Asia

Singapore

written by | Posted on October 1st, 2009

The wealth of restaurants is proof that every day is a food fest in Singapore.

Spas?

One could spend days being pampered in deluxe health resorts where exotic treatments are routine. One of the most popular stops is at any of the 13 Kenko Reflexology and Fish Spas scattered throughout the city. Here, for about $25, customers sit on a redwood bench, dip their feet in lukewarm water and watch a school of tiny fish swarming all over them, eating dead skin and toe cuticles while providing a ticklish, uncanny massage.

First-rate accommodations?

With its profusion of five-star hotels as luxurious as they are majestic, the city is a “must” destination for discerning travelers. Often it seems that Singapore has a trademark on luxury. It’s not surprising, in fact, that it is one of Asia’s highest recommended destinations for the 6,000 top-notch travel advisors who make up Virtuoso.

Says Virtuoso agent Kathy Burns Lamphier, of Posh Travel, Ltd., “Singapore has undergone a transformation in recent years, and the increase of luxury hotels there certainly reflects its importance [in tourism].”

Lamphier has a weak spot for The Fullerton Hotel, a Greco-classical landmark built in 1928 that housed the colonial post office during Singapore’s British era.

“What I find attractive and convenient about the Fullerton,” she explains, “is that, since most flights from the U.S. arrive at Singapore in the early morning, the hotel goes out of its way to have rooms readily available to those who have undergone such a tiring and rigorous flight. Virtuoso guests receive an automatic upgrade, access to the hotel’s Straits Club Lounge, daily breakfast and numerous other amenities.”

This 400-room hotel sits on the banks of the Singapore River in the heart of the city’s arts and financial district and its combination of rich history and contemporary touches makes it, indeed, a delight.

The hotel is offering a tempting Holiday package beginning in November and lasting to mid-January next year, giving visitors the opportunity to sample Singapore at its best. The package includes a luxury courtyard room, breakfast for two and special gifts at a cost of approximately $225 per night dbl with a minimum 2-night stay.

Those preferring accommodations that are slightly more low-key should consider Merchant Court, a 476-room Swissotel property towering over the riverbank. It somehow manages to switch roles from that of a first-rate business hotel with that of a luxury resort. Its business center, a high-tech no-nonsense wonder, serves as counterpoint to the delights offered in the lush Amrita Spa, a place synonymous with bliss.

The Merchant Court sits in the middle of Clarke Quay, Singapore’s riverfront nightclub, restaurant, entertainment and shopping district, a high-energy zone stretching for about a half mile along the river, while Raffles Place, Singapore’s staid, button-down financial hub is within walking distance.

In the evenings, the hotel’s Blue Potato restaurant turns itself into a lush garden restaurant-bar on the pool deck giving guests the feeling of being far removed from a big city. Nearby, Riverside Kiosk greets guests with an unrivaled tropical ambiance and a vibrant night scene.

Fall and winter rates at the Merchant Court range from approximately $300 dbl, for business executive rooms, to about $390 for a mini-suite. This price includes breakfast, unlimited Internet, evening drinks and many other amenities. A Christmas special running from mid-December to early-January offers considerable savings, as rooms run anywhere from about $150 per night dbl, to approximately $230.

Lists of Singapore’s luxury hotels consistently place Capella near the top. This is a sparkling ultra-luxurious hotel that opened last March on Sentosa Island, only 10 minutes away from the city-center. At first sight, it’s clear why Rolls Royce chose to unveil its new 200EX model for the Asian market here and why Gucci showcased its summer collection in the palatial ballroom.

Capella is a 30-acre expensive pleasure dome of incomparable luxury. Guests are met at the airport by liveried chauffeurs and driven in Rolls Royce Phantoms, personal valets attend to every whim and employees seem to remember every guest.

Its restaurants, Cassia and The Knolls, continually gather bravos from food critics. Two original colonial buildings at the end of a sweeping driveway lined with wild orchids are the hotel’s symbol. Capella’s 38 villas, 11 suites and 61 premier rooms, all rattan and teak, mirror Singapore’s colonial past.