While some hoteliers design with the Instagram crowd in mind, Frederico Asaro is taking the opposite route by going back to the basics.

"We don't chase trends," says the CEO and founder of Samadhi Retreats. "We celebrate a building's original soul."

Samadhi Retreats' newest property is the Villa Samadhi Singapore, a 20-room restored colonial residence near Labrador Park.

The company also owns Japamala Resort in Tioman Island, and Villa Samadhi Kuala Lumpur, a villa-in-a-room urban retreat.

When Mr Asaro took over the building that would become the Villa Samadhi Singapore three years ago, it was dilapidated, and the 20th century colonial garrison needed a complete restoration .

Wood sourced from old houses in Malaysia was brought in to repair the building. The furniture in the rooms are newly constructed but made from old wood.


As a result, this Villa Samadhi presents the elegant charm of old Malaya. The rooms come with four poster beds, and some feature standalone bath tubs. And forget about tapping a card to get into the rooms. "We use the lock and key system here," says Mr Asaro. Prices start from $395.

He reassures that the rooms come with modern amenities, such as air-conditioning, wireless Internet, and a fully stocked minibar.

While putting in the right hardware is essential, just as important is ensuring the best guest experience.

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"We appeal to the traveller rather than to the tourist," he says. "Our guests are those who don't want to stay in a closed up hotel in the city, but are looking for a different experience that is more than a fad."

He cites the example of how guests can not only have their breakfast in The Library, but also along the open corridor outside their rooms. "If they wish, we can also pack a picnic basket for them to have it at Labrador Park." Unlike other places, the resort serves breakfast all day.

Villa Samadhi Singapore also offers taichi, yoga and meditation classes in a private field next to the resort.

And rather than head to the malls, guests can do day trips to popular Malaysian spots such as Malacca, Muar or Kota Tinggi.

Under the company's Travels with Samadhi program, guests can join a collection of specially crafted tours for that off-the-beaten-path adventure.

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"We are all about creating experiences, from our properties to our services," says Mr Asaro.

Villa Samadhi Singapore is 20 Labrador Villa Road. T: 62745674.

Written by Tay Suan Chiang for The Business Times