2 Aug
LIAS checks into the most expensive hotel in the world

In 1993 William Gibson wrote an infamous critique on Singapore in Wired, entitled “Disneyland With the Death Penalty“. 18 years later, chewing gum is still banned, and his portrayal of a sanitized, technocratic, insipidly consumerist culture still has some truth to it.

So what would he make of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel?

Whether arriving by car or subway, you see it looming on the horizon with its unique design. Coming in at $5.7 billion, and finally completed this February, it’s a behemothic example of the ‘hotel as destination landmark’: Three 55-story towers connected by a ‘boat’ on the top, like an amended Pi sign.

Its size is disorientating at first — where’s the entrance, where’s reception? Standing in the atrium lobby of Tower 1 underneath a huge Antony Gormley sculpture, the experience is more akin to arriving at a contemporary museum than a hotel. But to its credit, there’s nothing impersonal about the place. With an army of 8,000 employees, service — on every level — is excellent.

To gauge just how big it is, consider this: It took me 4 hours to walk around the entire site.

Design: It looks like the bombastic architecture you’d find in Dubai, yet there’s temperance in action. It’s big, but it doesn’t shout about it: It’s not flashy. There’s no ostentatiousness about the interiors and despite its Las Vegas heritage, even the casino looks fairly restrained.

“A microcosm of a city rooted in Singapore’s culture, climate, and contemporary life,” is how its Boston-based architect Moshe Safdie describes it. It’s certainly a consumer resort — but no one could call it insipid.

Highlight: The 57th floor SkyPark. That boat is a massive 3-acre open air platform complete with an infinity pool where you can swim above the rest of Singapore, tree-lined walkways and landscaped gardens, plus bars and restaurants. It’s as breathtaking as it looks. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel, there’s a public observation deck.

Location: Facing the bay and CBD on one side and the Straits on the other; Singapore city is small enough that nowhere is more than a 20 minute drive — including Changi airport.

Hit the Jump to continue reading Checking In: Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore…

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“The mall onsite includes an indoor canal with gondoliers, plus a huge floating Louis Vuitton experience…”

Rooms: 2,561

Our room: Our deluxe (standard) room on the 18th floor was large with some nice design touches. The bathrooms are huge, connected to the main room by double doors.

Make sure you get a room overlooking the Straits rather than the city, as these benefit from a large balcony. And fresh air is the real luxury in these hermetically-sealed high-rise hotels.

Best room: The $13,725 Chairman Suite with four bedrooms, two living rooms, a baby grand, a cinema/ media room, sauna and steam room and a games room with a pool table. And a team of butlers available 24/7.

Spa & Extras: The extensive Banyan Tree Fitness Center on the 55th floor is for guests only to make use of the cardio and weights rooms, yoga studio, sauna and hot pool. The SkyPark features several jacuzzis with views directly over Singapore.

Shopping: What economic downturn? Luxury! Luxury! Luxury! Brands! Brands! Brands! The mall onsite includes an indoor canal with gondoliers and stores from Vertu, Chanel, Dior, Armani, Hugo Boss, Ferragamo, Burberry and Dunhill, plus a huge floating Louis Vuitton experience.

The high design Louis Vuitton flagship store…

Restaurants and bars: With seven celebrity chefs each with their own restaurant and over 30 outlets to choose from, the choice was so big, we decided to eat out.

Entertainment: The casino with 2,300 slot machines and 500 tables for Baccarat, Roulette, and Singapore Stud Poker sits at the heart of the hotel, but it’s still a restrained affair fitting in with locals laws — Singaporeans have to pay an entry levy; it’s free for everyone else.

The theater complex hosts Disney’s Lion King musical, as well as visiting shows including Air Supply and Thriller Live!. Nightclubs Pangaea and Avalon will be operating on a floating island starting this month.

The high-brow option is the excellent ArtScience Museum, which features three temporary exhibitions including one on Genghis Khan. Apparently 1 in 250 people living today is related to him. He was a busy man.

Price: From $270 to $13,725.

Downer: It’s a small disappointment, but Hide Yamamoto’s ramen and noodle restaurant was closed between lunch and dinner. Yet it sits adjacent to a 24-hour casino. And I really wanted ramen.

Final word: The definite stop-over destination when you’re in town.

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No Responses to ““Checking In” Hotel Review: Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Singapore”

  1. Mark. P. says:

    Singapore is dead. It started to die in the late 90’s when the government threw reason out the window and invited millions of Hong Kong residents to become “Singaporeans” on an already over-crowded island of 2.5M that could fit inside Seattle. Madness.

    Original Singaporeans still feel betrayed and rightly so. Aside from doubling their population overnight with unwanted foreigners, the Government has utterly destroyed what architectural history and charm the island had left. Compared to the original clean and well-planned skyline that afforded unbroken views of the ocean with Indonesia visible on the horizon, the ‘Sands’ is nothing more than a hideous wall — a gilded cataract that blots out that ocean and anyone downtown is now forced to view. Sadly, this is only the latest example of a “greed as government” gone mad.

    Singapore was my home and I loved it. But between a now unrecognizable skyline, massive overcrowding, and a population that is now fully 50% Hong Kong, there is nothing left to call “home”.

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