Not a Naiise move

Not a Naiise move

Singapore’s home-grown retailer Naiise shuttered its remaining outlet in Jewel Changi Airport last weekend, making a sad ending to a business that was a champion for locally-designed stuff.

According to reports, its founder Dennis Tay had run out of money to keep the business afloat. He is also said to have exhausted his saving, borrowed from banks and is in the process of filing for personal bankruptcy.

While his side of the story is indeed sad, one can’t help but feel for the many suppliers who are left unpaid for sales of products — sold on a consignment basis.

The sums owed are not large and are unlikely to cause any of them to fold but it is still bad business practice from Naiise.

Suppliers have been unpaid from as far back as 2016 — that’s way before the opening of the spanking new outlet, with an in-shop cafe to boot, in Jewel Changi Airport. If the company was already in some form of financial distress, why did it still choose such a fanciful location? It seems that it would rather spend on a new outlet that pay its suppliers, many of which are small businesses.

Such a move could also give vendors the impression that the company is doing well, perhaps gaining a little more goodwill and tolerance when it comes to payment terms.

However, Naiise’ untimely closure plus the personal bankruptcy filed by its founder, may result in many of them remaining unpaid.

It is a fact that COVID-19 has hit retailers such as Naiise badly. But that doesn’t negate the fact that the retailer has been delinquent in paying vendors even before the pandemic.

The whole experience is part and parcel of the risk of doing business for the affected vendors. It is a painful lesson. But hopefully, it’s one that they will learn well from and that emerge stronger and succeed.

As consumers, we can support local companies by buying their products. They may not be as cheap as those bought online but treat it as our contribution to build a sustainable local market.

Changi Airport: A tourist attraction

Changi Airport: A tourist attraction

Singaporeans normally view Changi Airport as a place to board a plane for exotic tourist destinations. But, with travel curbs in place, the airport has itself become a tourist attraction.

Kudos to the folks running the airport for the immense efforts to draw people to the airport for reasons other than travelling. Well, if you stay at the other end of the island, it may feel like you’re heading to another town, another place.

Opened slightly more than a year ago, Jewel is a delightful mall to spend time a day in. It’s got everything — from food to shops, and hairstyling saloons to hotel. For this season, the gardens around the centrepiece Rain Vortex has been decked in Christmas glory, making for great sight seeing and photo opportunities.

Families who want something a little different can consider spending a night glamping at Cloud9 Piazza at Level 5.

While Terminal 3 may not be as crowded as before, it has also been given a Christmas makeover with dinosaurs, in line with the theme of Jurassic Mile. The fact that there’s less of a crowd is great because you can take your time to delight in the exhibits and take photos without having loads of photo bombers.

For the F1 wannabes, a go kart circuit — with separate tracks for children and adults — has been set up at the taxi rank outside Terminal 4.

A little round the corner is Jurassic Mile, which has also been decorated with lights to make it a sight to behold at night. Whether you’re a cyclist, walker or jogger, this stretch is worth exploring. But do note that you need to book a slot if you’re planning to be there on Fridays to Sundays.

So, if you’re looking for a place to go to during the holiday, consider Changi Airport — and you don’t have to worry about forgetting to bring your passport.

O’ Coffee Club souffle pancake: More please

O’ Coffee Club souffle pancake: More please

It took just one bad experience in Osaka to ruin our image of the souffle pancake. My family had just landed in the city and headed to a strategically located mall where the joint was at. We were awed by the photo of that pancake and ordered — expecting it to taste just as great as it looked.

Unfortunately, it was not to be. Neither the look nor the taste was as expected. In fact, it was awful.

Fast forward three years and my daughter and I were in our favourate haunt Jewel Changi Airport. We were looking to pack lunch home when she spotted a sign showing souffle pancake.

We have walked past that spot in the B2 food area countless times but somehow, haven’t seen this before. It’s an O’ Coffee Club kiosk serving just souffle pancakes.

Since she was game enough to give souffle pancakes a second chance (yes, she reminded me of the bad Osaka experience), I decided to join her.

“You have to wait 20 minutes” I was told while ordering. This was one day when I had the luxury of time so yes, we were prepared to wait.

The young lady behind the counter whisked the mix — first by machine, then by hand. She sliced the fruits and plated the pancake nicely for us.

OK, looks test passed. Now for the taste test.

We didn’t need the knife to cut through the pancake as it was so soft. One bite and yes, the souffle pancake has won redemption!

It is so good and here are our impressions:

  1. Nice and soft. All the shocking memories were erased when we dug in. This version is so soft and oh, so nice.
  2. Variety of fruits and sauces. Complementing the buttery but slightly bland pancake were the tanginess, sweetness and saltiness of the fruits and sauces. It’s like activating all the flavour senses in the tongue.
  3. More than enough for one. I’m not sure if the plate is intended for one person but with three pieces of pancakes and all the condiments, there’s more than enough for one person.
  4. Great effort and presentation. Seeing the young lady’s diligence and effort in preparing the dessert makes our hearts warm. And the presentation certainly makes it look more than its worth.
  5. Super value. At S$9.90 and big enough for you, it offers very good value for money.

Just as an indicator of how highly we rate the souffle pancake, we went there three times over a period of eight days. And the people we brought on subsequent visits all gave it the thumbs up.

