FORMULA One fans already know how much Singapore and Monaco share in common. As the second city street race on the Grand Prix calendar, the Marina Bay Circuitis even nicknamed ‘Monaco of the Far East’.
But the two city states have much more in common than their glamorous, annual motor racing extravaganzas, according to a top-level delegation from the Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority visiting Singapore this week.
The Monaco Tourism Delegation is sending a message that the Mediterranean Principalityand the Lion City could even be ‘twin cities’ – with mutual benefits and attractions to share for both.
Leading the delegation, Mr. Guillaume Rose, President of the Monaco Government Tourist & Convention Authority, notes the following striking commonalities:
“While Monaco has a venerable history, our mission is stressing that this is a world-class destination continually re-inventing itself,” said Mr Rose. “We want to put Monaco on the map for today’s top-end travellers from Asia.”
According to official visitor numbers, only around 1,000 Singaporeans visit Monaco every year. But this does not include those on other passports, of course. “We have many more Asian visitors than the official figures indicate,” he noted. “Our visitors tend to live very international lifestyles, with many travelling on British, US, Canadian and Australian passports.”
Monaco still believes it has what it takes to attract more visitors from the region however, and the delegation is promoting several key ways the Principality is re-inventing itself as an extraordinary destination.
Fabulous Hotels: The Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) incorporates the casinos and Hotel de Paris [currently undergoing refurbishment which will be completed in 2018], Hotel Hermitage, Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel and Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel. It also owns and manages the Opera house, the centennial Monte-Carlo Golf Club and the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
Gourmet Capital of Europe: Monaco is a choice destination for the discerning palate, a gourmet destination for all tastes and budgets, packed with talent and Michelin stars. Monaco has no fewer than 9 star-rated restaurants, including Alain Ducasse's prestigious Louis XV (3 stars), Joël Robuchon Monte-Carlo at the Metropole (2 stars) and Vistamar in Hermitage (1 star), Paolo Sari’s Elsa at Monte-Carlo Beach (1 star) and Marcel Ravin’s Blue Bay (1 star). The Hotel de Paris is actually home to two Michelin starred restaurants – 3 for Le Louis XV - Alain Ducasse and 1 for Le Grill. For Asian food lovers, Michelin star chef, Alan Yau’s Song Qi recently opened, completing an offer including Joël Robuchon’s Japanese cuisine, Yoshi (1 star), Thai cuisine, Maya Bay or Asian fusion franchise, Buddha Bar at the Grand Casino.
Prestigious Health Spas: In a world where speed and competition are by-words for living, losing sight of the essentials has become all too easy. But in Monaco, a remedy exists – some of the finest Spas can be found anywhere. The new Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo is a timeless space of over 7,000sqm combining innovative and novel treatments, including the unique ‘Cryotherapy Complex’ to reduce stress and boost metabolism.
Centre of Culture: The Principality hosts an array of world-renowned cultural events where people come to see and be seen. Prestigious venues with exceptional backdrops include the splendid Opera Garnier. Cultural institutions such as the Monte-Carlo Philharmonic Orchestra, the Monte-Carlo Ballet Company , the Opera de Monte-Carlo, Monaco New National Museum and the ‘Printemps des Arts’ festival produce and organise major cultural events both in Monaco and abroad. The Grimaldi Forum - 50% of it, astonishingly, located below sea-level – stages themed exhibitions, including a recent one dedicated to the iconic Princess Grace. The Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (SBM) group hosts a year-round programme of artistic events celebrated worldwide. Other notable events include the magical Monte-Carlo International Circus Festival and the celebrated annual Monte-Carlo Jazz Festival.
Hallmark Events: Home to one of Europe’s most successful soccer team, Monaco also boasts some of Europe’s most prestigious events such as the Monaco F1 Grand Prix, Monaco Vintage Car historic Grand Prix, the Monte-Carlo Rally, the Monaco Yacht Show, Rolex Tennis Masters, Top Marques Luxury Car Show, Monte-Carlo Polo Tournament or the meeting, ‘Herculis’ which is part of the IAAF Diamond League. Monaco offers something for everyone.
Hidden Wine Treasures: One of the Principality's best kept secrets is the private wine cellars of the famous Hotel de Paris. Carved into solid rock, the cellars were built in 1874, to house some of the finest champagnes, wines and spirits in the world. Today, the cellars are home to over 400,000 bottles; they cover an area of 1500sqm underground in the heart of Monte-Carlo and offer select guests a legendary experience - exclusive tours and wine tastings.
While Asia currently only accounts for about 8% of Monaco’s global revenue, there is now a concerted effort to capture a larger share of the Asian market, with tourism offices in Singapore, China, Japan and Australia.
Though still very exclusive, the Asian customer base is growing and highly regarded, “Most of our Asian customers are willing to discover the very essence of Europe which is why they appreciate the luxury and elegance of places like Monte-Carlo," added Mr Rose.
And with the rise in visitors especially from China, Monaco Tourism is also throwing its weight behind the 'Welcome Chinese' label (sanctioned by the Chinese Government’s Chinese Tourism Academy) with a campaign to encourage its tourism partners to be China-ready with their marketing, products and services which cater to the tastes, preferences and cultures of its Asian guests.
“Our future is clear. We are positioning Monaco as a global luxury brand, a lifestyle experience with emotional benefits, and we are working on the ‘wow’ factor by leveraging our assets of art and culture.
“As a playground of the rich & famous, Monaco / Monte-Carlo has constantly renewed itself and kept its cutting edge. One of our key competitive advantages is our roots, our heritage and story. We have glitz and glamour, and being part of the exclusive set appeals to many.
“Now we are reaching out to new Asian markets, determined to ensure that the Monaco & Monte-Carlo names are understood and known. We consistently incorporate new trends and new leisure activities to attract seasoned and new Asian travellers to seek out the original and arguably finest integrated resort in the world – Monte-Carlo.”