Katong Park Hotel



Katong Park Hotel, one of Singapore’s oldest hotels, was located at 46 Meyer Road. Owned by several people since it was built in 1953, the hotel was previously known by three other names: Embassy Hotel, Hotel Ambassador and Duke Hotel.1 It was renamed Katong Park Hotel in 1992 before it was sold in 1999 to make way for a residential project.2

History
Embassy Hotel opened on 26 April 1953.3 It was owned by the descendants and relatives of the late Lim Ah Eng, who were the biggest owners and controllers of hotels and bars in Malaya at that time. Considered to be Malaya’s biggest hotel to open since World War II, Embassy Hotel had a barber’s shop and a resident band, and boasted magnificent views of Katong Park and the sea from each of its 60 rooms.4 Eighteen of the rooms were air-conditioned.5


The hotel closed in July 1960 and reopened under a new name, Hotel Ambassador, and new management on 15 December 1960. It had been renovated and furnished with new amenities. The new managing director was a Singapore hotelier, David W. C. Foo.6

Hotel Ambassador was acquired by a company, Ambassador Hotel Ltd, in 1972 before it was sold to Teo Lay Swee in 1982.7 Teo, a hotelier who also owned the Cockpit Hotel, bought Hotel Ambassador for S$29.5 million and renamed it Duke Hotel.8

Re-opening as Katong Park Hotel
In August 1992, Teo sold Duke Hotel for about S$30 million to the Macau-based Chui family.9 The shareholders were Chui Lu, the chairman, his sons Vai Hou and Vai Pui, and a Singaporean, Tan Boon Kiat. The hotel was renamed Katong Park Hotel and its grand opening was celebrated on 22 December 1992. The Chui family had several plans for the hotel,10 intending to demolish the hotel building and construct a new 22-storey four-star hotel with 288 rooms on the same site.11


However, the Chui family sold the hotel to Tan Hock Keng, a property developer, and his family in 1994.12 The Tan family also nurtured expansion plans for the hotel, having obtained permission from the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 1997 to build a 16-storey hotel. However, in September 1998, the hotel was put up for sale by tender as the Tan family wanted to focus their efforts on their property business.13 The tender was later withdrawn as it had failed to attract bidders due to its high asking price.14 Affected by the regional economic downturn and low occupancy rate, the hotel ceased operations in October 1998.15  

The Tan family’s failure to pay Central Provident Fund (CPF) contributions for the period from November 1997 to May 1998 resulted in the CPF Board, represented by law firm Shook Lin and Bok, applying to the High Court to declare Katong Park Hotel Pte Ltd insolvent.16 

A second tender was called in June 1999.17 After several attempts to fetch a good price for the hotel, the Tan family finally sold it to First Capital Corporation (FCC) for S$42 million in 1999. With Katong being a hot spot for private homes, FCC planned to build residential freehold apartments on the site.18

Description
A seven-storey building occupying 36,079 sq ft, Katong Park Hotel sat on an L-shaped plot and had 170 rooms, a swimming pool, a health centre, two food outlets and an open-air car park.19 It was located opposite the historic Katong Park, a favourite haunt of courting couples and a popular spot for swimming and picnicking from the 1930s to the 60s due to its seafront view.20 The hotel stood out amid the predominantly residential buildings and was considered a landmark of Katong.21  

The View@Meyer, a freehold condominium project launched by GuocoLand (formerly FCC) in 2006, now occupies the site of the former Katong Park Hotel.22  

Timeline
26 Apr 1953:
Embassy Hotel, owned by the family of Lim Ah Eng, is opened.23

15 Dec 1960: Embassy Hotel is renamed Ambassador Hotel, with managing director David W. C. Foo.24
1972: The hotel is acquired by Ambassador Hotel Ltd.
Dec 1982: Teo Lay Swee buys it and renames it Duke Hotel.25
1992: It is renamed Katong Park Hotel by new owners – the Chui family and Tan Boon Kiat.26
1994: It is owned by Tan Hock Keng and family.27
1999: It is owned by First Capital Corporation.28
2006: The View@Meyer is built on the site by GuocoLand.29



