Where to Stay

The first ur­ban Six Senses prop­erty in the world melds the brand’s ex­pected well­ness and sus­tain­abil­ity with a rich dose of Sin­ga­pore her­itage.

World Travel Magazine - - Contents -

Six Senses Dux­ton, a sensory so­journ in Sin­ga­pore, draped in black and gold; Glamp­ing gets an up­grade in these wild lux ex­pe­ri­ences where dream­ing be­neath branch and moon need not mean com­pro­mis­ing on com­fort; Is­land es­cape to Bin­tan, an idyl­lic get­away from busy Sin­ga­pore.

BY SAN­JAY SURANA

With a strik­ing black ex­te­rior, the new Six Senses Dux­ton has the ex­traor­di­nary dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the first ur­ban prop­erty for the sus­tain­abil­ity fo­cused lux­ury ho­tel brand. The build­ing, unit­ing eight 19th-cen­tury shop­houses, yields a strong sense of place, with el­e­ments in­clud­ing neo-clas­si­cal li­on­head mo­tifs, Chi­nese porce­lain-chip friezes, Malay timber fret­work, French win­dows, Por­tuguese shut­ters, and Corinthian pi­lasters. “I be­lieve that a build­ing re­flects a sense of iden­tity of that coun­try and its evo­lu­tion,” says owner Satin­der Gar­cha. “All my ex­ist­ing ho­tels are housed in older her­itage build­ings, which of­fer a unique, of­ten ex­quis­ite, ex­pe­ri­ence that you can’t of­fer in a big-chain ho­tel. The goal is to try to tie in the ho­tel’s psy­che with the city’s sen­si­bil­ity.” A stained-glass roof and large stone pot sig­nal the entryway, with black rat­tan chairs and bam­boo rollers ar­rayed along the long out­door ter­race. In­te­ri­ors, the work of es­teemed British de­signer Anoushka Hem­pel, com­bine a pal­ette of black, gold, and yel­low, hues that re­cur through­out the prop­erty, ac­cen­tu­ated by glass-and-lac­quered-bam­boo screens and cal­li­graphic wall­pa­per of an 18th-cen­tury real-es­tate in­den­ture.

Upon ar­rival, guests are greeted by a re­fresh­ing chrysan­the­mum cor­dial drink at the small re­cep­tion area, set at one end of a long pas­sage­way, the sole bar and restau­rant at the other. Lounge ar­eas with gold so­fas and plump cush­ions, a hub-like work­ing area, and a Tra­di­tional Chi­nese Medicine (TCM) con­sul­ta­tion room splin­ter off the pas­sage. Mus­tard-coloured pots and large fans add vis­ual flair to the dra­matic, in­ti­mate ground-floor space. Post check-in, guests are in­vited to stand shoe­less in a singing bowl near the re­cep­tion. As the bowl is struck three times, the ex­pe­ri­ence, aimed at clear­ing one’s thoughts and re­liev­ing stress, is trans­portive, send­ing the mind to a ver­dant, crisp, re­mote hill­side.

The 49 rooms and suites are di­vided into eight cat­e­gories, all work­ing within the reg­i­men of a her­itage build­ing whose walls couldn’t be knocked down. Ac­com­mo­da­tions start at a com­pact 18 square me­tres and have names that cel­e­brate lo­cal his­tory. Nut­meg rooms are named for the site, a for­mer nut­meg plan­ta­tion, while shop­house rooms come with a black-and-white colour scheme. Suites all dif­fer in char­ac­ter. Pearl Suites are white-on-white, with an airy feel, mother-of-pearl chests, and a white mar­ble bath­room with a full bath­tub. Opium Suites are darker, more broody and at­mo­spheric with gold and black touches and gran­ite bath­rooms. Dux­ton Du­plexes are the most the­atri­cal spa­ces, a liv­ing area on the main floor with black so­fas and curved lac­quered panels to soften the shape of the room, the bed­room ac­cessed via a spi­ral stair­case, its ban­nis­ter

sanded to give it a sat­is­fy­ing grainy feel. All rooms come with Bose bluetooth speak­ers, slid­ing panels that open or close the room to nat­u­ral light, switches that clev­erly al­low for dif­fer­ent light­ing com­bi­na­tions, and supremely com­fort­able, Uk-made Nat­u­ral­mat beds that keep the body cool at night.

Sub­tle touches in each room re­flect the ho­tel’s Chi­na­town lo­ca­tion — horse­hair cal­lig­ra­phy brushes, bam­boo screens, gleam­ing lac­quer work. Turn­down ser­vice comes with nut­meg oil, Tiger Balm, Chi­nese in­di­ges­tion pills, a cloth tote shop­ping bag, and tinc­tures to as­sist sleep­ing and wak­ing. The prop­erty also col­lab­o­rates with lo­cal busi­nesses and pro­duc­ers, a core part of Six Senses phi­los­o­phy — tea from lo­cal tea­house Yix­ing Xuan, com­pli­men­tary on­site TCM con­sul­ta­tions for guests, mi­cro­herbs and seafood from Sin­ga­pore.

These lo­cal in­gre­di­ents, mar­ried with those from fur­ther afield, are used to stun­ning ef­fect in the an­ti­quar­ian li­brary-style bar and Yel­low Pot restau­rant. The bar is bathed in a golden glow, with an or­nate stained-glass ceil­ing, repli­cated in the walls on ei­ther side. This is Gar­cha’s high­light within the prop­erty: “It’s hard to pick a favourite, but the Yel­low Pot bar is an ab­so­lutely stun­ning es­cape from, that man­ages to still meld with, the hus­tle and bus­tle of ur­ban Chi­na­town.” The drinks menu lists clas­sic cock­tails such as Bloody Mary as well as re­gion­ally in­spired li­ba­tions like the Es­cape to Kaifeng, made with chrysan­the­mum cor­dial and Tan­queray Gin. Place set­tings at Yel­low Pot in­clude weighty black metal cut­lery and whim­si­cal porce­lain show plates of chil­dren play­ing cus­tom-made by Le­gle. Con­tem­po­rary Chi­nese fare pop­u­lates the menu, pre­sent­ing din­ers with a fine range of tastes and tex­tures. The hot and sour soup is rich and pep­pery, with shred­ded chicken and del­i­cate slices of gin­ger. Fried lion’s mane mush­rooms can be served with av­o­cado puree or Sichuan-style with chilli and peanut — the lat­ter is warm­ing sym­phony to the pal­ette. Seared pork with cumin, chilli, and mango com­bines touches of sweet­ness with a re­ward­ing spice kick, roast duck is ten­der and ac­cented with a light bean­curd mari­nade, while the steamed Kühlbarra bar­ra­mundi with a scal­liongin­ger pesto melts in the mouth.

Given the ho­tel’s size and in­te­rior di­men­sions, space for fit­ness op­tions was im­prac­ti­cal (though guests can re­quest yoga mats). How­ever those yearn­ing for well­ness will have ac­cess to the full fa­cil­i­ties of Six Senses Maxwell (also owned by Gar­cha) — a lap pool, full gym, and four treat­ment-room spa — when it opens a two-minute walk away in Oc­to­ber 2018. You could call the ar­range­ment the best of both worlds.

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