Goodbye, Copthorne Orchid Hotel

The 42-year-old iconic Copthorne Orchid Hotel along Dunearn Road (just before Whitley Road) will be walking into history on 1st April 2011. On its land covering almost 180,000 square feet, a high-end condominium of 150 units known as The Glyndebourne will be built.

The demolition of the six-storey hotel was initially planned to take place at the end of 2010, but the plans were shelved due to unfavourable property market sentiments.

The late Mr Kwek Hong Png, founder of Hong Heong Group, set up Heong Leong Company at Beach Road in 1940 with $7,000. The company expanded and diversified into different sectors over the years.

In 1972, Heong Leong entered into hospitality for the first time and took over Orchid Inn from the Pontiac Group. Orchid Inn would later become Novotel Orchid Inn and now Copthorne Orchid Hotel.

Long serving staff of Copthorne Orchid Hotel would tell you their hottest topic of the yesteryear was probably the romance of Hong Kong celebrity Chow Yun Fat and his Singaporean wife Jasmine Tan, who was once working as a receptionist at the hotel.

Other than the one at Dunearn Road, Heong Leong’s subsidiary Millennium & Copthorne Hotels (M&C) also owns Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel Singapore, Copthorne King’s Hotel Singapore as well as Copthorne Orchid Hotel of Penang, Malaysia.

The Glynebourne is expected to be completed by 2015.

Published: 09 March 2011

This entry was posted in General and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Goodbye, Copthorne Orchid Hotel

  1. Wendy says:

    Really sad to see this building go.
    A few of my bestie and i used to worked as pt banquet staffs in the late nineties
    We used to stay in the hotel room overnight as there was early breakfast for guest on seminars.

  2. Charisse says:

    This hotel has been so memorable for me and husband. We only stayed here for 4 nights yet the overall service, unit/ hotel facilities, and fine dining facilities was a great experience. Rooms here are so huge yet fairly affordable and that was extraordinary in Singapore. They serve breakfast and food was really great. We keep on coming back to Singapore and we cld no longer find a comfortable hotel as Copthorne Hotel. So sad that we cld no longer see it.

  3. Ingrid says:

    Before the Copthorne Hotel the building was actually “flats” owned by the K.P.M (Dutch Shipping Company) & I lived there from 1958 – 1967, so very sad to see that it is getting demolished.

    • Patrick says:

      Hi, Ingrid
      It is interesting to learn the Orchid Inn were ‘flats’.

      I do recall the top floor were operated as ‘apartments’ for guests. Perhaps the lower floors were renovated into smaller rooms giving rise to more guest rooms. The apartments do have a homely feel about it and overlooked the swimming pool. Your contribution has given me a better perspective of the property.

      And yes, it is sad that the place is just a memory.

      • Karen says:

        We lived in an apartment in the Orchid Inn for about 4 months in 1973/4 when my father who was in the Royal Air Force was seconded to the RSAF and we were waiting for a house on Tengah Air Base. I was 10 and I remember it very fondly.

  4. william hill says:

    i used this hotel so many times when on business in singapore large rooms ( garden rooms lovely) for the pool in the morining, the hotel was restfull but only a short taxi from the town , The staff were as good if not better than most great shame indeed, stayed there from 1986 and was still booking there 2000 and on
    best memories great staff!!!!!!

  5. Patrick Chue says:

    Once Upon A Time, the Orchid Inn was operated by General Manager, Ishikawa – which explains the presence of the Kiku Restaurant then.

    The Hong Leong Group then took over the entire hotel and placed it under the management of the Accor Group.It promptly became the Novotel Orchid Inn.

    Familiar, tested cozy haunts in the original wing was revamped. All, except the thriving Charming Garden Restaurant fronting the ever relaxing koi and turtle pond. This outlet, the first of Tung Lok Group’s offering served Hunan cuisine to full house diners regularly.,

    At the old wing, the iconic Moby Dick Coffeehouse was reborn as the Tropics Coffeehouse. Its legendary BBQ evenings,. however, continued to enthrall. The watering hole to end all bar-crawling lounge lizards, the Vanda Bar, became Cheers, The Music Pub.

    Both outlets were A-listers to Bukit Timah’s rich and famous. And with the race course as its neighbour, the Moby Dick and Vanda Bar, and then the Tropics and Cheers were places where the world went to drink to remember or to forget! Most went there just to be seen.

    The Japanese Kiku Restaurant was transformed into the Le Pescadou Restaurant. The French offerings were at odds with the people fronting it – IMAGINE ….Chef Bidou, the accordion playing celebrity chef and Hong Konger Justin Chan, a fair, young John Lennon look-a-like came as a pleasant package. They rarely disappointed. The dining experience there keeps tempting you back.

    The Plymouth Wing sprouted new bedrooms, function rooms and the Dragon City Restaurant.
    The workforce began breathing Job Enlargement and Multi-Tasking when it was then unheard of.
    Service standards eased seamlessly integrating the old with the new.

    Novotel Orchid Inn’s Poolside promotions never failed to mesmerize. Especially the Tahiti Nights where enchanting south sea islanders brought the magic of French Polynesia to both,the bewildered and the bewitched alike. Immerse yourself in the sets of South Pacific and Blue Hawaii. wow!

    A lesser known fact is that the hotel remarkably was ECO-friendly way back in the 1980s… it had extensive solar panels on its rooftop to harness solar energy for non-fossil fuel. Incredible. The Hong Leong Group was already going Green way before their landmark ECO-friendly City Square mall at Kitchener Road took shape.

