Sunday, January 10, 2021

Toddler Staycay: Marina Bay Sands Club City View Room!

👍 Check-in and pool/gym booking very efficient, huge rooms with amazing views.
👎 Pricey, size of the hotel means (almost) everywhere is a zoo, weak air-conditioning.

We wrapped up our Year of the Covid* 🦠 Staycay tour hotel at the iconic Marina Bay Sands! To many people (ourselves included), the view of the hotel's three towers are synonymous with Marina Bay, so we're really interested to stay a few nights to see what it's like from the building.

* Technically it does seem like 2021 will also be year of the Covid, doesn't it? Ah well, fingers crossed that the vaccine does its job and we can start travelling again in the later part of the year!

Hotels in the Staycay tour:
Raffles Hotel | Capella Singapore | Marriott Tang Plaza | The St.Regis Singapore | Grand Hyatt | The Fullerton Bay Hotel | Parkroyal Collection, Marina Bay | Marina Bay Sands.


Marina Bay Sands Singapore Lobby

Marina Bay Sands has more than 2,500 rooms spread across its three towers, so "intimate," "quiet," and "cozy" are understandeably not words that one would expect to use to describe it, in particular the hotel lobby and other publicly-accessible areas. The hotel has done a pretty admirable job of spreading out the crowd though, by way of staggering check in (in hourly slots) througout the day.

We turned up at our check-in slot (12-1pm, pre-booked via automated sms) just before noon, and were settled in the room at 12.45pm, so it really was a surprisingly efficient and painless experience (considering our lack of any status with Sands Rewards).

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Lobby Marina Bay Sands Singapore Lobby

Our original room - Premier Room Garden View - was upgraded to a Club Room Harbour View (but without Club benefits, so ... meh). Looking online, Club rooms from other blogs and websites seem to be a little different (and a tad bit more atas perhaps?) than this room, but we'll take the receptionists word for it. Do let us know in the comments if this isn't really a club room!

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

Club or no club, we don't have any complaints about the size of the room, which is pretty massive for non-suite standards. Aside from the King bed there's sofa space for three, a coffee table large enough to comfortably eat dabao'ed food on (one of our meals was char siu and dimsum from Mott32 as they were full for dine-ins), a desk and chair, and loads of space for a toddler to run around and burn up energy.

We'll admit that the decor isn't the most modern, luxurious, or even cohesive (compared to other similarly-priced hotels in the city), but it's not too outdated, and the room still is a pleasant place to spend a lot of time in.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

Half the room's lights are controlled by switches on the bedside ... but for the other half (floor light, bedside lamps, and desk lamp) you need to get up and flick a switch on the lamp, which is quite a bit of a bummer. Nevertheless the room does get really bright with all the lights on, which I like. The air-conditioning, on the other hand, takes forever to cool the room down.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

The television is small and old by today's standards, and as you can imagine, has no way to play 20th century content (read: Youtube, Netflix, and other streaming media). No brownie points for entertainment, then, but many brownie points for 'free of charge' minibar items (snacks, soft drinks and juices). Most of which I didn't end up consuming anyway: Throughout the three days I only drank 1 bottle each of the apple and orange juice).

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

Marina Bay Sands markets their rooms with 4 different views. The city-facing side is sold as City View (40th floor and below) and Sky View (41st floor and above). Similarly, the sea-facing side is sold as Garden View and Harbour View. Our 38th-floor, City View (Club) room's view is breathtaking, especially at night when all the other buildings lights come on.

The floor to ceiling windows are great for soaking in the view as long as you're not afraid of heights.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

Just to check boxes off the checklist: Slippers, ironing board and iron, and in-room safe are provided in the wardrobe in the corridor.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

The Marina Bay Sands Club room has a pretty large bathroom with a nice, free-standing bathtub plenty large enough to bathe a toddler in. One minor annoyance with this layout is fishing out the bath toys when the little one throws them behind the tub, but of course this is in no way the fault of the hotel.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

Bathroom amenities (by Roberto Cavalli) are complete, and are ... fine? Personally I don't really get excited with any particular brand of bathroom body wash, really. As long as they can clean my hair and body satisfactorily, they're fine.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

Tpwels, hand towels, and bathrobes are plastic wrapped to give you an extra sense of (cleanliness) security. This is undoubtedly prudent given the current virus situation, but I can't shake the sensation of just how cheap it somehow feels. That, and the linen itself is of below par plushness / fluffiness compared to other similar-priced hotels.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

The one major shortcoming of the room, though, was the shower stall. The shower itself was fine, with good water pressure and temperature, but the floor - for whatever reason - is angled away from the drain and therefore you spend the entire 15 minutes (or ... an hour, depending on your personal hygiene habits) standing in a puddle.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Executive Room City View

Of course you definitely know this by now, but one major (perhaps the major) selling point of Marina Bay Sands is its infinity pool that spans the length of the entire hotel. For these covid times, reservations are required (via SMS / automated website). You are allowed to book 1 hour per room per day, and because there are fewer slots available than there are rooms, you need to book as early as possible (I made my bookings the day after confirming the hotel room reservation).

