Monday, November 23, 2020

Family Staycation at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa

I know I've said in the past that I thought staycations are lame. Well, over time, I have changed my opinion and now I think a staycation is a great way to refresh and recharge without the hassle of tickets, passport or elaborate itineraries. Not to mention, with Covid-19 cases spiking around the world and travel restrictions being imposed, we feel much safer and stress-free right where we are! 

But then again, in the past 14 years, I have only been on 4 staycations in Singapore. The first time was a babymoon at the iconic Hotel Fort Canning which came about as a result of my doctor forbidding me from travelling when I desperately needed a break! The second time was to D'Resort at Downtown East to celebrate our twin daughters turning three years old. We didn't want to get into the intricacies of planning a birthday party and we already had made travel plans for the following month and so at the very last minute, we zeroed in on a staycation to mark the occasion. The girls has a total blast at the beach, park, waterpark and indoor play area that were in close proximity to the resort and so we planned another staycation at the same place last year during the CNY break with a group of close friends. Our most recent staycation was prior to the girls sixth birthday and was a result of the Covid-19 pandemic that has taken overseas travel out of the equation (for the time being at least). 

In my opinion, a staycation at Sentosa Island makes the most sense if you have young children. There are so many activities to do on Sentosa that will keep them occupied for days. My children are crazy about going to the beach and if you would ask them on any given day as to what they would like to do, the answer would invariably revolve around going to a beach! I didn't plan a whole line-up of activities for my kids since we also wanted to relax and get a temporary respite from this tumultuous year. Not to mention, there is a booking system for absolutely any activity you can think of which makes planning cumbersome. But I fully intended to take them to at least two beaches on the island, Nestopia and HydroDash, the latter two of which they had not been to yet. 

After considering the hotel options we had, we settled on Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa for our sojourn. The resort had been SG Clean certified by local authorities to reopen for staycations. 

The  5-star luxury resort hotel is located on a secluded nook of Sentosa and perched atop the cliff above Tanjong Beach. It is known as a haven of tranquility and relaxation with panoramic views of the South China Sea, stylish rooms and suites, world-class dining establishments, an award-winning spa and spectacular pool. Sofitel draws inspiration from local culture and tradition while celebrating innovation and the French art de vivre to offer a one-of-a-kind, luxurious hotel experience.

We arrived at the resort on a Friday afternoon. After the initial temperature checks and QR code scanning, we proceeded to the reception for check-in. As I stepped into the airy lobby, I stood transfixed by the striking bespoke lighting installation suspended against a coral pink ceiling design. The gigantic chandelier is aptly named "Stellar" and inspired by the Milky Way and beautiful night sky!

We were pleased to see that there weren't a lot of people waiting in line ahead of us. I must acknowledge that all safe distancing protocols were stringently maintained. As we waited, we were provided with a complimentary bag of yummy cookies. After about 20 minutes, we were shown to our rooms which were two interconnecting luxury rooms that I understand to be popular with families.

Spread over sprawling 27 acres of tropical woodlands, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa exudes colonial charm with its shiny black and white tiled floors, walkway pillars and manicured lawns. The resort houses a total of 215 accommodations across 7 categories of sophisticated rooms, suites and luxury villas. 

Each room comes with air-conditioning, WiFi, LED Smart TV, minibar, bathroom with separate bath and shower, bath amenities and coffee/tea making station.

The rooms are reasonably spacious and embody Parisian refinement and Singaporean colonial heritage, filled with rich textures, vibrant colours and French amenities. The natural shades of brown, blue and green interspersed with bright pops of gold and orange, impart a calming yet opulent look to the rooms. Touches of nature appear throughout the room - the leaf motifs above the bed, floral motif carpeting on the hardwood floor and flora and fauna themed handles on the wardrobe.⁣ The bathrooms are spic and span and quite chic as well. There is a small adjoining balcony which opens into verdant greenery. The perfect place to sit down and enjoy a hot beverage. 

A special shout-out to housekeeping who did a great job of cleaning our rooms during our stay!

Taking a walk through the expansive property, one can see symbols of the cultural link between French origins and Singapore's national values. The Lion Statue symbolizes courage, excellence and strength. It is also a modern French Art de Vivre piece similar to those that can be found at Jardin au Luxembourg, Paris. The Horse Statue represents the French Republican Guards, and is commonly associated with grandeur, security, friendship and loyalty⁣. 

There are lots of Instagram-worthy spots throughout the property. Nestled harmoniously within nature, there is beauty everywhere to be found at Sofitel! 

Later that evening, we drove down to Nestopia, a unique open-air play space located on Siloso beach adjacent to Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort. My kids embarked on an exhilarating adventure through 17 play sections with netted obstacle courses connecting 3 giant nests and 2 long metal slides. They had a wonderful time indeed! 

