It seems that we can’t stay away from Sentosa when the year-end comes around, especially since we can’t afford the time to get on a plane and go somewhere else. It might not be the Maldives, but it’s definitely a lot nicer than some parts of our mainland with its clean beaches and cerulean seas. This month, we return to the idyllic island for a stay at Capella Singapore, after visiting its equally beautiful neighbour, Amara Sanctuary Sentosa, in November.
The entry point to one of the best hotel experiences in Singapore is more than discreet, blink and you’ll miss it (as we did). Then, it’s up a meandering private driveway before you stop in front of two historic bungalows that date back to the 1880s, where you’ll find yourself welcomed with an iced tea and a refreshing cold scented towel. Checking in takes place in their reception area, which looks more like a classy, well-furnished living room than a liminal, transactional space. The whole process takes all of five minutes and it wasn’t before long that we were escorted to the room by our Personal Assistant, whom we were free to reach out to, 24/7, for anything we needed.
Cutting across the garden dominated by verdant greenery to the modern, curved building that houses the majority of Capella Singapore’s 112 guest rooms, the juxtaposition of old and new, as well as art and nature, wasn’t lost on us. On average, the rooms at Capella are distinctively larger than luxury hotels in the city and without the cookie-cutter layout either; they also adopt the maxi bar, where all non-alchoholic beverages like Nespresso, sparkling water, and juices come complimentary.
The Premier Room is the lead-in category with a whopping 77 square metres (828 square feet) of space, and sports either a sea view or one of the lush courtyard. There’s a balcony for a breath of fresh air while you watch the sun sets over the South China Sea; you can do the same in air-conditioned comfort on the lounge settee by the window or watch the reverse from the warmth of the luxurious Pratesi linen-clad bed, courtesy of the bedside touch panel control for lights, drapes, and air-conditioning. If you really want to watch something else, the 46-inch screen in the room with cable will sort you out.
The separate rain shower and bathtub (large enough for two) are adjacent to the balcony to enhance the “outside-in” quality that most Sentosa hotels boast about, and are equipped with amenities from Australian cult skin-care brand Aesop. The double vanity perfectly positioned in front of the walk-in wardrobe also ensures that there’s plenty of space to engage in your toilette. If you’re looking to up the romance factor with this staycation, opt for their Constellation Rooms with an outdoor, private jaccuzzi or a one-bedroom Villa with its own plunge pool. The hotel also has three cascading free form pools by the sea.
We’re sure that many flock back to Capella Singapore for its on-site, award-winning Auriga Spa. Widely touted as one of the best in Singapore, the 12,000 square foot spa features nine treatment rooms with private gardens for more of the indoor/outdoor experience, relaxation lounges, and facilities (don’t leave without a relaxing soak in the vitality pool) with a contemporary Asian aesthetic. To maintain the tranquil atmosphere, access to the is complimentary with a treatment though Capella guests who wish to enjoy the facilities without a treatment will see a $20 per person charge apply.
The focus at Auriga is health and wellness – all the natural and organic products used are supplied by The Organic Pharmacy based in the UK, and are developed with homeopathic principles and pharmaceutical-grade herbal extracts. Their signature spa treatment follows the lunar cycle, with a different process corresponding to the particular phase. Apparently, the Waning Moon ($440++, 180 minutes) phase is the perfect time to detox and it starts with a detox supplement and a few drops of Elixir of Life tincture by The Organic Pharmacy added to your water. When you get on the bed, the therapist starts with a pressure point massage on the feet with detoxifying oils. This helps to release toxins and to stimulate the inner organs before getting a dry skin brushing with silk garshana gloves, which helps with exfoliation and enhances lymphatic drainage.
For the unfamiliar, the lymphatic system is what removes cellular waste product and congestion of the system can lead to inflammation. That’s why after the seaweed scrub and mud wrap, the treatment continues with a lymphatic drainage massage that’s more about broad strokes than pressure point busters. The face doesn’t get left out either; the last (and thorough) step is a facial massage that focuses on the sides and the bottom half of the face, to ensure detoxification is complete. Usually I wouldn’t be able to lay still for three hours, but this treatment was multi-dimensional and multi-sensorial that I focused and enjoyed the process instead of dropping off to sleep.
Any hotel that takes hospitality seriously will know the importance of good restaurants and bars; fortunately, Capella Singapore has a few. Besides rum cocktails at the Cuban-inspired Bob’s Bar and modern Cantonese cuisine at Cassia, The Knolls is the all-day dining concept known for their free-flow Sunday Brunch and gourmet Mediterranean plates. On the day we checked in, we arrived in time to sample Sous Chef Marcus How’s set lunch menu. Reasonably priced at $40 for two courses and $52 for three, highlights include the slow-cooked octopus for starters and the pan seared sea bass entrée.
The former was marinated in a combination of fish stock and leche de tigre for an acidic tinge that complemented the texture of the octopus and the texture of raw cauliflower and blanched asaparagus. The firm flesh of the fish was the perfect vessel for the delicious smoked black garlic and cashew sauce; Chef Marcus included seared kumquats as a palate cleanser and peas seared with orange blossom water for a fragrance that lifted the dish. The Knolls is also where you’ll find the hotel’s breakfast spread compete with Asian selections like nasi lemak and congee, a cheese cart, a live egg station, and even a juice station complete with sugarcane juice and whole coconuts for real coconut water.
There’s also a curated list of local and international breakfast items that’s served a la minute. The buttermilk pancakes had the crispy edge I like but the vanilla butter is really what got me to keep eating when there are other things to try. Go for the laksa rather than the wonton noodles; the broth of the iconic local dish was heavier on the shrimp and not too coconut milk forward.
To staycation, or not to staycation? With hotels like Capella Singapore that veritably do not feel like Singapore, we don’t see why the heck not.