In June 2019, I checked into the One Bedroom Garden Villa at Capella Singapore, one of Singapore’s most luxurious addresses. Occupying 30 acres of knolls overlooking the South China Sea on Sentosa Island, the 112-room property is 30 minutes away from Changi Airport Singapore, a free shuttle bus away from the sprawling VivoCity shopping mall at Harbourfront as well as minutes away from the family-friendly Palawan Beach as well as Universal Studios Singapore.
Aside from likely being the most expensive resort in Singapore (Madonna and Lady Gaga were recent guests), the property is best known for being the venue of the historic Trump-Kim summit in 2018.
The UTW (“Under Ten Words”): The ultimate ultra-luxurious escapist fantasy experience in Sentosa.
The must-dos (if any): Take a dip in a private plunge pool, have a long bath using the hotel’s famed Aesop amenities, enjoy afternoon tea in The Living Room, have dinner at Cassia, take a dip in one of the three swimming pools.
Characterised by their distinctive modern curves, red-tiled roofing and elegant colonial architecture, the stately Tanah Merah bungalows where guests are now received on arrival used to serve as the Officers’ Mess for the British Royal Artillery in the 1880s. The property was lovingly restored as part of the hotel redevelopment project by architectural design and engineering firm Foster + Partners (the folks responsible for JW Marriott Singapore South Beach Singapore as well as The Murray in Hong Kong). The military bungalows, which have been gazetted as conservation buildings, serve as both an anchor as well as a gateway to the resort, and connects to the various rooms, suites, villas and manor houses which fan out towards the South China Sea.
The resort trails the natural contours and cascading tiers of the knolls on which it sits on, with the villas and manor houses downhill dreamily dissolving into the lush, tropical landscape. This view is best appreciated from the outdoor terrace outside Bob’s Bar overlooking the dramatic triple-tiered cascading pools, with each pool intended for adults, families and lap swimming respectively in order of elevation. The family-friendly Palawan Beach is directly accessible at the base of the hill.
The hotel’s wellness facilities are situated on the lowest level of the main bungalow area. The award-winning Auriga Spa offers signature lunar-inspired treatments using The Organic Pharmacy products, with luxurious facilities such as separate male and female spa areas with their own vitality pool, herbal steam room and ice fountain as well as a relaxation lounge. Elsewhere, the glass walls on one side of the fitness centre faces the hotel’s herb garden, where some of Sentosa Island’s most well-heeled peacocks often come to roost.
ONE BEDROOM GARDEN VILLA
Surrounded by verdant vegetation which heightens the feeling of privacy and sweet seclusion, the 133sqm One Bedroom Garden Villa plays it all relaxed resort tropical sanctuary, with various elements such as the bedroom’s Sealy Posturepedic mattress with Rivolta Carmignani linen as well as the botanical, spa-luxurious fragrance from the Aesop bathroom amenities likely to lull guests into a state of ultra-pampering calm. The living room features a work desk, various seats and a comfortable sofa bed around a coffee table as well as a 46” flat screen LCD TV with a Bose sound system. The pantry is equipped with a complimentary minibar, Nespresso machine and teas from Ronnefeldt. The living room, bedroom and bathroom all have panel-controlled curtains and blinds as well as sliding doors which lead to the spacious verandah.
The outdoor terrace has two sun-beds and a private plunge pool which, even at night, somehow always manages to retain a hospitable temperature which welcomes your body without triggering any intense adjustment shiver moments. Those seeking to suntan may find it most conducive to sprawl their Banana Boat-slick bodies along the various swimming pools instead, as the combination of the villa’s roofing as well as the surrounding tall trees often obstruct the sun’s rays at different times of the day. Whilst the quiet and romantic atmosphere of the verandah at night may encourage passionate champagne kisses and mischievous underwater frolic in the illuminated plunge pool, naughtier business is best conducted indoors as guests in the adjacent villas are able to see the activities taking place in your verandah from their own outdoor terraces (and vice versa).