We had reserved a table at the swanky The Cliff restaurant located within Sofitel for dinner that night. The Cliff redefines traditional Italian dining by constant innovation with an expressive appeal. We enjoyed a delicious dinner that showcased fresh produce and seasonal ingredients. And even though we were bursting at the seams after our meal, we brought back Tiramisu to the room to indulge in later!

Both my girls love peacocks! They are enamored by the vibrant colors and gorgeous patterns of the tail feathers. They even have a peacock stuffed toy whom they call Mr. Peaboy (who coincidentally happened to accompany us on the staycation!). I had not told the kids that there would be high chances of spotting peafowl at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa so imagine their surprise and sheer delight when they spotted free-roaming peahens wherever they turned! Among the harem of peahens, there was one peacock in particular who would make a habit of fanning out his spectacular tail feathers at every given opportunity and often at the exact same spot. Unfortunately for him, the humans were more taken with his courtship ritual than the peahens who mostly seemed impassive! Much to the delight of my girls, he gave them the full feather display on three separate occasions. They were able to watch from quite close up and were thrilled to bits! They would have liked to stay there admiring him all day if we didn’t have other things to see and do. Every day, we would keep aside 30 minutes just to go peafowl sighting and it never disappointed! 

See what I mean?

Our daily breakfast was served at Kwee Zeen (didya catch the word play?) restaurant. This spacious establishment features a high ceiling, gilded frames, dark mahogany wooden fixtures with a tasteful maroon and cream palette. Due to the Covid-19 restrictions, the usual buffet breakfast system was done away with. We were handed a menu which had a decent selection of Pan-Asian, Western and French cuisine and the food was brought to our table. 

I absolutely loved the freshness and vibrancy of all the dishes. The Healthy Breakfast set was delicious and satisfying and their Bircher muesli was divine! 

The stunning 33-meter long black pearlescent tiled pool at Sofitel is a hidden gem right in the heart of the resort. The enormous pool is flanked by greenery and there are more than enough poolside loungers and cabanas to laze or sunbathe in. There is a booking system for all the facilities within the resort which helps to control the crowd. The pool accommodates a maximum of 50 guests at any given time. All guests are allocated 2 hours slots to assist with safe distancing.⁣ 

There is a long shallow stretch running from one end to the other which was separated from the deep areas by a safety divider. Even though my kids know how to swim, I was relieved to see the barrier. There were several peahens around and a peacock made a prolonged appearance on the roof and proceeded to give those of us in the pool yet another magnificent tail feather display.

Located just a short walk away from the resort (look for the boardwalk by the pool), Tanjong Beach is a favourite with those who treasure its tranquility and solitude. At Tanjong beach, the little ones can safely play in the calm shallow waters and in the sand to their heart's content while the adults can unwind with a favourite book and a gentle breeze for company. I would say that this quiet stretch of beach is perfect for families with young children. I had brought the girls beach toys and they had an absolutely marvelous time at Tanjong beach. Note that booking a slot for all Sentosa beaches is mandatory on weekends and to help with social distancing, squares are delineated in the sand for each group (this can happen only in Singapore! 😄). 

We ordered room service for dinner (and on a few occasions after that) and every time, the food arrived warm and carefully packed. My kids were very impressed with the room service and helpfully suggested that I could incorporate the same concept at home for them 😅

The girls were thrilled that they got to watch their favourite cartoons and animated movies late into the night. And I had even lugged around some of their toys and art supplies so they had a lot to keep them occupied even when we were in the rooms. Not to mention, jumping on the bed was done repeatedly (probably because I don't allow them to jump on their bunk bed at home!). 

Remember how I was raving about the Healthy Breakfast set at Kwee Zeen? Well, I had it two times in a row. And I also made sure there was some of that yummy Bircher muesli on the side!

To surprise the girls, we took them to HydroDash, Singapore's first floating aqua park located at Palawan beach. Ages 5-6 years are only allowed on Zone 1 whereas 7 years and above have access to all the remaining areas. Although my kids were a bit scared at first (jumping into the sea and all!), they took about 20 mins to overcome their nerves, get used to the slippery obstacle course and the intensely salty water but after that, they were on a roll! I and my husband on the other hand, discovered (much to our embarrassment) that after falling into the water, we were just unable to climb the steps and get back on to the structures (you know bulky life vest adding more bulk to our already bulky frames 😂). We had to signal to the lifeguard to pull us out a few times. Never have I laughed so uproariously this year! After that, we took turns to get into the water. HydroDash turned out to be a much more physically challenging experience that we thought it would be! The kids really wanted to stay longer and since then, they have been asking me every single day when I will be taking them to HydroDash again. 

