marina bay sands review hotel revamped suites

Integrated resort Marina Bay Sands is undisputedly one of Singapore’s icons — thanks to its sparkling appearance in the Hollywood hit, Crazy Rich Asians and a bonanza of movie premieres and celebrity launches (remember JJ Lin belting out a Disney tune on the rooftop of the ArtScience Museum in 2021?). Designed by Moshe Safdie, the stunning 57-storey complex, which boasts a boat-like structure perched on top of three 57-storey towers, has often been lauded as an architectural marvel. However, the rooms of the 13-year-old hotel are not as much talked-about as the splendour of its internationally-acclaimed exterior. 

That’s about to change as the integrated resort is embarking on a massive refurbishment programme that costs around $1.3 billion.  More than 850 rooms across towers one and two have been given a spruce up, while renovation work in tower 3 commences next year, alongside the hotel lobby and the SkyPark. In a bid to cater to the growing demand for luxury travel, 285 suites have been added, bringing it to a total of over 400 suites in the two towers. The suites make up about 20 per cent of Singapore’s largest hotel, which houses over 2,200 rooms. This move is timely with the recent slew of hotel renovations and new entrants into the hotel landscape

Suite Dreams

Photo: Marina Bay Sands

The Sands Premier Suite, which I stayed at for two nights, has been given a lighter and contemporary update, with cream, beige and light grey hues dominating the 95-square-metre room. Gone is the dated orange-brown colour palette, which anchored the room’s erstwhile décor. The number of keys in the hotels has also been slightly reduced as some of the rooms have been expanded and reconfigured. The spacious room, which can easily fit a family of four, has a living room that opens up to a postcard-perfect view of the Supertrees at Gardens By The Bay. (Tip: Catch the daily light show from the balcony).

Photo: Marina Bay Sands

A key tenet of the hotel’s refurbishment is to inject a lived-in, residential vibe into its rooms — a concept popularised from staying indoors during the pandemic. The suite’s living room is roomy enough for a four-seater dining table, sofas and armchairs, which are perfect for languishing a lazy afternoon away. 

A stand-out room amenity is the cocktail trolley, which is stocked with pre-mixed classic cocktails such as espresso martini, old fashioned and Singapore Sling, complete with garnishes and a cocktail shaker and stirrer. Perfect for those who do not want to rub shoulders at the bars that dot around MBS.  

The Oriental-styled minibar armoire stores plenty of snacks, drinks and even a porcelain teapot set, but what impress most are the leather upholstered compartments. Even the Nespresso coffee machine is clad in light grey leather. Talk about a (literally) luxe touchpoint. Finer touches such as the insect and fish ornaments help to inject a homely touch, complete with bowls re-filled with caramel toffees during the turndown service.

Photo: Kenneth SZ Goh

Design-wise, more touches of Singapore culture have been incorporated from the oriental screen-inspired panels that flank the bed and motifs reminiscent of textiles in Arab Street are subtly woven into the Axminster wool carpet. I also appreciate thoughtful amenities such as a USB charging cable and a copious amount of leather trays from homegrown label Bynd Artisan to unload one’s knick-knacks. A chair-like stand doubles up as a coat hanger, with a nifty compartment for one’s trinkets. 

Making it difficult to leave the room is the living room’s enormous 75-inch smart television screen, coupled with an immersive sound system. (Hello private screenings of movies from the HBO channel!) Almost stealing the thunder from the television screen are the curtains, which can be automatically drawn via the motion-activated occupancy sensors to much dramatic effect when one enters the room. The in-room sensors also switch off the air-conditioning when one leaves the room or opens the balcony doors to conserve energy.

The bathroom and walk-in wardrobe areas should not be overlooked too. Those who need to put on or remove make-up will appreciate the mini basin on the marble-clad dressing counter, complete with a Dyson hair dryer and accessories. The bathroom, which is as huge as the sleeping quarters, is one of the biggest that I have seen in a hotel, with two marbled vanity counters. Overlooking the Convention Centre is a spacious bathtub with toiletries from Italian luxury house Bulgari that are well within reach for an invigorating soak.

Beyond the room

Photo: Kenneth SZ Goh

As much as it is tempting to stay in the suite, it would be a shame not to explore what the integrated resort has to offer. The landmark infinity pool, which is on the 57th-storey rooftop level, is probably one of Singapore’s hardest working hotel pools, with people flocking in droves, handphones and selfie sticks in tow to snag photos with the city skyline from 6am to midnight. I have never seen so many people waddled in a swimming pool with their mobile photos, but the view from the pool is truly unrivalled.

For a late-night tipple and nosh, head to Wakuda, the casual offshoot by celebrity chef Tetsuya Wakuda, who runs two-Michelin-starred Waku Ghin. The nibbles menu includes huge slabs of prawn and soft shell-crab temaki sandwiched with seaweed, and the wagyu yaki udon coated in creamy poached eggs and leeks. I washed it all down with refreshing glasses of shiso and apple highballs before ambling back to my suite at close to midnight.

The SkyPark, which offers spectacular views of Marina Bay offers a recently-launched bundle, which includes having a photographer to snap photos for an album, drinks and snacks, while taking in the panoramic sight. Looking to use your brains during a staycation? The ArtScience museum offers exhibitions on science fiction mythologies and the planet mars till early next year.

A stay at Marina Bay Sands has the complete package of food, entertainment and fun. With the spruce-up of the rooms, the hotel is well-positioned as a serious luxury player in the competitive market to reckon with.

The Sands Premiere Suite starts from $1,749++/night.

This article was originally published on The Peak.