Aside from the indoor bathroom which comes with double vanities, rainforest shower facilities as well as a walk-in wardrobe, the villa also has a private outdoor rain shower and bathtub for a naturist cleansing session in the daytime or, if you prefer, an atmosphere-laden shower experience in the dimly-illuminated space after dark, made particularly more thrilling if you happen to look up into the trees above your shower area and are familiar with Sentosa Island’s rich history.
SINGAPORE SIDECAR TOUR
My “Capella Celebrates Ten” anniversary package came with a one-hour sidecar tour for two around the Singapore civic district and bay area on quaint vintage Vespa sidecars. The tour is conducted in partnership with Singapore Sidecars, a local social enterprise which devotes itself to supporting good causes. Equipped with a helmet and a ear-piece through which your tour guide shares fact nuggets about the Singapore Flyer, the Fountain of Wealth at Suntec City as well as Fullerton Hotel, you get to enjoy the nice evening breeze lovingly caress your cheeks as the fleet of Vespa sidecars breezily travels around the neighbourhood in single file, in manner of Tokyo Mario Kart experience or similar, and you get to see the city like never before.
Fair warning for those dressed to impress during the sidecar tour – the combination of helmet and Decathlon headband will likely leave your tresses distressed in manner of Bridget Jones after a countryside drive with Daniel Cleaver in Bridget Jones’ Diary.
Breakfast is served at The Knolls, a Mediterranean-inspired concept situated next to the adult pool on the lowest level of the Tanah Merah buildings. Aside from the usual buffet selections like Western breakfast sides and cold cuts, guests can order a la carte selections such as the indulgently creamy Truffled Scrambled Eggs, the tomato-heavy Singapore-style Crispy Egg with Chilli Crab Sauce as well as the yoga enthusiast-pleasing Avocado Toast. Despite having a predominantly Caucasian family crowd, The Knolls has a refreshingly daring approach to spiciness in their offerings, with their Laksa and the sambal chilli of their Nasi Lemak being audaciously brazen.
Designed by Andre Fu (behind concepts such as Waldorf Astoria Bangkok, The St. Regis Hong Kong and Andaz Singapore), the classy Cassia dishes up refined Cantonese cuisine in a sophisticated setting. My “Capella Celebrates Ten” anniversary package came with a six-course dinner (or lunch) for two which showcases Cassia’s signature dishes from 2009 to 2019, including the delectable Crispy Suckling Pig with Minced Shrimp Paste, spiritually soothing Double-boiled Thick Chicken Broth with Prawn, Scallop, Bamboo Pith and Shredded Yam, luxuriously silky Baked Chilean Cod Fish with Mozzarella Cheese, Garlic and Bonito Sauce as well as the show-stoppingly marvellous and primally fulfilling Hunan-style Foie Gras Fried Rice. (Based on a peek at their various set menus, their four-pax course meals are wonderfully value-for-money especially given the quality involved, and I am already plotting a return with friends.)
Located within the main Tanah Merah buildings, the lounge-style Living Room offers guests a dreamy afternoon tea experience comprising savoury and sweet sandwiches, scones and cakes (including one positively luscious Nutella sandwich that I would superlike on Tinder if I ever saw its profile) as well as complimentary light snacks and refreshments throughout the day. The colonial-style environment and refined Narumi china rarify the air to decidedly classier ends.
Offering both cosy indoor seats as well as terrace seats overlooking the knolls, Bob’s Bar serves up spirit-forward, contemporary twists on classic cocktails. As my villa was not ready as per scheduled, the team graciously accommodated me at Bob’s Bar with a complimentary cocktail of my choice as well as an addictive trio of bar snacks, and the indulgently herbal Negroni I had was as stiff as a sailor on leave.
Elsewhere, the private event space Chef’s Table is open to public guests for afternoon tea on weekdays.
It is not difficult to understand why Capella Singapore is one of the (if not the) most highly-priced properties in Singapore – aside from the abundantly luxurious elements of the stay, from the high quality of the dining offerings to the indulgence of Aesop bathroom amenities, the stay offers a degree of pamperment, escapism and ultra-luxury absent from most other Singapore hotel experiences. The stuff anniversaries, bucket lists and proposals dream of.
1 The Knolls