In the footsteps of Trump and Kim Jong-Un in Singapore
Carolyn Beasley lifts the lid on the Singapore hotels and attractions visited by US President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un.
The nuclear summit between the US and North Korea in June focused the world’s attention on neutral host city, Singapore, spotlighting lavish hotels and iconic attractions. So, if you fancy visiting Singapore like a world leader, where should you stay and what should you do?
Accommodating a head of state is not simple and, during the summit, President Donald Trump and his posse stayed at Singapore’s Shangri-La Hotel. Incorporating lush gardens with free-form pools and tennis courts, the hotel is a city oasis. As the original Shangri-La property, this hotel sets high standards.
If you are travelling like a world leader, opt for the Shangri-La Suite, with an average price of $SG15,000 (about PGK35,700) a night. You can expect 348 square metres of luxe, including a private lift to your suite. Fittings include twinkling chandeliers, bathrooms glistening with white marble and bathtubs with televisions. The suite features a workout room, study, and kitchen, and importantly, personalised bathrobes, pillow cases and stationery. Thankfully, there are many other cheaper room options here. High-flying can be hungry work, so keep things high-brow in a private room at NAMI, the Japanese fine dining restaurant on the hotel’s 24th floor, or head to Shang Palace, serving traditional Cantonese dishes. For something casual, Origin Grill offers sustainable seafood and a wide selection of beef, while Waterfall Restaurant serves southern Italian favourites.
Less than a kilometre away, the St Regis Hotel was chosen by North Korea’s Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-Un, for his stay. For a top-shelf
experience, the presidential suite on the 20th floor rents for a mere $SG9000 (about PGK21,400) a night. The opulence is jaw-dropping; think Czech crystal chandeliers, velvet sofas, gilded tables and hand-painted silk panelling. This suite comes with a gym, 10-person dining room, and a fourperson jacuzzi. To indulge your artistic side, tinkle the ivories on your grand piano or study the original Marc Chagall painting.
Opting for a cheaper room need not count you out of VIP treatments. The St Regis prides itself on being the only hotel in Singapore offering a personal butler to every room. Equally, all guests can travel like a leader, hiring the hotel’s chauffeur-driven Bentley.
For VIP dining at St Regis, visit Brasserie Les Saveurs for Sunday brunch, where champagne bottles are opened with a sabre. For casual Italian food, head to the poolside LaBrezza, or for weekend dim sum, try Yan Ting Restaurant. At Astor Bar, an Asian twist is given to the classic bloody mary, and the ‘chilli padi mary’ will leave you tingling.
For the summit itself, elegant Capella Hotel was chosen. The hotel, on Sentosa Island, incorporates two heritage bungalows from 1880, previously accommodating British officers. A stylishly curved modern wing houses most guest rooms.
A dining highlight here is a sumptuous Sunday brunch served at The Knolls restaurant on the terrace overlooking cascading pools and the ocean. You may dine with wild peacocks and spy hornbill birds in the forest canopy. Modern Cantonese is offered in Cassia restaurant, while Bob’s Bar is the place for a beverage, invoking a 1950s Cuban atmosphere.
If you venture out of Capella, you’ll find Sentosa Island is Singapore’s playground. Fun attractions here include theme park Universal Studios, the waterslides of Adventure Cove, and the SEA Aquarium. For an adrenaline rush, zipline from mountain to beach at MegaZip Adventure Park, go careening downhill on a luge, or indoor skydive at iFly.
No matter how wonderful the hotels, even world leaders enjoy exploring and Kim managed to take in some of the must-see sights of Singapore.
Kim’s tour began with the world’s largest glass greenhouse, the Flower Dome at Gardens by the
Bay, a waterfront garden complex on more than 100 hectares.
Visitors on a less dictatorial schedule may also visit the second glass conservatory, the Cloud Forest, that recreates the misty high-altitude tropics, including a 35-metre-high indoor waterfall. Supertree Grove is another highlight, where large tree-like structures dominate the skyline, and every night a free light and music show delights crowds.
From the gardens, Kim zipped up to the 57th storey of iconic Marina Bay Sands integrated resort. Here the SkyPark Observation Deck (entry $SG23) provides a commanding view. Alternatively, the same view is available at Ce La Vie SkyBar, where your entry fee ($SG20) can be offset towards a cocktail.
Kim strolled around Marina Bay, past the colonial-era Fullerton Hotel and the half-lion, half-fish Merlion statue. Crossing Jubilee Bridge, opened in 2015 to commemorate 50 years of Singapore’s independence, he came to the Esplanade theatres where he concluded his tour.
Visitors exploring further may try a traditional ‘bum boat’ tour, a hop-onhop-off bus, or perhaps a guided walking tour. The offerings for visitors here are diverse, and Singapore can deliver a fabulous stay whether you visit as a VIP or a regular traveller.
Light show ... Singapore's skyline (main); Gardens by the Bay, visited by Kim Jong-Un (top right).
Hotels of choice ... the leaders met at the Capella Hotel (right); the Shangri-La Suite, where Donald Trump checked in (far right).
Supreme accommodation ... Kim Jung-Un stayed at the St Regis Hotel (above); and took a stroll over the Jubilee Bridge (right).