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Style: Bigger than Ben Hur with an Asian twist
Scene: Marina Bay, between the sea and the city
Seen in Lobby: Singapore's A-listers and savvy travellers
Singapore's newest and most innovative hotel, the Marina Bay Sands hotel officially opened in spectacular style on 23 June 2010. In a city where the Chinese calendar is commonly consulted to determine the most 'auspicious' day and time for such an event it was no surprise to hear that the date bore a special significance. But this time it was of a more personal nature. It was the 19th wedding anniversary of the creators of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, Las Vegas Sands Corporation chairman and CEO Mr Sheldon Adelson and his wife Dr Miriam Adelson.

marina bay sands   view from bayfront ave
marina bay sands   view from bayfront ave
night view with helix bridge
horizon and atrium room
singapura suite   living room
skypark view

Like the hotel itself, the opening was a grand affair. Outside on the marina a public party with live entertainment attracted thousands of Singaporeans keen for a glimpse of the glamour. Inside, 2,500 invited guests including your tuxed-up The Luxury Travel Bible correspondent attended a 'black and gold' private party. The queue to walk the red carpet stretched back over a hundred metres but TLTB is always low-key so my wife and I opted for a more discreet entrance and soaked up the atmosphere under the hotel's atrium while sipping some fine Piper Heidsieck champagne. A four course dinner in the impressive Convention Centre ballroom put the resort's catering capacity to the test and some opening night nerves showed in the hesitancy of a few wait staff but the calibre of entertainment more than compensated. When completed the Marina Bay Sands Theatres will play host to award-winning musicals such as the 2006 Tony Award Winner for Best Musical, the Jersey Boys, whose cast where on hand to perform a few numbers. But the undisputed star of the show was the incomparable Diana Ross, who had fans on their feet and rushing the stage for a closer look at the pop diva.

Like all Sands Corporation properties the Marina Bays Sands is a creation on a grand scale. The architecture is audacious. Comprising three towers rising 200 metres (328 feet) into the air, the hotel is built on reclaimed land by the Singapore marina. Things here are measured from the hundreds, like the 250 trees planted around the SkyPark, to the thousands, such as the 2,561 rooms and suites and 800,000 square feet of adjoining retail and restaurant space.

The vast hotel foyer stretches unbroken across the three towers and the atrium soars up 23 floors in height to where the two sides of each tower come together. It's reminiscent of a scene from Star Wars with Luke Skywalker duelling with Darth Vader - a huge, white multi-level cavern with straight lines disappearing off in the distance, but looking up, not down. It's been designed to impress, big time. The foyer area features ten art installations including the 'Rising Forest' collection of 83 pot plants which dwarf passing guests, and 'Drift', a 40 metre (131 feet) three-dimensional stainless steel sculpture suspended cloud-like above the atrium of Tower One. My favourite was 'Wind Arbor' which resembles a giant mirrored curtain. Consisting of 260,000 aluminium metal flaps (Ok, I know I'm getting obsessed with the numbers here but hey, they're impressive) the sculpture covers the entire external western facade of the hotel atrium. When the flaps move in the breeze they shimmer. It's a mesmerizing view to take in over breakfast from the nearby Rise restaurant. There will be a vast array of both casual and fine dining option available at the hotel including Wolfgang Puck's 'CUT' (opening soon), Daniel Bolud's 'DB Bistro Moderne' (opening soon)  and Guy Savoy's 'Guy Savoy'.

Checking into the hotel for the gala opening, we were given a Horizon Premier room on the 40th floor in Tower Three with views overlooking the marina and city skyline. The large room had all the features you expect in luxury hotels - large flat screen TV, lounge, executive desk and a king size bed. The bathroom was elegant with its marble and limestone, but the lack of a bathtub was a disappointment. Even more disappointing was the tepid shower in the morning. I'll give the hotel the benefit of the doubt and conclude that perhaps we didn't understand the temperature control, but my wife and I have stayed in many, many hotels around the world and haven't yet been defeated by what should be a simple tap.
The STUNNING view from the floor to ceiling window which leans out at a slight angle ...  not for the faint hearted or those who suffer from vertigo.

The focal point of our room was undoubtedly the stunning view from the floor to ceiling window which leans out at a slight angle. The building's concave slope is as steep as 26 degrees in places (more numbers, sorry) and at our level the curvature of the window frame was apparent, giving you a sense of being suspended over the bustling shopping gallery, convention centre and casino below. Not for the faint hearted or those who suffer from vertigo.

But without question what you'll remember long after you've checked out of this hotel is the unique SkyPark, the jewel in the crown. This boat-shaped leisure space, three soccer fields in size, sits 200 metres (650 feet) up in the air and seems to float over the hotel's three towers. You'll quench your thirst and hunger in the bars and restaurants dotted throughout the park, but it's the infinity style swimming pool that really had The Luxury Travel Bible's head spinning. The water seems to flow right off the edge of the building, plunging down into the marina below. It's slightly unnerving at first but inevitably curiosity will lead you to the pool's edge to gaze in awe at the amazing panorama below. This is a view that can never be built out and which will improve over time thanks to the Singapore Government's visionary plans to develop the nearby Gardens by the Bay.

If you're looking for a little more luxury, request one of the Sands Suites which includes a separate lounge room, bar and an impressive living room. Be aware that until phase one the Gardens by the Bay development is completed in 2011 many rooms on the harbour side of the hotel will overlook large-scale landscaping.

Our experience was slightly marred by what I hope are teething issues - such as a fruitless half hour wait for a bell boy, a cold shower, housekeeping staff with no English and sparse supplies of tea and coffee. Over time these failings should be ironed out.

On the whole I have to conclude that this is a very fine hotel indeed and the first in a wave of new legendary Asian hotels. When the full resort is complete guests will have access some of the best dining, shopping and entertainment that Singapore has to offer, all within the comfort of a temperature controlled climate - SkyPark aside.

Check in: Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956, +65-6688-8868
Ultimate Luxury: The Sands SkyPark Marina Bay Club (opening soon)
Most Indulgent Moment: Picking up the latest offerings in the one-of-a-kind Louis Vuitton Crystal Pavilion island store (when it opens).
Junior Luxies: Not much, but try the Qube kids club.
Dress code: A mixed bag - British India Linen, Thomas Pink shirts, Gucci and resort wear.
Perfect luggage: Louis Vuitton and shiny Samsonite Black Label collection.
Dent in the platinum:    
Luxury Hotels link: www.marinabaysands.com
Rupert Lory 25/6/10
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