104-year-old ship-hotel opening this June in Bintan

The highly anticipated floating hotel, Doulos Phos is ready to open in June, the launch just one of Bintan Island’s flurry of new plans and developments.

The 104-year-old-vessel first set sail in 1914, two years after the Titanic, and still holds the reputation of “World’s Oldest Active Ocean Going Passenger Ship” in the Guinness World Records.

Doulos Phos, which means servant and light in Greek, once ferried passengers and last served as a floating library for 32 years by Christian ministry, Operation Mobilisation.

Pegged at a final cost of S$23 million (US$17m), Singaporean businessman Eric Saw purchased the ship in 2010, thereafter breathing new life and vision into the ship, where he hopes to welcome couples, MICE groups, while also making room for the international maritime fraternity.

“Many in the trade are asking when I’m opening the deck, they know that this was MV Doulos and they want to see the makeover we’ve given her,” shares Saw.

Docked permanently beside Bintan’s Bandar Bentan Telani ferry terminal, guests need only walk 10-minutes or take a three-minute buggy ride to the gated entrance of the ship-hotel, which is anchored at a private isle.

Instead of a cruise ship’s usual capacity of thousands, Saw refurbished the vessel to operate with just 104 cabins. None of the upscale luxury ship-hotel’s themed cabins are the same, making it an attractive choice for couples who seek their own pocket of privacy in a fresh setting.

In light of the rising bleisure – business and leisure – travel scene, Saw is also looking at Singaporean MICE groups looking to host on a more intimate setting, since Doulos Phos is fitted with conference and meeting rooms as well.

It is also possible to close the ship to the public for a single corporate booking, where the group can head off to explore the island’s rising number of developments and sporting events. At the time of story, the vessel is already looking to welcome an international group for a retreat in mid-June.

More than just a family business, the entrepreneur hopes to eventually use earnings from the ship-hotel to build wells in India. “Women there make the daily journey with empty pots for water, and when they climb back up the hill that’s when they hurt their backs, get waylaid or even get killed…mothers crying over their newborns because of contaminated water. It is these kind of things that spur me on.”

This will not be Saw’s first foray into this industry. The 68-year-old Singaporean also owns Stewords Riverboat, a floating restaurant based in his home country.