Blessings; this year’s Mid-Autumn Festival hopes to bring tidings of good health and better days ahead. You can’t missed the sky lanterns “floating” up the Supertree against the scenic mountainous backdrop; painting a picture of longevity and prosperity. At 32m wide and 19m tall, the Sky Lanterns is the largest lantern set this year.
Art-Zoo Wonder Gardens
During the day, drop by the Art-Zoo Wonder Gardens; a pop-up event that features an outdoor trail with 6 giant inflatable art sculptures as part of Gardens by the Bay’s Children’s Festival. Due to the pandemic, kids are not allowed to jump on the inflatable but merely for photo taking. Remember to pick the complimentary trail booklet and redeem exclusive Art-Zoo Wonder Gardens stickers upon completion of the trail activities!
Curious and creative Bruno Bear
Super Speedy Snail
Lantern Displays at Flower Dome
This year’s Mid-Autumn Festival features nine lantern sets and community displays that spread out across the outdoor gardens and Flower Dome to avoid overcrowding. The good news is, FREE entry for kids to Flower Dome! Once you enter the Flower Dome, head down to the Baobabs section and visit the Rabbits’ Forest, inspired by the ancient Chinese folk game Blessings Upon the One who Meets a Rabbit, in which the first person to find a rabbit in the osmanthus forest is said to receive good blessings.
Rabbits are often associated with filial piety and selflessness in Chinese culture.
The work of the community is displayed in Origami Crane Trees, featuring 2,000 colourful paper cranes folded and penned with words of blessings by individuals from social service agencies and Gardens by the Bay volunteers.
Complementing the lanterns set in Flower Dome is a floral display of chrysanthemums in vivid hues of red, pink, orange and yellow against Dale Chihuly‘s glass sculpture. The chrysanthemum is a symbolic element in traditional Chinese art to depict the autumn season.
Mid-Autumn Festival and Art-Zoo at Gardens by the Bay From now till 3 October 2021 Outdoor Gardens and Flower Dome 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953 Admission to outdoor exhibition is FREE!
Located in the vibrant enclave of Beach Road and Arab Street, Pan Pacific Serviced Suites Beach Roadis a stroll away from Bugis MRT station (appox. 10 mins) or Nicoll Highway MRT (appox. 5 mins). The property is actually situated next to Parkroyal on Beach Road. Opened in 2013, the serviced apartment provides the ultimate home away from home experience in the heart of Singapore. There are four main suites that you can choose from; One Bedroom Deluxe, Executive, Premium Suites and Two Bedroom Premium Suite.
One Bedroom Premium Suite
The well-appointed 45sqm One Bedroom Premium Suite is a corner apartment that features a full range of amenities and services to make you feel at home. The living area has large windows that provide plenty of natural light and is complete with 46-inch TV, soundbars and sub-woofers to unwind.
Guests can utilise the exceptionally well-equipped kitchen complete with the convenience of a washer and dryer. The appliances consist of Nespresso machines (3 free capsules), toaster, electric kettle, rice cooker, induction hos, ovens and large refrigerator. Unfortunately, there is no proper work desk but guests can make use of the multi-purpose table to have meals or get the work done.
Both the living area and bedroom has spectacular views of the Singapore Flyer and city skyline. There is a docking station for (outdated) iPhones with a clock radio function by the bed and another TV.
Electronic safe, iron and ironing board are located inside the huge wardrobe.
The bathroom isn’t particularly big and tiled in light beige. Hence, there is no bathtub but comes with a rain-shower cubicle. If you need a tub, some of the one-bedroom deluxe suites comes with a tub.
Fitness Centre and Infinity Pool
The rooftop infinity pool on level 21 has panoramic views of the Singapore skyline, offering a sublime environment for doing laps or unwinding after a busy day. Prior booking is required and guests will need to register at the lobby to exchange for the access card in order to use the facilities.
In a Nutshell
The average price for the lead-in suite category is SGD 266++ per night. The serviced apartment is ideal for family or friends to get together. While the property is generally clean, the apartments has started to show signs of ageing. If you are planning to stay here for WFH, working for hours on the dining table while sitting on a molded plastic chair is no joke! While I’m impressed with the number of appliances made available in the kitchen, unfortunately, the microwave is not on the list. If you decided to use the pool or gym facilities, obtaining the access card from the front desk can be troublesome. All in all, the location is unbeatable but don’t expect much service from the front desk.
Fully-furnished accommodation with kitchenett
Walking distance to Bugis or Nicoll Highway MRT
Close to Arab Street and surrounded with many eateries
Instaworthy infinity pool with view of Singapore skyline
Dale Chihuly is one of the world’s most renowned glass artists from Seattle and “Dale Chihuly: Glass in Bloom” marks the artist’s first major garden exhibition in Asia. His sculptures are installed throughout Gardens by the Bay; from the outdoor gardens to the two cooled conservatories Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. This exhibition is ticketed but you can see the public installations at the Dragonfly Lake and Victoria Lily Pond and SG50 Lattice for free.
Recommended Walking Route
Bayfront Plaza & Dragonfly Lake
End of the Day Persian Chandelier
The Porsche Taycan art car against the futuristic backdrop of the SG50 Lattice is hard to miss. End of the Day Persian is a beautiful example of Chihuly’s exploration of the form he originally presented on pedestals and later evolved to include installations mounted on walls, overhead on ceilings, and assembled in the form of chandeliers and towers.
Float Boat, and Floats
Over at Dragonfly Lake is Float Boat, and Floats invites viewers to consider material and form while delighting in the bursts of vibrant colour.
The idea of wooden boats filled with glass in Nuutajärvi, Finland, was during his ground-breaking 1995 Chihuly Over Venice project. The Niijima Floats is named after the island of Niijima in Tokyo Bay and the small Japanese fishing floats.
