The metal gates of Raffles Hotel have clanged shut, bringing to a close a chapter in the 102-year history of the inn where the Singapore Sling was born and Somerset Maugham wrote tales of the exotic Far East.

For the next two years, Raffles will undergo a $65 million face lift, dedicated to bringing the aging building back to its past colonial splendor and tropical ambiance.The hotel, where luminaries like Maugham and Noel Coward once basked in the sun on the spacious lawn lined by palms, will open again in 1991.

On Wednesday, the hotel's 280 staffers and other guests gathered for a farewell party at the famous Long Bar. Among them were the descendants of Ngiam Toon Boon, who in 1915 concocted the "Singapore Sling," the famous mix of gin, cherry liqueur, lemon and pineapple juice, a dash of Benedictine and Cointreau.