Wildlife experiences in Singapore
An unlikely candidate for MICE, Wildlife Reserves Singapore is introducing new products that can offer small MICE groups an exclusive experience at four of its attractions, namely Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and the Singapore Zoo
Indian MICE groups can now explore an entirely new way to conduct their events in Singapore. The four well-known attractions in the city – Jurong Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Singapore Zoo – are a hit with families. But did you know that they also offer MICE facilities, limited but exclusive experiences for small groups.
Mike Barclay, Group CEO, Wildlife Reserve Sanctuary (WRS), who was in Mumbai recently to host a dinner and cocktail event for its top partners in India and to sign an MoU with Thomas Cook, had many announcements to make. He said, “We have associated with Thomas Cook India to offer their customers our world-class zoological parks. These parks can offer amazing wildlife experiences to exclusive MICE groups.
Currently, the traffic coming into our parks is a lot of groups and families, but some MICE activities as well. MICE can be done in many ways here. It can be part of an experience or an exclusive visit. We also have some rather special venues for the MICE market.” One of them is located in the heart of the
Night Safari which has a beautiful tepee tent that serves delicious, three-course, high-end meal for a group of up to 45-50 guests. They can have their own private tour and have a great dinner. WRS can organise such quiet, versatile experiences for MICE groups.
NEW AT SINGAPORE ZOO - LUMINA
WRS is preparing to launch a world-class walking trail called ‘Lumina' by middle of 2018 that will offer MICE groups an experiential journey for visitors, combining sound, lights and nature. This technology is being brought in from Canada. This will be a night show in Singapore Zoo. Barclay says, “Normally, we have three day-time zoos, which are completely quiet at night. Only night safaris operate in the evenings. From July 2018, we will operate the Singapore Zoo at night with an interactive digital light experience called ‘Lumina'.”
The terrain and the environment of Singapore Zoo is perfect for the Lumina light show. He explains that the show responds to movement and is interactive. With this, WRS can put together a tour for MICE groups where they can experience the new Lumina show in the early evening, go on for dinner, and then visit the Night Safari. This makes a complete evening product.
WRS does limited camping activities at the moment. But Barclay has exciting updates. “We will soon expand our camping facilities. We will have camping at different venues such as open-air under the stars and camping in some key exhibit areas that are air-conditioned. Our camping is more focused on school groups at the moment. But we are transitioning to a professional camping team within the company and offer camping experiences to adults and groups. We are just beginning to talk to travel agents about this. We will also have new camping facilities in the Bird Park by 2020,” Barclay reveals. It will also have more camping options with fixed tents.
INDIA IS #1 MARKET
India is the number one market for WRS globally. So it makes sense for them to tweak and adjust products as per the demands and preferences of Indian visitors. He adds, “We have tweaked our products for the Indian market. In the night safari, we have a tram ride where we now have Hindi as a language option as of last year. We have also opened an Indian restaurant at Jurong Bird Park about six months ago called Curry Garden, which is working well for groups. Moreover, at the Night Safari we have introduced Indian snacks apart from an Indian buffet for our India visitors. We also talking to Thomas Cook on how we can make food one of the key highlights for our packages.”
BANYAN TREE RESORT BY 2023
Not satisfied with limited camping options, WRS has made plans to open an onsite 400-key resort by Banyan Tree Holdings in a tropical setting in the rain forest. Phase one will be done by 2020
and the entire project will be delivered by 2023. It will offer a range of room types – from affordable family rooms to exclusive rooms and cottages. “We are currently working with Banyan Tree Holdings on the design. It will be a complete eco experience for the guest. With this product, our partner agents are confident that this would increase the total room nights spent in Singapore from four to about six to eight nights. We also expect Indian travellers to have an overnight or a two-night stay at Mandai,” Barclay says.
2 NEW PARKS IN THE OFFING
This is part of WRS' remodeling plan of the entire Mandai area. This includes a brand new bird park that is being built right now, and a new rainforest park which will be a first-in-the-world product. It will be deep in the rainforest with animals around. “So this will be the only place in the world where you can visit five zoological parks in one location. We really think we will have the scale to encourage people to stay back for two to three days. In the meantime, we continue to evolve our existing parks and look to enhance and improve them every year,” Barclay adds. So in the Singapore Zoo this year, WRS has put together a completely new reptile house called RepTopia which exhibits 60 reptile species. The fun that WRS has put children's play elements all around it which is educational and has a digital overlay. For example, one of the digital elements is a projection of a suitcase in which the children have to identify illegal wildlife trade items.
SMALL, EXCLUSIVE MICE GROUPS
The four wildlife parks have hosted quite a number of MICE groups in the past. “The challenge we have is the capacity. We work better with smaller, intimate MICE groups that want an exclusive experience like at the tepee tent, a special Gourmet Safari Express in the Night Safari where up to 70 pax can have a special dinner while they enjoy the safari. This is a real ‘wow' experience. The zoo is typically closed at night. But we have hosted special MICE groups going into the zoo at night. We have an air-conditioned area where we organise dinners for them. But we can cater to big groups who are staying elsewhere and want an evening out either at the Bird Park or the zoo or the night safari. With the right planning, we can make an exclusive show even for big groups that will fit as well. We can build in all these elements to work around the needs for MICE,” Barclay adds.
CAMPING WITH THE MANATEES
Falling asleep to the songs of the crickets under a sky of brilliant twinkling stars or snuggling in sleeping bags next to the tranquil waters where a peaceful herd of manatees live, these were what close to 200 campers experienced over the weekend in the heart of Mandai for the inaugural Camp Fest which spanned across Night Safari, River Safari, and Singapore Zoo. Barclay, Group CEO of Mandai Park Holdings, the holding company of Wildlife Reserves Singapore, said “We hope more campers are able to join us in this unique camping experience.” The new Bird Park, Rainforest Park and other offerings at Mandai will be unveiled for visitors from 2020 onwards.
From top left: Barclay feeding a Rhino
Above right: Campers preparing enrichment for the manatees, a bottom feeder, during the Amazon Flooded Forest behind-thescenes tour
Above: Campers were challenged to gently touch invertebrates like the twig insect during a behindthe-scenes tour of Fragile Forest