In the first of our four part luxury travels view column, our editor-in-chief Darius Sanai recalls the breathtaking views and chic ambience of The Fullerton Bay hotel in Singapore
A first-time visitor to Singapore before would be forgiven for being rather surprised arriving at the rooftop swimming pool at The Fullerton Bay hotel. The city state has a reputation for being efficient but unexciting – a business city for the wealthy, not a tourist destination.
Walk out of the lift on the top floor of the hotel, and you realise that reputation is outdated. In front of you is a huge outdoor pool with sunloungers both beside it and along both sides, inside it – meaning you can have both a wet bar and a wet sunbathe. Or moonbathe, in my case, as I had just arrived on a long-haul flight in the evening. Beyond the pool was a bright and throbbing outdoor bar area, the front row of which looks directly across the water of Marina Bay at the celebrated skyline of the Sands landmark on the other side, beyond which is the ocean and, in the distance, the islands of Indonesia.
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It may seem ‘normal’ if you are a resident of Singapore but coming from the western hemisphere this tropical city skyline-bar-swimming pool combination is literally breathtaking. A quick swim, then down to my room to get changed ahead of a couple of drinks in the bar, refreshing the palate before a long day of meetings the next day.
While I was swimming, my room had been transformed. Normally, the ground floor is no place for a suite in a luxury hotel, but at The Fullerton Bay, the ground floor is located directly on the water. No road, no path, nothing in the way – the screens in my room had been folded back by the turndown service so I had a 180-degree view of the harbour, and when I stepped out onto the balcony and into my own personal swimming pool, I could also have taken a couple of steps more and jumped into the sea.
If I’d been on my own, I would’ve stayed right there on the balcony, ordered some champagne, and chilled in the equatorial moonlight.
Up on the roof, by 10pm, the bar was turning more into a nightclub, with people dancing in an area cleared of tables. I sat at a table on the corner of the bar terrace, a 360-degree view of Singapore city centre all around. A pretty exhilarating introduction into the city.
In a time when eating outside is advisable as well as enjoyable, The Fullerton Bay has no shortage of options, as I discovered at my outdoor breakfast the next day. It is served à la carte, with tables well spaced, and a choice of Malaysian/Indonesian (nasi goreng), Chinese, and western, it would have been perfect on a luxurious break. On a business trip, though, I recommend you don’t make the same mistake as I did and go down in a crisp white Margiela business shirt to wear at your meetings – 8am, Singapore weather is hot enough to turn you into a sweat ball, meaning a rapid return to the room to change.
Fullerton is a legendary name in the Asian luxury industry, owned by the redoubtable and charming Ng family (who are also active in Hong Kong) and the more famous hotel and original of the same name is located 100m along the waterfront. The Fullerton, a local institution, is the colonial-era palace but is not priced at the same high-level as its more exclusive sister hotel. It is where you have to go for spa treatments, and I arranged one for just before my flight home. It was a mixture of Chinese pressure-point massage, ginger, rosemary and lavender oil, and stretching and soothing that was the perfect end to the Singapore stay-over. Over the years, I have changed my pre-long-haul flight routine flying back from Asia from champagne and sushi to a swim and a spa treatment, which is definitely more effective if you want to feel fresh on landing the next day.
Find out more: fullertonhotels.com
This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue.