On stop-overs from Australia to Europe and return, the last couple of years I have stayed in Singapore for a few days to break up the journey. Singapore is one of my favourite cities to visit (apart from the fact that Changi Airport is just so easy to fly in and out of); it is incredibly clean, transport to get around is hassle free, great shopping, attractions for every age group and a plethora of hotels to choose from. The last two trips on the return leg home I have stayed at Marina Bay Sands, probably the most iconic hotel now in Singapore (even overtaking Raffles). Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is the world’s second most expensive building, at US$ 5.5 billion, including the cost of the prime land. Marina Bay Sands is situated on 15.5 hectares of land with the gross floor area of 581,000 square metres. The resort opened on 27 April 2010. The property has a hotel, convention and exhibition facilities, theatres, entertainment venues, retailers and restaurants. Though it’s website says it has the lowest rate guarantee, I have found that it hasn’t and have booked with both Agoda and Booking.com for a slightly cheaper rate. Agoda in particular is great as I get Velocity points for the stay (you can also earn frequent flyer points with other programs). Marina Bay Sands is an attraction in itself in Singapore mostly for the Sands SkyPark which offers 360 degree views of Singapore’s skyline as well as restaurants, gardens and the 150 metre vanishing edge pool. Upon arrival there are taxis and cars pulling up everywhere and eventually a bellboy comes and assists with the luggage where I’m given a ticket to show reception. Reception is a nightmare! I haven’t seen a hotel lobby this busy since visiting MGM in Las Vegas. There are crowds of people just sitting in the lobby, lines for Concierge, lines for check in and assistance as well as just heaps of tourists walking through the complex. There are 3 Hotel Towers at the hotel. I have stayed in Tower 2 and 3 in both a normal Guest Room and a Club Room. The Club Room comes with extra benefits like breakfast, afternoon tea, happy hour drinks and discounts on spa services. Free Wifi is available to all hotel guests (and it is fast and reliable). While waiting 1/2 hour in the line to check in it amazed me just how many people were just sitting in the lobby area. Just sitting, not checking in, not meeting people…just sitting and wasting time. Being Singapore there is a variety of different nationalities that were staying at the hotel, including a lot of families. The staff at reception are all lovely, but the process just took way too long. It would great to see an online check in process available at some stage. Checking in at 1pm didn’t pose any problem for getting access to the room straight away. I enquired about a late check out (and it’s cost till 6pm) and was granted complimentary till 2pm and I paid a small surcharge until 6pm ($80) which was well worth it for leaving on a midnight flight. I’m going to review the Club Room mainly for the this review as the standard room is pretty “standard”. Our Club Room was in Tower 3 and had a view across the highway and overlooking the gardens. It was fairly high up which is a good thing as I’ve heard people complain about being on lower floors in this tower and hearing the freeway noise. The Suite was huge. Big Dining and Lounge room with television and table for 6, balcony (which isn’t large enough to sit on), separate bedroom with King size bed, ottoman and another television, desk and fax machine (who still uses these?!). The bathroom area had a separate sit down powder area where the wardrobes were (plenty of cupboard space) and the bathroom had a full size bath, separate shower and two sinks. Marina Bay Sands have their own amenities which weren’t anything special. Housekeeping were also quite slow during the day (sometimes up till 6pm the room hadn’t been cleaned even when vacating it at 10am) but did do a good job upon our return.
There is an extensive room service menu catering for lots of different nationalities and food choices (Chinese, Western, Indian, American) which was around 30 pages! Great selection. We had room service dinner for one night and the lamb cutlets and spaghetti were excellent. The main highlight of this hotel is the pool situated in Tower 2 in the Skypark. Only hotel guests can use the pool (however you can buy a pass to visit the skypark during the day). Security was pretty tight both times I stayed there to ensure your room and pool pass is crossed off. Towels are available via the “towel guard” and it is very busy throughout the day and night. What is frustrating however is how hotel guests don’t adhere to the rules. They have one section of the pool for Adults Only whereas many young children were splashing around (annoying!). The children have 2 separate areas to swim in, but it seems some people can’t read or follow the rules (even when being told to move by the lifeguards). The pool offers amazing views across Singapore and there is even a photographer during the day to take photos of you in the pool (and underwater). For $30 a photo not a bad novelty for a once off (comes in a frame). I stayed awake all night after visiting the casino at the hotel (ensure you are appropriately dressed and bring your passport to be allowed entry) so decided to have an early breakfast at the club lounge located in the SkyPark and watched the sun come up. An amazing view and so peaceful. What I did find amusing in the Skypark were the various signs around. “No Swimming allowed”. It was a pile of rocks!
What wasn’t so amusing was the SLOW and rude service at the casual cafe in the SkyPark during the day. $40 will set you back for a couple of freshly squeezed orange juices and a slice of cheesecake. Nothing outstanding about the food or the service…. Marina Bay Sands has a huge array of shops or “Shoppes” as they spell it from luxury brands through to your average chain store. There is something for every budget as well as a huge variety of cuisines and restaurants to choose from. At night just outside the shops area there is a water and light show on the water which attracts a lot of people and is visually quite fantastic (just gets boring after seeing it once….it hasn’t changed in 3 years). So why stay at Marina Bay Sands? Purely for the pool. It is a fantastic pool! The rooms are 4 star at best (even the Suites), and the service across the board is slooowwwwwwwwww. Upon check out (which again was slow) I had to visit Concierge (again, slow and lines waiting). The only fast service was a taxi leaving to go to the airport. It is a mega hotel catering for the mega tourist market. Do it at least once if you’re ever in Singapore. Or to book other hotels in Singapore click here