A hundred and more steps to an unexplored heaven

2 11 2020

Have you ever wondered what lies behind Singapore’s most famous clock face, or what keeps the clock ticking?

Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall – and it famous clock tower, lies atthe heart of the civic district (photo: Arts House Limited).

The chance to discover all that comes with Trafalgar’s Near Not Far “Singapore’s Heritage Highlight” 2D1N staycation, which I am glad to say that I am involved in. For this I will introduce guests to two of the historic civic district’s iconic monuments — The Arts House, and Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall — and uncover some fascinating stories of the buildings and their spaces.

Inside Victoria Theatre, a venue for a key historical event in Singapore’s nation building (Photo: Arts House Limited).

The highlight of the tour will be a never-done-before visit to VTVCH’s clock tower — exclusive to Trafalgar’s guests. There I will enlighten guests about the clock, its history, and its connection to London’s Big Ben. One of the things that will also be apparent in the over 100 step climb up the tower is the sheer simplicity of the clock.

More information on the Trafalgar staycation package can be found below. Details can be obtained through the Trafalgar website at https://www.trafalgar.com/staycations.

See also:

Holidaying without your passport: Trafalgar’s new tour of Singapore makes local heritage more alive and kicking than it has any right to be (Business Times 30 Oct 2020).

Stairway to a strange heaven?
A highlight of the tour – a look at what lies inside the clock tower.
The Arts House chamber (photo : Arts House Limited)

Reconnect to the Joy of Travel with Trafalgar in Singapore 

Travel restarts with unique staycation tours offering deeper, richer experiences through the lenses of art, culture and heritage 

Tour differently with a guided tour of The Arts House and Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall with a historic-first – clock tower access 

Responding to the impact of Covid-19, guided holiday company Trafalgar has launched a unique “Near Not Far” staycation tour itinerary to allow Singaporeans and local residents to reconnect to the joy of travel.  One such highlight experience of its 2D1N “Singapore Heritage Highlights” itinerary is an exclusive tour of The Arts House (TAH) and Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall (VTVCH), an experience enhanced with a climb up the VTVCH clock tower. Both venues are managed by Arts House Limited (AHL). 

Trafalgar’s Near Not Far Series is designed to provide travel-lovers around the world the opportunity to enjoy deeper, richer experiences in their home country. Additionally, Trafalgar, alongside its parent company, The Travel Corporation (TTC), has focused on curating experiences that integrate sustainability and address the impact of travel on local communities. Trafalgar’s new itineraries ensure that these communities’ benefit from the operator’s presence, as part of a new 5-year sustainability strategy for a regenerative return to travel.  A key priority for the curated experiences of its itineraries is to support local arts communities, and Trafalgar has sought out AHL as its not-for-profit partner for its Near Not Far staycation tours. 

Through immersive Trafalgar exclusives like the ‘Be My Guest’ dining experiences, guests on the ‘Near Not Far’ staycation tours will form real connections with their fellow neighbours and travellers. They’ll uncover the tapestries of multi-cultural Singapore and gain new perspectives of familiar places through stories shared by their passionate and knowledgeable Travel Director, Local Specialists and ‘Be My Guest’ hosts. Each Travel Director has been carefully selected for their knowledge and enthusiasm for Singapore and its rich cultures, the Travel Director is a licensed tourist guide who will accompany guests throughout the tour, and is simultaneously a friend and companion who is on hand to provide a real insider’s point of view. 

“We want to showcase that you can tour differently with Trafalgar. Too often, we choose to explore the world instead of the hidden gems right in our own backyard. As we wait for borders to reopen safely, we can restart travel here in Singapore and curate unique tour experiences that Trafalgar is well-known for worldwide. Our guests have a unique opportunity to rediscover Singapore through the lenses of art, culture and heritage. Trafalgar’s Near Not Far Staycation tours will allow Singaporeans and residents to gain insider access – such as the opportunity to climb up the clock tower of Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, or meet with Violet Oon who will be our ‘Be My Guest’ host.  As a global travel company, our core value is making a difference to the places we visit.  “We are excited that through this partnership with Arts House Limited, we can support the arts community, help people to step back into travel responsibly and give back to local businesses and Singapore’s tourism ecosystem, all while ensuring peace of mind with our local expertise, right size groups and enhanced hygiene measures,“ said Mae Cheah, President for Trafalgar, Asia.  

Singapore’s Heritage Highlights (2D1N) introduces guests to two iconic landmarks of the Civic District – The Arts House, Singapore’s oldest government building and Victoria Theatre and Victoria Concert Hall (VTVCH), the grand dame of theatres in Singapore.  Guests will meet Trafalgar’s Local Specialist – renowned heritage blogger, Jerome Lim of The Long & Winding Road on the tour of The Arts House* and VTVCH where he will share historical trivia about the two buildings. As the nation’s literary arts centre, The Arts House is known for LumiNation festival. This year’s edition took place digitally and uncovered Singapore’s hidden histories through a series of performances and talks. In a historic first, VTVCH’s clock tower will be open exclusively to Trafalgar’s guests to visit, and Jerome will enlighten guests about the clock’s history and its connection to London’s Big Ben.  

