It has been more than a month since Jewel Changi Airport opened to much fanfare. Jewel bills itself as a delicious destination with 112 dining outlets taking up to 40% of its tenancy among other retail offerings, attractions, a hotel and airport facilities under one roof. While there are many spanking new flagships for you to indulge in your shopaholic tendencies (hello, biggest Nike store in Singapore), the F&B department here is truly the, ‘jewel ‘in Jewel’s crown.
Adding pizzazz to the dining line-up, many home-grown and international F&B companies are presenting their best foot and food forward at Jewel Changi Airport by spinning off new food concepts and elevating the look and design of their shops.
- $1.7 billion joint venture between airport operator Changi Airport Group and CapitaLand
- Located next to Terminal 1, Changi Airport
- Officially opened on 17 April, 2019
- At 90,000 sq m, Jewel's retail size is comparable to CapitaLand's Ion Orchard
- 280 shops with 112 food-and-beverage outlets
- 21,100 sq m of indoor gardens and attractions including the world's tallest indoor waterfall, the 40m-high HSBC Rain Vortex
WHY THE FOCUS ON F&B?
Oh well, eating is the national pastime in Singapore after all and Changi Airport Group estimates 60% of the visitors will be locals. Real estate services firm JLL put F&B space in Singapore malls at over 30 per cent, compared with 23 per cent in rival shopping destination Hong Kong and 10-15 per cent in Europe. The often-billed shopping paradise, with Asia's highest retail space per capita, has seen vacancy rates and rents near their weakest in at least six years - metrics which place its malls among the worst-performing of the region's bigger economies. To make up for lost revenue, Singapore mall operators have increased the space for food and beverage (F&B) tenants.
"The beauty about F&B tenancies in an airport location is that they have a captive audience so much so that they are becoming the ‘destinations’ at airports. This is even more pronounced in Asia which has always had a strong dining out culture and so it is not surprising that millennials in the region are foodies, with many sharing their dining experiences on social media and posting reviews online," says Adam Summerville, Lead Partner at Ground Control, a specialised consultancy for the travel retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.
SHAKE SHACK (#02-256)
Expectedly, burger-hungry Singaporeans showed their love with queues reportedly starting from an ungodly 4.30am on its opening day. Its first store in Singapore, this outlet also boasts Singapore-exclusive items in their bid to pay homage to local flavours, such as the Pandan Shake and Jewela Melaka Concrete. Shake Shack's location within Jewel Changi Airport is prime retail real estate— it’s right at the mall’s entrance and you can’t miss it as you walk through the doors.
The roomy dining room on the first floor sits 90 with another 90 on the second floor. A video wall with cool Singapore-centric graphics make a visually stunning display. If you are lucky enough to grab a table deep inside the first level dining room, you’ll enjoy a partial view of the HSBC rain vortex.
As you head upstairs, you’ll be greeted with a calmer ambience away from the crazy crowds below with a bird’s eye view. Check out the amazing mural and groovy lamps. The cozy booth seats here also give off an American diner vibe.
STARBUCKS RESERVE (#02-204)
The Starbucks flagship store is a 2-storey wonder, with a wood-heavy design and decorated with indoor plants. It also includes an interactive Reserve Coffee Bar where you can have a chat over coffee with their friendly baristas. The design echoes off Jewel Changi Airport’s nature-heavy concept—some people have compared it to the world of Avatar because of Jewel Changi Airport’s centrepiece of a waterfall surrounded by shrubbery.
Singapore-based artist Sean Dunston spent two months hand-chiselling the Starbucks Siren onto the wall leading up to the second storey, and included a couple of subtle references to Singapore culture — the Siren’s brocade is decorated with Peranakan patterns and she has a Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid tucked behind her ear.
The feature wall on the spacious upper level is made up of Starbucks Reserve labels. The upper level of the Flagship also houses a vast Art Room, which can be closed off for functions and workshops, but is otherwise open to anyone who enjoys coffee. Expect lots of unique and original art hung on the walls, comfy luxe seats oozing the luxe feel of an airport lounge than a coffee joint.
TIGER STREET LAB (#05-205)
It’s homegrown brand Tiger Beer's first global concept store. Visitors will be able to experience seasonal Tiger brews and local food collaborations. Before you leave, be sure to head for the interactive digital customisation panel just beside the bar. With the press of a few buttons, you can personalise your own limited edition Tiger beer bottle and discover merchandise designed by Singapore artists.
