Check into a forest –right at the airport

Get married or hold a business meeting under a canopy of trees in Singapore’s most uniquely designed airport hotel

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THE HOTEL’S façade sports intertwined petals that deflect 65 percent of heat.

If there’s one day when everything should go according to plan, that should be your wedding day.

Nowadays, a lot of couples are veering toward nontraditional ways of tying the knot—from garden to underwater to even sky diving weddings—which, in turn, makes it more challenging for the wedding planner or even the couples themselves to ensure a seamless wedding.

Garden weddings are probably the most common—and the most challenging. Apart from checking weather forecasts, one must also ensure that the venue’s not too damp or dry—you don’t want mud or dust stealing the limelight on your special day.

In Singapore, where humidity is high, Crowne Plaza Changi Airport found a solution to nature’s unpredictability so that couples can have their garden wedding of a lifetime.

Opened in 2008, Crowne Plaza Changi houses rainforest-themed halls and a ballroom that can accommodate up to 300 guests. And to stay true to its nature concept, each hall and the ballroom is named after trees like Chengal, Sindora and Alstonia.

These trees not only identify the halls, but also serve as the design inspiration, as each hall is decorated based on the tree’s leaves.

Inside, one is transported from the busy metropolis to the serene landscape of the forest. The ceiling makes one feel like one is under a canopy of trees. And for a sense of realism, lights can be configured to give off a dawn, midday or dusk feel.

At right, the rainforest-themed Chengal Ballroom which accommodates up to 300 guests

This year alone, Crowne Plaza Changi has already hosted 170 weddings.

Acknowledging the fact that weddings are a big market in Asia and at the same time a lucrative market for hotels, general manager Steven Chan said what makes them unique is that they “create the most impact,” especially for couples who have in mind a wedding in a “forest under the silhouette of trees.”

Environmentally conscious

This seeming fascination with nature is not only evident in Crowne Plaza’s halls; it is only one of the many environment-related features of this nine-story hotel.

Designed by Singapore-based architects WOHA, Crowne Plaza Changi is a sight one can’t miss upon arriving in Singapore. The hotel’s façade resembles bubble wrap from afar—the only difference is instead of bubbles, this one sports intertwined petals.

More than aesthetics, these petals, made from lightweight gypsum with resin chemical and mounted on the building, actually deflect 65 percent of heat.

Chan said that because there’s less heat in the building, they are able to reduce their energy consumption. And to further lessen it, the hotel has high glass windows that allow natural light in.

Despite Singapore’s high humidity, the hotel is relatively cool because of its secret gardens, which allow cool air to circulate throughout the building.

36-sq-m deluxe room with high glass windows that allow natural light into the room

During the day, one can see the fun colors and concepts this hotel has—couches and carpets are designed to resemble fruits such as papaya and watermelon, and in several areas of the hotel, Peranakan batik fabric line the hallways, showcasing the centuries-old cultural blend of Malay and Chinese style in Singapore and Malaysia.

At night, the hotel transforms, as it is “darker and a lot more moody,” which Chan said is part of the design elements they want their guests to appreciate.

What’s noticeable in this 320-room hotel is that there are no sharp edges, except for the tables.

“Anywhere you go, everything is curved,” Chan said. “It’s about embracing you, welcoming you.”

With a calm nature theme, the 36-sq-m deluxe room offers one respite from travel. And one need not worry about the hotel’s proximity to the airport, as all the rooms are soundproof.

With an 89-percent occupancy rate in 2011, it goes to show that business and leisure travelers alike prefer to stay in what Chan describes as “an upscale hotel within an airport location.”

Unconventional meeting rooms

It’s a staple for hotels to offer meeting and conference rooms, but what sets Crowne Plaza Changi’s meeting rooms apart is that they give off a traditional countryside feel, with ideas discussed in the shade of trees.

Meeting room that gives off a feel that one is under a shade of trees

This concept, Chan said, helps in the smooth flow of discussion because of its calming effect.

Another unique meeting facility is the Creative Space. Like social networking site Facebook’s headquarters in Silicon Valley in

California, it has toys, comic books and puzzles that help bring out creative juices.

Crowne Plaza Changi director of sales and marketing Soo Lai Yin said the facility has been preferred by different companies because of its less-serious atmosphere, which allows them to be “more creative, playful and innovative.”

Whether you’re tying the knot or simply on vacation or a business trip, Chan said they make sure every hour spent in Crowne Plaza Changi is one you’ll never forget.

“One of the greatest challenges in sustaining the business is ensuring that the staff and guests are happy; that guests leave rejuvenated and had a great experience. Fundamentally, that is where our key success is.”

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