Additional highlights include a ‘Be My Guest’ experience with Violet Oon at the National Kitchen at National Gallery and a guided tour of Kampong Glam to ‘Dive into Culture’ in the lively neighbourhood that was once home to Singapore’s early migrants including the Arabs, Javanese, Bugis, Chinese, and Malay-Muslims. 

Prices for this 2D1N itinerary are from S$528 per person for an Orchid Club Deluxe Room (35 sq m) at PARKROYAL on Beach Road (Fri /Sat) and S$628 per person for a Stamford Suite Room (58 sq m) at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel (weekday only). Prices include guided tours, a ‘Be My Guest’ experience with Violet Oon, one-night hotel accommodation with breakfast and coach transportation.  Prices are based on twin-share and solo travellers can pay a single supplement from S$200.  

With guests’ well-being as top priority, Trafalgar has collaborated with the World Tourism & Travel Council (WTTC) to align and create global protocols and procedures which have been awarded the WTTC Safe stamp. This coupled with existing national and regional government authority regulations and the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, have guided enhanced hygiene and safety protocols from physical distancing to stringent sanitary practices.  

In Singapore, from 1 November 2020, the maximum group size for a guided tour is 20 pax (excluding guide), with maximum 5 pax allowed in one sub-group. Additionally, each sub-group is required to maintain at least 1m safe distance from each other, and there cannot be any intermingling between the groups.  As a start, Trafalgar will run tours with a minimum of 5 guests on each tour, and a maximum of up to 10 guests only.  

Trafalgar’s enhanced hygiene and physical distancing measures, include: 

  • Ongoing training of Travel Directors in enhanced hygiene and physical distancing procedures and guidance on social etiquette monitoring, to ensure proper standards are consistently met.  Travel Directors are supported and updated regularly by operations teams, to address latest changes and to keep guests informed throughout their trip.   
  • Group sizes will be adapted based on government distancing requirements, ensuring that guests will travel with the comfort of their own personal space. 
  • In accordance with guidance from the World Health Organization (WHO) and Singapore Tourism Board (STB), enhanced measures have been introduced to elevate hygiene practices on all coaches.  Drivers have been trained in latest protocols and will disinfect all surfaces including handrails, as well as change air-conditioning filters.  In addition, all coaches will carry hand sanitizer for guest use and supplies of gloves, disinfectant spray, antiviral wipes and face masks will be available. 

For more information and to book, visit www.trafalgar.com/staycations

*The Arts House will be closed from 1 December 2020 to 31 March 2021. 

About Trafalgar 

With over 70 years’ experience, spanning all seven continents, Trafalgar is the world’s leading and most awarded travel brand. From the iconic to the unexpected, Trafalgar connects guests to the real depth of the places they go, from breaking bread with locals at exclusive Be My Guest experiences to expert Travel Directors and Local Specialists that unlock the magic of destinations. Trafalgar takes care of everything, so guests travel with true ease, getting the real thing without worrying about a thing. Trafalgar is a member of The Travel Corporation (TTC) family of companies. Through its JoinTrafalgar program, guests traveling with the brand become part of the sustainability solution, bettering the lives of locals and their communities now and into the future. For more information visit www.trafalgar.com.  

About Arts House Limited (AHL) 

Arts House Limited (AHL) is a not-for-profit organisation committed to enriching lives through the arts. AHL manages two key landmarks located in the heart of Singapore’s Civic District– The Arts House, a multidisciplinary arts centre with a focus on literary programming and the Victoria Theatre & Victoria Concert Hall, a heritage building that is home to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. It also runs the Goodman Arts Centreand Aliwal Arts Centre, two creative enclaves for artists, arts groups and creative businesses, and performing arts space Drama Centre. AHL presents the Singapore International Festival of Arts, the annual pinnacle celebration of performance and interdisciplinary arts in Singapore commissioned by the National Arts Council. For more information, visit www.theartshouse.sg 




2 responses

2 11 2020

Hi Jerome,

Fan of your work – keep it up! I’m keen to join in this tour of the clock tower but am not keen to join the 2D1N staycay. Can I still pay a fee and join?

Best regards, Yenping

Sent from my iPad


2 11 2020
Jerome Lim, The Wondering Wanderer

Hi Yenping, unfortunately not under the current arrangements as it is an exclusive arrangement between Trafalgar (as part of their local staycation package) and Arts House Limited. Will have to see how it goes first.

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