PAZZION CAFE (#B1-243)
Contemporary footwear brand PAZZION has opened as a lifestyle extension to its footwear retail business to create a holistic shopping experience. Designed in monochromatic tones of black and white, the cafe looks to give off a modern chic and understated elegant vibe with a hint of nostalgia. The cafe includes a feature wall set with a shelving unit that displays a selection of vintage-looking props, such as a typewriter, telephone, and metal globe. Outside the cafe, there is more seating allowing customers to capture the view of Jewel Changi Airport’s iconic Rain Vortex.
MUJI CAFE & MEAL (#02-227/228/229)
One of the chain’s latest stores reside in Jewel Changi Airport, boasting two storeys and a cafe within its premises. The lower level is a collection of apparels, health and beauty products, food, travel goods, while the upper level houses the 88-seater Cafe & Meal MUJI and housekeeping, living room, bedroom and kitchen products, all in a gorgeous wood setting.
What’s interesting, is Muji’s interior advisor service, which comes completely free. The helpful sales assistant confirms that customers do not have to buy anything before using the service. Homeowners simply have to email email@example.com to fix a consultation, following which they will be presented with an ideal layout. The assistant adds that most customers purchase items from Muji after using the service.
Among Changi’s top 10 markets in 2018, India and Japan registered the strongest growth rising 12% and 10% respectively. This was followed by China and Vietnam which saw annual growth of 7%. To cater to its key markets, Jewel Changi Airport has a strong Asian F&B offerings ranging from dim sum specialists Din Tai Fung and Tim Ho Wan to local Michelin-starred roast specialist, Kam's Roast. One of the restaurants worth highlighting is Shang Social, a contemporary restaurant-bar-retail space, reimagining Chinese cuisine through high tables, a showcase kitchen, plush booth seats, an ice-cream stand and a chic, light-filled cocktail bar. If you find the name familiar, it is because this is the first standalone concept by the Shangri-La Hotel Group.
SHANG SOCIAL ( #01-219 to 222)
Tapping on the group’s growing presence in China and its stable of more than 100 Chinese chefs, the restaurant serves Cantonese, Huaiyang and Sichuan food. The 220-seat restaurant is divided into three sections. In the casual area, Marketplace, diners can tuck into dim sum and noodles as they observe chefs in action behind a theatre-like counter. In the more upmarket Dining area, there are plush peach-hued booth seats with chic hanging lamps. The bar, which serves bespoke cocktails with Chinese tapas, is lit up with light orbs on brass stands and exudes an old-world glamour of being in front of vanity mirror lights.
In a rush to buy some souvenirs for your overseas friends before flying off? Jewel Changi Airport also houses many local favourites like Bengawan Solo, Old Chang Kee, Bee Cheng Hiang and Rich & Good Cake Shop which all sport a contemporary store design in their new homes.
BENGAWAN SOLO (#01-228/229)
Home-grown confectionery chain Bengawan Solo goes for an upmarket look at its Jewel outlet, serving up its selection of kueh that is found in outlets island-wide. Gone are the no-frills shop design and in its place is a garden-themed interiors. Framing the cake display is a trellis that is adorned with orchids and a table decked out in kueh greets visitors at the door. There is even a demonstration counter where treats such as kueh lapis are rolled out a la minute.
RICH & GOOD CAKE SHOP (#01-232)
After decades of operating in its Kandahar Street shophouse unit, popular swiss roll shop Rich & Good Cake Shop makes its debut in a mall. The old-school cake house looks ready to take on the millennial generation — with its sleek gold-rimmed baby pink cake counter and LED screens showing flatlays of its cakes and the baking process. Expect 10 flavours of its famed soft and fluffy Swiss rolls in flavours such as red velvet, durian, kaya and green tea (from $9 each). The shop will also serve mini versions of its cakes (from $5 each).
From popular dining establishments and local fast food favourites to millennial-friendly hippie spots, it remains to be seen if Jewel Changi Airport's F&B strategy will reach its ambitious goal of 40-50 million visitors annually. Early numbers look promising with a record 500,000 visitors during a 6 day preview prior to its opening.The key takeaway from this gastronomic journey is that social media is taking on a bigger role and influencing food options offered, a successful F&B business isn't just about how good the food tastes because restaurant design, marketing, atmosphere and service are equally important. If anything, this trip to Jewel is definitely worth it with lots to take in (literally) and brick-and-mortar retail is well and truly alive in Singapore.