Victoria Lily Pond
Across the garden, Blue and Purple Boat presents the beauty of Ikebana-inspired forms resting on the still waters of Victoria Lily Pond.
The spectacular Electric Yellow and Deep Coral Tower sculpture greets visitors when they enter Flower Dome.
The White Tower sculpture surrounded with large bromeliads, palms and African daisies that create an organic landscape of pinkish and purplish hues.
Neodymium Reeds, Erbium Reeds and Trumpet Flowers
Reeds are among the most dramatic blown glass forms.
This specimen of the Grammatophyllum multiflorum var. tigrinum orchid is the first of its species to be awarded the First Class Certificate, the highest accolade among the Orchid Society of South East Asia’s prized certificates.
Cloud Forest Persians
Suspended within the Cloud Forest Dome is the grand scale Cloud Forest Persians in delicate blue and green ribbed roundels.
Ruby Red Chandelier
The Ruby Red Chandelier sculpture resembling crystalline formations in an exotic forest.
Uranium Green Icicle Chandelier
Chihuly began his Chandelier series in 1992 for an exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. These sculptures are assembled with multiple handblown glass forms mounted to a steel armature.
Chihuly’s Fiori series is a culmination of many of the techniques he has developed over his long career. Looking closely at Fiori Verde, one can observe elements including the hornet shape he has incorporated into other installations.
Glass in Bloom Gallery@Bayfront Pavillion
The Gallery is a small indoor exhibition of Chihuly’s works. He created Macchia (Italian for “spotted”) in 1981 whereby pieces of coloured glass are fused onto the surface of the Macchia during the glassblowing process to produce the mottled effect.
Drawing Walls consist of several individual Drawings that vary from light and airy to bold and colourful by using acrylic, watercolour, charcoal, graphite to create two-dimensional artworks.
The rich red and yellow hued Persian Wall.
The Meadow & Serene Garden
Setting Sun is a giant 14’ by 14’ fiery ball of red and yellow flame-like crafted specially for this exhibition. It reflects Chiluly’s lifelong interest in architecture and the natural world.
The Moon comprises hundreds of irregularly-formed blown glass discs in hues of white, opal, and rich blue. If you think that the Setting Sun & Moon are mesmerising during the day, they are spellbinding at sundown.
The Reed series installations comprising varied examples of this unique form all made during different glassblowing sessions in Finland.
Ethereal White Persians
Ethereal White Persians at Serene Garden hover gracefully over the water.
Palazzo Ducale Tower
The snowy-white Palazzo Ducale Tower amidst the greenery of this Serene Garden.
Turquoise version of Reeds series.
Black & Green Striped Herons and Green Grass
Black & Green Striped Herons and Green Grass against Marina Bay skyline.
Yellow Herons near mini waterfall featuring blue Niyodo rocks.
Red Bamboo Reeds
World of Plants
Orange Hornet Chandelier
Sea Blue and Green Tower
Pearl and Obsidian Fiori
Ticket prices vary based on the day of the week and can only be purchased online. The best time to go is in the late afternoon so that you can experience the outdoor gardens in the evening.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is a stunning 32-story luxury hotel that overlooks spectacular views of Marina Bay. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winner architect Kevin Roche, the property has an impressive art collection and feng shui design elements that capture the essence of modern Singapore. The distinct octagonal windows and geometric lines have become an iconic building of Marina Bay precinct.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore has always been on my hotel bucket list but the high price point stopped me from booking a stay. However, the hotel’s 25th Anniversary deal is hard to resist. I decided to splurge for a Club room promotional rate for SGD 430.00++ per night.
If you enter from the main entrance at level 2, the lobby is bright and a sight to behold. One of the grandest art installations is Cornucopia by Frank Stella, suspended in mid-air. Prior to the stay, the club concierge informs me that during my stay, the East Wing of the hotel lobby is undergoing a transformation and the Front Desk and check-in will be on Level 1 at Stella Gallery.
As a Club guest, I’m entitled to the following benefits:
2 pieces of complimentary garment pressing or steaming services per day.
Club limousine drop-off within the Marina Bay vicinity on a first-come, first-serve basis between 8.00 am to 8.00 pm daily.
Complimentary Coffee and Tea Amenity Set (replenished daily) throughout the stay.
Access to the Club Lounge until the time of departure.
All 608 guest rooms have unobstructed views of the Singapore skyline or Marina Bay. Of course, the rooms facing Marina Bay cost more compared to the ones facing Kallang area.
Club Deluxe Marina #2020
Even though the rooms were last refurbished eight years ago, the squarish room layout dominated by light wood and white hues still looked luxurious. The placement of the featherbed next to the door is not ideal but the layout allows you to enjoy the view of Marina Bay from the moment you wake up in the morning. The bedside table is clutter-free as all switches are housed within the inbuilt latches.
The living area consists of a daybed sofa that comes with hidden power points on either side and a single armchair. A complimentary sanitation kit comprised of a hand sanitiser and a face mask is placed on the work desk for guest use. The ultimate highlight is the unobstructed Marina Bay views from level 20.
Flush wall-mounted 55-inch LED IPTV is located in between the wardrobe and bathroom entrance. You can also access Netflix and YouTube from the TV! Below it is an empty fridge, with tea and coffee. Bottled water is provided and can be replenished upon request.
I’m surprised to see the number of hangers provided. You can also find the safe box, iron and ironing board at the corner of the wardrobe.
The marble-clad bathroom prominently features the hotel’s signature octagonal window next to the bathtub, affording you to recline in the tub with panoramic bay views against the night sky.
Asprey bath amenities is one of my favourite brands.
