William Coulston - Singapore Trip, 2011
PRE-DEPARTURE & STOP OVERS
I flew to Singapore from Sydney, via Kuala Lumpur using Malaysian Airlines, Business class. I checked myself in a day prior to departure and changed my seat allocation on both flights online. Simple process.
The Malaysian check-in and luggage drop at Sydney was opposite the Qantas Business / First counter. It was very fast and efficient and right by the express customs entry point.
Malaysian has its own lounge at Sydney airport, which is downstairs next door to the Emirates Lounge. It’s a very comfortable space with a good range of light snacks. You can also order Malaysian style hot food, cooked to order and served at your table.
Terminal 2 in Changi is a very restful place with amazing orchid displays. It was empty at 5.45am, but by 6.15 it was beginning to buzz.
The Malaysian lounge in Terminal 2 however, was disappointing. It was merely a plain room with tub chairs, but they did serve a good scrambled egg. Malaysian’s flagship lounge at KLIA in the satellite terminal is excellent, as is the smaller lounge in the main terminal with a great choice of food and beverage.
FLIGHTSI was very impressed by my Sydney to KL flight via Boeing 747 - 400. The service was excellent and genuinely friendly, from a very polish cabin crew. The aircraft is in an impeccable condition.
The video system was okay. About 40 movies with many new releases, however all are playing on a loop and are not on demand. The in-flight magazine did specify which video number related to which film so it took a bit of flicking to find the film I wanted to watch.
The seats were very comfortable, however don’t lie flat, rather at a 15 degree angle when in bed mode. The best seats in Business Class are the exit row on the Upper deck.
A highlight was the Satay service on both long flights. Yesterday’s snack service was satay sticks followed by medallions of lobster then cheesecake. A good wine list is also offered. Only a choice of juice is offered pre-take off.
I liked the colours in the Business Class cabin; the table cloths are a light teal green. The white line cloth on the meal tray has scalloped edges, for those who appreciate the minor details.
We had a two hour transit in KL, then a 737 to Singapore. The seats this time around were red flying Jason recliners. For a short flight very late at night, it was nice to see they still served a light meal.
I did find KL International Airport signage very confusing and it took me a while to find the Malaysian Lounge. The train between the two terminals is out of action but there is a continual bus service running. My suitcase was off fast and my car and driver was waiting outside the Customs Hall at Singapore, I was pleased to see.
I travelled from KL to Sydney via a Boeing 777. I’m a fan of the 777 and had seat 1D this time. The space between the rows in this Business Class cabin seemed more than on the 747-400. My luggage failed to make the flight and I spent a lot longer in Sydney Airport on arrival than I’d intended.
All in all, I would have no hesitation in recommending Malaysian Airlines Business Class, and considering the airfares through to Europe in Business Class are under $6000, it offers amazing value.
HOTELSSWISSOTEL THE STAMFORD
By the time I arrived at the hotel it was well past 1am. The check-in was slow even with my Swiss Club Gold membership.
My room, 4751 on the 47th floor was large, comfortable and functional. Very good for a business traveller. Every room has a small balcony. It’s a heart stopping moment when you step out onto your 47th floor balcony and the heavy sliding glass door closes behind you! “William; last seen stuck on a balcony high above the city!” - I was picturing tomorrow’s tabloids.
The breakfast served in Café Swiss left me cold. I ordered room service the following morning for 7.30am. The door bell rang at precisely 7.30am. The charge for an American breakfast SGD$47 was excessive.
The bed had a continental quilt on it. It was too hot for me so I pulled the quilt out of the cover and the cover was too cold. I asked housekeeping for a blanket and sheet instead of the quilt. They put the quilt back in the cover and left the blanket folded neatly on the end of the bed. This was repeated for two days. It took housekeeping until the third day to work out that I wanted; a top sheet and then a blanket on the bed instead of the quilt.
The conference was in the Raffles City Convention Centre, which is between and connected to the Swissotel and the Fairmont Hotel. Apart from a dinner in the ballroom at Raffles Hotel (across the road), I did not leave the Swissotel or the conference centre for three days! Raffles City is very clinical in look and feel.
A highlight was a Moet Chandon champagne reception on the Helipad which is the roof of the Swissotel the Stamford – 75th level. Oh by the way, the roof has no railing!!! It took me a good five minutes to climb the last five steps. To get onto the roof you take a lift to the Equinox Bar on the 71st Floor, then you climb up the fire staircase 5 floors to the roof! I needed a drink after that.
Speaking of drinks – expensive. I had a Bacardi and coke in the Equinox Bar and that set me back SGD$21.
A Virtuoso hotel. I was very impressed by the lobby / lounge areas and I loved the pool, which is on the second level facing the city. I also adore the garden area that faces the bay side on the ground floor.
I was in a Quay Room on the 6th floor which had a wonderful balcony and views towards Parliament and the Clark Quay area. The room itself wasn’t overly large. The walls were a soft yellow and the pillows were wonderful.
You need to insert your room key card into the slot just inside the room to make most of the electrics work. It took me a little while to work that one out and why I could not get the curtains to open or close. Maybe the pace of the last three days was numbing the brain.
I had access to the Straits Club (executive lounge). A very nice afternoon tea was served at 4pm and free flowing Moet, open bar and substantial canapés between 6pm and 8pm. My only criticism of the Straits Club is the lack of seat level windows and view, which is out over the river and the city. All the staff I encountered remembered and used my name every time.
My car and driver was waiting on time at 4.30am yesterday morning to drive me back to Changi Airport.
FULLERTON BAY HOTEL
This Virtuoso hotel is a 10 minute walk from the Fullerton via a passageway to One Fullerton then a short walk in the open air. This property is simply stunning.
The photos do not do justice to the attention to detail that the designers have incorporated into the rooms and public spaces. The tiles on the floor from the entrance to reception shimmer.The pool area is amazing – I loved it. The one room I saw I could move into and live in. The safe looks like a Louis Vuitton white travelling trunk.The use of light brown marble and deep brown wood veneers is stunning, too.
Capella is also a Virtuoso hotel, located on Sentosa Island making it roughly a 15-20 minute drive from central Singapore. An old Colonial building is used as the reception area, conference facility and restaurant. A Norman Foster designed curved building is used for accommodation. I saw a Capella Suite and a Constellation Suite (with an outdoor hot tub); both are very modern, large living spaces with views down over the terraced pool area and toward the sea. It’s a shame the sea is full of tankers at anchor, taking away a bit of that resort feeling.
I did not warm to Capella as I found the Foster accommodation wing too modern for my taste. However for clients who want a 5 star deluxe resort away from the hubbub of Singapore city then this is the place to be.
MARINA BAY SANDS
You cannot miss this astounding three tower hotel. I only saw the lobby area and the hotel was swarming with people. The Sands Sky Park which is the long structure that tops the three accommodation towers is a resort deck with pools, etc.
However this is also open to locals and tourists. Some of the conference delegates who have seen this hotel said there were long queues waiting to gain access to the Sky Park.
SINGAPORE IN GENERALThe city, when I managed to get up to Orchard and Scotts Road, was buzzing. There is a new shopping complex called ION located across the road from the Marriott at the corner of Orchard Road and Scotts Road. It’s filled with designer label stores and fabulous jewelers like Harry Winston. Taxis were very cheap.
Singapore has been off the radar recently, particularly as a stopover destination.
It still is a very green, clean and somewhat clinical city. But for shopping and the chance to stay in some stunning hotels, I would recommend a few days on the way to or from Europe or before or after a cruise.