Nine years on, venues say Grand Prix is still a great excuse to party
SINGAPORE — When the Formula One Grand Prix came to Singapore in 2008, it brought with it all the glitz and glamour associated with the sport, including a range of parties attended by a clientele that does not just include motorsport fans.
Now in its tenth year, this partying scene has far from burned out and is still a hot ticket, several venues told TODAY.
Despite a drop in attendance at the annual event here — last year’s daily average attendance slumped to 73,000, its lowest in nine years — the parties surrounding the race continued to pack in crowds.
One of the biggest F1 parties is held at The Podium Lounge and has attracted famous faces including celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and former footballer Rio Ferdinand.
Its chief executive officer Robbie Hoyes-Cock said: “The Podium Lounge has grown its attendance every single year since 2009 when we first started hosting this event within the racetrack at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore.”
years ago, The Podium Lounge moved the party venue to a larger space at The Ritz-Carlton’s grand ballroom which can host over 3,000 guests and according to Mr Hoyes-Cock, the parties “have been a sell-out event ever year since”.
With the night race taking place at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, bars in the area with the best views of the F1 action tend to be the hottest destinations.
One of them is Ce La Vi, which is hosting its eighth F1 party this year. Located at Marina Bay Sands, it attracts a mix of locals and foreigners.
“More than 50 per cent of our guests during last year’s week-long F1 party were locals,” said Ms Hwon Kang, PR & marketing executive for Ce La Vi. “This year, we’ve received numerous enquiries on table bookings weeks in advance by locals hoping to get the best spot for the view of fireworks and, of course, the F1 race track.” Ms Kang said that F1 “has not lost its novelty value at Ce La Vi” and has seen “consistent numbers since our first F1 party”.
Lantern, the rooftop bar at The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore, is another F1 party hotspot.
It offers guests an exhilarating view of the action, thanks to its location at the race’s hairpin turn.
Fullerton Heritage general manager Cavaliere Giovanni Viterale said its dining outlets during the Grand Prix season are “patronised by a good mix of regular guests from the local community and overseas”.
Grand Prix parties at both The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore are “usually booked to capacity” every year, he added.
The good patronage however, is not experienced at all venues near the race circuit.
Take for example, high-end rooftop bar and dance club Empire, which has seen attendance drop by about 15 per cent at its F1 parties from three years ago.
Mr Christopher Lim, founder and director of Hidden Door Concepts which runs Empire, said most guests who attend tend to be more interested in the after-parties and off-track entertainment than the race itself. Another venue that has seen a slight drop in numbers is 1-Altitude located at 1 Raffles Place.
“We have started seeing a drop in attendance since 2015 but the numbers are not quite drastic,” said Mr Ian Sim, the venue’s general manager. “The decline has been about 0.8 per cent, which corresponds with the fall in overall attendance to the race over the past few years.”
While interest in F1 parties may be waning for some partygoers in Singapore, there still remains a considerable crowd that still look forward to the annual event.
Fashion designer Jo Kilda, 39, has attended a few after-parties and enjoys the glitz and glamour associated with them.
“I feel the crowd is getting younger compared to the first couple of years,” she said.
“Having said that, I strongly believe F1 is one of the most anticipated events every year and my husband and I look forward to it as it’s a chance for us to let our hair down.”
I strongly believe F1 is one of the most anticipated events every year and my husband and I look forward to it as it’s a chance for us to let our hair down. Jo Kilda FAshioN DesiGNer