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Singapore’s Changi Is Changing the Idea of What an Airport Can Be

Raini Hamdi
Singapore’s Changi Is Changing the Idea of What an Airport Can Be

Already the world’s most recognized airport with 590 awards under its belt, Changi Airport Singapore aims to disrupt the airport experience further when its Jewel project opens on April 17 after around five years in the making.

Jewel is Changi’s new landmark, located in front of Terminal 1 and easily accessible to both local public and passengers arriving or departing from the airport. It is not a new terminal but a massive 137,000 square-meter retail, dining, and leisure attraction designed by Moshe Safdie, the architect who also designed the iconic Marina Bay Sands Singapore.

Built at a cost of $1.3 billion (S$1.7 billion), including land, Jewel’s striking dome-shaped glass and steel facade is already a head-turner. Inside, it aims to inspire awe by bringing Singapore’s “City in a Garden” concept to visitors to enjoy.

Garden Airport?

Stopover passengers will enjoy green Singapore even without stepping out of the airport.

The centerpiece of Jewel is a 40 meter-high Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall that will also field a light and sound show at night. Surrounding it is a verdant Forest Valley, one of Singapore’s largest climate-controlled indoor gardens, with sunlight filtering through Jewel’s glass roof. The valley is homes to thousands of trees, shrubs and flowering plants.

Walking trails will lead visitors to hike to the Canopy Park, a 14,000 square-meter park on the top floor that features themed gardens with life-sized animal topiaries and seasonal blooms.

As a playground for the young and young-at-heart, there are slides, bouncing nets and mazes. Discovery Slides, aside from being an artistic sculpture with a 6.5 meters observation deck from which to view the Forest Valley and Rain Vortex, offers four slides of different heights.

Foggy Bowls will let kids hop from cloud to cloud (about time there’s a kid’s attraction that’s not in the cloud), or let them play a game of hide-and-seek amid the mist. A hide-and-seek for adults might be better at the Hedge Maze, the largest maze of its kind in Singapore with its own lookout tower from which they can have a bird’s eye view of the entire attraction.

Retail Therapy for Changi

Non-aeronautical airport revenue from retail and food & beverage is without doubt a huge driver for Jewel, which is a joint development between Changi Airport Group (51 percent) and CapitaLand Mall Asia.

As of October 2018, the complex has more than 280 shops and eateries, of which 60 percent are new to Changi. Jewel has also drawn first-to-Singapore brands including Shake Shack, Pokemon, Laderach and Burger & Lobster. Meanwhile, homegrown brands such as Tiger Beer and Supermama will be introducing new concept stores there.

Changi dangles its record 65.6 million passenger movements in 2018 to these operators, as well as an increase in stopover traffic. Added to that, because the complex is located in the public area, outside the departure or flight transit zone, operators can count on the joint project owners to market Jewel heavily to the local population.

In a statement in October, Hung Jean, CEO of Jewel Changi Airport Development, said, “It is our vision for Jewel to be a unique destination like no other. Our thoughtfully curated tenant mix reflects Jewel’s aspiration to be a place where ‘Singapore Meets the World, and the World Meets Singapore.’

“Travelers today have grown more discerning about their destinations and their choice of airports to stopover. With this in mind, we hope to create a one-of-its kind, multi-dimensional destination at Changi Airport to fulfill these travelers’ needs. We firmly believe that Jewel’s unique retail proposition will enhance the overall Changi experience for the millions of travelers who pass through Changi Airport and attract more visitors to Singapore.”

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