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity Pool

A slight word of advice: Make sure you go up to the pool well fed, because food prices are pretty amazing. This tea & pot sticker combo cost us 30 bucks!

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity Pool

Other than exorbitant f&b pricing though, the pool (for adults, at least) is really quite gorgeous. The view overlooking Marina Bay and the Central Business District is unparalleled, and each of the three pool sections does seem long enough that you could even do some semi-serious laps (which is more than can be said about the vast majority of pools in other hotels in town).

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity Pool Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity Pool

For toddlers, though, the situation is a little crappy because the kids pool is closed, for whatever reason. Toddlers therefore need to make do with a miserable 6 foot wide strip of wading area at the edges of the pools.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity Pool

Weather also plays a big part in pool enjoyment: If it's cloudy and windy, the water can be really cold, so you might perhaps try your luck at one of the jacuzzis overlooking the gardens by the bay. The water is heated so it's crazy shiok on cold days, but due to covid limitations as only one person / family can use each jacuzzi at once, there's a big element of luck / being up there first thing in the morning.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore Infinity Pool

If you noticed the lack of breakfast photos, that's because our room rate didn't have it included. Breakfast is normally served at Spago, 'behind' the infinity pool on level 57, so you'll at least have good views regardless of the breakfast quality.

But otherwise, giving Marina Bay Sands a score is a little tricky. Room rates are a little on the high side, perhaps, given the 'mass market' nature of the hotel, but the entire operation runs like a well-oiled machine, and other than the mishap with the shower stall I found little to criticize during my stay. The views from the room and the infinity pool are really unique, and words really can't express how shiok that heated jacuzzi is on a cold, windy day.

I guess I will conclude that if I didn't have any hotel chain status at all, Marina Bay Sands would be the among the top few hotels on my 'will come back for staycaytion' list, but all the extra perks from HHonors Diamond and Discovery Black make it very hard to justify a return visit.


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Toddler Staycay: Grand Hyatt Singapore (Deluxe Room)

👍 Room is very spacious and is essentially a full suite.
👎 Aircon noise from neighbouring building; Long queues for breakfast.

Yet another Year of the Covid* 🦠 Staycay tour hotel ... this time at the Grand Hyatt Singapore! We're booked into the Deluxe Room (King Bed), which is a rather strange name as the room is essentially a suite as far as we can tell ... more on that below!

* Hotels in the Staycay tour:
Raffles Hotel | Capella Singapore | Marriott Tang Plaza | The St.Regis Singapore | Grand Hyatt | The Fullerton Bay Hotel | Parkroyal Collection, Marina Bay | Marina Bay Sands.


Although there was a queue (of around 10 groups ahead of us) when we arrived at ~2pm, check in was reasonably efficient and it only took us about 35 minutes to get the keys to our room. One minor amusement was that the front desk systems aren't linked to the breakfast time slot / dining reservations systems, so the receptionist wasn't able to check on the booking. No big deal as we'd already confirmed it via email a couple of days prior.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Grand Hyatt Singapore

Speaking of the room: The Grand Hyatt markets this 581-sqft space as a King Deluxe Room, which really is underselling it quite a bit. I mean, there is a separate living area with sofa, television, and desk ... wouldn't this be called a (non-Junior) suite at pretty much any other hotel?

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

Anyway the desk area houses the in-room safe, LAN ports (wifi is free and fast, though), and universal power sockets. Aside from the table being glass, which might challenge your optical mouse a bit, you shouldn't have any problems getting some work done.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

The right hand side wall of the living area houses the minibar, complete with a fancy-looking Japanese-style teapot (fruits not included, we bought them from Isetan next door). Brewing and then serving tea in a teapot feels much more shiok than using just mugs, for some reason.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

Beside the entrance is the walk-in wardrobe, which has plenty of space to store away clothes, shoes, suitcases, and other stuff so that they aren't an eyesore in the living & sleeping areas.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

Speaking of the sleeping area: Here it is! A King-sized bed, comfortable, with firmer-than-average pillows. There's also a television in this room, but soundproofing is a little non existent between the living & bedroom so it might not be practical for two people to watch two different shows at the same time. As with the living room TV set, there's a complement of Cable TV channels (and a DVD player), but no straightforward way to youtube, netflix, or cast your own content.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

It's a good thing then that the soundproofing of the windows was a bit better, as we were unfortunately assigned a room next to Scotts Square's airconditioning (I guess) area. It's got a pretty noticeable hum in the daytime, which was tolerable for us (when we're not staycay'ing we live in a place right next to a major road). If you're more sensitive to sound, the Grand Hyatt has most thoughtfully provided a set of ear plugs for your napping comfort.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

The bathroom is big but inefficient, as there's a fair bit of wasted space. Of particular note is the lack of a bathtub: This means that we had to bathe our little one in the shower stall, which was a little cramped but fine for a short 2 night stay. Amenities were complete (except for facial wash, but no hotel supplies that anyway), and strangely enough even included a pack of bath salts to be used in the imaginary tub :).

