Forest Adventure: A holiday, a concept turn into a reality

Ms Stephanie Besse was an accomplished executive in a world-renowned marketing and advertising corporation. But more than ten years ago, a holiday trip to France saw her leaving the corporate world to start an adventure that befits our sunny island Singapore.

Stephanie is the founder of Forest Adventure and here’s how her entrepreneurial career started.

Share with us how long have you been in Singapore, and why chose Singapore to settle down with your family?

I have been in Singapore for 21 years. Landed in Singapore with a two years contract, meet my husband few months after arriving here, had children and before I knew it, I have been here for ten years! Singapore is a great place for bringing up children.

Forest Adventure

Image credit: Forest Adventure

What is Forest Adventure and how did you get this idea?

Forest Adventure is a tree top adventure park. We first discovered the concept of tree adventure parks during a holiday in France back in 2005. I immediately thought this would be perfect in Singapore due to the year-round warm climate where an outdoor business could be open for the whole year. At that time, there were not many outdoor reactional outfits in Singapore aside from the newly launched Luge at Sentosa. Hence, we started to look at the feasibility of an adventure course in Singapore.

You were a regional director for WPP group of companies before Forest Adventure. It should be a good paying job. So why and how did you decide to drop it for something uncertain like starting a business?

After 15 years in advertising, I needed a change as this is a very demanding industry. I also had a regional position which meant that I was travelling a lot and with three young children. I was missing out on being a Mum. I wanted a job that allowed me to be home every night for dinner!

Following a passion is far more fulfilling than money!

What were the reactions from your loved ones when you announced your plans?

My husband is an entrepreneur, so he was super supportive!

What were the initial challenges to put your plans together?

Our biggest challenge was to find a piece of land!

How did you secure the funding to set up Forest Adventure?

A mix of personal fund and investor.

In general, Singaporeans do not come across as the adventurous type of people. How was the initial reactions from the locals and has it changed over the years?

The business was very well-received among the adults when we started. It took a little time for the Kids Course to pick up and now, we have almost as many kids as adults! As the only rope course open to the public and designed for the sole purpose of outdoor reaction, Forest Adventure is a unique activity for visitors to come and have a fun day out together with family and friends while enjoying the sense of achievement that comes with overcoming all the obstacles and challenges.

Technology has taken over the daily lives of many young people including parents, in your opinion, does the outdoor still appeal to the masses? If not, what has been done to attract them?

We still have a growing number of customers coming to Forest Adventure even after ten years, so it looks like there is still a place for outdoor activities! This is especially so with the launch of our new course early this year.

Forest Adventure is located near the Downtown Line at Bedok Reservoir Station. Has it helped to bring in more visitors?

Hard to say as the opening of the Bedok Reservoir Station and the launch of the new course coincided.

 

Forest Adventure welcomes visitors starting from the age of 5 all the way to seniors in the 70s. How does Forest Adventure incorporate safety features and designs to ensure all participants can overcome the several challenges and have a great time?

The new course includes the latest development in course design and safety equipment. Participants are attached to the safety system from the ground with no ability to detach themselves until the end of the zip lines. There is no risk of falling when at height.

The climate is changing, and Singapore is getting hotter as years go by. What are the plans in place to reduce the risk of heatstroke?

We strongly encourage participants to drink and stay hydrated. The course is divided into six sections hence customers have many opportunities to come back to the ground to hydrate themselves.

What’s new at Forest Adventure, and where can we expect the business to be in the next few years?

We have a brand new design, 69 new crossing with many that were not included in our previous course. We have also launched a new Junior Course. Business has been steady, and we hope to have Forest Adventure at the top of mind for people of all ages looking for fun activities to do in the outdoors.

What’s your advice to people contemplating whether to follow their passion or follow where the money brings them?

Following a passion is far more fulfilling than money!

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