It’s been quite a while since my last visit to Singapore…7 years, in fact, on RTW #1. During that time, much has changed in this tiny island nation. Perhaps the most dramatic addition to the skyline is the daringly-engineered Marina Bay Sands hotel which opened in 2010. It features the world’s most expensive casino project and the highest infinity pool which hovers a staggering 57 floors above the city. I was definitely looking forward to getting a look at that.
I added Singapore to the itinerary for RTW #8 for a couple of reasons. One, I really enjoyed my last visit and I’d been planning to go back for a while. And two, I had a hotel review to do for my friend Jill’s eco-luxury hotel website on a tiny Indonesian island called Nikoi and Singapore was the closest major airport.
But perhaps the secret goal of my visit to Singapore was to check out another fabulous new W hotel, the W Singapore Sentosa Cove, which opened last October. On my previous visit, I hadn’t even made it out to Sentosa Island, known mostly for its theme parks, beaches and marinas, so this was the perfect reason to venture out.
The Marina Bay Sands
I spent the first of my two days reacquainting myself with the city. I walked the shops of Orchard Road and re-visited Merlion Park and the famous half mermaid/half lion fountain that is the symbol of the city. Then I headed straight for the Marina Bay Sands hoping to talk my way upstairs to see the infinity pool.
As I suspected, access to the pool was strictly limited to hotel guests only, even playing the “travel writer” card achieved little more than a media kit and a suggestion to visit the observation desk, also on the 57th floor (which has a charge for entry). So I headed up to the 57th floor anyway just hoping to get a glimpse.
As it happens, I should have just played the “blond” card from the beginning because a charming security guard at the entrance to the pool offered to give me an escorted tour of the pool and then even outfitted me with a wristband to visit the observation deck free of charge…score!
The pool is simply stunning with jaw-dropping views of the Singapore skyline. And the observation deck is no slouch either with panoramic views across the entire island. Unfortunately, it was a little cloudy today but I’m told on a clear day you can see all the way to Indonesia from up there.
W Shines on Sentosa Cove
Sufficiently wowed by my day in the city, it was time to devote Day 2 to Sentosa Island and the new W hotel. Just like the W in Bangkok, the Singapore edition gracefully incorporates local cultural themes into its design. Singapore is known for rainforests and modern skyscrapers and the W has blended both into its unique design.
The design concept here is a “living rain forest” and the theme permeates every element of the hotel. From cloud sconces that line the guest room hallways and glowing grass light features to extravagant floral chandeliers. Guests are welcomed by a waterfall with LED lighting that changes colors continuously. The motif of Singapore’s national flower – the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid – adorns each guestroom headboard. Masterful artwork by everyone from Rodin to Andy Warhol is sprinkled liberally through the property.
I was happily upgraded to one of the W’s “Marvelous Suites” which are my favorite room type. My spacious corner suite had terrific views of the marina and a bathroom to die for. My marketing contact, Jamie, had been kind enough to invite me to join her for Woobar’s latest invention, a glamorous high-tea experience they call “Drop the T².” Featuring exotic tea blends and delectable sweet and savory treats served in a silver bird cage, the tea extravaganza was delicious and we chatted while enjoying the view of the pool.
That evening I met up with local American expat, Jim, for drinks. Jim is the cousin of my friend Stacy and he’s been living and working in the real estate industry in Singapore for two years now. When I mentioned I was headed to Singapore, Stacy introduced me to Jim via Facebook and said we should get together for a drink. So we did!
It was a very enjoyable evening and fun to chat with a local about what it’s like to live and work abroad. Unfortunately, I had an early ferry to catch in the morning and an article deadline looming so I had to call it a night pretty early.
After I got back to my room, I’d planned to just start the article I needed to finish (which was just a brief hotel review that was part of a larger article for the Sunday Times Travel Magazine) and get up early and finish it in the morning. But once I got into it I realized it was going to take longer than I thought. I ended up working through the night to finish it and e-mailed it off before heading down to breakfast in the morning figuring I could sleep when I got to Indonesia.
It was a fun two days catching up with the city of Singapore and especially getting to know W Singapore for the first time. I look forward to visiting again sometime when I can stay longer. But now, it’s time to move on to the tiny island of Nikoi to complete yet another hotel review…next stop, Indonesia!