Just like grand old lady Raffles Hotel at the beginning of the last century, Singapore has a new hotel icon that transcends the traditional image of a mere hotel. This integrated resort it is virtually a self-contained city in the sky – its 2,500 luxury guestrooms and suites are only part of the story. Singapore is no stranger to the high life or over-the-top luxury, but has outdone itself with Marina Bay Sands, reputedly the most expensive hotel ever to build. Its three 55-storey glass and steel towers are crowned by an enormous open-air Skypark 200 metres above the ground, imposing itself on Singapore’s already cluttered skyline.
The hotel sits at the mouth of the Singapore River overlooking the Colonial District, and in the opposite direction, the South China Sea. Since the recent opening of the Bayfront MRT subway station, just five minutes’ walk away, it feels less isolated from the downtown area although getting across the river on foot is still an arduous 20 minute walk. Best of all take a leisurely cruise by water taxi across the bay to Raffles Landing Side or Boat Quay.
Rooms and Amenities
It is easy to get sidetracked with so much going on here but Marina Bay Sands is first and foremost a hotel, and it doesn’t disappoint. There are no less than 2,500 rooms from a cosy deluxe to a colossal 600 square metre Chairman Suite complete with grand piano. What they all have in common is floor-to-ceiling glass to make the most of the Singapore skyline. Expect warm tones and natural wood fixtures with a splash of modern art. Free-standing antique style bathtub and separate walk-in shower come as standard.
Bar and Restaurants
You certainly won’t go hungry at Marina Bay Sands. It features a mind boggling 50 restaurants, mostly of the upscale variety including outlets run by celebrity chefs such as Guy Savoy and Wolfgang Puck. There is everything from gourmet burgers on the go, bistros, Brazilian-style BBQ, sushi and more. For an after-dark buzz head to one of several jazzy lounge bars or mingle under the stars at the impossibly hip KU DE TA at the open-air Skypark.
Many five-star hotels like to market themselves as a “lifestyle destination” but here it is taken (quite literally) to a whole new level. Where to start? Two theatres, a museum, ice skating rink, over 300 shops and boutiques and art installations everywhere. Then of course, you have one of the world’s largest casinos, able to hold over 15,000 ever optimistic gamblers. In an effort by the government to deter locals from gambling, all Singaporeans pay S$100 for a day pass but entry is free for foreign visitors. Even all this comes in a distant second to the main attraction – the Sands Skypark. The crowning glory is the huge infinity pool spanning the three towers 200 metres above the ground besides tropical gardens, bars, restaurants and an observation deck. Expect a steady stream of sightseers through the day but thankfully the pool is strictly for hotel guests.
It’ll come as no surprise to learn that Marina Bay Sands doesn’t do subtlety. Everything is on a grand scale and for those used to a boutique hotel experience it may come across as simply too distracting and impersonal. However if you are seeking a touch of glamour and endless possibilities all under one roof, then Marina Bay Sands is in a league of its own.