(Family) Garden Room
- Relax in tropical paradise as you would in the likes of Fiji, but in the business city of Singapore
- The 'adults only' swim area is attached to the main pool, rather than a separate space
- Location that isn't far from the city, but lets you detach from the hustle and bustle
Chances are, Singapore isn't the first destination that comes to mind when hunting for a beachfront resort, but when you're already visiting The Lion City on business, there's a good option if you know where to look.
In fact, Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa is Singapore's only beachfront resort, and could just be the perfect excuse to extend your Singapore business trip by a few days to work in some relaxation.
Location & Impressions
You won't find this hotel along the hustle and bustle of Orchard Road, or nestled within the financial buildings of Downtown – instead, it's tucked away over at Sentosa, and unless you knew it was there, you'd have no reason to follow this this perfectly-maintained road through the trees:
Take that road far enough, however, and you'll find what you're looking for: a beach oasis hidden within one of the world's key business hubs.
Once check-in is complete, you can begin to explore the grounds. The main hotel building wraps around the pool and gardens, making it easy to get your bearings.
Within those gardens, you'll find places to stop and enjoy the scenery.
Back in your room, fresh fruit greets every arrival – a Shangri-La tradition adopted at the brand's hotels all around the world.
At this hotel, everything in the minibar is free also – at least, until it needs to be refilled. Shangri-La Golden Circle's elite Jade and Diamond members will find their nominated beverages here too, as part of their tier benefits.
One thing setting this resort apart from most others is the prevalence of peacocks throughout the grounds. Staying on the ground floor, one even came by to say good morning (and claimed my chair!), which beats any other hotel wake-up call to date.
The resort's remote location means there's no direct access to Singapore's MRT, but guests can board a shuttle to and from HarbourFront MRT station, or take a taxi. From the airport, a taxi (or Grab) costs in the region of SGD$20-30.
Otherwise, Fort Siloso and the Fort Siloso Skywalk are directly across from the hotel, offering not only views across the surrounding areas, but a look into Singapore's history.
Normally, access to Sentosa Island is only available by payment of a fee, but hotel guests can avoid this on arrival by bringing a print-out of their reservation to present to Sentosa security. Once checked-in, the hotel will issue a pass for the duration of your stay, allowing you to come and go as you please.
Booking a Family Garden Room might not be the obvious choice for a solo business traveller taking a mini-break or a child-free couple stopping by, but the room has the key advantage of easy access to the gardens and swimming pool by exiting the room via the patio.
This really helps to get you into that 'resort' vibe, as the path through the gardens doesn't mirror the feeling of a typical hotel corridor: and, Shangri-La has thoughtfully equipped those patio doors with key readers, so you don't have to do a complete loop of the hotel to return after a swim.
Patios offer a table and chairs where you can either work or unwind, although you may prefer the air conditioning indoors during Singapore's hotter months.
These rooms offer a sofa bed for families, but when the kids aren't coming along, it can remain a regular sofa.
Moving around the room, you'll find all the amenities you'd expect, including an HDTV and space for your luggage.
There's a working desk, although as the chair isn't height-adjustable, it's better-suited to short periods of tending to emails as opposed to a solid day's work on the road.
There are power points here, and others scattered around the room, although sometimes in places you wouldn't expect: such as near a light switch atop the entry table, where a short charging cable just stretches far enough to juice-up your devices.
The bathroom offers a walk-in shower and a separate bathtub, plus a shaving mirror for gents and reasonably bright light near the vanity.
However, this room type does include many children's amenities by default, so if you don't want to find colouring sheets on your work bench or child-friendly items in the bathroom, do ask to have these removed in the "special requests" section when making your booking.
If your stay involves business – rather than just tagging an extra night or two onto an existing Singapore-bound business trip for a little relaxation – the hotel has an array of meeting and event spaces, including a boardroom with views towards the South China Sea.
Otherwise, the in-room desk proved ample for basic laptop work, with the hotel's complimentary WiFi serving up average download speeds of 43Mbps and average uploads of 49Mbps during the business day.
You'll find power outlets tucked beneath a hatch, although you may have difficulty squeezing in larger transformers such as for MacBooks and the like.
Take note, this hotel doesn't have a Horizon Club Lounge, which is otherwise an expected amenity at most Shangri-La properties, and which Golden Circle Diamond guests can normally use when staying in any room type.
Nothing says "resort" like a poolside bar, and in that respect, the hotel delivers.
While you can approach the counter for service, you don't need to: just hit the buzzer by your chair, and the staff will come to you. Besides the list of cocktails on offer, the menu also provides a reasonable selection of mocktails, if you just want something tropical while you kick back.
On the breakfast front, enjoy views across the property and out to the sea from Silver Shell Cafe, where breakfast is complimentary for Golden Circle Jade and Diamond members.
If you didn't get your fix by walking around the hotel, there's no shortage of peacocks to admire here, either.
The buffet is extensive, running from one end of the room to the other, with choices across a wide variety of cuisines along with egg dishes made to order and machine-made espresso coffee.
For lunch or dinner, Trapizza hits the spot, being a casual Italian restaurant down by the water.
As the name suggests, the pizza menu is extensive, from which the Pizza Siciliana – heroing Sicilian pork sausages – was most enjoyable.
For something lighter, the Siloso prawn salad comes tasty and fresh, with candied walnuts providing a sweet balance to the earthiness of the dish.
Or, step things up a notch with the foie gras orecchiette, mixing delicious pan-seared foie gras with duck jus, shredded duck ragout and peas.
When dessert is calling your name, there are many rich options to choose from, but after a bigger meal, strawberry panna cotta is a great way to finish.
Room service is available too, and if you're a tad peckish after an evening arrival from Australia or elsewhere in the world, delicious satay skewers are just a phone call away, without having to trek into town.
Other venues at the hotel include 8 Noodles – a 1960s-style Chinese noodle house – and Bubble Bar, which overlooks the property and Siloso Beach.
Whether you're squeezing some 'me time' in between meetings or have the luxury of a leisure visit, there's plenty to do around the hotel.
For starters, your welcome kit includes a map of the facilities, but it's not difficult to navigate without one.
The swimming pool is simple to spot, of course, but what isn't clear at first is that part of the pool is reserved as an 'adults only' space: it'd be helpful if the map highlighted this.
The area reserved for adults is divided by a lane rope, with signs asking parents to keep their children out of this space.
Impressively, every time a child wandered towards the adults-only pool, or parents chose to ignore the signs and bring their kids over, the hotel lifeguards would quickly blow their whistles and move them on, regardless of how hard they protested.
When you're a solo traveller or visiting as a child-free couple, it's nice to have a space devoid of children screaming, although with a plethora of facilities such as water slides for the kids too, it's a shame the hotel hasn't created a pool just for the adults, to keep things separate.
Backing onto Siloso Beach, you can swim in the water too, but with jellyfish warnings in place during the stay, the pool was the safer bet.
The beach also comes set up with a variety of activities, including volleyball.
Finally, there's a 24-hour gym – air conditioned for the Singapore heat, but with windows to take in the surroundings.
All things considered, while this kid-friendly resort is primarily geared towards families travelling with children, it's also a great place for business travellers to relax and unwind, particularly when tagged onto the end of a busy Singapore business trip.
It's the kind of property you'd normally expect to find in Fiji or perhaps Hawaii, and one that makes you see Singapore in a different light, beyond the typical skyscrapers that most business travellers encounter with every visit.
Chris Chamberlin was a guest of Shangri-La's Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa.