Inside Marina Bay Sands Singapore.
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Tuesday, 1st June 2010
Yeoh Siew Hoon goes on a tour of Singapore's newest integrated resort and is dazzled by the space and scale.

I like the sense of space when you enter the hotel atrium of Marina Bay Sands.

I like the way the space creates a funnel-like effect that makes you feel you could be Alice in Wonderland entering a labyrinth of light and space.

Look up and "Drift" at Marina Bay Sands

I like the way the building interacts with the light and embraces the location it is in so that everywhere you walk, you get a view of the river, city and ocean.

There's a lot to see in this mega development, designed by architect Moshe Safde. It's bigger than anything that's ever been built in Singapore, so the sheer scale is at first overwhelming until your senses adjust and you start to appreciate the details.

 Such as the art pieces. Some leave me cold but I like "Drift", that enormous grey piece of twisted metal that passes off as a chandelier. It's made up of over 16,100 steel rods and more than 8.320 steel nodes and it's suspended in the air between levels 5 and 12.

Pictured left: Giant "treepots"

I saw the biggest flower pots I've ever seen except these giant ceramic vessels – weighing 1,200kg each and standing three meters high – house trees. Called "Rising Forest", the ceramic pieces were made in Yixing, China and each vessel took 15-20 days to complete by hand.

I am fascinated by the "Wind Arbor". Covering 6,800 sqm, the sculpture consists of 260,000 aluminium metal flappers – when the wind blows, these flappers, well, flap, causing the piece to shimmer and ripple.

Walk through the lobby and to the right is a Chinese restaurant where the private rooms are like giant space pods – Dream of the Red Chamber meets Star Trek.

A jewellery shop showcases what we were told is a S$5 million diamond. I suppose that's just waiting for someone to win big at the casino.

We take the lift to the 21st floor to view a room and instead all we see is the view. It's a spectacular view of the Singapore River and the city skyline and you start to appreciate just how much the urban scape of Singapore has changed.

I notice that the entire floor is covered with a glass wall so that you can't look down from the atrium into the lobby – I wonder if that's to prevent jumpers?

View of Singapore River from room

The room is a good size, with all the mod-cons you'd need for a luxurious stay. The bath-tub is a bit strange – it sits alone in the middle of the bathroom. I think it'd make climbing in and out a bit difficult but then maybe if you're staying in this resort, you wouldn't want to be spending too much time in the bath because there's so much to do …

There's the Shoppes with all the brands names you can muster under one roof. At the basement is a soon-to-be-filled waterway which you will be able to navigate with sampans, not gondolas. So no "O Sole Mio" but rather "Rasa Sayang" …

There's the Expo and Convention Centre which is so big I think it could fit several humpback whales – 1.3 million square feet of space, making it the biggest such facility in Singapore, with the biggest ballroom in South-east Asia.

There's the entertainment – the Event Plaza, I suspect, will become one of the most spectacular outdoor venues for live performances and waterfront shows. Set right out on the water, it features a moving stage and platform.

Events Plaza

And I didn't even get to view the SkyPark – that giant plate that sits atop the three hotel towers – which will have landscaped gardens, bars and restaurants, swimming pool and an observation deck.

Then there's the restaurants. We ran into celebrity chef Guy Savoy who happened to be in town, overseeing the opening of his third restaurant in the world, after Paris and Las Vegas.

"Can I take a photograph with you?" asked one of the journalists on the media tour. Savoy is used to such attention, he does it graciously.

He tells us that he will feature basically the same menu as in Las Vegas and Paris, but he will try and feature a local menu to make use of local produce and ingredients. A tasting menu at his restaurant would start at S$389, we were told.

Apparently his artichoke and truffle soup, and mushroom brioche, are to die for. Sad to say, I didn't get a chance to taste them on this occasion.

The bar at Guy Savoy

From the level where the seven celebrity chef restaurants are located, I can see the public gaming floor that's for the masses. Then there are the private, closed floors where I presume the real action takes place.

I don't enter the casino. I refuse to pay the S$100 entry although it would appear that it hasn't deterred many Singaporeans and permanent residents. The latest report says that S$70 million has been collected so far in entry fees by the two casinos – and that's after Resorts World at Sentosa has been opened only three months and Marina Bay Sands only three weeks.

Out by the Event Plaza, I spot a group of elderly Chinese men and women. I asked them where they were from.

"Muar," they chorused. "You know where?" they laughed. They were a jolly bunch.

I do. It's a town situated about 170km from Johor Bahru, Malaysia.

"You come here to gamble?" I asked.

"Little bit, little bit," one said. "Come morning, go home night."

I guess they won't be seeing much of Marina Bay Sands, space, light, art and all.

For a photo tour on Facebook, view here:


Photos courtesy of Yeoh Siew Hoon

4Hoteliers Image LibraryYeoh Siew Hoon, one of Asia's most respected travel editors and commentators, writes a regular column on news, trends and issues in the hospitality industry for 4Hoteliers.com.

Siew Hoon, who has covered the tourism industry in Asia/Pacific for the past 20 years, runs SHY Ventures Pte Ltd. Her other writings can be found at www.thetransitcafe.com. Get your weekly cuppa of news, gossip, humour and opinion at the cafe for travel insiders.

WIT 2010: October 19-22 SUNTEC Singapore ~ www.webintravel.com

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