The buzzing business hub by day is now a high-spinner hangout by night. Get the Vegas vibes at the 15,000 sq.mt, four-level luxurious Marina Bay Sands casino that has changed the night profile of Singapore. Lit by a 7.1-ton Swarovski crystal chandelier, this slot-zone has 600 gaming tables, 30 private swanky gaming rooms and hordes of hi-tech options for gaming buffs.
But the casino is just a small slice of the incredibly vast and gorgeously-designed Marina Bay Sands integrated resort, a unit of the Las Vegas Sands Corp.(LVS). Sheldon G. Adelson, the 76-year-old quick-witted and ambitious chairman of LVS, better known as a casino czar, loves to dream big; his dreams are rather behemoth. He is the man who brought the grandeur of Venice to Macao, a modest Chinese coastal town, by setting up the Venetian Macao that boasts the world's biggest casino, and also owns resorts, hotels and casinos in Las Vegas.
The Marina Bay Sands, a $5.5. billion resort, conceptualised and constructed with support from the Singapore Government, is expected to boost tourism and create new job opportunities in the charming island.
You don't really need an itinerary advice at this sanctuary of modern urban luxury. If you are desperate to slacken the pace of life, albeit temporarily, soak in the comfort and solitude of the princely rooms. There are 2,560 rooms — 18 different types — housed in the 55 floors. My 13th floor room was done up in beige with a super-soft bed that could give the soundest night's sleep, and a couch into which you sink into. Recline on either, call the concierge desk to play your favourite flick (of course, at a price) and dial the super-quick in-house dining for French toast and some juice (the menu card overflows with options).
And, there's a readymade recipe for relaxation. The make-up room complete with comb and conditioners coaxes you to spend many extra minutes before the mirror. You could draw out the curtains electronically for an amazing view of urban poetry — skyscrapers, cars zipping past like a trail of ants on great driving roads, and cranes, fork lifts and workers going about their work rhythmically at the surrounding construction sites…
For those who prefer a touristy routine, Marina Bay Sands has several built-in options that range from the commercial to the creative, and the therapeutic to the thrilling. And, the well-drawn out map of the resort ensures you don't miss out on any. The best being the gravity-defying Sky Park, a gigantic cantilever, where excitement peaks as you look down 55 storeys for a sweeping view of the city's skyline and quiet-flowing river.
Swimming in the heights
The Sky Park stealthily sits atop the three 200-mt high towers of the Marina Bay Sands, and features the world's largest (150-mt.) outdoor infinity pool with a surreal edge, at that height. The landscaped gardens up above are home to 250 perfectly-lined trees and 650 varieties of flora. There is also an observation deck that hosts hundreds of people.
The resort stands on the waterfront, and canals running through the shopping mall offer Sampan rides to relax frenzied shoppers. What's more, Louis Vuitton's exclusive Asia outlet here has an underwater entrance. The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands includes outlets of cutting-edge labels such as Chanel, Gucci, Salvatore Ferragamo, Hermes, Hugo Boss, Prada, Yves Saint Laurent, Stefano Ricci, Cartier, Franck Muller, Anne Fontaine and more.
For those who prefer to conduct business meetings in a luxurious ambience, the Sands Expo and Convention Center offers more than 1.3 million sq.ft. of meeting and exhibition space; the ballroom is the largest in South-East Asia. Besides, there are clubs such as Fuse, Sancy and Late Night for souls who refuse to call it a day early.
When it comes to food, the Marina Bay Sands is a giant melting pot into which goes a kaleidoscope of flavours. The fancy names of dishes on the menu cards of the six speciality restaurants with glossy interiors could be embarrassingly hard to spell and pronounce. Six celebrity chefs Guy Savoy, Santi Santamaria, Tetsuya Wakuda, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud and Justin Quek are out to give foodies a taste of the exotica.
Holidays today are more about healthy indulgences, and the airy Banyan Tree Spa (with a gym attached) on the 55th floor promises invigorating treatments and stimulating massages each of which, of course, are more expensive than a return trip to Singapore.
Minimalism is given a miss at the Marina Bay Sands, everything — comfort, space, and style — are extravagant and elaborate. So are the artefacts, rather the eight installations created by world-renowned artists. The sheer size grabs your attention; then, you notice the intricate craftsmanship, especially the suspended-in-the-air matrix, created out of 16,000 steel rods, in the hotel's atrium. The humongous lotus-shaped museum (yet to be opened) that proposes to fuse art and science fascinates too.
American singer Diana Ross performed at the star-studded inaugural of Marina Bay Sands. And, her chartbuster, ‘Ain't no mountain high enough' seems just right to convey the ‘enormous' appeal of this resort that celebrates superlatives.
The India connection
Moshe Safdie, the Israeli-born-US-based architect of the Marina Bay Sands, has designs on India too. He has given shape to the Khalsa Heritage Centre in Anandpur, Punjab. Built on 100 acres, the centre will house a museum that will be a treasure trove of Sikh history. It is proposed to be inaugurated in April 2011.
The centre also comprises an auditorium, exhibition galleries and a library.
Moshe's India connection dates back to the time when IIM Ahmedabad was constructed. He is a student of the renowned Louis Kahn who designed the Institute's building.