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

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for sale by tender as the Tan family wanted to focus their efforts on their property business.13 The tender was later withdrawn as it had failed to attract bidders due to its high asking price.14 Affected by the regional economic downturn and low occupancy rate, the hotel ceased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

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  

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


Naidu Ratnala Thulaja & Veronica Chee

1. Diana Oon, “Historic Katong Park Hotel Put Up for Sale By Tender,” Business Times, 25 September 1998, 4; Big New Hotel to Open in AprilStraits Times, 3 March 1953, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Colin Tan, “Duke Hotel to Be Redeveloped into Four-Star Hotel,” Business Times, 23 December 1992, 2; Kalpana Rashiwala, “Busy Weekend for Ho Bee, GuocoLand,” Business Times, 2 June 2006, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
3. “Biggest since the War,” Straits Times, 26 April 1953, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “Big New Hotel to Open in April,” Straits Times, 3 March 1953, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
5. G. T. Boon, “Send-Off for Two New Hotels,” Singapore Free Press, 30 April 1953, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “Hotel Ambassador, Meyer Road, Reopens Thursday,” Straits Times, 13 December 1960, 14; “Now It’s the Ambassador,” Straits Times, 16 July 1960, 6. (From NewspaperSG) 
7. “Duke Hotel to Buy over Ambassador,” Straits Times, 26 August 1982, 22; Eddie, Toh, “Duke Hotel Sold to Macau Parties for $30M, Renamed Katong Park,” Straits Times, 4 December 1992, 44. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Toh, “Duke Hotel Sold to Macau Parties.”
9. Tan, Duke Hotel to Be Redeveloped”; Toh, “Duke Hotel Sold to Macau Parties.”
10. Toh, “Duke Hotel Sold to Macau Parties”; “Page 7 Advertisements Column 1,” Straits Times, 22 December 1992, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
11. “Macau-Based Buyers of Duke Hotel May Build New 22-Storey Hotel,” Straits Times, 23 December 1992, 39; Tan, “Duke Hotel to Be Redeveloped.” 
12. Oon, “Historic Katong Park Hotel Put Up for Sale.”
13. Kalpana Rashiwala, “Katong Park Hotel Up for Sale,” Straits Times, 25 September 1998, 70; Kalpana Rashiwala, “Former Katong Park Hotel on Sale,” Straits Times, 8 June 1999, 54 (From NewspaperSG); Oon, “Historic Katong Park Hotel Put Up for Sale.”
14. Rashiwala, “Former Katong Park Hotel on Sale.”
15. Walter Fernandez, “Hotel Did Not Make CPF Payments,” Straits Times, 10 January 1999, 29. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Fernandez, “Hotel Did Not Make CPF Payments.” 
17. Rashiwala, “Former Katong Park Hotel on Sale.”
18. “FCC to Pay $42M for Katong Park Hotel,” Straits Times, 2 July 1999, 73. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Rashiwala, “Katong Park Hotel Up for Sale.” 
20. “Katong Park Now Historic Site,” Straits Times, 4 November 1998, 29. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Oon, “Historic Katong Park Hotel Put Up for Sale.”
22. Rashiwala, “Busy Weekend for Ho Bee, GuocoLand.”
23. “Big New Hotel to Open in April,” Straits Times, 3 March 1953, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
24. “Hotel Ambassador, Meyer Road, Reopens Thursday”; “Now It’s the Ambassador.”
25. “Duke Hotel to Buy over Ambassador”;
26. Tan, Duke Hotel to Be Redeveloped.”
27. Fernandez, “Hotel Did Not Make CPF Payments.” 
28. “FCC to Pay $42M for Katong Park Hotel.”
29. Rashiwala, “Busy Weekend for Ho Bee, GuocoLand.”

The information in this article is valid as of 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.

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