signature service: One-button Guest Services Communication Centre – just press the * button instead of trying to figure out which button to press to get connected to front desk staff, or housekeeping, etc.

From the looks of it, Sheraton Towers seems to follow a Progressive Wage Model, an initiative pushed by NTUC, believes that employee’s wages are pegged to skills, productivity and career development. With more training and productivity improvements, the company was able to garner higher profits and distributed the gains with their employees. It’s a win-win situation!

Progressive Wage Model

Source: NTUC U Portal

Food for thought: Would you take up this job of Room Attendant for S$1300 a month? ;)

Marriott Hotel Singapore: Gym

I knew the Marriott Hotel Dinner Buffet would be a hearty affair. Hence I made my way to the gym after check-in at 2pm. On level 4 of the hotel is the Fitness Centre and Spa.

The gym is of a decent size (fairly large, actually), with free weights and all.

Marriott Hotel Singapore

And if you need personal training…

Marriott Hotel Singapore Marriott Hotel Singapore

Imagine my surprise when I saw this basketball court right next to the gym! It’s been a long time since I last played basketball, so it was a really nice workout today!

Marriott Hotel Singapore

Outside the gym, there is a beverage corner. After sweating it out in the gym and on the basketball court, a cup of milo and some crackers was definitely welcome. :) All free of charge! :D

Marriott Hotel Singapore

Gonna head to the gym again in the morning! I have to. Because of tonight’s dinner *burp*. The dessert segment was awesome! Review will be up soon!

Read Also:

My Review of Marriott Hotel’s Deluxe Room