Guests going to Singapore Marriott Hotel in downtown Orchard Road may have noticed water features on both sides of the main lobby pathway.

Over at Standard Chartered Bank in Raffles Place, staff on a certain floor starting work each day can be seen entering the premises only through one particular door.

Global-brand businesses are embracing fengshui.

Once the preserve of Chinese businessmen, fengshui, or the oriental belief in the 'energy' of the surroundings to help create prosperity, has spread to big entities such as banks, hotels, integrated resorts, shopping malls and night entertainment spots.

These companies are said to now set aside a portion of their budget every year for fengshui consultations.

Sometimes, all that is needed is a mere tweak, such as placing coins under the carpet to attract prosperity; at other times, sweeping changes are called for, such as altering the facade of a building.

A spokesman for Marina Bay Sands (MBS) said its main fengshui element is water.

'Our waterfront placement is auspicious as water represents wealth in fengshui. Also, Marina Bay Sands is built on reclaimed land - new land. And this new land is always good as it comes without any 'baggage',' she said.

The integrated resort's fengshui consultant was the late Master Chong Swan Lek, who worked closely with its architect Moshe Safdie.

Mr Chong died in 2008. His disciple, Master Louisa Ong-Lee, a Singaporean based in the United States, has taken over the consultations.

Not all companies are keen to talk about their approach to fengshui, let alone their budget for it. Stanchart, for instance, declined comment. But its staff say department heads there hire their own fengshui masters.

Asked to comment on the Stanchart concept, geomancer Adelina Pang said the entry point for good qi, or life force, is often a good door.

'When you come into the office in the morning, you would want to enter by the good door where there is good and beneficial energy to start the day off,' she said.

Indeed, staff have been told to enter via this one door in the morning, but can enter or exit via any other door after that.

'For banks, often when you design the building, you will want the right location for the main door. That's very important,' Ms Pang added.

The best-known local fengshui-influenced case involves Singapore Marriott Hotel and Tangs department store.

Fengshui masters say that while their geographical location was fine, they were unable to harness the qi until the positions of the respective main doors were changed so that they do not face the intersection of Orchard Road and Scotts Road.

The prospect of an economic downturn this year has led to more people coming forward for fengshui consulting, Ms Pang said.

'People are more cautious and now they want to know which months are good to do business and which are not too good to take on big contract jobs,' she said.

Geomancer John Lok cites the example of a technology company he advised. He told the owner that its 'longish interior was not favourable'.

'Based on the long interior formation, I created a symbolic form of a dragon and placed a 'dragon ball' (a big crystal ball) at the entrance to secure the company's growth,' he said.

But as luck would have it, someone accidentally broke the crystal ball last year.

'Not long after that, the company lost some big accounts they were trying to secure for a long time,' he said.

What is fengshui?

The term literally means wind and water.

Practised for thousands of years, it is an ancient Chinese study of nature and the surrounding 'built' environment.

A fengshui analysis examines buildings and their surroundings, people's interactions with the buildings and how time-related factors are worked in.

The analyst may then suggest structural improvements to ensure a good human relationship with the environment - leading to such results as prosperity, health benefits and well-being.

How did fengshui originate?

The Chinese form of geomancy, fengshui, is said to be both a science and an art.

The science comes from the calculations and methods used in analysing a property, while the art of fengshui is the wisdom acquired from performing analyses and knowing the exact degree to which the remedies are prescribed.

Ancient fengshui was a closely guarded discipline used as a tool to ensure the good health, wealth and power of the imperial dynasties. Its keepers were highly respected and the secrets were guarded and passed down the generations through very specific lineages.

How is a fengshui analysis done?

The practitioner first observes the environment, using a lo pan (compass) to determine the orientation of the property. Calculations are done according to the basic principles, and the qi or lifeforce within the property is determined, as are its effects on the occupants.

Necessary remedies are prescribed to balance the energy and produce positive results.