The walk-in rain shower seems outdated but does the job.
I requested a birthday cake to be placed in the room upon arrival but only received it a few moments after I entered the room. It’s a bummer that the birthday card was attention to my name instead of the birthday celebrant’s which I have informed the club concierge before the stay. Nevertheless, the complimentary cake is delicious!
Nothing fancy during the turndown service. A bookmark and chocolate treat were placed alongside together with bottled water and drinking glass on each of the bedside table.
The 25m lap pool features a three-tiered timber pool deck, sunbeds, private cabanas and a pool bar. Booking of facilities is mandatory and you get to use the pool and gym for 90 minutes each day.
The gym is well-equipped for a variety of fitness regimes. Along with cardiovascular and strength machines, free weights and TRX suspension equipment, the fitness centre includes a dedicated movement studio with yoga mats, boxing gear, medicine balls and resistance bands that offer variations to your workout.
The Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge on the top floor of the 32-storey tower is where you can wine and dine all day. Among the many benefits of club guests are the Club Lounge Concierge and five culinary presentations daily:
Breakfast, 7.30 am to 10.30 am (Colony restaurant, Level Three)
Mid-Day Snacks, 11.30 am to 2.00 pm
Afternoon Tea, 2.30 pm to 4.30 pm
Cocktails and Hors d’ Oeuvres, 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm
Dessert and Cordials, 8.00 pm to 9.30 pm
I appreciate the personalized QR code menu with a photo of the birthday celebrant (which was requested before the stay) as element of surprise. Don’t miss out on the afternoon tea, which comes with dainty tiers of classic and local high tea bites such as sandwiches, chocolates and freshly baked scones with clotted cream. The tables by the window are usually occupied quickly, do come early to reserve a spot.
British-colonial inspired ambience, Colony serves breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Due to the limited space, I was allocated 8.30am breakfast slot during check-in. Digital menu can be accessed via scanning of QR code. Breakfast consists of 1 main and unlimited side servings which was individually plated and served directly to the table. I don’t expect much but I noticed that the servers tend to miss out on the orders.
You can purchased assortment of freshly baked breads alongside a delightful spread of pastries, chocolates, cakes and seasonal goodies from Colony Bakery.
In a Nutshell
I have read raving reviews from other guests but my stay experience wasn’t that great or not too bad either, probably because I set high expectations given the price I paid for the club room. For instance, the club concierge promised to arrange a complimentary 100gm birthday cake and birthday decoration set-up upon arrival. While the cake was eventually delivered to the room (even though it was attention to the wrong name), there was no decoration in the room. It seems to be a miscommunication between housekeeping and club concierge. I have written feedback regarding my experience and what I got is a standard apologetic reply template with the remedy of extending a complimentary suite upgrade on my next stay. Having said that, I enjoyed my time at the Club Lounge and soaking in a bathtub by the window that overlooks Marina Bay is quite an experience!
Bathtub by the window with spectacular Marina Bay views
The only Club Lounge that offers five culinary presentations
Turndown service available
The size of lead in room category at 51m is huge
The hotel does not participant in Marriott Bonvoy Rewards programme
Marking the end of Ramadan is the festival of Eid. Second in a row, Aidilfitri celebrations are set to be less muted but keeping one another safe, makes it even more meaningful one. Wishing all our muslim friends, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri!
Singapore Zoo is not your typical menagerie; it is home to over 2,800 animals from over 300 species of mammals, birds, and reptiles set in one of the most beautiful wildlife environments. It has been years since my last trip to the zoo. So I decided to utilise my SingapoRediscovers vouchers for my visit.
A supple spine, long limbs, protruding claws and ridges on its footpads aid the cheetah in achieving a top speed of up to 115 km/h.
Zebra and Giraffe
Meet the largest of all zebras, the Grevy’s zebra. Did you know what the purpose of its stripes is? Though none have been proven, the stripes have an anti-predatory function by creating an “optical illusion”.
The towering Marco and Jubilee are the resident giraffes at the Singapore Zoo. A giraffe’s spots are much like human fingerprints. No two individual giraffes have exactly the same pattern.
Singapore’s Own Simba
Simba was born on 23 October 2020. The male lion cub was conceived through assisted reproduction at the Wildlife Healthcare and Research Centre in Singapore Zoo. The procedure requires the keepers and veterinarians to collect semen from Simba’s father, Mufasa, using the process of electro-ejaculation. Sadly, Mufasa died due to deteriorating health.
Butterflies actually have four wings, not two. The wings closest to its head are called the forewings, while those in the rear are called the hindwings.
Rainforest Fight Back Show at Shaw Foundation Amphitheatre
I always look forward to the animal show when visiting the zoo. The Rainforest Fight Back show features a diverse range of rainforest animals. Please note that the shows are operating at a limited capacity as part of the necessary Safe Management Measures. The booking portal opens 90 minutes before showtime, and can only be accessed onsite within the vicinity.
Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They are predominantly solitary animals and can run up to 58km/h.
Orangutans are apes which means that, unlike monkeys, they do not have a tail.
Animal Friends Show at Rainforest Kidzworld Amphitheatre
Catch the classic cat-and-mouse escapades and see how a dog’s acute sense of smell comes to the rescue.
Houbii Rope Course
Located next to Ah Meng memorial at Garden with a View, guests can get close to nature as they progress through the action-packed rope course for a swinging good time!
The grey kangaroo is one of the largest kangaroo species while the white rhino holds the second largest land mammal title.
Located within a stone’s throw away from Kampong Glam, PARKROYAL on Beach Road is just footsteps away from the famous Haji Lane. Built in the 1970s, the 7-story hotel is close to Bugis and Nicoll Highway MRT station; easy access around the city. Over the years, the 346-room hotel has undergone a striking transformation, beautifully designed with nature-inspired decor. The weekend rates for the lead in room category starts from SGD 214++, which is reasonable for a 4-star hotel.
