Room to manoeuvre (The Straits Times) | Lao Tribune

Room to manoeuvre (The Straits Times)

WITHOUT a walk-in wardrobe or bathtub, the hotel room roughly half the size of a Housing Board studio apartment is hardly the poshest of its kind.

A sofa and a work table line the window, a mini-bar is stocked with mineral water bottles and a television set is fitted on a feature wall.

But for Young Lions captain Muhammad Al-Qaasimy Abdul Rahman, staying at the Days Hotel Singapore at Zhongshan Park in Balestier is a welcome change from living in his Housing Board flat in Tampines.

“For a start, I prefer staying in a hotel – they have much more comfortable beds,” said the 23-year-old. “This is my third SEA Games so I’ve stayed at other hotels and Games Villages. And I would say that to date, this is a luxury for me and my team.”

The last time Singapore hosted the SEA Games in 1993, some national athletes stayed in hotels during the competition while others remained at home due to budget constraints. This time, all 7,000 athletes and officials from the 11 participating countries will be housed in 20 hotels by their respective sports, including the Marina Bay Sands and Swissotel the Stamford.

“One of the benefits (of housing them in hotels) is that we are able to put our athletes and officials near the competition and training venues, reducing travelling time for them,” said Singapore South-east Asian Games Organising Committee (Singsoc) chief of games and manpower engagement, Muhammad Rostam Umar.

About 70 per cent of the 405 rooms at the Days Hotel will be occupied by the footballers during the Games. Each room, which is typically priced at $170 a night excluding taxes, has either a king-sized bed or two super-single beds.

The footballers are free to share the swimming pool and gym with all hotel guests.

Meals are prepared buffet-style by 15 chefs at the hotel, based on a standardised menu approved by Singsoc.

With the football competition starting tomorrow, teams such as Singapore, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Timor Leste, Brunei and Vietnam have already checked in to the Days Hotel.

For Al-Qaasimy, living close to rival teams helps to develop friendships off the field. “All 11 teams are staying here… we see each other in the lift, dining area, and this encourages us to talk to each other,” he said.

The Brunei footballers are staying focused. Said team manager Pg Mohd Amirrizal: “From day one, we instilled the mentality to stay focused, that we are coming here with a mission, not for shopping or on holiday.”

ngxtc@sph.com.sg