The sad part is that come November 30, it will not longer be around in B2. The dessert may be added onto the O’ Coffee Club menu at its other Jewel outlet.

Verdict

Taste: 👍👍👍👍👍

Value: 👍👍👍👍👍

Jewel a gem even during this period!

Jewel a gem even during this period!

COVID-19 is sweeping the globe by storm, and many retailers are reeling from the effects of a drop in consumer spending as a result of a reduction of footfall in malls.

View of Jewel at night

Changi Airport’s Jewel, which was packed during its opening last year, was pretty quiet last night. Considering that it is the school holidays in Singapore, this is definitely not the norm or what its tenants had hoped for. Various travel restrictions imposed on the border have also affected the number of incoming passengers.

Most shops were opened but some had revised hours while others remained close during this period.

The Apple store was closed and will remain so until further notice. Lavender, a Malaysian bakery in Basement 2, also announced that it was closed till April 1, after the lifting of the ban from Malaysia on March 31. The Body Shop was closed when we walked past around 930pm though official hours stated that it closes at 10pm.

Notice of closure of Lavender

These closures aside, Jewel is still an incredibly attractive mall. I encourage locals to visit and support the shops during this period. Some of the attractions worth visiting include Canopy Park, Canopy Bridge, Sky nets (bouncing and walking), Hedge Maze, Mirror Maze, and Changi Experience Studio.

During my visit yesterday, we explored the Canopy Park which links many of the attractions. It has a Topiary Walk which displays animals in the form of floral and fauna, foggy bowls (the mist wasn’t turned on for health safety reasons I think), and Discovery Slide (only one was open). These attractions are free to access from now till March 31. On top of that, you’ll enjoy spectacular views of Jewel from here!

Let’s support our local malls during this period, but please practise social responsibility! It doesn’t hurt that Jewel provides free three-hour parking (with a minimum spend of $10 in a single receipt)!

Mesmerising Jewel!

Singapore has a new attraction. And it’s one that excites Singaporeans across the nation. So much as that an estimated half a million people squeezed into Jewel Changi Airport for a preview earlier this month.

When my turn came two Saturdays ago, I decided to avoid the Jewel car park and park at Terminal 3 instead.

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Jewel is connected to Terminals 2 and 3 by link bridges that come with travellators so visitors can save some energy for when the action starts.

The sound of waterfall greeted us as we stepped into the building. It was like the sound of the Pied Piper and all of us were drawn towards it.

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Much has been written about the 40-metre tall HSBC Rain Vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and the centre piece of Jewel. Facebook and other social media posts were filled with photos and videos from others who have seen it.

But, whatever has been read or seen online is nothing compared to the real thing. We felt like we were in a scene out of Avatar as we walked past trees towards the viewing gallery at Level 2.

Many were already waiting in anticipation for the light show as we inched our way to a good spot to watch and catch some good shots.

The waterfall was a delightful sight to behold. Though it’s man-made, it is so wonderfully designed. Just looking at the curtain of water flowing down from the roof to the basement made me feel so proud to be a Singaporean.

A burst of ooos, ahhhs and wows accompanied the lights that came on.

The half-hourly show was enchanting with the play of lights. It’s a must-see so make sure that you plan to stay till night time when you visit.

Besides the glorious waterfall, there are many other insta-worthy photo spots, including the Shiseido Forest Valley, which features more than 900 trees and 60,000 shrubs.

Shop and eat
Shopaholics will feel like they’ve entered a combination of Marina Bay Sands and Vivocity (two mega malls in Singapore). Jewel is huge and packs more than 280 shops and eateries. Locals were drawn to A&W, which went off grid many years ago, and Shake Shack.

For me though, the sight of Zara, Marks and Spencer, and Lim Chee Guan, the famous bak kwa store, is enough to convince me that this place is worth many more visits. My family calculated that it’d take more than two years of weekend dining to complete all the eateries here.

Play and enjoy
Catch the latest movies at the cinemas, including Singapore’s first dedicated children and family hall and next-generation IMAX hall which comes with laser.

By mid-May, children and the young at heart will certainly go wild as several Canopy Park attractions will open at the highest level. These include bouncing and walking nets, hedge and mirror mazes, discovery slides, foggy bowls, petal garden, topiary walk, and the canopy bridge.

Thoughtful planning
Sometimes, it’s not the bells and whistles that draw the crowd but the desire to provide good visitor experience. With its many levels of parking, one could be forgiven for forgetting where the car is parked. Here’s where a car finding system lets you enter the licence plate of the car and gives you the exact location. Now, that’s what I call “great deployment of technology”.

Thought is also given to travellers, since the mall is located at Changi Airport. Get this — up to 24 hours early check-in is available for 26 airlines, including Singapore Airlines. Those who cannot check in can store their luggage at Baggage Storage at Level 1 for between S$10 and S$45 for 24 hours. Even smaller items such as travel pillows can be stored at S$5 for 24 hours.

Asia’s first Yotelaor offers smartly designed cabins for travellers to catch some rest, work out or do some work.

Crowning glory
As such an iconic mall, Jewel will surely cement Changi Airport’s position as the world’s best airport. It’s the crowning glory to an amazing airport that I take great delight in whenever I’m travelling. I’m mesmerised and foresee that my family will be spending lots of time here, and find any excuse to do it.