Following an extensive refurbishment, the insta-worthy lobby was inspired by Kampong Glam neighbourhood with a modern tropical flare. Check-in was relatively quick. I was also accorded early check-in at 12pm and room upgrade to the club floor.
The Club Lounge is located on level 6, but access to the lounge is temporarily unavailable due to the pandemic. However, all F&B will be served via an in-room dining service for all Club guests to enjoy in the comfort of your room.
PARKROYAL Club Deluxe Room
The 35sqm room featured a king-size bed and nature-inspired modern touch in soothing tones with windows looking out over Arab Street. The work desk is missing, but the room featured a large marble top multi-functional table and surprisingly comfortable 2-seater sofa. A welcome note and amenities were also placed on the table, which was a nice touch.
The sliding wardrobe has ample storage space. The usual digital safe, bathrobes, slippers, Iron and ironing board were also provided.
Nespresso coffee machine if you fancy an indulgent treat.
The bathroom is surprisingly small. No bathtub but a well-sized shower area with wall mounted soap dispensers. To reduce single-use plastic consumption, guests can use the filtered tap for drinking near the basin.
Gym and Pool
Just a short walk from the main hotel building, the swimming pool and gym is located on level 4. Both facilities are open from 7am to 8pm and booking is mandatory. The fully equipped gym is perfect for a decent workout.
The pool has a nice scenic city skyline with a deep end of 2.9m and a shallow end of 1.2m. The hotel is also home to the flagship St. Gregory spa. There’s nothing like a full day at the spa with all the works to put your mind and body at ease.
In a Nutshell
Parkroyal Beach Road is arguably the best value for a newly renovated 4-star hotel. The location is great as it is close to Arab Street and Bugis. While the hotel’s F&B is non-halal, there are plenty of halal dining places around the area. All in all, it’s a pleasant place to stay that won’t destroy your budget.
If you are thinking of a quick getaway within the city, Sentosa is always a good idea. Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa is one of three Sofitel properties in Singapore. The French luxury 5-star resort is a hidden gem atop a cliff of Sentosa Island that offers a haven of tranquillity and relaxation. With delicate French flair to the colonial heritage building, the property boasts 211 sizeable rooms and suites, 4 opulent villas and the Iconic So Spa.
Since I’m not able to travel this year, I decided to splurge the last 2 nights of 2020 at Sentosa. The average daily rate for the lead in room category starts from SGD 340++, but the rate doubled on new year eve that cost me SGD 698++ per night. Thankfully, I have my rewards point to burn for this stay.
Tips: Book your Accor stay with your Mastercard® to get cheaper flexible rates and complimentary breakfast for two here.
All guests are required to complete the pre-arrival form. Once you enter the open-air lobby, you will be greeted with Lasvit’s dazzling spiral lighting installation named Stellar. The pink ceiling design is inspired by the well-known song “La Vie en Rose”, which literally translates to “I see everything in (rosy) pink”.
The reception area is small and as a preventive measure, only one representative is allowed during check-in to register all who will be staying in the resort. There were 3 check-in counters, although only 2 were manned when I arrived.
The resort compound has a beautiful landscape with manicured gardens inspired by Paris’ Jardin du Luxembourg. There’s a complimentary fish spa that allows you to dip your feet into a pond of little fish cleaners. Unfortunately, this is not available due to the pandemic.
Tranquility and Peace Wing
The resort consist of 2 wings; Tranquility and Peace wing. It’s a vast compound with sheltered walkways surrounded with greenery.
Even though I checked in after 4pm, I waited for another 15 minutes for the room to be ready. My original booking was for Luxury Room, but I got upgraded to the Prestige Suite due to my ALL Platinum status. I was assigned a room at Peace Wing. Apparently, level 3 is the same as the lobby. The view from my assigned room wasn’t the best. It was directly in front of the new Raffles Sentosa Resort & Spa construction work, which is slated to open in 2022.
When you enter the Prestige Suite, there is a small entryway with Sofitel’s signature art piece on the wall which separates the generous living room and bedroom. Each room configuration might differ, but the layout is more or less similar. The cosy living area consists of functional and chic furniture to make guests feel at home. If not for the COVID-19, the living room will definitely be decorated with more ornaments and books.
The mini bar cabinet has been emptied and sanitised but is still available upon request. Coffee and tea-making facilities are available for use too.
Both the living room and bedroom has double entry doors to give guests more privacy. I love the unique design of the wardrobe doors. The bedroom was well decorated with leaf motifs above the Sofitel’s King-size MyBed. The orchid carpet on the hardwood floor adds colours to the room. You will also notice sophisticated art installation and plush chaise lounge perfect for relaxation. Do note thathousekeeping service will be done every other day or upon request with no turndown service provided for now.
The spacious bathroom has a built-in bathtub as well as a separate rainfall shower area with colourful mosaic tiles.
Lanvin bathroom amenities were carefully packed individually.
On the last day of my stay, I was granted a late check out at 5pm with the condition that I move to the Luxury Room anytime before 12pm. I agreed and the staff seamlessly arranged the room to be ready just a few doors away. The layout of the Luxury Room is similar but with balcony access to the backyard.
The view from the balcony is not fantastic but you get a high chance of seeing peacocks scattered around the property.
The 33-metre pool is nice and breezy. Each room is limited to one booking per day with a maximum of two hours per visit.
Access to Tanjong Beach
If you skip the pool, you can take a stroll down to Tanjong Beach. The access is located near the pool. Do note that there are 132 wooden steps which can be a challenge on the way back up.