Our children enjoyed the bathtub at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa much more than they enjoy their bathtub at home! They sat in the tub at least once everyday for an hour or more. I used it as a golden opportunity to enjoy the view from the balcony with a steaming cup of Nespresso. 

The first time the kids went to the pool, I was perfectly content to just lounge around and click lots of pictures. The second time, I managed to secure a slot for myself as well so while the kids were busy playing in the shallow stretch, I managed to get in a few laps in the delightfully (almost) warm water! It was blissfully invigorating. 

We drove down to Royal Taj Sentosa for dinner. We had been there before and we really liked the ambience and food. With Deepavali approaching, the visit be at the restaurant was festive. We enjoyed a sumptuous Indian meal together as a family. 

On the last day, I checked out Sofitel's makeshift gym SoFit. Entry is based on a first-come-first-serve basis so pre-booking is not required. But be aware that no more than 5 people are allowed in the gym at any given point of time. A bottle of water and a towel was provided after registration. Do note that proper sports attire and shoes are required (good thing I had tossed them in my bag at the very last minute!). The best feature of the gym is its glass walls which gives you unhindered views of the surrounding lush greenery and you can even catch glimpses of the peafowls during your workout. 

I had been quite surprised to spot a beloved South Indian staple on the breakfast menu at Kwee Zeen. Even though I was skeptical, curiosity got the better of me and I ordered it on the last day we were there. The sambhar was under seasoned and lacked flavour but the idli and chutney were pretty good. 

I registered the kids in the Kids Club which is located a stone's throw away from Kwee Zeen restaurant. When we reached the club, my kids were the only ones there. The staff in charge kept an eye on the girls for 45 mins while I was able to enjoy some quiet time with my Kindle. 

We opted for a late check-out so we had an opportunity to go to Palawan beach. Being a weekday, we didn't have to book a slot and much to our delight, the beach was empty. Slather on sunscreen since it is definitely needed! I'll admit that I was a little worried about box jellyfish sightings that were reported at Sentosa beaches in July of this year but fortunately, we did not spot any jellyfish. The kids had another fun-filled outing to the beach and we came back to the resort tired and hungry!

I and the girls decided to walk back to the resort from Palawan beach and we came across So SPA, Sofitel's award-winning spa. 

At So SPA, you can opt for a variety of rejuvenating massages, scrubs and treatments. you could also use their outdoor spa garden facilities featuring cascading waterfalls, volcanic mud pools, meditative labyrinth and steam. 

We enjoyed one last room service lunch, stayed in bed and watched a movie and then took a long nap. Our glorious break at Sofitel had come to an end. 

I and my husband would have loved to unwind as a couple at LeBar, Sofitel's gourmet bar with some cocktails or even check out their afternoon high tea but we didn't get the opportunity. Hopefully some other time!

When it came to the weather, I can’t tell you how fortunate we were during this staycation. Every day that we were there, the sky turned overcast and it rained without fail....sometimes multiple times! Yet, by an amazing stroke of luck, whenever we were at the pool or any outdoor activity, the skies cleared up and we were able to enjoy all the activities we had planned without any hindrance from bad weather. Thank you rain gods!  

At Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, we were able to enjoy a restful getaway and forge precious family memories. The best part is that this actually felt like an overseas vacation! 

Even though the resort was pretty full, the way the management and staff adhered to safe distancing measures and implemented a booking/reservation system never once made it feel crowded. We felt like we were in an oasis of serenity with ease of access to the secluded Tanjong Beach and a myriad of activities on Sentosa island located in close proximity. We enjoyed beautifully presented and delicious meals at Kwee Zeen and The Cliff. With a gorgeous pool, innumerable peafowl sightings and the Kids Club to keep the little ones occupied, we were able to relax in the expansive grounds filled with lush greenery and the gentle sea breeze wafting in from the South China Sea.⁣ Even in these challenging Covid-19 times, not only my kids, but my entire family enjoyed the most wonderful pre-birthday celebration! In fact, our children were begging us to stay longer. The only reason we were able to lure them back home was the promise of the birthday celebration we had planned at school the next day and the stash of birthday presents that was waiting for them at home! 

If you are looking for a lavish tropical vacation, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa is where you can wake up in style and comfort with nature just at your doorstep. And if you are lucky, you will see peacocks strutting outside your room and flashing their pretty tail feathers too!

Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa 
2 Bukit Manis Road Sentosa
099891 Singapore
Tel: (65) 6708 8310
Fax: (65) 6275 0228


P.S.: This is NOT an invited review or a sponsored post. 

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