Singapore rooms surge past US$2,000 a night as bankers head for F1

Singapore rooms surge past US$2,000 a night as bankers head for F1
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(Sept 15): Deal-makers tired of years of Covid-19 restrictions are converging on Singapore for the year’s biggest investment conferences and Formula One (F1), a massive party-in-the-making that’s helping push hotel rates to unprecedented heights.

Over the next 30 days, the affluent island nation plays host to a slew of conferences including the SuperReturn summit, which is charging delegates US$4,000 (RM18,124), then F1, the first after a two-year hiatus. It’s an ideal setting for a celebration for the well-heeled, after years of punishing pandemic restrictions and dismal markets have taken their toll.

As of Thursday (Sept 15), digs at top-flight venues from the Marina Bay Sands to the storied Raffles Hotel were sold out for much of the coming month, with many at upwards of US$2,000 a pop. Even before that surge, accommodation costs had reached their highest in a decade.

For Sean Xiang, the founder and chief executive officer of Hermitage Capital who’s making his first trip abroad in three years, it’s well worth it. He’s set aside US$40,000 to US$50,000 for a two-week layover.

“It’s a bit over the top,” Xiang said after scoring a place at the Sands, which boasts one of Asia’s largest casinos. “But Chinese fund managers have been held back for three years. It’s a conference you cannot miss.”

Xiang plans to catch up with his limited partners while in town, and find out at SuperReturn how his peers are grappling with a market sell-off. The event is expected to draw not just financiers, but also start-ups on the prowl. Many funds in China, especially the smaller ones, are having a hard time raising capital after Beijing’s sweeping crackdown on the country’s internet sector. 

Singapore will also host the Milken Institute Asia Summit, Forbes Global CEO Conference and several crypto events in September, followed by gamescom asia in October. 

But it’s F1 that might prove the bigger draw. This year’s night race is set to see its biggest turnout since the inaugural event in 2008. Away from the track, the entertainment line-up includes performances by Westlife and Green Day. Other big names coming to Singapore later this year include Justin Bieber, Maroon 5 and Guns N’ Roses.

That stands in stark contrast with rival financial centre Hong Kong’s own barren events calendar, which includes a Rugby Sevens tournament and a financial summit at the centre of controversy over the city’s reluctance to do away with pandemic-era curbs. 

“It’s SuperReturn and F1. Everyone wants to be in town,” said Ian Lee, the deputy chief financial officer of Chinese biotech start-up XtalPi.