To get around Sentosa, you have to rely on the Beach Tram at Tanjong Beach. I wish the resort provides a regular shuttle from the lobby to the Beach Station. I just find it inconvenient to take the stairs down to Tanjong Beach to get to the Tram stop. The alternative way is to take the Sentosa Bus B from SO Spa which can be a far walk.
The Cliff has always been regarded as one of Singapore’s most romantic dining destinations. Pairing comforting Italian flavours set against the captivating sea view, the Cliff exudes an elegant chic vibe for a dining experience that is intimate and inviting.
Breakfast at Kwee Zeen
As part of my status, I got a complimentary breakfast at Kwee Zeen. The menu set is limited but do come in early because the outdoor table tends to snap up quickly.
Situated at the heart of the resort, LeBar invites you to linger over French Classic High Tea sets paired with cocktails.
In a Nutshell
If you are craving for a much-needed break, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa is an ideal breakaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. The tranquil sanctuary and resort vibes somewhat remind me of Bali. The service is subpar due to the influx of staycation-goers. I tried to email the resort multiple times for some enquiries, but it falls on deaf ears. Thankfully, the wonderful staff at the front desk is a saving grace. The best way to get there is by car, but the resort also provides a complimentary two-way shuttle service from Harbourfront MRT Station Exit D.
Peaceful atmosphere and located on the quieter side of Sentosa
Gorgeous garden grounds
Complimentary shuttle to and from Vivo City
Ageing room and facilities
A hassle to get around Sentosa
Not many dining options nearby the resort besides the in-house restaurant
The much-loved Sakura display returns and Hello Kitty making her first appearance at Gardens by the Bay! Despite the supply challenges of cherry blossom trees from Europe, the Gardens by the Bay team managed to bring back the popular Sakura display with speciality sakura trees from Japan.
Walk through the torii gates and enter a Japanese landscape to admire the ephemeral beauty of cherry blossoms.
Hello Kitty Kawaii
The well-loved character makes quite an entrance in a traditional kimono outfit, posing beside rickshaws, redesigned to match the character’s kawaii style at the Flower Field.
The endangered majestic red-crowned crane was thought to have a lifespan of a thousand years, hence it is a symbol of longevity and good luck.
Signalling the onset of spring, cherry blossom season symbolises a time of renewal, bringing hope and new dreams at the beginning of the Japanese calendar year.
Sakura x Hello Kitty Floral Display From 1 March 2021 onwards Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953 Purchase your tickets here!
Usher in an Ox-picious new year at Gardens by the Bay with Dahlia Dreams.
Stroll through a field of about 1,400 pretty dahlias of mixed varieties, all grown in-house for the very first time by our very own horticulturists alongside a host of Lunar New Year floral favourites such as azaleas, chrysanthemums and cymbidiums.
Walk through the golden moon gates and admire more than 200 red lanterns from within the lantern globe!
Legend of Nian and Lion Dance
Dahlia Dreams 2021 From now till 21 February 2021 Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953 Purchase your tickets here!
Most of us are familiar with Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express by Agatha Christie but have you wondered what it is like to be on board the iconic locomotive? The Orient Express pop-up makes a pit stop in Singapore, the first destination outside of France. Once Upon A Time on The Orient Express offers visitors a chance to embark on a fascinating journey through the history of the Orient Express, reliving the experience of travellers who boarded the train more than 100 years ago.
Relive the Golden Days
Spanning over 2000sqm, the pop-up features two original train carriages classified as National Treasures of France. The exhibition is housed in a custom-built infrastructure with the right conditions to store, preserve, and protect artwork and displays. Even the facade of the tentage was designed to simulate the Gare du Nord station in Paris.
The 1930s sleeper weigh close to 200 tonnes; undoubtedly one of the heaviest to be shipped across the world. The exhibition replicates the heyday of luxury rail travel. When you step inside the Pullman carriage (a first-class carriage), the carpet and interior are all original.
The passengers on board the train were businessmen, politicians, archaeologists, artists, adventurers, and diplomats conceived as ‘palace on wheels’. Travellers used to stay for several days in a closed space, as they were the characters of a moving theatre.
Marvel at a collection of pieces from a bygone era such as tableware, replicas of passenger’s belongings, stained glass windows and furniture. The oeil-de-boeuf or bullseye window located at the ends of the carriage was designed for ventilation purposes but has become an iconic symbol of Orient Express.
From France to Singapore, along with hundreds of exhibits such as uniforms, shields, a Pullman car, affiches, Louis Vuitton original luggage, priceless porcelain, posters and many more.
Scene from Agatha Christie’s Murder On The Orient Express
Founder of the International Sleeping Car Company
Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits (CIWL or the International Sleeping Car Company) was a private company that operated Orient Express. Invented by Georges Nagelmackers, this legendary train was the world’s first international express that enabled travellers to cross the border without customs formalities.
On an average, you can spent 45 to 60 minutes in the exhibition.
The standard ticket cost S$25 per person. If you are looking for a unique dining experience, the 1925 replica of the Anatolia dining car houses the pop-up restaurant. The menus are both contemporary and befitting of the Orient Express era.
Once Upon a Time on the Orient Express Now till 13 June 2021 West Lawn (Next to Bayfront Plaza), Gardens by the Bay 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953 Purchase your tickets here!
Formerly known as Marina Mandarin and rebranded to PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, the hotel reopened its doors in December 2020. Sitting in the heart of the Marina precinct, the garden-in-hotel concept is in line with the hotel brand’s ode to sustainability and wellness. There are 583 guestrooms across 21 floors with balconies offering breath-taking views of the city or the bay. Currently, only the Urban and Lifestyle rooms are available for bookings until the final phase of works to be completed by the second quarter of 2021.