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

While we're on the topic of the little one: As there was no bathtub we requested to borrow a baby's tub, which was promptly brought up with a little kids goodie bag. It's perhaps a little early for my 15-mth old to manage crayons and colouring book, but nevertheless these little things always add up to how well a hotel makes you feel valued.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

The Grand Hyatt's Deluxe Room overall isn't completely toddler-friendly, particularly to one who's just learned how to run and still trips over on his own feet on occassion: Plenty of sharp edges around where he could knock his head on, and plenty of electronics and other things in easy reach. Of course this isn't in any way a criticism of the hotel. In any case our little one came away from the stay with 0 injuries after some strategic placement of obstacles to ensure he wouldn't run into the most dangerous areas.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite Grand Hyatt Singapore Deluxe Room Junior Suite

The swimming pool (at the Terrace Wing of the hotel which is being used for SHN guests) is a little far away from the Garden Wing - around a 5 minute walk. It's a great pool, though - salted instead of chlorined, and with loads of shallow wading areas around the perimeter for the toddler to walk around and play with water safely. Time slot reservations were done by email a few days prior to the stay.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Swimming Pool

The hotel also has a pretty sizeable gym / fitness center, although I didn't visit, and so can't quite comment on how good or bad it is.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Gym Fitness Centre

Breakfast is either at Straits Kitchen or 10 Scotts, and is a general mix of standard Western and Eastern fare. I understand that the menu across both restaurants is more or less identical - if that's the case then I'd recommend choosing 10 Scotts as it's got a more elegant design, is smaller (and therefore less of a zoo), and overlooks the Valley Wing's waterfall.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Breakfast 10 Scotts Grand Hyatt Singapore Breakfast 10 Scotts

On our second day the little one overslept and so we missed our early morning breakfast booking at Straits Kitchen. The manager was kind enough to send us up to the Grand Club instead, a far more intimate dining room, with far better service ... at the cost of having less variety (and in my opinion a bit lower quality) of food items.

Grand Hyatt Singapore Breakfast Grand Club Grand Hyatt Singapore Breakfast Grand Club

Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Grand Hyatt Singapore. The Deluxe Room was spacious and well-equipped, and having a separate living area means that the adults can continue to do stuff normally when the little one is napping or asleep. Long queues for breakfast and noisy aircon from the neighbouring building were a minor annoyances, but by no means deal-breaking especially considering the s$250++ per night rate.


Sunday, December 27, 2020

Toddler Staycay: The Fullerton Bay Hotel, Marina Bay View!

👍 Gorgeous decor with an amazing view, above average breakfast.
👎 Room was only ready at 6pm, no personalization or little touches.

Our Year of the Covid 🦠 Staycay tour continues* at the gorgeous Fullerton Bay Hotel! Being perched directly on the banks of Marina Bay (opposite Marina Bay Sands), the hotel's Bay View rooms are essentially directly over the waters of the bay, so we're pretty excited about the stay!

* Hotels in the Staycay tour:
Raffles Hotel | Capella Singapore | Marriott Tang Plaza | The St.Regis Singapore | Grand Hyatt | The Fullerton Bay Hotel | Parkroyal Collection, Marina Bay | Marina Bay Sands.


First impressions were, unfortunately, quite sour as our room wasn't available even though we turned up at the 3pm check in time. We were then basically asked to leave the hotel and go entertain ourselves for the '45 minutes' it would take to get the room ready. We went to the One Fullerton Starbucks for coffee and babycino to wait for a phone call (that never came). With a cranky toddler in tow, we headed back to the hotel lobby to eventually get our keys at 6pm - three hours after check-in time / our arrival at the hotel. No service recovery was offered - we had to press the receptionist into agreeing to comp an in-room dining dinner.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel

Once we got our keys and got settled into the room our moods did begin to lift a little, though! At 495–570sqft, the Bay View Rooms are big enough to feel comfortably spacious, with enough free space for the little one to freely run around even with a large desk, and sofa chairs / coffee table in the way.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

