Having lived in Singapore for six years and having had my children there, I thought I knew everything about the place, but I was in for a surprise during my recent return and stay at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa. The longstanding hotel I remember from many years ago (it first opened in 1993) now looked elegant, fresh and tasteful, thanks to a recent large-scale refurbishment.
I had to keep reminding myself that we were still in Singapore as a salty breeze swept through the stylish open lobbies and balconies of this family-oriented hotel, and our children squealed down their umpteenth slip ‘n’ slide ride into the pool. Beyond the pool is the shore of Sentosa island; beside it, a beach club with boats and bikes for hire.
I’ve finally grown up enough to understand that the allure of a Kids’ Club is as much for adults as for children. Rasa Sentosa boasts the largest such club in Singapore, with everything from a double-storey indoor treehouse to circus activities on the hotel’s beachfront trapeze, all under the watchful eye of well-trained and intuitive staff.
With my children having too much fun to care what their mum was doing, I took advantage of the breathing space and headed into CHI, The Spa. This is Shangri-La’s acclaimed in-house spa brand, and my signature massage was every bit as indulgent as expected.
The hotel’s entry-level rooms are hill-facing, and in many ways are as appealing as those facing the pool and sea, for they look directly onto a thick grove of jungle. The gym shares this outlook, with a long glass facade fronting tropical vegetation, with intermittent bursts of colourful ginger flowers.
There are a number of themed restaurants. I loved 8Noodles for its local flair and art-deco look, and it’s great for families too, with a buffet station designed expressly for children, at eye level and with food tailored to their appetites.
When we moved to Singapore nine years ago, Sentosa was a humble place, with a quirky monorail that passed through mist sprays to cool sweaty visitors. Now the tiny island across a small causeway off the southern tip of Singapore is a major tourist attraction. Getting there is easier than ever: by car over the bridge, by colourful sky-train or, for a bird’s eye view, by glass cable car.
While the little monorail of yesteryear is gone, some other well-loved and long-standing attractions on the island remain. These are juxtaposed beside shiny new adventure parks and thrilling rides. The island has many attractions for children of various ages, and all are easy to reach by tram or bus.
I had no idea the Rasa Sentosa had so much to offer within its own property – it’s presumably one of the reasons why there are guests who return every year for two weeks or more. It was also liberating to know I could hop onto the hotel’s regular shuttle to VivoCity for the buzz and shops, if I was so inclined. It’s also within a 20-minute drive from the CBD and an easy commute to Orchard Road, so it’s perfectly placed to allow visitors to enjoy the things most people visit Singapore for, while still escaping them for a few days of quality leisure time.