Omni Marco Polo Hotel

Built in 1968, Omni Marco Polo Hotel, also known as Marco Polo Hotel, was one of Singapore's famous landmarks. It was so well known that many popular personalities chose to stay there in the 1970s.1 The hotel was torn down in 1999 and on its site now sits a condominium called Grange Residences.

Marco Polo Hotel was located at the junction of Tanglin and Grange roads. It was originally known as Hotel Malaysia when it was first constructed in 1968. Designed by Alfred Wong Partnership, the hotel was a 10-storey building with 300 rooms designed in a contemporary architectural style.3 Owned by the Goodwood Group, the hotel interiors were adorned with materials such as jade, green onyx, marble and teak. It also had a roof-top restaurant. Lobby lounge girls dressed in cheongsams added to the exotic look of the hotel, which was also known for its high quality service.

The hotel’s exterior was simple with a broad sweeping facade and little ornamentation. Big trees, birds and a water fountain added charm to the hotel’s grounds. Additions and changes were made to the hotel in 1981, again by Alfred Wong Partnership. In 1983, the hotel received the Singapore Institute of Architects’ Award for Outstanding Building.In 1988, the hotel underwent a $30-million redecoration programme, adding a new coffeeshop and shopping arcade besides enlarging its lobby. From 1983 to 1988, the hotel was consecutively voted as one of the top 10 business hotels in the world by British-based magazine, Business Traveller.5

Marco Polo Hotel was the accommodation of choice for many famous personalities during their visits to Singapore. These personalities included British pop singer Sir Cliff Richard, Hollywood actor Roger Moore, Prince Sufri Bolkiah of Brunei and former British Prime Minister Edward Heath.6 The hotel was the runner-up in the Overseas Best City Hotel category in the Hotel of the Year 1990 presentation in London.7

The hotel's ownership changed hands twice. In 1973, the Goodwood Group sold it to the Hong Kong-based Wharf and Godown Company Limited. In the same year, the hotel was renamed Marco Polo Hotel.  In 1986, the hotel was acquired by Marco Polo Developments, a group that was 75 percent owned by Hong Kong's Wheelock Group. Although the hotel was renamed yet again in 1989 as Omni Marco Polo Hotel, it was more commonly known as Marco Polo Hotel.8

Affected by the opening of Trader’s Hotel opposite it as well as the economic recession of the late 1990s, the hotel was forced to close down and the building demolished in 1999. A 164-unit luxury condominium called Grange Residences was built on its site.9

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. Evelyn Yap, “Marco Polo Closes, but It Might Return,” Straits Times, 28 July 1999, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
2. Amy Balan, “Marco Polo Hotel Will Close Down Next Month,” Straits Times, 1 June 1999, 53. (From NewspaperSG)
3. Yap, “Marco Polo Closes, but It Might Return.” 
4. Norman Edwards and Keys Peter, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 155, 182. (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
5. “Marco Polo Hotel Again in Magazine's Top 10 List,” Straits Times, 16 December 1988, 30. (From NewspaperSG)
6. Yap, “Marco Polo Closes, but It Might Return.” 
7. “Omni Marco Polo Wins Award,” Business Times, 24 July 1990, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Yap, “Marco Polo Closes, but It Might Return.” 
9. Yap, “Marco Polo Closes, but It Might Return”; Setyadi Ongkowidjaja, “Omni Marco Polo Hotel a Landmark of Modern S'pore,” Straits Times, 18 August 1997, 42 (from NewspaperSG); National Heritage Board, The Marco Polo Hotel at Tanglin Circus, 1990s, photograph, National Museum of Singapore Collection.

The information in this article is valid as at 2017 and correct as far as we can 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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