The Celebrities Of Raffles Hotel Are Not Who You Think They Are

In light of Raf­fles Hotel’s restora­tion, we dig up (lit­er­al­ly) mem­o­ries that were per­haps swept under the expen­sive car­pets of Raf­fles (fun fact: one in par­tic­u­lar costs a whop­ping six-dig­its). Raf­fles Hotel has with­stood the test of time and has seen many walk through its dou­ble doors. Well doc­u­ment­ed amongst the esteemed guests are King of Pop Michael Jack­son, actor John Wayne, Hong Kong star Jack­ie Chan, Her Majesty Queen Eliz­a­beth the II and even (report­ed­ly) a tiger.

Yet, the spot­light shines more bright­ly on an entire­ly dif­fer­ent set of celebri­ties, the drama­tis per­son­ae who run the show at Raf­fles Hotel 24/7.

Open­ing doors. Pol­ish­ing floors. Man­ag­ing a team of ground staff. Scam­per­ing to get whims and errands checked. These are some of the dai­ly per­for­mances of the Raf­fles Hotel vaude­vil­lians, and we are mere­ly scrap­ing the sur­face of the vari­eties under their belt.

Front office man­ag­er Bernd mono­logues his guests’ requests to his audi­ence (his staff) and makes sure, like every good actor does, that the guests’ names are pro­nounced accu­rate­ly. Yes, the accents and all. Over­see­ing the lob­by and val­or­ous­ly appeas­ing guests are but some of the events sched­uled for him.

But­ler ser­vice!” says Yu Jun. You would hear her chirpy voice through the door as a new day begins at Raf­fles Hotel. Be it the extra tow­els a guest has request­ed, or a round of break­fast served in bed, the but­lers of Raf­fles Hotel are always ready to indulge in their inner Alfreds.  Prob­a­bly the most inde­fati­ga­ble char­ac­ters present, you’ll see them scur­ry­ing the halls and loy­al­ly attend­ing to every sin­gle whim.

While on the top­ic of whims, Roslee would know best. He is the duty man­ag­er of Raf­fles Hotel, and his the­atrics would prove to be a com­ic relief to the poignan­cy of Raf­fles’ tem­po­rary clo­sure. Befit­ting of his role as a duty man­ag­er, he sees to dozens of tourists who wan­der in and out to mar­vel at the beau­ty of both the hotel and Sin­ga­pore. Pho­tog­ra­ph­er, his­to­ri­an, come­di­an and a man­ag­er rolled into one, he is per­haps the most ver­sa­tile of char­ac­ters.

Down in the kitchen, amongst the sil­ver pots and pans, we have exec­u­tive chef Pierre Bur­gade. He orches­trates a whole band of cooks and his sous chefs to put togeth­er a five-star spread — be it the famous Raf­fles Hotel high tea or a gala din­ner. The sym­pho­ny of flavours and the har­mo­ny of the dish­es are all because of his excep­tion­al pup­peteer­ing skills. With an eye for excel­lence and a pen­chant for per­fec­tion, guests nev­er fail to leave hap­py each time.

These unsung ‘celebs’ of Raf­fles Hotel are but a named few of the many more who play equal­ly impor­tant roles in the day-to-day run­ning. They are not just actors play­ing their parts — they are fam­i­ly. Raf­fles Hotel is their home — as some of the long-stand­ing guests would remark.

And as Raf­fles once more open its doors lat­er this year, the spot­light will again be on these vaude­vil­lians to viv­i­fy.

Catch ‘Raf­fles: Remak­ing an Icon’ to check out the unseen sto­ries of Raf­fles Hotel. It airs this Sun­day at 8pm, on Chan­nel NewsA­sia.

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