Friday, December 14, 2012

The Insider's Scoop to W Singapore, Sentosa Cove

Today, my article on W Singapore is published in New Straits Times, RED Segment (NST, RED). You can read the newspaper's version here.

However, this post in my blog is another version of that said article. You will find very different photos of the W Singapore in this blog version as well. Hope you like it.

Getting the INSIDER's Scoop to W Singapore at Sentosa Cove

Welcome to the world of W.

The W Singapore at Sentosa Cove

The W hotels and resorts are nothing like a Ritz Carlton, Hilton, or even its other sister hotels such as Sheraton and Westin. Its DNA is strictly composed of quirky, funky and high-octane attributes. The first W was unveiled in New York in1998. Instantly, it transformed the very definition of hotels and luxury. Starwood wanted to showcase a lifestyle hotel that sizzled with contemporary cool designs, hip music and glamour. It had to also reflect their famous “Whatever/Whenever service”. This is what makes W the crowned leader of innovative lifestyle brands.

The "Glowing Jungle"

While all W hotels and resorts retain this riveting essence, they are also individually unique. Despite appearances, not every of the W hotels and resorts in the world are not owned by a single large hotel chain such as Starwood. The worldwide Ws are operated on a franchise business venture. Hence, each W property may belong to different corporations, groups, or persons. This is where it gets exciting, and “individualized”. In my recent trip to Singapore, I chose to stay at the W Singapore in Sentosa.

The Grand Staircase

 As always, whenever I arrive into a W property, I would look for the “W Insider”. It is not a secret that most W hotels and resorts have an “Insider” who serves a very special role in all their guest-relations. Yes, this “Insider” is a person and not a Newsletter or a techno gadget. It is the Insider’s job to go beyond the services of the concierge, or the guest liaisons officers in each of the W property. The Insider would have an in-depth knowledge of the property, its history, all the amenities and activities available on site, including the customizing of novel programs for each guest. This is an added service that is provided by the W Hotels and Resorts for every guest, and is not exclusive only to those who reside in their suites.

The Reception Desks

In W Singapore, their “Insider” is Ms. Sheena Koo. This is her first hotel gig. She shared that the most important asset to an Insider is his or her network of contacts. It comes in most handy when Insiders are requested to do the near impossible feats, such as driving out of the resort in the middle of the night in search of “kim chi” and sushi for a particular guest. Or, running around in the city to find a personalized gift for a couple celebrating their wedding anniversary at the resort. Ever since W Singapore opened their doors on 16th September 2012, Sheena has been swamped with specific requests for organizing weddings and proposals. It seems that many people find the W Singapore to be the perfect venue for commemorating their momentous occasions or events. She also spoke of this regular Platinum Starwood guest who always insists on staying at their room 701, despite being able to afford the higher category of their suites. After visiting the rooms of the “01 series”, I understood the why this particular guest enjoys staying in room 701. It is not something that can be described in words, but a feeling to be savored upon entering the said room. 

The Marvelous Suite's Bedroom

On the day of my arrival, I had the pleasure and privilege of being taken on a personal tour of Singapore’s W by Sheena. This is how I got to know the many fascinating aspects of the resort. For example, there are over 40 fairies of both gender embedded in their grand ballroom. It is somewhat fun to try and spot every one of them. 

The Marvelous Suite's Living Room

To be precise, there are many other little surprises to be found lurking in every corner of this resort. Every decorative item or furniture piece placed within the W Singapore is there for a reason. Each holds an interesting story. For instance, the birdcages scattered tastefully around the Woo Bar is reminiscent of the days when all the elderly uncles would bring down their birds in cages from their Singapore HDB flats every morning. They would then congregate at the nearby park and compare their birds. This was an indelible feature of the Singapore public housing lifestyle of yesteryears. Of course, these days the birds carry a different metaphor altogether at the Woo Bar. They no longer are caged, and they are mostly two legged beautiful ladies who serve the enticing concoctions from W’s resident mixologists. 

The WET Pool
The only temporary drawback in W Singapore is the lack of dining options. In the whole resort, one can merely go to two dining locations, excluding the pool bar and the Woo bar. They are the all-day dining “Kitchen Table” and “Skirt”, which only opens at 6pm. One would have to travel out of the hotel in order to sample other dining choices. Thankfully though, there is a complex of retail, food and beverage outlets that will be opened by late December this year to support the resort’s limited dining facilities. This new addition adjacent to the property is called, “Quayside Isle”. It is within walking distance of the resort. So, we do not need a car but a pair of sturdy legs.