You will be greeted with the soaring 13-metre high moss-themed vertical wall, which serves as the backdrop of the concierge desk on level 1. The hotel is directly connected to Marina Square, but all guests must use the main hotel’s entrance due to safe management measures.
The building is one of the four atrium hotels in Singapore designed by the late John Portman, a neo-futuristic American architect widely known for popularising hotels with multi-storied atrium. The reception is located on level 4. The hotel’s cavernous atrium remained much of the same after the renovation but incorporates more eco-conscious features aligned with PARKROYAL COLLECTION (PC) brand. The sky-bridge brings guests across the atrium with a forest treetop experience that hosts over 2,400 greenery that acts as air purifiers.
Curved corridors and capsule-shaped elevators form a cinematic backdrop. In the evening, the atrium transformed into a lush garden with sculptural pavilions illuminated like lanterns.
The revamped garden oasis provides an ideal place to unwind with afternoon tea or signature cocktails. The garden theme also extends to Peppermint (formerly AquaMarine) all-day dining restaurant. The halal restaurant serves Asian and International menus with organic and sustainable food.
Check-in was smooth and I got my key to my room on the 10th floor without any hassle. The Lifestyle room is between 33 to 35sqm and equipped with motion sensors that turn on the air-conditioning and lighting. The decors are kept minimal with plenty of wood accents. I felt that the room interior looks a little bland and lack soft furnishings. I’m not a fan of timber flooring, but perhaps adding carpet will instantly lift the space. There is also no cushion for the headboard, just a hard grey fabric laminated panel.
The only difference between the Urban Room and Lifestyle room is the daybed by the window. It is nice to have a cosy reading nook or simply relax while looking out the window. If you are thinking of work from hotel, there is no proper desk and you have to rely on the long table underneath the TV. On a side note, the TV has Chromecast support to watch Netflix!
The wardrobe with grilled doors housed the usual mini-bar, in-room safe, bedroom slippers, iron and ironing board.
Nespresso Machine and welcome amenities.
The bathroom was not what I’m expecting. The shower area was small and the outdated bathtub was really shallow. To discourage the use of disposable plastic water bottles, all bathrooms are fitted with water filters. Amenities such as toothbrushes and eating utensils are made from environmental-friendly materials.
Views from the balcony.
Galaxy-themed Mineral Water Pool
Inspired by the city’s night sky, the 25-metre mineral water swimming pool is fitted with more than 1,380 fibre optic lights that twinkle at night. Unfortunately, no wading pool for the kids.
View of Marina Bay sands, Esplanade and CBD.
The temporary Fitness centre is well equipped.
In a Nutshell
The location of the hotel is unbeatable, with easy walking distance to City Hall. All rooms come with a private balcony with skyline views. The hotel is currently undergoing refurbishment and you could occasionally hear hammering noises in the room. The amount of dust (from the ongoing refurbishment) in the room is very apparent. Subsequently, the room lacks soft furnishing. I would prefer to stay at PC Pickering rather than PC Marina Bay until the refurbishment is completed.
Near shopping malls and MRT Station
Everything is new
All rooms equipped with on tap faucet water filtration
Nestled in the centre of Singapore’s arts and cultural district, InterContinental Singapore(not to be confused with InterContinental Singapore Robertson Quay) is a luxury landmark set in the heart of Singapore’s arts and cultural district. Not too far from the historical precinct of Kampong Glam and Arab Street, the 403-room hotel is located at Bugis and connected to the adjoining Bugis Junction shopping mall. Since opening its doors in 1995, the hotel underwent a makeover in 2016, but the property still looks as classy as ever.
InterContinental Singapore pays homage to the Peranakan history of the building. The lobby features intricately patterned marble floors and a concierge lounge modelled after a living room in a Peranakan mansion from a bygone era.
The hotel comprising of Main Tower and Shophouse Wing. If you like to experience the traditional shophouse living and Peranakan’s design aesthetic, the Heritage Rooms are located on the Shophouse Wing. Do note that these rooms overlook Bugis Junction shopping mall interior (not an ideal view). InterContinental Singapore is also one of the Pet-friendly hotels. If you book the PAW-FECT STAYCATION package, you can bring along your pet dog. This is only applicable for accommodation at Heritage Rooms. You might need to avoid this room category if you are allergic to furry animals.
The well-appointed 38 sqm Deluxe Room features a harmonious colour palette with white wood panelling and elements from Peranakan culture.
Comfy king-sized bed with Sealy Posturepedic mattress, goosedown duvets and pillows.
The room corridor with pillars is reminiscent of the colonial influence.
The workspace located at the corner of the room is a decent-sized wooden desk to get work done.
Modern suede sofa; a great TV-watching couch.
The exclusively designed cabinet with black lacquered doors replete with a gold gilt finish that encase the mini-bar is the most distinctive feature of the room.
Wardrobe with bathrobe, bedroom slippers, iron and ironing board.
Good-sized bathroom with beige-marble tiling on the walls and floors.
I find the shower area is rather cramped.
Bathroom amenities by Agraria; a San Francisco luxury fragrance house.
The views from my room weren’t particularly special. You can request for either the pool view or Bugis area.
Outdoor swimming pool open from 7am to 10pm
In a Nutshell
If you have a preference towards colonial ambience, you will definitely enjoy the stay at InterContinental Singapore. While the rooms aren’t special, the hotel is located in a prime location with direct access to Bugis Junction shopping mall. You can redeem your SingapoRediscovers Vouchers when you book the Premier Deluxe Exclusive at S$260++ per room/night.
