Our World | On 07, Nov 2013
So what comes to mind when you think of Singapore? As it was one of those places I’d yet to get to on my travels, I asked colleagues for their impressions and received a broad range of views from, “it’s an amazing destination that will leave you wanting more” to “it’s a very clinical city”. I got the opportunity to make up my own mind when I accompanied a client there on a recent site inspection.
Singapore is an exciting option when organising a group event as it is one of those places that not everyone will have visited. You get the opportunity to build a programme allowing delegates to explore and discover an amazing destination. So what does Singapore offer? Beautiful skylines, an energy and elegant sophistication. There are parts that are very traditional and cultured which offers an interesting blend, however in the main, it’s a super modern city both in design and mindset.
Our inspection programme was quite full on as there was a lot to cram in but here are the highlights. Firstly, we flew with BA on a night flight (the best option for a group) as you arrive early evening. You can then freshen up and off for a lovely first night out.
Hotels are plentiful but the two that we looked at were Grand Copthorpe Waterfront Hotel and the Shangra-La. Firstly the Grand, this hotel has plenty to offer a group. Central location, great meeting and leisure space and very decent rooms (although consider upgrading rooms here to give a delegate an extra treat). This hotel facilitates a lot of conference business, therefore is built for functionality. The Shangra-La Hotel possibly has a little more tradition behind it. Incentive programmes are designed to wow a group and the Shangra-La can certainly manage that. It has a stunning lobby area that would impress any group instantly. The pool area is simply exceptional. Designed like botanical gardens you feel at one with nature even though you’re in the middle of a city. The tranquillity of this hotel will grip you; it’s a calm feeling in a highly energised city.
So what else should you do? Well that’s where the fun begins. Singapore is a very clean, structured and safe city, so exploring is no problem. Traffic isn’t an issue as everything seems just 15 minutes away. Build in plenty of leisure time for your group as there is so much to discover here. From exciting bars/clubs in Clarke’s Quay to great street food over in Chinatown.
For me, there are three things that you must do when visiting. Firstly, take a river cruise you will honestly struggle to find many better skylines in the world. By day or night doesn’t matter, however sunset is always magical as you get to witness the city transform. Secondly, you must visit the original Raffles Hotel and experience the original Singapore Sling. This luxury hotel oozes class and a bygone elegant era. However you’re encouraged to eat monkey nuts while sat at the bar and discard the shells onto the floor. Sounds strange I know, but give it five minutes and you will love the therapeutic crackling background track it creates (the cocktails might also assist in this relaxing process!). The final must see, has to be the infinity pool over at the Marina Bay Sands Resort. As well as being one of the world’s latest iconic buildings, the concept of swimming in the sky on the 57 floor is simply breathtaking. Again the views of the city are exceptional and will definitely leave a lasting impression.
Overall I was expecting Singapore to offer elements of Vietnam mixed with Hong Kong; culture in abundance with an energy of high rise buildings and city life. I have to admit though I was pleasantly surprised. Singapore has a sophistication to it that is saved for only a few places in the world. It’s like when you explain the difference between Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Dubai is electric and frantic where as Abu Dhabi like Singapore has a charm and elegance that seem to soak into your skin. Singapore has taken areas such as Clarke’s Quay that use to entertain tankers and transformed them into fashionable districts. Singapore hosts quality restaurants, amazing nightlife and has plenty of authentic culture for you to explore. With world events such as the Formula 1 race visiting every year, I don’t see this city slowing down anytime soon. Making it a must visit city.