Authors

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja & Veronica Chee



References

1. Oon, D. (1998, September 25). Historic Katong Park Hotel put up for sale by tender. The Business Times, p. 4; Big new hotel to open in April. (1953, March 3). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
2. Tan, C. (1992, December 23). Duke Hotel to be redeveloped into four-star hotel. The Business Times, p. 2; Rashiwala, K. (2006, June 2). Busy weekend for Ho Bee, GuocoLand. The Business Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
3. Biggest since the war. (1953, April 26). The Straits Times, p. 9. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
4. Big new hotel to open in April. (1953, March 3). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
5. Boon, G. T. (1953, April 30). Send-off for two new hotels. The Singapore Free Press, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
6. Hotel Ambassador, Meyer Road, reopens Thursday. (1960, December 13). The Straits Times, p. 14; Now it’s the Ambassador. (1960, July 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
7. Duke Hotel to buy over Ambassador. (1982, August 26). The Straits Times, p. 22; Eddie, T. (1992, December 4). Duke Hotel sold to Macau parties for $30m, renamed Katong Park. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Eddie, T. (1992, December 4). Duke Hotel sold to Macau parties for $30m, renamed Katong Park. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Tan, C. (1992, December 23). Duke Hotel to be redeveloped into four-star hotel. The Business Times, p. 2; Eddie, T. (1992, December 4). Duke Hotel sold to Macau parties for $30m, renamed Katong Park. The Straits Times, p. 44. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
10. Tan, C. (1992, December 23). Duke Hotel to be redeveloped into four-star hotel. The Business Times, p. 2; Advertisement: Katong Park Hotel. (1992, December 22), The Straits Times, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Macau-based buyers of Duke Hotel may build new 22-storey hotel. (1992, December 23). The Straits Times, p. 39; Tan, C. (1992, December 23). Duke Hotel to be redeveloped into four-star hotel. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
12. Oon, D. (1998, September 25). Historic Katong Park Hotel put up for sale by tender. The Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13. Rashiwala, K. (1998, September 25). Katong Park Hotel up for sale. The Straits Times, p. 70; Rashiwala, K. (1999, June 8). Former Katong Park Hotel on sale. The Straits Times, p. 54; Oon, D. (1998, September 25). Historic Katong Park Hotel put up for sale by tender. The Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
14. Rashiwala, K. (1999, June 8). Former Katong Park Hotel on sale. The Straits Times, p. 54. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
15. Fernandez, W. (1999, January 10). Hotel did not make CPF payments. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
16. Fernandez, W. (1999, January 10). Hotel did not make CPF payments. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
17. Rashiwala, K. (1999, June 8). Former Katong Park Hotel on sale. The Straits Times, p. 54. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
18. FCC to pay $42m for Katong Park Hotel. (1999, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 73. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
19. Rashiwala, K. (1998, September 25). Katong Park Hotel up for sale. The Straits Times, p. 70. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
20. Katong Park now historic site. (1998, November 4). The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
21. Oon, D. (1998, September 25). Historic Katong Park Hotel put up for sale by tender. The Business Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
22. Rashiwala, K. (2006, June 2). Busy weekend for Ho Bee, GuocoLand. The Business Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
23. Big new hotel to open in April. (1953, March 3). The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG. 
24. Hotel Ambassador, Meyer Road, reopens Thursday. (1960, December 13). The Straits Times, p. 14; Now it’s the Ambassador. (1960, July 16). The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
25. Duke Hotel to buy over Ambassador. (1982, August 26). The Straits Times, p. 22. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
26. Tan, C. (1992, December 23). Duke Hotel to be redeveloped into four-star hotel. The Business Times, p. 2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
27. Fernandez, W. (1999, January 10). Hotel did not make CPF payments. The Straits Times, p. 29. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  
28. FCC to pay $42m for Katong Park Hotel. (1999, July 2). The Straits Times, p. 73. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.   
29. Rashiwala, K. (2006, June 2). Busy weekend for Ho Bee, GuocoLand. The Business Times, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.  



The information in this article is valid as at 21 March 2013 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Commercial Buildings
Hotels--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Business, finance and industry>>Industry>>Services>>Tourism and hospitality
Commercial buildings