Who is Seacare?
Seacare Co-operative Limited was formed by a group of trade union leaders in 1994 to “help and benefit Singapore seamen and their families through more work opportunities and appropriate investment projects”; as the membership of the Singapore Organisation of Seamen (SOS) decreased from 6800 in 1983 to 2265 in 1989. The decrease was due to the downturn in the shipping industry, and high competition from seamen worldwide. Seacare’s role is to ensure the displaced Seamen were able to secure alternative employment and at the same time be economically viable as a social enterprise.
Since then, Seacare is characterised by new incorporations, mergers, and acquisitions in its five business clusters, which includes: Investments, HR & Lifestyle, Property and Environmental, Medical & Maritime; and Hospitality.
You can also read more on Seacare Co-op here.
The Seacare Hotel
In 2000, Seacare purchased the 9-storey Seacare building at Chin Swee Road. Adjacent was the future 16-storey of The Seacare Hotel.
The Seacare Hotel was opened on 30 January 2013, and is also the first co-operative owned hotel here in Singapore. Members under the Seacare Sailors Home Scheme was expanded to provide fully subsidised hotel accommodation. This scheme allows eligible seafarers to enjoy a free stay at the Hotel, including breakfast.
Aside from the flagship Seacare Hotel in Singapore, Seacare also has a total of 12 hotels in Singapore, Malaysia and the United Kingdom.
The Learning Journey!
On 16 January 2020, I accompanied 18 students from Holy Innocents’ High School to Seacare Hotel (52 Chin Swee Road, 169875) as part of their learning journey to learn more about co-operatives. Before embarking on the learning journey, I was really excited as I always wanted to see the inner workings of a hotel, such as how do the staff prepare such a comfortable stay for the guests!
Upon arrival, we proceeded to one of the meeting rooms in the main building, the Seacare building; for a short presentation. Mr Vincent and Mr Zhi Wei warmly welcomed us. Mr Zhi Wei conducted the first part of the presentation, introducing us to Seacare Co-operative, it’s mission, vision and company profile. Later on, Mr Vincent continued on the second part and detailed the operations of the Seacare Hotel. The students listened intently while the presenters were giving their talk.
Through the presentation, I definitely learnt more about Seacare Co-op and the Seacare Hotel, which my learning points are summarised at the top of this article.
The presentation ended, and everyone warmly gave the two presenters a round of applause. It seems that the students have learnt as much as I do!
Mr Zhi Wei announced that we were going to tour the hotel. We proceeded to the hotel lobby, where we split up into two groups. I followed the second group, headed by one of the staff at the reception counter who acted as our tour guide.
First Stop: Sky Terrace!
The tour began when we proceeded up to the Sky Terrace on the 16th level, which is a huge casual resting area equipped with lounge chairs that offered panoramic views of the city. We explored the area, tried on the lounge chairs, and was amazed by the view offered by the Sky Terrace.
Second Stop: Can you be a chambermaid?
Thereafter, our tour guide directed us to one of the suites on the same level. In there, a chambermaid was preparing the room for the next guest, and she was in the process of keeping the room tidy. We evenly spread ourselves out, and watched the chambermaid demonstrate with steps on how to make a bed. To start off, she removed all existing used bedding. Then, she laid on a fresh sheet, neatly folded the corners, and tucked the loose ends between the frame and the bed. Then, she replaced the duvet cover, and finally added two pillows. The final result does look very crisp and neat! Next up, the students were allowed a chance to try out and replicate the process for the adjacent bed. Two boys were volunteered, the chambermaid gave them a head start by helping to lay down the fitted sheet. The boys then started to change the duvet, and initially had trouble to have the duvet evenly fill up all four corners of the duvet sheet. After much effort, the fit was perfect. They then laid down the duvet, and then added two pillows. Although it does not look as impeccable as the chambermaid’s work, it was definitely a very good try for them first-timers. Everyone generously applauded the boys for the great commendable attempt!
Third Stop: Sky Longue!
After that, we visited the Sky Longue, a rooftop bar complete with a huge wine shelf, and paired with high chairs and tables. Here, the students took a few minutes out to fill up the task sheet given at the start of the tour, which is designed to guide them along their learning journey as they learn more about co-operatives.
We then proceeded back down to the reception area where the students took a break and also attempted to finish up their task sheet, while waiting for the other tour group.
Bonus: Club 52
While waiting, I visited Club 52, a dining area that is fully equipped with a karaoke system, flashing stage lights and an elevated stage, along with a pool table too. It does look very cosy! Out of nowhere, something caught the corner of my eye. an old man was beckoning me to come over. I went over to him, and observed that he was busy with some sort of do-it-yourself project. He explained to me that he is a retired seaman, and was crafting phone stands out of scrap paper. Not only that, he also revealed that he was folding scrap papers into small stackable triangles, and was trying to construct a three-dimensional paper swan. “There’s a store right outside the hotel which has a huge three-dimensional paper swan,” he commented, “and I am trying to mimic it.” I was amazed, and wanted to ask more about his work of arts and his history of being a seaman, however I realised I strayed off the group for too long. Sadly I had to explain to him that I had to leave, and waved each other goodbyes.
When I exited from Club 52, I learnt from the reception staff that they had went down to the restaurant downstairs.
As strange as this story might seem, sadly due to time constrains I did not manage to take a picture with the retired seaman. However, I did a bit of exploring on another day, and found this:
This should be the three-dimensional paper origami swan that he was referring to. The swan is at [name of shop], on [name of street]
Final Stop: Vista Restaurant and Grill!
Anyways, back to the tour of the hotel! We concluded the tour at the Vista Restaurant and Grill, which is at Basement 1. The restaurant had a modern elegant vibe to it. The hotel staff had kindly prepared for us brunch consisting of Fried Bee Hoon, Samosa, spring rolls and French fries, with coffee, tea, and orange juice as beverages. The food was definitely scrumptious, and it is so great that I took around four servings! From what I observed, everyone did have a great meal, and the students thanked the restaurant staff and Mr Vincent.
That’s the end of the learning journey! The students returned back to school thereafter. Hope enjoyed reading this as much as I do!
This article is written by Wang Zizhao, current Year 5 students from Dunman High School, who did his Work Attachment Programme at Singapore National Co-operative Federation from 7 January to 29 January 2020. He enjoys exploring different locations in Singapore to take photos.