The hotel is directly connected to Bugis Junction
Close to Bugis and City Hall MRT Station
Plenty of eateries around the area
The rooms and facilities are starting to show signs of age
A hope of a new beginning. The Shine a Lightcomprising of 60 light beams projecting from The Promontory illuminates the Marina Bay skyline nightly till 31 December 2020. With a collective formation of light rays projected into the sky, the light projection is designed to symbolise unity, positivity and resilience.
The light up runs daily from 8.00pm to 10.30pm with a 3-minute animated light sequence every 15 minutes. On New Year’s Eve, the last show will be at 11.45pm to countdown to 2021.
The display represents a guiding beacon that underpins Singaporeans’ spirit in navigating through the pandemic and determination to emerge stronger in the new year together as a nation.
Postcard of the Week is a postcard exchange project that invites everyone to share photographs from all places in the world based on the weekly theme. Everyone is welcome to participate. Be sure to tag your entry as “postcardoftheweek″ so that others can check out your postcard.
Travelling out of Singapore is out of the question. Thanks to Gardens by the Bay, you can experience a slice of European-holiday cheer with the return of Poinsettia Wishes. I would recomment to visit the floral display during the evening when the entire field is being lit up.
A reimagined Gouda City Hall, an iconic landmark in the Netherlands visited by many for its Christmas candle light-up, decked with nutcracker dolls that resemble toy soldiers. Gouda by Candlelight, also known as Kaarsjesavond, is an annual Christmas tradition held in the city of Gouda, surrounding the Gothic Goudse Stadhuis, also known as the townhall. During the festive season, the building is typically accompanied with a Christmas tree, an annual gift from its Norwegian sister city, Kongsberg.
The nutcracker dolls from German folklore represent strength and are believed to serve as protectors of the house. They are typically given as keepsakes to bring good luck and protection to families.
Luminarie Light Sculptures
The all-time favourite luminaries! Traditionally, luminaries or farolito in Spanish, were small paper lanterns made out of coloured paper with candles. They are typically designed and arranged to create huge and elaborate displays. Over the years, LED lights have replaced lit candles.
Nope they are not gnomes. The Nisse is a mythological creature from Nordic folklore solitary; looks much like a cross between a gnome and Santa Claus! They are mischievous domestic sprite who protects and looks after the farm and its household. Decked in a red or blue sweater, with a distinctive pointy hat, knitted stockings and knee breeches, a nisse looks much like a cross between a gnome and Santa Claus!
The origin of Christmas tree dated back to the ancient times. People brought evergreen trees, plants, and leaves into their homes upon the arrival of the winter solstice to celebrate the return of life at the start of the decline of winter.
Poinsettia Wishes 2020 From now till 3 January 2021 Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953 Purchase your tickets here!
Christmas Wonderland 2020 consist of physical and online events. You can still enjoy the light installations onsite but shopping, games, meet the Santa has to go virtual from the comfort of your home. The Walk of Lights located at Gardens by the bay features 1,215,600 LED bulbs across nine installations. The 370-metre long walk will take about 20 to 30 minutes to complete in the hope of spreading some cheer during this holiday season. If you have been to Japan or Korea during the festive period, this light installation is somewhat similar.
The Path of Tranquility
You will start off with “The Path of Tranquility”, a 40-metres tunnel-like display made up of more that 60,000 LED bulbs.
The Magical Carriage
Get in the holiday mood with the 8-metre long Magical Carriage.
Take a selfie with the “Golden Gift”. Please note that you must keep your mask on when taking photos.
The Field of Lights
The Field of Lights is made up of around 1 million LED bulbs and has a total length of 10km; that is nearly 60 times the height of the Singapore Flyer!
Häagen-Dazs Chocolate Obsession Display
My all-time favourite, the stunning 17m tall Spalliera. The light display is handmade by Italian craftsmen using white wood from the South of Italy and it took 11 days to complete the set up.
Double Storey Venetian Carousel
Tickets to the Walk of Lights are priced at S$5 each. You can pick from 9 daily sessions, 6.30pm to 10.30pm when you pre-register online. Each session has strictly controlled numbers to adhere to social distancing measures. You need to pre-book a 30-minute session and tickets are only available online. The Walk of Lights is a rain or shine event. Please note that access through the Walk of Lights is in one direction only.
The Walk of Lights at Gardens by the Bay Now till 3 January 2021 (Extended!) The Meadow, Gardens by the Bay 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953 Purchase your tickets here!
It is hard not to notice the greenery adorn the exterior of the building that brings the ‘hotel in the garden’ theme to life. PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering Singapore celebrates icons of architecture and environmental sustainability. Not that often you get to see a property with unique architecture incorporates elements of nature such as tropical trees and gorgeous sky-gardens. A short walk from Clarke Quay, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering is located opposite Hong Lim Park at a junction between the CBD and Chinatown. The location is excellent for exploring heritage precincts like Chinatown and the Civic District.
Designed by renowned architect WOHA, PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering pioneered a hotel-in-a-garden concept with over 15,000 square metres of lush greenery, blending visually compelling vertical gardens. The tactile undulating building design is inspired by the rice-paddy fields of Bali. The property has 367 well-furnished rooms over 10 categories.
I arrived at the lobby at 3 pm to check in and found a line of guests queuing. Most hotels would experience a surge in staycation bookings during the weekends and school holidays. Do expect additional waiting times to check-in. I am fortunate that I got my room key within 30 minutes.
The hotel lobby uses natural materials and textures throughout the design of the hotel. Layers of wood in curvilinear forms the 2 reception desks. The structures seem to emerge organically from the bands of wood that cover the walls and ceiling. The freeform green textured carpet underneath the reception desk; reminiscent of moss that inject colour and aesthetic appearance.
