I came across an unexpected find when I visited the Goodwood Park Hotel in June 2011. This hotel has a history that dates back to 1900. The tower wing was designed by R.A.J. Bidwell of Swan and MacLaren.
The building, which is the present-day Goodwood Park Hotel, started out as the Teutonia Club which was opened to Germans and German-speaking people. This building on Scotts Road was opened on 21 September 1900 by Sir James Alexander Swettenham (Acting Governor of the Straits Settlements). The building was to fashion after the castles of the Rhine to reflect the German heritage of the Teutonia Club. Politics seemed to play a part when the Teutonia Club was confiscated by the British in 1914 after World War I broke out.
In 1918, the Manasseh brothers bought over the property and renamed it Goodwood Hall after the residence of the Duke of Richmond and Gordon in England. Goodwood Hall served as a restaurant-cafe-entertainment establishment. In 1929, the Manasseh brothers converted Goodwood Hall into a full-fledged hotel and renamed it Goodwood Park Hotel.
Besides the rich and interesting history of the Goodwood Park Hotel, I had the great luck to chance upon treasures while I was at the hotel. Within walking distance from the main lobby, there was an exhibition corner named "Tang Treasures Suite".
I saw artifacts on display and I could clearly recognize that these were from the Tang Shipwreck Treasure: Singapore's Maritime Collection! This collection is a ninth century shipwreck of Arab origin loaded with Chinese artifacts and ceramics from the Tang dynasty. The shipwreck was discovered in 1998 in Belitung. One of the significance of this collection is that the shipwreck is presently the only known vessel in the world with a complete load of ninth century cargo. The discovery of this shipwreck also confirmed that trading via a sea route between Arab and China existed as early as the ninth century.
The guests and visitors are very lucky to have the privilege to get good views of the Changsha wares and many other ceramics from the collection. Although there are limited number of artifacts on display at Goodwork Park Hotel's Tang Treasures Suite, I thought that having the modest gallery was still a very thoughtful way to introduce guests and visitors to this ninth century shipwreck.
Being curious, I asked one of the staff members about the artifacts in the Tang Treasures Suite. I subsequently learnt that the acquisition of the collection was made possible by the generous donation of the Estate of Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat. This got me to read up more about Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat.
I learnt that in 1968, the billionaire banker and hotelier, Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat, had bought over the Goodwood Hotel. Currently, the hotel is under the management of Mrs Mavis Oei, daughter of Tan Sri Khoo Teck Puat.
The artifacts on display at the Tang Treasures Suite in Goodwork Park Hotel make a good introduction to the ninth century cargo that was discovered in Belitung. The rest of the collection will be on display at the ArtScience Museum till 31 Jul 2011. If you are interested to see the brilliant gold cups and the rest of the collection, please visit the exhibition "Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds" by 31 Jul 2011. Admission to the ArtScience Museum is $30 per adult.
Other than the treasures in the Tang Treasures Suite which is thoughtfully complimentary (i.e. admission is free-of-charge), guests and visitors to Goodwood Park Hotel can enjoy yet another delight for an affordable charge: mouth-watering durian pastries and more. Even this little girl seemed as if she cannot resist the delicious delights.