SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): For his first Singapore Grand Prix experience this weekend, American entrepreneur Rembrandt Flores will be in a race of his own as he makes his no-expenses-spared week-long trip here count.
On the business front, the founder of a Los Angeles-based Web3 consultancy is here also for Asia Crypto Week, where he is attending various crypto conferences including its flagship event Token2049.
Web3 refers to a vision of a decentralised Internet built around blockchains, crypto's underlying technology, and his company 8Commas, is a blockchain and Metaverse marketing agency.
The highlight of his packed itinerary for play is race day on Oct 2 - he and his group of around 10 friends will be watching the unofficial "most gruelling race in the F1 calendar" from the air-conditioned comfort of the Paddock Club. The race weekend kicks off on Friday.
A three-day package this year at the Paddock Club, which is located just above the pit garages, costs a cool $9,898. Ticket holders also get access to walk down the pit lane pre-race to check out the cars and race crews.
Other items on Flores' high-end playlist - a meal at Michelin-star restaurant Burnt Ends; F1 after-parties at Mandala Weekender and the exclusive Amber Lounge; and a private yacht trip around Sentosa.
The upcoming F1 race is bringing with it big spenders like him. Corporate entities, too, are entertaining clients at hotel suites and aboard yacht charters.
Flores, who is in his 40s, estimates his total spending for the week at upwards of US$30,000 (S$43,000) - for expenses such as the conference passes, stay at a five-star hotel in Orchard Road and flights.
"Singapore has grown so much since the last time I was here 10 years ago, and it's so exciting that it's finally in a place where it can showcase itself to the rest of the world again... It's a spectacle in the best way and I can't wait to experience it this weekend," he said.
Brisk business for yacht charters is de rigueur when big spenders are in town.
Bertrand Bidaud, founder of yacht charter firm Sing Experience, said one trip can easily cost up to $20,000.
"But really there is no limit," he added.
His yacht charter services around Sentosa are fully booked for this year's F1 season, mostly by corporate customers who are pulling out all the stops to give guests a special experience during the race weekend. Entertainment on board includes performances by opera singers.
He said of the appeal of such services: "These boats are a great opportunity for them to network because once you get someone on board, they aren't going anywhere else for the remainder of the four-hour rental block."
There is a fair bit of splurging at bars and restaurants too - track-side establishments are levying additional cover charges but many of them are almost fully booked this weekend.
Tickets for race-viewing parties at venues near or around the track have been snapped up, including at rooftop bars Stork at Andaz Singapore in Fraser Street and 1-Arden Bar at CapitaSpring in Market Street.
Stork, for instance, has a $50 cover charge for its Friday and Saturday parties, but tickets are almost sold out. Around 60 per cent of the tickets were purchased by international visitors, said the hotel's director of food and beverage, Mr Franck Detrait.
1-Arden Bar's Saturday and Sunday circuit parties will have a cover charge of $68 per person. The venue said that reservations are filling up quickly.
Over at Ce La Vi Singapore, located atop Marina Bay Sands (MBS), its club lounge is fully booked for the weekend, while its restaurant and SkyBar are close to it.
Nightclubs too are seeing roaring business this weekend. After a two-year hiatus, many of them are expecting the race to be the much-needed boost for business.
Tables for Friday and Saturday night at Zouk in Clarke Quay were fully booked since last week. While the entry prices per person are at $75 for Friday and $65 for Saturday, a night's spend at a table often reaches thousands of dollars.
Early bird and advance tickets for their headlining acts, namely Singaporean DJ Wukong and Dutch DJ Jeffrey Sutorius, sold out by mid-September.
Similarly, VIP tables for Marquee at MBS sold out last week. Online tickets priced at $80 for the club's F1 weekend headlining acts - American DJ Steve Aoki and Dutch DJ Afrojack - also sold out last week.
The Singapore Grand Prix is the only night race on F1's calendar, generating over $1.5 billion in incremental tourism receipts for Singapore and attracting over 550,000 unique international visitors since its debut.
This year's race is set to see the largest attendance since the inaugural edition in 2008, which drew a three-day total of 300,000 spectators.
A week's tab
US entrepreneur Rembrandt Flores' spending for his F1 Singapore experience:
1. VIP ticket for Token2049: $7,193
2. 7-day stay at 5-star hotel: $16,380
3. Amber Lounge 10-person table: $2,500 per person
4. Dinner at Burnt Ends: $800
5. Yacht party around Sentosa: $2,500 for his portion
6. Paddock Club: $15,000