To get to the lift lobby, you walk along the indoor water feature and a bridge-like treatment of the adjacent flooring. The property is split into three blocks. This allows for maximum light, views and garden connections in the rooms. Two-thirds of the hotel corridors is naturally ventilated, resulting in less reliance on air-conditioning.
Urban Junior Suite
Inspired by nature and a light-filled concept, the Urban Junior Suite offers views of Hong Lim Park through floor-to-ceiling windows. The high ceilings makes the 48 sqm suite, bright and airy. You can also get work done with a well-equipped work desk.
The fridge and Nespresso machine were located inside the closet next to the desk. The hotel also provided a ‘Pan Pacific Cares kit’, which contains disposable masks, Zappy antiseptic wipes and a travel-size hand sanitizer.
The sliding door creates a partition between the bedroom and living room area. The sofa can be transformed into a day bed to accommodate additional guest.
The bedroom has a side view of the landscaped gardens. The palate of calm greens and natural wood provides optimal relaxation and comfort. Even the headboards accentuate the earthy concept.
The wardrobe is flushed to the wall as part of the room partition. Usage of single-use plastics have been ceased across the hotel. Drinking water is filtered and bottled in reusable bottles in-house.
The double vessel basins and bathtub are made from recycled composite stones and granite.
The bathtub placed next to window overlooks the landscaped gardens and partial view of the city. It is a good idea to draw the blinds downwhile taking a relaxing soak.
The sliding door separate the toilet and bath area. The entrance door next to the toilet is a quick access to the living room.
Elemis bath amenities is exclusively for those staying in suite category. Elemis is the number 1 luxury UK skincare brand. A real treat for any hotel patron!
Infinity Pool and Cabanas
The 5th floor of the hotel is a dedicated wellness floor that features St Gregory spa, fitness centre, infinity pool and garden walk. The much lauded infinity pool was featured in the Hollywood blockbuster movie ‘Hitman, Agent 47’. If you swim towards the edge of the pool, you can enjoy sweeping views of the city and Hong Lim Park. With Safe Management Measures in place, the facilities are operating with reduced capacity. Reservation is required and access is limited to 1.5 hours per room per day.
One of the property most distinctive features is its colorful human-sized bird cages perched on the edge of cantilevered platforms overlooking the city.
In a Nutshell
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Pickering is a tropical paradise in the midst of the city. Being the first hotel in Singapore featuring a garden concept, It makes you feel at ease and well-connected to nature which offers a unique experience compared to other hotels. Guest services could be improved. The “One Connect” guest service number is almost non-existent! I tried calling the One Connect numerous times but unable to get through. Overall, I would love to be back again with the caveat that the stay have to be during off-peak period.
Close to Chinatown MRT Station
Green hotel with nature-inspired room
Photo-worthy infinity pool
The reception is too overwhelmed to handle large volume of guests
It’s the jolliest time of the year again at Universal Studios Singapore. A modest celebration this year but plenty of photo moments with the characters. Time to rediscover the thrilling rides to make it a season to remember!
The Merry Minions of Christmas
Whimsical Christmas Movie Land
Step into its hot air balloon and have A Topsy Turvy Christmas in an unconventional upturned house.
Take in the glitz and glamour and feel like a star as you step into interactive movie scenes with Shrek and Princess Fiona.
Plenty of Photo Moments
From the tropical island of Madagascar to the Milk Bar Stage to meet the swashbuckling Puss in Boots and Kitty Softpaws with Humpty Dumpty. Don’t forget to catch the fuzzy friends from Sesame Street too.
Do take note of USS new operating days and hours during the year-end festive season. Thursday to Monday, 2pm-9pm (till 28 Dec).
A Universal Christmas at Universal Studios Singapore Now till 3 January 2021 8 Sentosa Gateway Singapore 098269 Purchase your tickets here!
Working-from-home remains the default mode of working. This means that I am spending more time indoors but little did I know that the air quality in our homes are often 2–5 times more polluted than outdoors. Having an air purifier is a good option to combat the contaminants that are not visible to us. Designed in Germany, Cosmo Prime Air Purifier literally purifies the air in the entire room and this is beneficial for those who continuously struggle with allergies and respiratory problems.
For SGD 399, you could order the Cosmo Air Purifier + 3 in 1 HEPA filter, online with free same day delivery that comes with a 5 year warranty!
Sleek, modern design so you don’t have to compromise aesthetics for functionality.
Noise: As low as 20 decibels on sleep mode
Clean Air Delivery Rate: 400m³/h
Coverage Area: Up to 80m²
Filters: Pre-filter, HEPA filter & Active Carbon filter
3-in-1 HEPA Filter
HEPA essentially stands for “high-efficiency particulate air”. Cosmo uses medical grade H13 HEPA filter that able to remove 99.97% of all airborne particles.
Cosmo Air Purifier is able to:
intercept large suspended particles like hair, dust, lint and fur.
remove micron particles and block bacteria, pollen, pet dander, dust mites.
effectively neutralise odours especially with pets
Depending on air quality and usage, it is recommended to change the 3-in-1 HEPA filter (SGD 130) every 6-12 months.
Real-time Air Quality Monitoring
The intuitive digital display shows real-time indoor air quality level. It can measure PM2.5 particles. The blue light signals good air quality while red tells you otherwise. There are 4 types of mode but I would recommend to select the Auto mode which will adjust the speed based on the air quality.
WIFI Activation Control
What I like about Cosmo is that you could control the air purifier remotely! Download the Smart Life App to control and monitor your air quality wherever you. It works on both Apple and Android devices including voice control via Google Assistant and Alexa.
Quiet as a Whisper
I have been using the air purifier for a week and I am satisfied with its performance. Cosmo is able to detect the air quality level and adjust its mode automatically. It is WiFi compatible and works well with the app which is a massive positive for me. This has been a great addition to my home!