During our holidays in Singapore, I was without a passport and we were unable to go on trips to neighbouring countries. I am a sucker for hotel stays (no need to clean up after myself, soft white sheets to sleep on, luxurious bathrooms to preen in) so we took the opportunity and pulled some strings to get ourselves a room, rather cheaply, at Marina Bay Sands (MBS), one of the two integrated resorts in Singapore. I was pretty psyched up, even though it was merely a night’s stay at the resort, but hey, beggars can’t be choosers; it was the only kind of holiday we were entitled to without a passport in hand.
I had high hopes, but unfortunately, our mini-vacation was peppered with hits and misses. Perhaps we were clueless in the Bayfront Avenue area, but we thought the signage for the hotel carpark was rather misleading. We ended up in the carpark for The Shoppes, and took the longest walk through the mall to get to MBS. When we finally got to MBS, I had no idea that I was in for the worst check-in of my life. We were ushered to the private check-in area away from the reception at the lobby. We stepped into the office and were courteously told to sit in the waiting area just outside the office, as the two receptionists were busy with other hotel guests. This was fine by us. We were also told that we would be served next. Then three big and burly men with flashy gold Rolexes marched straight into the office, and the minute the hotel guests in the office left, this group of men was served. Seeing that our queue was cut, we walked in and told the receptionist that we were next in line, and that we should be served first. Guess what the receptionist said? ‘Oh but you were waiting OUTSIDE the office, these men were IN the office when the previous guests left’. And then we said, ‘But you told us to wait OUTSIDE.’ You would have expected an apology next, but no, we were rudely ignored, and she went back to checking the men in instead. I was choked with anger. We left in a huff and checked in at the reception instead, and mind you, that was WAY quicker than if we were to wait in the private check-in area. If anyone from MBS is reading this, please kindly revise the kind of customer service you’re providing.
I was determined not to let the check-in issue ruin my stay, so we quickly went upstairs to our room and settled down. I was happy that the room is incredibly spacious and clean with two huge beds and an unobstructed view of the city skyline. The photo doesn’t look it but I practically whistled at the size of the bathroom; there was a private shower area, an enclosed toilet stall, and a bathtub right in the middle of the bathroom complete with his-and-hers sinks. Call me a country bumpkin, but hey, we don’t get this in European hotels unless we go bankrupt living in suites! The room also comes well-stocked with TWG Tea, which by the way, is really good and even better than some varieties of tea we have in the UK.
Not to waste another minute of our stay, we ventured out to The Shoppes. Many boutiques were still under renovation, but we were pleased that The Shoppes was not crowded. Having braved the packs at ION and Takashimaya, I was beginning to develop a fear for human beings, and it was nice to be able to browse through shops without bodily contact. I was particularly happy with Sephora and also picked up two pairs of shoes from Pazzion. We also swung by the food court to have a look (really expensive) and popped into the celebrity chefs’ restaurants to have a look at the menus. Exhausted from shopping, we returned to the hotel in the evening to meet my folks, bought some macarons from Sweetspot (which were really disappointing, they were more like sandwiched cookies than macarons), and went up to the Skypark pool to have a look. The view was nice-ish, and it was pleasantly cool up there. But it was a wee bit crowded and we left soon after for dinner at db Bistro Moderne at The Shoppes.
Some of you who have been following my blog for sometime might remember that I was in NYC during Christmas in 2009 and we, too, dined at db Bistro Moderne. I was less than impressed with the famed foie gras burger then but was otherwise quite happy with the other dishes we had. This time in Singapore (sorry no photos, because they turned out pretty badly in the dimly lit restaurant), I tried the coq au vin and was quite enamoured with the deep sticky sauce that smothered the tender chicken. My dad and brother tried the burger, which is surprisingly priced dollar-for-dollar; it was USD35 in NYC and costs only S$35 in Singapore. The burger however failed to impress again but the shoestring fries delighted all. Mum had the barramundi, which was pretty delish but the bouillabaisse that M ordered failed to please. With a 50% rate for hits and misses, I don’t think I would go back for the food (unless they get the Nantucket scallops in…..), but the service was very attentive, polite and professional. Thumbs up for that!
We ambled back to the hotel room for tea and macarons, admired the view for a bit (which is really more stunning from the room than from the Skypark), and said goodbye to my folks. I had a very good night’s sleep in the comfy bed, soaked excessively in bubble baths, and took a dip in the Skypark pool as well. Be warned though, the pool is insanely crowded and really quite cold! I didn’t last 15 minutes, and much preferred lounging in the room, reading a book on the chaise longue whilst admiring the view. That, and shopping at Sephora.
One more thing, if you are a hotel guest at MBS, and you parked at its carpark, remember to go to the valet service counter, tell them your room number and get a parking ticket for S$6 (per day). Remove your cashcard from the unit, slot this ticket in at the barrier, otherwise you will be in for a rude shock when you get out. This was something that the staff didn’t tell us about (can you believe that?), we knew about this only because my in-laws stayed over at MBS a while ago.
I would say that it was a mediocre stay. The room was great, and housekeeping was fabulous, but the check-in problem and the fact that no one told us about the carpark were both huge letdowns. When I asked the receptionists about the carpark rate for hotel guests and how I should redeem the ticket, no one seemed to know what I was talking about. They stared blankly at me and said they weren’t sure. I had to figure it out myself and hopped over to the valet service counter. The customer service leaves much to be desired, seeing as to how locals and tourists alike are flocking to the integrated resorts, these problems need to be rectified soon. Our resorts have got to be worth the hype. All I can say is MBS has been around for a while…even teething babies stop crying, so I can’t think of any excuses. Oh well, till the next stay then.