The scale of cost versus experience is calibrated a little differently for all travelers. When we visited Singapore a couple years ago, we Couchsurfed with two amazing couples. As a result, our time in Singapore averaged out to being some of the least expensive days we’ve ever spent traveling. Even so, we still longingly looked at the Marina Bay Sands hotel every time we were downtown and wondered, “Could we? Or, rather, should we stay there – at least one night?” Its distinct three-tower structure (topped with a 150-meter-long infinity pool) was impossible to miss along the skyline. That feeling of yearning only intensified after we left the country. Did we miss out on an important experience because we wanted to save money?
For our recent trip back to Singapore, we decided to stay at the Marina Bay Sands. There were several reasons why we wanted to try this property, but the biggest motivator was the opportunity swim in the infinity pool on the roof. During our previous time in Singapore, we had toyed with the idea of paying money to go to the Skypark (basically an observation deck on the roof), but balked when we found out that the $20SGD did not include admission to the pool. Ultimately, the biggest reason we booked a couple nights there was because hotel guests are the only people who have access to swim in the infinity pool (it is open 17 hours each day) and lounge in any of the Jacuzzis facing the opposite direction toward the Gardens by the Bay.
When people talk of their bucket list of experiences, climbing a mountain, skydiving or adrenaline-filled activities usually come to mind. However, after spending a couple days and nights at the Marina Bay Sands, there is something to be said for staying at a luxurious hotel. They made it so that you never wanted to leave the property – in the best way. You have easy access to amazing views, celebrity chef-run restaurants, rejuvenating spa services, a well-equipped fitness center and, of course, the infinity pool that overlooks the bay and downtown Singapore. Everything we wanted or desired was in the tower we stayed in (Tower 3) or a short walk and elevator ride away.
The second we walked into the lobby, we knew our stay was going to be memorable. The enormity of the lobby and its impressive art installations seemed to stretch in a decadent panorama of steel, glass and exquisitely dressed staff and guests. I looked down at my polo shirts and quick-dry shorts and realized our backpack challenge may have been a terrible mistake (we each packed only a single regular-sized carry-on backpack for the entire 2-week trip). Somehow I missed this during the last time we were in Singapore, but everyone dresses stylishly. And by stylish, I mean tailor-made designer clothes. Thankfully there is no dress code to check in, so before we knew it we were issued keys to our majestic 35th-floor room.
Shortly after our arrival, a rainstorm had darkened the sky and doused anyone unlucky enough to be outside. A few lighting bolts meant no swimming at the time, but we took this as an opportunity to explore the fitness center, which is situated on the 55th floor facing the bay. Guests utilizing the facilities are treated to an incredible view. Treadmills face the bay, which is motivation in itself to go for a jog. Running on a treadmill looking out at the Singapore skyline is simply indescribable. After an hour, the skies cleared and we were able to take in the view from the rooftop pool.
The infinity pool is made up of three sections: one tailored to children, one to all ages and the last to adults. During the day, it fills to near capacity, but most people were just dipping in for a quick picture or two. There were a lot of selfies and even more selfie sticks. Swimming was not a priority for most guests, though not impossible and something we were able to do with ease. Even nighttime was just as chaotic with guests who wanted to jump in for a quick picture and then get right back out. Early risers were treated to nearly empty pools and a fantastic sunrise. Luckily, since we booked two nights we were able to enjoy the pool at all hours when it was open.
The view from our room was just as fantastic as from the rooftop. We were 35 flights up and had floor-to-ceiling windows facing the bay. It was a perfect spot to have cocktails and watch the nightly laser light show that takes place on the bay. It was a private and romantic setting, which isn’t something you ever end up saying about your hits room. Even our flat screen television was never turned on once—there wasn’t time to waste. If we were to cobble all the hours we were taking advantage of the view from our room, the fitness center or on the roof either taking pictures, lounging on deck chairs, swimming, or just hanging out, we definitely got our money’s worth. We felt like millionaires, if only for a couple days.