And maybe you should stop bashing it

Ah Meng’s successors are about to get a whole lot more neighbors. Mandai Park Holdings (MPH) has announced that an eco-friendly resort will be built within the new integrated nature and wildlife destination at Mandai—helmed by Singaporean-based hotel group Banyan Tree Holdings.

The news comes as part of the ongoing project to turn the Mandai precinct into an eco-tourism hub by 2023. It's certainly exciting; we’re picturing Disney resorts but themed after the Wildlife Reserves. The new resort, which is still unnamed, will provide an immersive stay close to nature, in a full-service accommodation at the doorstep of our island’s wildlife parks. Talks surrounding the resort have been in place since the Mandai revamp plans were first announced in 2016, said a spokesperson from MPH. The search for a suitable operator took over a year and concluded this year with the appointment of Banyan Tree, after a successful bid put in by the group. The resort itself is scheduled for completion in 2023. 

Perks, of course, include easy access to Mandai’s five wildlife parks, which include the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari, the River Safari, the soon-to-be-relocated Jurong Bird Park and the soon-to-come Rainforest Park. In the heart of the jungle, guests can expect guided nature walks, native wildlife spotting tours—as well as recycling workshops and educational movie screenings. All this is to help inculcate a deeper appreciation and understanding of biodiversity and conservation.

Interestingly, the eco-friendly resort will mark Banyan Tree’s first establishment here, despite it being a Singapore-based hospitality group. According to a spokesperson from Banyan Tree, the group was simply holding out for the right opportunity.

“Since 1994 Banyan Tree has always looked out for opportunities in the Singapore market that would celebrate the romance of travel with a green conscience.” The partnership with MPH “sees Banyan Tree Holdings as the operator of a truly unique resort in Singapore’s only integrated nature and wildlife destination”—something the spokesperson added is “very much aligned with the company’s guiding principle of sustainability”.

As part of design plans, standard and family rooms will be available in both low-rise structures and elevated cabins or treehouses. These rooms will be built around existing vegetation and the natural topography of the area—in the same way the natural surroundings have been preserved in building the cliffside villas at Banyan Tree Bintan. As for the animals, no news yet on how the resort plans to handle construction without disturbing the peace of the local inhabitants.

While some of the social media reaction to the news has been negative, criticism should be put on hold. Banyan Tree has long prized itself on its dedication to sustainability and CSR, something we experienced firsthand during a stay at Cassia Bintan, a newly opened resort targeted at millennials. It's a long way to 2023, and we should give the hotel group the opportunity to live up to the principles it stands for. We do wonder what Bernard Harrison thinks of the news though.