THE increasing number of hotels here with similar names has cabbies and tourists scratching their heads.
A quick check of the Singapore Tourism Board's hotel directory showed up eight Fragrance hotels, 19 Hotel 81s, three Copthorne hotels and two Furama hotels.
And the confusion may be compounded when the 20-year-old Oriental Singapore rebrands itself as Mandarin Oriental.
There is currently a Meritus Mandarin in Orchard Road and a Marina Mandarin next to Marina Square.
Sales executive Kym Lim, 28, said: "As it is, I am confused with all the Mandarins. Anyway, what is it that is so auspicious about the name Mandarin?"
One Marina Mandarin staff member told The Straits Times that one or two tourists are dropped off at the wrong Mandarin every month.
Mr Robin Ng, president of the CityCab Operators Association, told The Straits Times: "I don't know what it is with the hotels and their names now, they all sound the same."
Mr Nah Tua Bah, president of the Comfort Taxi Operators' Association, agreed. He said that for seasoned drivers like himself, the similar- sounding names are not a problem.
But, he said, it is confusing for new cabbies or tourists not familiar with local names.
Mr Nah said he had taken passengers to the wrong Furama a couple of times because they did not know the full name. There is a Furama Waterfront City Centre in Chinatown and a Furama RiverFront in Havelock Road.
MANDARINS ALL: (From left) Meritus Mandarin in Orchard Road, Marina Mandarin next to Marina Square and Oriental Singapore, which will soon be known as Mandarin Oriental. The Oriental's general manager says the name change is just "a realignment with our group brand name".
[ST photos: Shariya Yahaya]
Hotel managements, however, do not seem concerned. Citing the example of Hong Kong, the Oriental's general manager Rajesh Jhingon told The Straits Times that it is inevitable that in big cities, there will be hotel chains with similar names.
He does not think that the name change will cause much confusion. This is because the Mandarin Oriental group is a well-known chain. And the move is just "a realignment with our group brand name", which is Mandarin Oriental.
To ensure that the change is well publicised, the 20-year-old hotel is preparing to spend an undisclosed sum on advertising in the mass media, as well as organising public outreach programmes.
Mr Jhingon added that taxi drivers are one of the key groups the hotel is targeting.
The other two Mandarin hotels are not concerned either.
Mr Hideyuki Yanaka, vice-president of sales and marketing for Meritus Hotels and Resorts group, which owns the Meritus Mandarin and the Marina Mandarin, believes that "there should be little, if any, confusion" since the three hotels are long-established in Singapore and are "strongly differentiated and known in their own right".