Marina Bay Sands
10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
+65 6688 8868
My Rating: 74%
Price Rating: $$$$$
Summary of my Stay: The Marina Bay Sands is an iconic hotel that has drawn worldwide attention for its design and luxurious design. The design is instantly recognizable and the infinity pool is the ideal spot for the jet-setting-selfie-taker. But beyond the aesthetic and remarkable pool, did the hotel live up to the hype?
I arrived early afternoon and the entrance is a chaotic scene of moving vehicles, luggage and people. Through the front doors and towards the check-in desk, you get in line with several dozen other guests who are checking in. To help speed things along, a man with an iPad is ensuring everyone has their ID and confirmation ready. A few minutes later, a lady with a tray walked by and offered everyone a popsicle. If you're forced to wait in line in a tropical country, a frozen treat is always welcome.
Check-in was smooth but when I inquired about paying to upgrade my room (something I do at almost every hotel I visit), they were very clear that was not possible. I had booked a deluxe room with a view of the Botanical Gardens, and so even a view of the city would have been preferred, but they were firm that of the 2500 rooms, there was nothing available. Hard to believe but fine.
The room was ready and I took my keycard and set off to find the elevator bank. There are dozens and regularly people would go to the wrong tower and wrong set of elevators. They are marked but the hotel's design does complicate minor things like this. On my floor, the hallways are pristine, modern and bright. Opening the door and entering the room, the room did not live up the hallway. The room was fine but basic. It was dated and had visible signs of wear. Nothing about the room set it apart or was worth what I had paid to stay there. The bathroom again was alright but forgettable. The balcony was a decent size and the view of the gardens was better than I expected.
The hotel is known for having world-class....well...everything. From restaurants with celebrity chefs to the best shopping at the adjoining mall, to the massive casino that is attached to every niche entertainment activity you could hope for. While I was there, I didn't have a chance to check everything out but the shopping at the Mall was impressive (1 million sq. feet of retail space). Every high end label was visible and had an unmatched selection. But the layout of the mall is ridiculous and you're forever taking escalators and stairs to different levels (not just different floors). Among the other attractions, the resort features the ArtScience Museum, a skating rink, 2 performance theatres and a nightly laser show.
In regards to the restaurant selection, I did eat at Spago by Wolfgang Puck (a personal favourite of mine and one that also provides the poolside menu) and SweetSpot. Spago was great and would make Wolfgang proud. The location atop the Sky Park makes it an ideal location for a casual but quality lunch. SweetSpot was a pricey indulgence but a nice place for a quick sugary pick-me-up. There are 43 restaurants on the property and I'm sure there are a few gems among them.
Highlight of the Hotel: Without a doubt, the highlight is the rooftop infinity pool at the Sky Park—191 meters above the ground. The Sky Park is over 1 hectare in size and boasts the world's largest elevated pool. It is a guest-only attraction and it is the main reason to stay at this hotel. It will take your breath away with the stunning view of the Singapore skyline. Even in less than ideal weather, the pool makes for a great place to hang out. The tropical weather in Singapore changes quickly and often, so one moment it was misting and ten minutes later, the sun was beating down. All the while, the pool is the place to be at.
Highlight of my Stay: Again, the highlight was the pool. I feel the pool is the only reason travellers would pay this rate to stay at this hotel. The pool is unmatched in terms of view and sheer scale. And the fact that entry to the Sky Park is for guests only (and strictly enforced) makes it a decently exclusive place to hang out.
Drawbacks: The hotel is out of the way and is really only walking distance to the attractions that are part of the complex. Several times members of the hotel staff tried to direct me to a tour bus stop, but never was it actually there. So I ended up taking taxis everywhere I needed to go which worked out fine but wasn't my original plan.
The hotel really hypes it's restaurants...which also inflates the prices. While I knew the hotel would be a tourist trap, the menu prices were mostly unwarranted. You could dine at Michelin starred restaurants with better views for considerably less than most of their options.
They cater very much to the gambler—which shouldn't surprise me since they have a casino. This is another reason prices are inflated...higher margins allow them to comp players without hurting their bottom line.
At the end of the day, this is a cool but basic, business style hotel with some big name restaurants and a crazy cool infinity pool. If you're looking for a hotel in Singapore, spend one night here. Enjoy the pool and make the most of it. Then pack yourself up and move to another property that will make you appreciate Singapore and all it has to offer.