If there is one thing that surely defines the Singaporeans, it is their tenacious spirit of not wanting to lose out. Their single-minded pursuit of progress and innovation has catapulted their country — the proverbial Little Red Dot that could — to bold new heights, as evidenced by the constantly buzzing integrated Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hotel, which has soared to the highest reaches of hospitality stardom. Yes, it offers five-star accommodation but that is where the comparisons with a conventional luxury hotel end.
Singapore’s fierce embrace of architectural change has left some of its Asian counterparts in the dust, thanks to Israeli-born and Canadian educated Moshe Safdie, the eminent architect behind MBS’ trinity of hotel towers, which house shops, restaurants, a museum, and more. At a cost of S$8 billion, it is the most expensive standalone casino resort ever built.
The unorthodox, hulking structure of the MBS building seems to fill a gaping void in the skyline — with its iconic roof that resembles a cavernous cruise ship perched on a deck of cards (or some say, a space-age surfboard) — may be perceived as a blunt expression of modernity, but this colossus is in fact an emblem of harmony. It is in perfect alignment with its feng shui chi as it faces the country’s financial district, which is considered prosperous, and stands at the confluence of a strong stream of flourishing energy. Ever wondered why the hotel’s Tower 1 building is slanted at 26°? That is because the individual digits add up to eight, a lucky number to the Chinese.
This year, the auspicious figure is also significant to the sprawling hotel that has given shape to an emerging national identity. Thriving at a 90% occupancy rate, MBS celebrates the eighth anniversary of rewriting the rules of design in Singapore and redefining the city’s rising stature. In celebration of that, here are eight reasons to visit this visual anchor that will change your perspective of a traditional hotel, shopping mall and entertainment hub altogether.
Room with a view
It is always a joy to fling the hotel balcony doors wide and lean out into the sunshine with trees and hills spread out beneath you. Most suites at MBS offer an idyllic vista, which does not come cheap but is a real treat for those who have fantasised about watching the sunrise from their bed. We stayed in a refurbished Premier Room overlooking Gardens by the Bay, which seemed to throw itself a dance party when all the Supertrees — the iconic, steel-clad canopies that function as vertical gardens — lit up during the Garden Rhapsody light show at night.
If you think the view and hotel amenities would keep you from leaving your sanctuary, wait until you book into the Chairman Suite — the most lavish of the 2,561 rooms across the three towers. Showcasing a level of indulgence previously unseen in Singapore, the stately 629 sq m suite on the uppermost floor features four bedrooms, luxury linens, a karaoke room, private gym, billiards room, Jacuzzi, steam and sauna facilities and a kitchenette. Plus, a dedicated team of butlers — who have perfected the art of drawing baths and setting the dining table, putting you squarely in the lap of luxury — is on standby.
Dining with the stars
In MBS, one never seems to be more than a stone’s throw away from a celebrity chef’s restaurant. Proving that Singapore is hot gastronomic territory, steakhouse CUT by Wolfgang Puck and Waku Ghin, Tetsuya Wakuda’s temple of modern Japanese cuisine, are Michelin-starred restaurants that can be easily singled out for their innovative food and an extensive drinks menu that should be closely examined. A third Michelin-starred chef Joe Isidori, together with acclaimed restaurateur Chris Barish, is set to join the star players with the launch of New York burger and milkshake sensation Black Tap later this year.
When the sun drops in the sky, merrymakers make their way to the California-originated Spago (Puck’s second restaurant in MBS) on level 57, where its Belvedere-based Show Me Love sundowner is worth sticking around for, as much as people-watching by the 150m-long infinity pool. If crisp white tablecloths are not your thing, Italian-American restaurant LAVO, famed for its wickedly rich 20-layer chocolate cake, crafts the perfect romantic setting for a candlelit dinner à deux, as the bright lights of the city around you put on a dazzling show. Otherwise, round up your posse by the alfresco bar at Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay, which offers traditional British fare like fish and chips and pork pie.
Amenities that deliver unstinting pampering
MBS may have built the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool but it is the urbane crowd that lends it character. It is quite a view up here: handsome couples with statement sunglasses burying their nose in a book; men lolling on their daybeds sipping Moët; ladies — their flowery sundresses billowing in the wind and skimming their tanned ankles — bringing on their selfie A-game. More than a place to swim, this is somewhere you can lean on the edge with a drink and watch the sun dip in a space where the sky and the sea seem to merge.
You should also save an evening for another attraction on the same floor. MBS claims you have not seen Singapore until you have seen it from Sands SkyPark Observation Deck. And who could refute that? The strategic vantage point, at a giddy height of 57 storeys up, affords you a bird’s eye view of the cityscape — from Marina South Pier all the way out to the Singapore Strait. Information boards are tagged with details of notable buildings as you peer down at some of the tallest edifices in the country.
Did we also mention that you can take in the view lying down? The award-winning Banyan Tree Spa on the 55th floor, with floor-to-ceiling windows, is an instant hit. A huge metal filigree of the company’s Tree of Life insignia greets you at the reception before a polite staff member whisks you away to a treatment salon. The variety of massage styles, be it Balinese with rhythmic strokes or Thai stretching techniques, will leave you feeling rejuvenated right before your next rooftop DJ party.
Get a style update, be entertained and seek out cultural treasures
Loosen those purse strings because MBS offers a wide selection of luxury retail options for the savvy shopper. From the well-edited selection of international brands — including Alexander McQueen, Balmain, Kenzo, fit-for-royals Henry Jacques perfume and audio A-lister Devialet — to the quirkiest haberdashery, The Shoppes at MBS is a one-stop style mecca. If you are pressed for time, however, the hotel’s personal shopping service (S$250 for three hours) will filter the 170 premium brands to find the top three that suit your needs, whether you are seeking a wardrobe update or a gift. The service also comes with a complimentary TWG Tea Boutique Experience and fragrance profiling by British perfumers Penhaligon’s.
There is nary a boring corner at MBS, especially with its packed roster of Broadway shows and musicals at The Sands Theatre, as well as outdoor acts at the Event Plaza. The latter saw the clashing of two Sherlock Holmes last month in front of 7,000 hardcore fans, when Robert Downey Jr and a dashing Benedict Cumberbatch graced the Avengers: Infinity War fan event with fellow actor Karen Gillan, director Joe Russo and executive producer Trinh Tran.
President and CEO of MBS George Tanasijevich, who walked down the Avengers purple carpet event, told Options, “Our primary goal is to bring major events [like this] to build our reputation as an exciting entertainment hub in Singapore. Working with our partner Disney really goes a long way in achieving that goal.”
The celebration of Marvel Cinematic Universe’s (MCU) 10th anniversary is not quite over. ArtScience Museum is hosting a special exhibition, Marvel Studios: Ten Years of Heroes, on June 9, which will display an interactive presentation that allows fans to relive a decade of MCU history across 19 films. Currently, the museum is showing some of the boldest and most provocative works by the world’s best street artists in Art from the Streets, as well as the highly Instagrammable, cutting-edge digital installations by renowned Japanese art collective teamLab in the permanent Future World exhibition.
This article first appeared on May 14, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.