Marina Bay Sands Singapore

A well-oiled machine

In many ways the big and shiny Marina Bay Sands is rich with superlatives: Singapore's largest hotel, record-breaking development costs, and the highest open-air swimming pool of its size in the world. But does it deliver?

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Already iconic, the Marina Bay Sands has dominated the Singapore skyline since its much-anticipated opening in April 2010. Its sheer size – all 6 billion USD worth of it – is overwhelming: Three skyscraping 55-storey towers contain in total 2,561 rooms and suites. It has all the makings of an upscale, Vegas-style grown-up playground with numerous on-site or adjacent facilities including a gigantic mall, an MRT station, a theatre, a casino, a museum, a host of nightclubs, adjoining gardens… and the list goes on and on.

Naturally, this place is buzzing at almost any time of the day. Its location at the edge of the Bay and just around the corner from the Central Business District means that it is popular with all kinds of travelers and for many, it constitutes a destination in itself. You’ll also notice masses of tour groups arriving by the busload but mercifully, these have their own check-in areas, keeping check-in times for individual travelers to a minimum. This is not to say, however, that you’ll be spared a bit of a queue. Even as we walked in at 1am the lobby was very much alive with arriving guests.

But this is what you would reasonably expect from a hotel like this. Intimacy and privacy are pretty much limited to the confines of your plush bay- or ocean-facing room. Rather, you come to be entertained, be part of a vibrant scene, take in unparalleled views of the island from the rooftop, and swim in THAT infinity pool.

Even if you’ve never been to the region, you’ve probably heard of it or didn’t fail to notice photos of swimwear-clad Facebook friends enthusiastically posing just in front of the dizzying 200-metre drop – and with good reason. The 150-metre long basin is the crowning glory of the ship-like structure that stretches out atop and across the three towers. No doubt, it is breathtaking and spans almost the entire length of the platform. Add to that a spectacular 360° panorama and together they may even substantiate the price tag of a room alone.

Yet again, the sometimes-overwhelming presence of other guests can be slightly disconcerting: While the three towers harbour different room categories, the pool is where everyone comes together in rather more democratic fashion. This is where all the action happens. It’s excellent for people watching, not so much if you arrive later in the day and begin your hunt for an available lounge chair.

Crowds aside, the hype is justified as the architecture is impressive, and more so because it works nicely as a whole. Clearly, every facet, from service to its luxurious design, has been given tactful thought. Like a well-oiled machine, this monster of a hotel is always busy, always working, its ten thousand strong staff constantly scurrying around to make sure that every single guest gets what he or she needs.

While bigger is definitely not always better, the Marina Bay Sands pulls it off eloquently. Visitors will never want for entertainment options and with this much excitement on offer, this hotel is well worth a stay.

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