The Quirky Elevator

 The land where W Singapore resides was previously a jungle of wilderness. Now, it has been transformed to a swanky ‘glowing’ jungle. This W is owned by the City Developments Limited Group, or otherwise known as “CDL”. They are one of the biggest landlords in Singapore with over 7 million square feet of nett leasable space. In creating their own brand of W in Singapore, CDL recruited the talents of the Rockwell Group and the London-based architects, WATG. This dynamic collaboration gave birth to all that we marvel at the W Singapore today.

It is important to note that the resort’s interiors were further enriched by Mrs. Kwek’s very personal touch. Mrs. Kwek is the wife of CDL’s Chairman, Kwek Leng Beng. Some of you may have heard of Mr. Kwek’s fellow billionaire cousin, Mr. Quek Leng Chan, Chairman of the Hong Leong Group in Malaysia. Mrs. Kwek was the artistic “curator” of this Singaporean W resort. It is from her love for all things artsy that W Singapore houses some of the most eclectic original artworks - from an Andy Warhol to a Rodin sculpture. It is a delight to wander about the entire property hunting for the various masterpieces. It is an aesthetic treasure hunt that I truly recommend for all visitors to this W resort.

The List of original Artworks

It is customary to be greeted by an effigy of the iconic “W” alphabet in all the W properties at the main entrance. However, each hotel and resort will have its own interpretation of this figurine. In W Singapore, it is dappled with butterflies, ferns and flowers but bathed in the colour of white. This “W” structure is lit from within, and its lighting colour will gradually change from purple to pink. The organic elements of nature are fundamental to W Singapore’s central design and theme. One will witness the many creative ways of how this nature motif is incorporated throughout the property. Some may not even be visible until they are illuminated. Again, I suggest keeping an eye out for these zany characteristics of the W Singapore. 

The AWAY Spa

Do not be alarmed when one finds that the whole ambience of the lobby will change dramatically from morning to night. The lobby in the W Singapore works as a Reception Area by day, but moonlights as a Dance Floor by night. From 6pm onwards, the DJ will start to spin loud funky tunes. The music can even be heard underwater in their generously sized pool with a swim-up bar. This is at the courtesy of its 24 speakers. A W hotel or resort would not be complete without this principal melodic facet. Groovy music feeds the soul of every W.

The AWAY Spa's Vitality Pool

As it is Christmas, W Singapore presents its own version of the famed tree. Theirs is christened as the “Mirror Tree”. I was told that the resort wanted to construct a Christmas tree of meaning and purpose. Therefore, the mirrors are decorated on the tree with the intention of inspiring everyone, guests and staff alike, to reflect upon how the year has been for them as it comes to a close. This would inevitably aid everyone in formulating meaningful New Year’s resolutions for themselves as well. Hence, the W Singapore’s Christmas tree is not merely an ornament but serves a higher significance. Here lies some of the expressive qualities of this particular W.

The Mirrored Xmas Tree

I got myself a Spectacular Room from the resort’s 240 guestrooms of various categories. It had a lovely white pendant light that is adorned with butterflies at the end of the room, and my balcony opened to the charming views of the marina. What I always appreciate about the W rooms is their mood lighting system. In Singapore’s W, my room had 3 distinct ambient lighting choices. They were “Runway”, “Escape” and “Flirty”. Naturally, I was drawn to “Flirty”. Within a split second of pressing that “Flirty” button, all the lights in the room became dimmed. Then, the purple mood lighting under the bed came to life. The intricate wall paneling at the head of the bed also ignited into the same colour tones. Instantly, my whole room was enclosed in a cool sexy purple hue. I suppose if I had to pick a colour to define “Flirty”, this might just be it.

The "Flirty" Mode

Spectacular Room's Bathroom

After all that is said and done, one just has to experience staying at a W resort for oneself. Each individual will no doubt have his or her own perspective of a W hotel and resort. W is like Opera - you either hate it or love it. There is no “grey” area in one’s relationship with a W. To date, I have visited W Bali, W Koh Samui, W Hong Kong, W Taipei, W New York and now, W Singapore. Every one of them has been exceptional in their own distinct ways. Then again, I usually befriend the “Insider” of each W as quickly as I arrive. Sometimes, even before I arrive. It certainly has helped made my stay more enjoyable. The next W I will be visiting is the one in Bangkok. Until then, happy holidays and Merry Christmas!


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