Philippine Daily Inquirer
How the world’s most expensive hotel has transformed Singapore
THE MARINA BAY SANDS HOTEL AND Casino has transformed the sleepy, humdrum nightlife of Singapore into a high-energy, swinging, all-night entertainment scene.
Is it really possible for a single luxury hotel and integrated resort complex to convert a mostly business-oriented city into an amazing entertainment playground with shops and restaurants, theatres, a museum and a casino?
The answer is a resounding “Yes!”—all thanks to the Marina Bay Sands and about $5.5 billion.
I was lucky to be able to visit this unique, standout-designed hotel with its towering structure resembling three cricket stumps toppedwith a boat-shaped deck. MBS is now theworld’s most expensive luxury hotel, surpassing the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
Internationally-renowned architect Moshe Safdie’s design is destined to be the iconic symbol of Singapore, much as the Sydney has its Opera House or New York its Empire State Building. And as my hubby Dennis put it, the best part of it all is, it’s a casino.
Sheldon Adelson, Chairman of Las Vegas Sands, has transformed Singapore with this massive gamble. Adelson made his millions on what is called MICE, an acronym for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions. In Las Vegas, his projects include The Venetian with the casino as the main attraction.
MBS is different. The complex is the destination, and the casino just one of the highlights alongside its restaurants, theater, clubs, spas, shopping and more. When the museum and theater open at yearend, Disney’s “The Lion King” will be a long-run show. Check it all out at www.marinabaysands.com.
The luxury hotel was a joy to visit. Dennis and I settled into our room, one of 2,560 in the three-tower complex. Our automated curtains opened up to reveal a unique vista of the Lion City.
Perched high above us, connecting all three towers, is the SkyPark. Large enough to park four A380 jumbos, the one-hectare park includes an infinity pool longer than three Olympic pools. A view of the Lion City from the SkyPark pool is a ‘wow’ moment—the exact word uttered by Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, one of the first visitors to MBS.
Now this is the sort of place where a dedicated triathlete/shopper can train. From swimming in the pool, I can run-train by checking out the three levels of shopping in the mall or the four levels of casino. Hmm. Thismay be the best way to get ready for the Cobra Ironman in CamSur next month!
In between all that training, I would have to eat well, and what is Las Vegas-style living if not for the Michelin-star-quality restaurants?
Among the celebrity chefs in the complex are Tetsuya Wakuda from Sydney, Mario Batali and Daniel Boulud from New York, Wolfgang Puck from Los Angeles, Guy Savoy from Paris, Santi Santamaria from Barcelona and Justin Quek from Singapore.
Dennis and I were on hand for the Opening Celebration of theMarina Bay Sands just two weeks ago. Leana Carmona of Eon wonderfully arranged forme to be one of the VIP guests. Together with other media from the Philippines, we were part of the world launch with over a thousand media people present.
It was amazing to be at the press conference and listen to Sheldon Adelson’s vision of how an integrated resort can change a city. Checking out this place’s amenitiesmay be the best way to get ready for the Cobra Ironman in Camsur next month!
Afterwards, our Pinoy media group had the chance for more focused interviews with Architect Safdie, club entertainment giants Steven Adelman and Michael Ault, and executives from Louis Vuitton and Banyan Tree Spa.
I had to cut my interviews short because I had to get ready for my Red Carpet gala dinner at the Sands Grand Ballroom with the legendary Diana Ross as the highlight of the evening.
The opening celebrations featured a death-defying relay stunt. Seven teams of three participants each scaled the three towers before sprinting across the 340-meter long Sands SkyPark, where the infinity pool is located, to the finish line.
After that there was an outdoor concert headlined by Grammy Award-winning star Kelly Rowland of Destiny’s Child.
Proudly representing the country at the Gala, my husband and I walked down the Red Carpet. Several Asian publications like Singapore and Indonesia Tatler and a Thai TV station interviewed me. They were attracted because I was wearing a voluminous ball gown by fave designer Rajo Laurel.
Singapore is extra-special for us because my eldest son, Bryan Prieto, works there at Societe Generale Bank. Dennis and I have been frequent visitors, and now that Marina Bay Sands is open, we have more reasons to head over.
Indeed, it is always refreshing to visit a well-designed building. There’s a new development in Manila that is clearly Singaporeclass. Arya Residences in Bonifacio Global City is a breath of fresh air.
The visionary behind the project is ArthaLand president Angie de Villa-Lacson. At the launch, Angie told me how she drew inspiration from the years she spent heading a division of Unilever in Milan. A seasoned global marketer and property developer, she integrates personal experience and professional insights instinctively.
Angie said: “I remember walking into Galleria Vittorio Emmanuel in Milan, my favorite spot because it’s where you peoplewatch. There’s a big dome that makes the center space quite wide and open. Then on two sides of it, there are these outdoor spillovers of the dining areas. It felt like you were dining outside but because of the dome, you were actually inside.” That’s the inspiration for Arya. The challenge fell to an Australian firm, Crone Partners Architecture Studios, and local architects AIDEA Philippines, to work with Angie and fuse all this into Arya.
The Plaza at Arya is an elevated retail haven under a soaring glass canopy. The Terrace is a private island of recreation on the other side of the canopy, including pools, playgrounds, gardens and trails.
Check it all out at the sales pavilion at the McKinley Parkway, corner 7th Avenue in Bonifacio Global City. Or visit www.aryaresidences.com.ph.
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