In August 2021, I checked into the Capella Suite 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 VivoCity shopping mall at Harbourfront and minutes away from the family-friendly Palawan Beach as well as Universal Studios Singapore.
The resort recently completed a year-long refurbishment courtesy of André Fu Studio, who also designed Andaz Singapore, The St. Regis Hong Kong and Waldorf Astoria Bangkok. Aside from being one of the most luxurious accommodation options in Singapore (Madonna and Lady Gaga were former 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): Enjoy the postcard South China Sea views from your suite, take 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 resort’s 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 connecting guests 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.
Located within the Main Building and offering postcard views of the triple-tiered cascading pools and the South China Sea from both the living room and bedroom, the recently renovated 100sqm Capella Suite (there are only 4 in the entire property) plays it all relaxed luxurious residential in its refreshed stylings. The suite is decked in cool shades of mineral grey and slate green, with textures of teak, rattan and oak in homage to the property’s original Southeast Asian design influences. The living room is furnished with a deep-set sofa, a rocking chair and a two-tiered lounge table. Besides serving as a work station (with a frontal view of the swimming pools which may prove either calming or distracting), an extended multifunctional table serves as a pantry area equipped with bottles of Nordaq water along with Nespresso coffee and Ronnefeldt tea-making facilities. The refrigerator is stocked with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages, and the housekeeping offers complimentary in-room treats which are replenished daily.
In the bedroom, the bed comes with a Sealy Posturepedic mattress with velvety Rivolta Carmignani linen. The daybed next to the window offers possibilities of daydreaming while taking in the breathtaking South China Sea views, while the bedside touch panel with automated blind functionalities make possible that obligatory “waking up to a stunning sea view as the blinds go up” resort experience. Both the living room and bedroom are fitted with a 46-inch flat screen LCD TV with BOSE sound system.
Behind the bed is the walk-in wardrobe area which is furnished with a dressing table with three-way mirror as well as a sizeable vanity with double sinks. The washroom is situated discreetly on one end, with a spacious bathroom with bathtub on the other end. With its sleek lines and cool stone textures, the shower area with rainfall shower facilities plays it almost Aman Tokyo-esque in its ethereal, zen elegance. The suite offers Aesop bathroom amenities, and their spa-luxurious geranium leaf fragrance is likely to lull guests into a state of ultra-pampering calm. A glass partition and automated blinds separate the bathroom from the outdoor balcony area with a sun bed, sofa chair and coffee table which is suitable for early morning coffee-fueled contemplations or night-time heart-to-heart moments over glasses of wine.
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 fresh bakes such as Pain Au Chocolat and a noteworthy Signature Nonya Coconut Kaya Roll; healthy selections such as Mixed Green Salad and Coconut Chia Seed Pudding; sweet Western dishes such as Vanilla Pancakes and American Waffles; and egg options such as Avocado Toast and the Japanese-tinged Onsen Egg with Shimeji Mushroom, You Tiao and Dark Soya Sauce, the restaurant also offers local favourites such as Wonton Noodle Soup, Singapore Laksa, Paratha, Congee with Shredded Chicken or Dim Sum (with your choice of lobster dumpling, chicken siew mai or pork char siew pau). In terms of beverages, guests can choose from a variety of fresh juices or wellness teas and, in an indulgent touch, your morning coffee can also be prepared with oat, soy and almond milk upon request.
Located within the main Tanah Merah buildings, the lounge-style Living Room offers guests access to a dreamy afternoon tea experience comprising savoury and sweet sandwiches, scones and cakes 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 an outdoor terrace with sofa beds overlooking the lush landscape, Bob’s Bar serves up spirit-forward, contemporary twists on classic cocktails such as their Barrel-Aged El Presidente and Bob’s Old Fashioned. During the resort’s Bosun’s Call at 6pm daily, the bar serves complimentary tasting rum infused with pineapple and small bites in a nod to the hotel’s naval tradition. Guests can then settle into a tranquil calm as they lay back and watch the skies transition in one of Singapore’s most escapist sunset experiences – for that magical half hour, amidst all the elevated romantic moments and expat family proceedings around me, I genuinely forgot about my busy and mundane life back in the city.
Located on the second level of the Main Building and accessible via the Gallery on the ground level, the classy Cassia dishes up refined Cantonese cuisine in a sophisticated setting (also designed by André Fu). The restaurant has both lunch and dinner seatings, with lunch showcasing a refined dim sum selection such as Steamed Prawn and Chicken Siew Mai topped with Abalone; Steamed Bean Curd Roll with Prawn and Chicken in Oyster Sauce topped with Fried Golden Mushroom; and the visually captivating Steamed Charcoal Powder Bun with Barbecued Avinyó Omega 3 Pork and Black Truffle. Their dumplings, which include Steamed Teochew Dumpling with Prawn, Chicken, Dried Shrimp and Peanut; Steamed Crystal Dumpling with Black Truffle and Fresh Mushroom as well as Pan-Fried Diced Abalone Dumpling with Prawn, Bamboo Shoot and Carrot, brought me to unexpected places in terms of texture, while their signature Wok-fried Carrot Cake with Chinese Sausage, Prawn and Scallop in XO Chilli Sauce was an eggy delight with indulgent ingredients.
Dinner at Cassia was a more intimate and lively affair, with tables around me comprising a Japanese couple on a date, a romantic pairing celebrating a birthday, well-heeled older folks and wine enthusiasts who were guzzling from decanters by the crate-load. I was very satisfied with my Hong Kong-style Peking Duck (half) order, which came with options for second servings of duck in the form of Sauteed Minced Duck served with Lettuce, Sang Choi Bao; Fried Rice with Diced Duck; and Wok-fried Shredded Duck with Noodles. The Hong Kong-style Barbecue Platter delivered the usual goods with competence, while the luxurious and collagen-loaded Braised Fresh Fish Maw, Whole Japanese Flower Mushroom and Black Truffle with Abalone Sauce dispelled all my existing misconceptions about what fish maw is and could be. I loved the Double Boiled Tianjin Pear infused with Tangerine Peel, which revealed a restrained spiciness of ginger beneath its comforting clear soup visage.
After reviewing my notes from my last visit to the resort, I can conclude that, in comparison with other Chinese restaurants located within luxury hotels, Cassia certainly boasts one of the most attractive price points around, especially given the quality of its offerings.
Elsewhere, the private event space Chef’s Table is open to public guests for afternoon tea on weekdays.
The recent renovations take the room experience to a level comparable with world-class offerings from ultra-luxury brands such as Rosewood. It is not difficult to understand why Capella Singapore is one of the best properties in Singapore – aside from the exclusive island setting and the pamperingly luxe Aesop bathroom amenities, the stay offers a high degree of escapism and luxury absent from most other Singapore hotel experiences. This is the stuff anniversaries, bucket lists and proposals are made of.
1 The Knolls