The City That Had It Going in 2018

Author: Sarah Beauchamp       

“Singapore is … one of the world’s most innovative cities,” Michael Bloomberg said at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum, held Nov. 6-7 at the Capella, a luxury resort in Sentosa, Singapore, “at a time when the role and power of cities is growing in unprecedented ways.” He chose the destination as the host for his event — which brings thought leaders from all corners of the globe together to discuss topics like AI, fintech, and sustainability — because it was the “perfect place” to create and strengthen partnerships between government and business. “It is a financial capital of Asia,” he said, “a region whose economies are stronger, more influential, and more connected than ever before.”

 

Five months earlier, Singapore played host to another memorable international event: the meeting between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The Capella Singapore found out just two weeks prior that it was selected as the location for the historic summit. The short notice didn’t stop the city from successfully pulling off the iconic meeting. On June 12, delegations from North Korea and the United States, and more than 2,500 journalists from all over the world, gathered for what was the first in-person meeting between leaders from the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the United States.

“Everyone was really proud to have the summit here in Singapore,” said Fernando Gibaja, Capella Singapore’s general manager. “We did jobs in the hotel that would maybe take about three to four weeks and we were able to do them in two to three days.”

 

Trump-Kim Summt

President Trump met with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in June at the Capella Singapore. Source: The Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Limited. Reprinted with permission.

At the 23,000-square-foot international media center, located at Singapore’s Formula One Racing Center, catering firm Singapore Airport Terminal Services Ltd. (SATS) created a menu comprising 45 dishes from 15 cuisines highlighting Singapore flavors, explained the organization’s director of kitchens, Rick Stephen. Delectable Singapore dishes like laksa (noodles in spicy soup with coconut milk) and chicken rice were served. While SATS is accustomed to making roughly 110,00 meals per day, Stephen called planning for the historic event a “new challenge.” He added: “Everybody jumped into it because it’s something different.”

Singapore also stole the spotlight this year after serving as the location for the blockbuster rom-com “Crazy Rich Asians” — which meant good things for city’s tourism. Following the success of the movie, which broke records at the box office, the destination saw a 41 percent jump in searches on the travel site Kayak, compared to the same time period last year, and a 15 percent increase the week following the film’s release. (It also helps that more nonstop flights were added from the United States to Singapore on Singapore Airlines and United Airlines.) A lot of locals see the movie — which features landmarks like Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay — as a metaphor for the city, a destination that truly believes the sky’s the limit.

In fact, Singapore is already excited for its next big challenge. Shue Sng, Capella’s assistant director of catering sales and conference services, admits that while the quick preparations for the Trump-Kim Summit were daunting, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “Nothing is impossible,” said Sng. “I wouldn’t think twice if you asked me to do it again.”

Singapore