    My tale stops here, waiting for someone else to continue the story. My account condenses my 9 yrs of service at the hotel. Beyond that, the Copthorne episode awaits another writer.

    • arash says:

      Too bad to see it gone and with it some of my best childhood memories…

      Stayed there for many months back in 1986/87….learnt how to swim in the pool…an Asian band, including 3 girls and a young man used to play every night at the bar and as a kid I used to enjoy watching them play from the Lobby which overlooked the stage…I remember they sang many good songs like the “Power of Love” that was re-produced most notably by Celine Dion many years later…

      We were on the 3rd floor. Affordable rooms for longer stays…The staff were great and good to kids, mostly . I remember one of the managers by the name of Jimmy Tan…a man in his late 20’s back then, I believe. I also remember Mohammad Yatim, the kind bellman as well as Sharifa and Jennifer both beautiful kind-hearted young woman receptionists…please anyone, tell me if you know these people, so I can stay in touch with them.

      There was a free bus transfer service to and from Orchard road that we used many times…the bus was driven by different members of the concierge or the bell staff…

      I returned for a visit in 1990, but didn’t stay there since we had a home in Singapore then…

      Too bad I didn’t get to stay in the following years…

      Goodbye Novotel Orchid Inn…you will always remain in my memories…and you will be sorely missed…

      • Patrick says:

        Notable local bands that entertained were Speedway and The Neu Faces (with Jerry Fernandez). The girl band concept were typically of Filipino origin. Don’t recall a local girls with a guy group.

        Yes, there were scheduled shuttlebus trip to and from the hotel to Orchard Road. Initially the embarking and disembarking point was at the CentrePoint. It was then shifted to Orchard Towers.

        The pleasant staff you mentioned, and yes … there were countless gems there, have all dispersed
        on moved on.

  6. Ingrid says:

    Hello Karen,Patrick and others who have commented, I have a postcard of the Orchid Inn and it shows the pool area and the Fritz German Restaurant so am presuming from the 70’s?

    As you can see the restaurant is a German one called Fritz Restaurant and Bar although I did not go there then.

    I lived there from 1958 – 1967 when they were flats built & owned by the K.P.M / R.I.L (Dutch shipping Company) for their employees and families.
    I have also attached a photo from the National Archives of Singapore of the flats getting built in 1953. The grand opening was on the 9th of
    October 1953.

    • Hi, sure. You can email the photo to me at and I will attach it under your comment. Alternatively, you can upload the photo to any hosting websites (such as photobucket or tinypic) and share the link here. 🙂

      • Patrick Chue says:


        I don’t know of a Fritz German Restaurant operating out of Orchid Inn / Novotel Orchid Inn during my over 9-yr stint as Personnel & Security Manger, beginning during the Orchid Inn days when it was under the Pontiac Group. The then General Manager was Mr Ishikawa, who was subsequently replaced by Philip Sim Ah Hock when it became the Novotel Orchid Inn. Philip was soon replaced by a succession of French managers .. Pierre Eber, Loic Gendron, Henry Ruc

        Orchid Inn’s Kiku Restaurant became the Le Pescadou Restaurant (French) when managed by the ACCOR Group as the Novotel Orchid Inn Hotel.

        There was a short spell – after Kiku Restaurant’s demise that saw the premises operating as the Wienerwald Restaurant …. serving tantalizing chicken fare. The Wienerwald brand was then famous as the largest fast-food restaurant chain in Germany. However, poor marketing worldwide resulted in people perceiving that the restaurant served only wieners (sausage dishes). Hence, many missed out on the great chicken dishes whipped up in the kitchen.

        Could this be the German diner you are referring to?

        With MH air tragedies and AirAsia craft lost at sea recently, I pen here snippets tied to the Novotel Orchid Inn.

        The late Reggie Shui, Senior Vice President for Shanghai-based Accor Asia Pacific, was among the casualties of the tsunami that hit the Kao Lak seafront in southern Thailand on 26/Dec/2004.
        Reggie, his wife and 2 of their 3 children died in the tragedy. A US citizen educated in HK and New York, was assigned to the Novotel Orchid Inn as Resident Manger in 1986.

  7. millie says:

    i will definitely miss this place.. a place where i worked as a student trainee at limelight karaoke lounge.. still on my mind how we laugh with my co-workers.. angela, peter and Mr.William.. a lot of memories that i will keep and treasure forever.

    • John says:

      I stayed there on many occasions. I recall having many memorable nights in the karaoke bar. I think a guy named William was the bar manager in those days.

  8. Suzy says:

    My parents emigrated to Australia as £10 Poms. My father got a job on the oil rigs and we were relocated to Singapore and initially based in the Orchid Inn. It holds so many memories for me including the pool which always seemed to have a thunderstorm over it! I used to run around it like it was my house and the staff knew my favourite foods. Went back when I was 35 and the pool was tiny! Some of the best memories I will ever hold.

    Suzy, London

  9. TK CHIA says:

    I remember Wienwerwald, it served German style roast chicken and no longer remmber the name of the Indian Manager who did a great job remembering the guests. It was never really popluar but the food was great.
    I was told that many British Forces service families stayed there in the 1960s.

    Just wondering if a Japanese bar and restuarant called Birds & Bottles was located here or somewhere else on Bukit Timah Road. It was a teppan yaki as sushi was still not common in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s