While I'm not a fan of the carpet design or the slightly 'old world' feel of the sofa seats, the rest of the room feels luxurious and classy. The bed / mattress are - as expected of any hotel nowadays - extremely comfortable, although the non-adjustable air conditioning vent blows directly onto the center of the mattress.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

A door on the left opens up to a pretty sizeable, mostly rain-sheltered balcony, which is a great place to laze away the evenings. If you have a toddler, you might have to keep an eye on him/her though: Although the balcony area is toddler safe, there is a very small gap between the floor and the glass railing which will allow little ones to drop/throw thin items onto the units below.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

The television's big enough, and has the usual complement of local and cable television channels. We also liked the Harman Kardon bluetooth speaker, which allowed us to play - at a reasonable volume - our own music while relaxing on the balcony.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

Day and night curtains, and all lights are electrically controlled at the bedside (panel can be folded into the side table once you get tired of your little one constantly turning everything on and off). Plus points for the room lighting being very bright when everything's on.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

The minibar is very well stocked, but anything other than water, coffee, or tea is chargeable at normal (read: exorbitant) hotel rates. How normal? Well ... the medium-sized pack of wet wipes goes for SGD8. The countertop is more than big enough to prepare milk for the little one, and fridge cold enough to store any leftovers that he doesn't drink.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

Over at the desk, there are VGA and line in, and HDMI ports in addition to two universal power sockets, so you can play your own content from your laptop (or tablet) if you're not a fan of local / cable channels. Housekeeping should be able to loan you a cable or two if you don't have your own.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

A special shoutout to the bathrobe in the Fullerton Bay Hotel, which is insanely comfortable: Probably the fluffiest / plushest ones we've ever tried on. It's so comfortable that if we didn't live in a 30-degree-all-year-round climate we'd have totally bought a pair for our own home use.

No bathrobes (or slippers) for the little one ... though it's not like he would appreciate it.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

Moving on to the bathroom: The bathtub (and entire bathroom, really) has a large window (with electric blinds, if you aren't staying with people who you're comfortable naked with) so you can still take in that the Marina Bay (Sands) view while taking a luxurious bath-salted soak.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

If you're not so interested in the scenery, the bathtub wall has a smaller television built in so you can watch TV instead.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

Water temperature and pressure are really good, and bathroom amenities are pretty much complete (mostly Balmain-branded).

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room

Of course, one main selling point of the Fullerton Bay Hotel is the view, which really doesn't disappoint whether in the day or at night.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Bay View Room Marina Bay

Once you're tired of lazing around on the balcony enjoying the view, you can head up to the roof* to get some exercise in the fitness center / gym (which truth be told, doesn't seem particularly sizeable even given the hotel's relatively boutique ~100 room size).

*Note: As you might expect, bookings do need to be made beforehand thanks to covid.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Gym

The pool is much better sized, and there are (relatively) large wading areas at the sides for toddlers to wade around and play with toys or whatever with little risk of drowning. If you're not planning to actually swim, though, there are a few mini jacuzzi pools off to the side (which can probably comfortably hold a 4-6 person family).

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Pool The Fullerton Bay Hotel Pool

Once you're done with gym or swim, it might probably be time for food! Room service (or I guess it's called 'in room dining' nowadays) is perhaps a little on the pricey side, but the food options are good, and actual food quality is great! We had an order of lobster roll, braised beef cheeks, and a side of mashed potato, and all came hot and delicious.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Room Service

Naturally, baby / high chairs are available for loan (from room service / housekeeping).

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Room Service

Breakfast in the mornings is at La Brasserie, the hotel's French restaurant. The restaurant's decor is gorgeous, and the leather-topped tables are a particular luxury that we've not encountered before. Breakfast is ala-carte buffet style, with juices, coffee/tea, fruits, and bread basket accompanying unlimited orders of western and asian main courses.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Breakfast The Fullerton Bay Hotel Breakfast

Of the dishes we tried, the eggs were pretty good (though the benedict could use a tad bit more hollandaise). The Laksa was also pretty good, as was the dimsum and congee (except that the cruller / you tiao / 油条 was a little tough). Overall one of the better hotel breakfasts that we've had in recent memory, inferior only to the breakfast at the Raffles Hotel.

The Fullerton Bay Hotel Breakfast

Overall, giving the Fullerton Bay Hotel a final score is a little tricky. We paid SGD428++ a night thanks to a Citi Prestige promo, but non-promo rates are usually 50% higher. At the price we paid, other than the 6pm room check in (which was satisfactorily compensated with the in-room dinner), we did have a very enjoyable stay and wouldn't hesitate to come back again. at non-promo rates, though, we would perhaps expect that little extra mile: For example, a simple call earlier in the day to inform us of a room delay, or a personalized welcome amenity (no matter how small).