Overview: A modern hotel/casino/resort – but with a certain Singapore sterility
Strengths: Pool and roof deck, myriad of dining options, shopping
Drawbacks: Slightly isolated location, size of property
What a pool!
The reason to stay at this property the first time is the pool. Located on the 57th floor roof deck, the pool is nothing short of amazing. The pool is the star attraction of the one hectare SkyPark, and is the longest elevated swimming pool in the world.
The SkyPark has much more than just the main pool; there is a hot tub, several dining options, a club lounge and a nightclub, as well as several viewing areas. Many parts are lined with trees, making the SkyPark feel all the more comfortable. There is so little wind (I suspect due to the design) on the roof deck that absent the notable view, you could easily think you were in a ground-level resort complex.
To visit the SkyPark and pool, you either need to be a guest of the hotel (and show your room key), or pay a SGD50 (about USD40) entry fee per person.
Lifeguards on duty
A few have asked me about safety. Indeed, one Dutchman went over the side earlier this year. As best I understand it, he wasn’t in the pool; most chatter is that he jumped. There is a catchment beyond the infinity-edge of the pool – and a second catchment beyond that. http://sg.news.yahoo.com/dutch-tourist-falls-from-mbs-skypark.html (The article makes mention of 2 metre high screens and steel ropes as safety measures. I can't say I saw anything like that up there.) I could see how you could jump, but couldn’t see a scenario where someone accidentally went over the edge.
The hotel has over 2,500 rooms, a large convention center, a casino and shopping galore (think US-style shopping mall). The size allows the property to offer many on-property options to guests, but scale at this level causes service to suffer.
Just a portion of the hotel's vast lobby
We arrived off of Singapore Airlines SQ21 early in the morning. Knowing we’d be arriving early, we pre-booked rooms from the night before (and called before departing Newark to say when we’d actually be arriving), but the desk clerk assisting us was thoroughly confused. He started with “no rooms are available now,” and moved quickly to, “only smoking rooms are available now.” We reiterated that we reserved and paid for non-smoking king rooms from the prior night so that rooms would be guaranteed for us at this early hour. After about 20 minutes of to-and-fro, we had keys to our king non-smoking rooms. It is a frustrating experience to start a stay with a negotiation – for what was already paid for.
There was a separate check-in area for suite and status guests.
The room itself was nice – new and clean – but not over the top – by either Singapore or Las Vegas standards.
The shower door in my room was cut so close to the ground that it got caught on the floor mat.
My room faced the harbor and away from the city, so I had a small balcony off of my room. Those facing the city do not have balconies.
Don’t shoot me – one night (like most nights on this trip) I had to do a number of work calls, so just ordered Nasi Goreng and some beers from room service. It was pretty good. Delivered quickly.
Breakfast is offered at a large buffet restaurant in the lobby. While nice, it had the impersonal feel of a large, Las Vegas buffet.
More Floss again for the congee...this time Chicken Floss
I did pay a visit (ok, more than one) to the casino. As a foreigner, I was able to enter free of charge. Singapore residents have to pay a per-visit fee of SGD100 to enter (or buy a SGD2,000 annual pass). These fees on locals are meant to discourage gambling by Singaporeans.
My casino game of choice is craps. In general, the rules are the same for craps all around the world. Some countries, like Australia, have better payouts on more speculative bets; Singapore was just slightly worse than average on odds/payouts.
The one rule I found odd was that the shooters are not allow to turn the dice over. You have to shoot them from the position they’re given to you in. I was given some random pairing and immediately started turning the dice into one of the positions I usually shoot from (3/3 or 4/4). The stickman immediately pulled the dice back, saying he could do it (flip the dice) for me, but I couldn’t. I’ve played craps on four continents and never previously encountered such a rule. He did give me the dice the way I wanted for future rolls without me asking.
Even when the tables got hot, while there was some camaraderie, it was still a pretty muted place. Purportedly, drinks were available, but I don’t ever recall being offered a drink. Thankfully, I ended with a little more in the rail than I started with – but the pace of play, and the quiet nature of the crowd, generally shortened my attention span.
Being Singapore, offering extensive shopping options at the hotel is compulsory. Seemingly every high-end brand is represented within the complex, as well as many regional aspirational products. There is a large shopping mall attached to the hotel. It was so American, that if someone told me I was at a mall in Boca Raton, I’d have believed them.
We added some impromptu meetings during our stay in Singapore. I usually offer to go to the location of the person that we’re meeting; invariably, when I said I was at the MBS, each of the locals said they’d come to me. That made my stay much more convenient, at least. Each of the locals was very keen to come to the MBS.
Other service requests were generally handled fine – but the guest experience was akin to staying at a property like the Venetian in Las Vegas – you’re simply one in a pool of thousands of guests. Service is fine, but in no way personal or particularly luxurious.
Behind there hotel, there are some extensive gardens (which I overlooked from my room.
I’m glad I stayed here, though I probably wouldn’t return when traveling in Singapore for business, though I would when I visit with my kids. They’ll love the pool.
Up next, short haul in economy class on Silk Air and business class on Singpore Airlines.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel
10 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
+65 6688 8868