raffles hotel

A Brief History of Raffles Hotel

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Raffles Hotel is a Singapore-based luxury hotel founded by the Sarkies Brothers in 1887. The name was taken from modern Singapore’s founder, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.

The hotel boasts a colonial-style structural design and dedicates its services to providing a unique experience for guests. The top-rated accommodations made it possible for Raffles to be gazetted as a national monument on two separate occasions.


Grant Kelley

Although the official founding was set in the 1980s, the hospitality venture started as a privately owned beach house in the 1830s by Robert Scott.

In 1878, the building was leased by Dr. Charles Emerson, naming it Emerson’s Hotel. The 10-year lease was not fulfilled as Dr. Charles passed away halfway through. The Raffles Institution, an independent educational institution known for being the oldest in the country, interceded to use the structure as a boarding lodge.

The Start of a Luxury Hotel Venture

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As the lease expired in 1887, the Sarkies Brothers appealed for a new tenure contract from its owner, Syed Mohamed Alsagoff. The idea was to build a luxurious hotel targeting high-end clientele.

With a 10-room accommodation availability, which is arguably too small for hotels by modern-day standards, the hotel went on and created a name for itself. The exclusivity and limited guest rooms appealed well with wealthy visitors. Its proximity to the beach and first-rate hospitality services makes its reputation flourish further.

Expansion and Growth Period

raffles hotel

Within 10 years of success and impeccable service, the hotel has grown its guest room count to 75 to accommodate more clients and patrons. It has gained momentum and become a popular place for travelers.

The pioneer beach house was replaced by a new main building. The design for the main building was courtesy of Swan & Maclaren, one of the more well-known architectural firms with various heritage building designs under their name.

New buildings were constructed in the following years. The hotel continued to grow with the addition of new features and facilities to match the premium lifestyle of its clientele.

Raffles experienced struggles due to the Great Depression and had its name changed but ultimately survived and thrived to the status it enjoyed for decades.

Change of Ownership

In 2006, Colony Capital Asia, headed by Australian Kelley Grant acquired Raffles Holding by bidding more than $1 billion for the offered price. Grant apparently sealed the deal not with the money but by promising to preserve Raffles’ grandeur and retain its employees.

Colony was able to secure forty other properties by buying out Raffles Holding. It was during this time that Colony teamed up with Prince Alwaleed who took Fairmont Hotels & Resorts for $3.9 billion.

The combination of assets became known as Fairmont Raffles Hotels International. Despite the merging of enterprises and rechristening of hotels to match their features, the management of the Fairmont and Raffles hotel brands remained separated.

A Qatari sovereign wealth fund acquired Raffle Hotels in 2010 and also secured 40% in the Fairmont Raffles hotel chain. 5 years later, it was purchased by Accorhotels, a french multinational firm.

Taking Pride as a Heritage Hotel

The hotel was closed for almost 2 years from 2017-2019 to give way to major renovations including advanced tech installations and the transformation of the Jubilee Theater. They reopened taking pride in reliving the ambiance and charm of the heritage hotel.

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