With Chien Noir and the team, who hand wove the bouncing nets attraction
Another special point we are proud of at Jewel is its lush greenery. When we were choosing the plants to feature in Jewel, we had to consider different criteria including aesthetics and their ability to thrive within the complex given its light levels, temperature and humidity conditions. Before they were transported to Singapore, many of the trees had to be pruned to fit into containers for sea freight. Once they arrived, they were nursed to health at an off-site nursery and acclimatised to Singapore’s tropical weather. We even recreated a life-size “slice” of the Forest Valley at the nursery! The procurement of the trees took approximately nine months and another two years for the trees to be nursed locally. Today, Jewel houses more than 2,000 trees and palms and over 100,000 shrubs that originate from the world over, including Australia, China, Spain and USA.
On the retail front, many brands from far and wide have planted their first flags in Singapore right here at Jewel, including Singapore’s first Shake Shack. While it opened with a big bang to long queues, the tenancy agreement was actually on the line to the very last minute of our retail and F&B announcement to the media, due to the complications of the deal. I recall (not so fondly) the many times we had to seek the understanding of the media to reschedule the media briefing for the retail launch even at the very last minute.
Not many people may know this, but from the beginning of our master-planning of the Jewel layout (even before the architect was on board) we had specially created duplex stores to allow brands to fully express their store experience and display products in an extra-large format. Shake Shack, Apple, Nike and Starbucks are among brands that are hugely popular among visitors. On hindsight, if there was something we would do differently, I think we should have been bolder to incorporate more of such formats in Jewel, as they are highly sought after now.
When Jewel finally opened its doors in April 2019, nobody could have predicted the overwhelming response it would receive. With all our airport operations experience, we had meticulously conducted operational readiness trials (unheard of for a shopping mall) to plan for a smooth opening. We tested queues and crowd management procedures, and even went down to details such as stress-testing the toilets and the loads on the flushing system. But not in our wildest dreams did we anticipate how fast the bins around Jewel would get full due to the crowds! But it was a happy problem, all hands were on deck during the first week to help clear the bins and of course, we subsequently ordered more of them.