Monday, July 25, 2011

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

Wikipedia pretty much sums it up - Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property in the world at S$8 billion.

The resort features 2,561 rooms, a 1,300,000 square foot convention/exhibition centre, the 800,000 square foot "The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands Mall", an iconic ArtScience Museum, 2 large theatres (e.g. Lion King, etc), 7 celebrity chef restaurants (e.g. Molto Mario, Wolfgang Puck, etc), 2 floating crystal pavilions, an ice skating rink, and the world's largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex is topped off by a 340-m long Skypark with a 150m infinity pool, on top of the world's largest cantilevered platform.

The property is really massive. In fact, there is so much activity and facilities that there is no way you can get bored. Although, the fact that the place is so huge is also it's downfall. It is just too big that you can't deny the fact that some (or most) important aspects are neglected. To me, MBS is both a "hit" and a "miss".

The first "miss" is definitely the long queue at the check-in counter. This I expected based on the reviews I read in Tripadvisor. Immediately, the "feeling of luxury" is stripped away. It felt like I was buying a ticket at the train station. Though we didn't have luggage, no one bothered to help us with our bags. No welcome drink nor seats or lounges to sit on while waiting. In fact, this is the only hotel that I've seen that has no proper lobby or seating for guests.

There were mime artists at the lobby with hopes of trying to distract or amuse those people waiting in line. Nice try but a bit lame to be honest. 

There was also a mini-orchestra at the lobby which people had to watch standing up. I still can't get over the fact that there were no seats at all. And I also don't understand why the front desk was small given that they have 2,500+ rooms in this hotel. The front desk at First World Hotel in Genting, Malaysia is even much bigger. There are actually 2 check-in counters - the bigger one in Tower 1 and a smaller one in Tower 3, both with long queues.

Hotel Interior

We probably waited 45 mins before we could head up to the room (much shorter wait compared to those reviews in Tripadvisor where they had to wait a few hours). We were billeted at Tower 3 on the 40th floor.

This was the magnificent view for "city-view" rooms. Quite expectedly, our room was facing the other side (sea-view) as we paid corporate rate. We were told that we had to wait up to 3 hours (or more) if we wanted city-view rooms. Screw that hehe.

Albeit paying corporate rate, the room wasn't cheap. In fact, the most expensive room we have EVER paid for. Nevertheless, it was a great deal being at least S$100 cheaper than their hotel rack rates. We got the Horizon Deluxe room, the lowest category for Horizon Rooms. Their rooms are generally categorized into 3 types - Atrium (2nd to 22nd floor rooms), Horizon (23rd to 50th floor rooms) and Club Rooms.

Now with the money we paid, I was seriously expecting to see gold everywhere haha. But seriously, the room was very plain. Nothing spectacular. The room we had in Thistle Johor Bahru, Malaysia was much nicer at 1/4 the price.

No bath tub as well. I think only the premier or grand rooms have bath tubs.

This was our view - construction (hehe). Not too bad actually as the sea view was also calming. This would be a much better view once the "Gardens By The Bay" are fully constructed.

Automatic-charging fridge. Don't dare touch them unless you want to pay big time hehe. I think there's a 30-second grace period but I still didn't bother touching them. Although, as what I read in Tripadvisor, you can request for a separate fridge.

At least they had free coffee and TWG tea. Not bad.

Now this was bad. Again, for the price we paid I was expecting signature toiletries - not these cheap looking 1-star hotel toiletries. Even Hotel Sofitel in Manila, Philippines has Hermes toiletries. (Now don't get me wrong, I wasn't being too critical. I was just aligning my expectations with the money we shelled out for the room :-)

Tsk tsk, look at the dirty balcony and chipping paint... it's a shame how a relatively new hotel can look so outdated and unmaintained... (if I'm not mistaken, only the sea view rooms have balconies - which is good for smokers)

Later in the night, I called housekeeping to check why our airconditioning kept on turning off then I learned it automatically turns off once you open the balcony - makes sense actually and good for saving energy.

View of the Singapore Flyer from the hotel corridor.

Louis Vuitton has their own "island" - still under construction.

Now after all those misses, the Banyan Tree fitness centre is a big "hit" for me.

The changing room has all the works - Sauna, Steam Bath and a 40-degree-celsius hot pool with a great view.

I was so amazed with their treadmills! You could plug in your iPhone and view/listen to your music playlist. They also provide small towels and headphones.

On a side note, I'm so glad to say I have been consistently running at least 5km once a week for the past 6 weeks. Not too frequent I know but still a milestone for me :-).

The weights room was huge and had all the modern up-to-date equipment.

There was also a lounge in between the cardio and weights room facing the sea.

Free nuts! :-P

This was the extremely hot pool in the changing room I felt like I was being simmered hahaha. But very relaxing once your body gets used to it.

After the gym, we headed to the SkyPark on the 57th floor. Now although the place was crowded (as expected), this was another "hit" for me. It is not true that non-hotel guests take pictures from behind you as this area is only for hotel guests.

Aaahhhh, amazing view from the infinity pool.

It happened to be the rehearsal show for NDP (National Day Parade) at the Marina Bay Floating Platform and everyone was waiting for the fireworks and airshow.

View of the crowd at the Marina Bay Floating Platform. I remember watching this show (care of my friend Ross) way back in 2007 and it is really a spectacular show - almost feels like an opening number for the Olympics.

Finally at around 8pm the fireworks started! And just my luck as my digicam battery died hehehe. My digicam is lousy with night shots anyway so it was ok. I really should save up for a dslr-quality point and shoot camera.

Heading back to our rooms we had to queue for the lift going down - this was via Tower 2 lift. The Tower 3 lifts had a really long queue as the non-hotel guests who paid to go up the SkyPark can only access the Tower 3 lifts.

The next day we were glad we went down early for breakfast as later in the morning there was already a  queue to be seated (what's new). We also almost made the mistake of eating at the smaller chinese restaurant in Tower 3 for breakfast. The bigger restaurant is actually in Tower 1 and had more variety in food. After breakfast, we went back to the pool and we were lucky we got to check-out late at 2pm (upon request at the Tower 3 front desk). Moreover, we were also lucky they didn't charge us for additional breakfast as corporate rate usually comes with only 1 breakfast (quite strange as other hotels usually provide 2 breakfasts or none at all).

So that was our MBS experience. As I said, there were both "hits" and "misses". Overall I think it was still a worthwhile experience despite the glaring "misses". You can't deny the fact that this property is still one-of-a-kind in the world. They definitely have to improve on customer service and upping the "luxury" and exclusivity experience but I guess there are trade-offs for staying in such a big hotel. The MBS mall is still my favorite out of all the numerous malls in Singapore - it's spacious and has tons of activities. I have yet to try Molto Mario's Osteria Mozza or Pizzeria Mosta which requires weeks ahead for reservation (definitely need to save up for this hehe). So I say go ahead and book at MBS! at least try it once, or twice (or more) as long as you can afford it :-).


johny anderson said...

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praveen pandit said...

Wow , This is amazing , Thanks for these pictures bro . These are incredible . Mauritius Tour packages

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