|Admiring the 2011 magnificent portrait of Singapore’s Marina Bay at night from the Premier Harbour Room
(my comfy bed in the reflection)
THE image on the screen was hypnotic, the temptation inevitable. The mouse, hovering on the lion’s image (the fabled friendship must be true), finally gave in. The click finalized the purchase. I am leaping back into the lion’s lair.
It was the loss of a friend that conveyed life’s brevity. Second thoughts were suddenly a waste of time, a cause of regret. Ergo, I had to deal with the contents of my bucket list without further delay.
Funny, Singapore is not in it. I have visited the place twice before and felt that I had seen enough of the city- Orchard, Sentosa, hawker, chili crabs, Esplanade, and more on Singapore Tourism Board’s (STB) 2006 familiarization tour list. Impressive though, was the city’s ten-year plan, in which the Marina Bay and Orchard Road face lift, as we see it now, were on blueprint then.
|The Merlion’s changing view. Then (2009) & now (2011).
In 2009, I witnessed the skyline changing from the best seat in the house- the Mandarin Oriental Hotel’s Club Harbour Room (good God, I can stay there forever!). Singapore’s iconic view of the Marina Bay, with the water-spouting Merlion, the Esplanade, the Flyer, the city skyline and its rising structures, was the portrait, perfectly framed by the suite’s picture window. The panorama was breathtaking, but the finely appointed “living” space shared the highlight- technology, comfort and luxury were in perfect blend.
The bay’s turquoise water at sunrise that turned deep blue after sunset, sunlight bathing the city to the stars blanketing it at night, all witnessed from my suite. Priceless.
The Lion’s roar came unheard since then.
Not until an airline flashed a travel offer so irresistible. The Universe was telling me to go back and return (read: spend) the Sing moolah I still have. So I did.
How has Lion City’s landscape changed from my most recent visit? What’s new on their menu? Has Orchard really become Asia’s Rodeo Drive? How is Sentosa? Quite a lot of choices for someone who felt he had seen enough.
Fated, everything fell into place. Once more, Mandarin Oriental gave the nod to host me (thanks to Alu Suarez and Charisse Chuidian of Mandarin Oriental Hotel Manila for your generous recommendation. Daphne Tan for making me feel very welcome long before I arrived to Mandarin Oriental Singapore), and STB (thanks Sherina Chan) arranged the visits to the “unsung heroes” of the Lion City- the Singapore National Museum, Singapore Arts Museum, ArtScience Museum and a seat in Lion King show at the Marina Bay Sands Theater. (I’m still at sea as to why the museums are never part of the itinerary of tour groups arranged by our local travel agents. Tempting offer: Mandarin Oriental has an Artistic Getaway Package.)
Back in the Merlion’s lair, the train can take you to the city now, but the cab will drop me conveniently on the steps of a (my) luxurious sanctuary, a consistent Conde Naste Gold Lister and voted top Asian hotel, in fifteen minutes at No.5 (so Chanel!) Raffles Avenue.
|Award-winning, world-renowned, luxurious, warm, hospitable & in a chic address (very Chanel) #5 Raffles Avenue.|
The fan-shaped architectural design of the Mandarin (best seen in the interior) never ceases to amaze me. It was as exciting as the day I first laid my eyes on it. Has it been two years? It felt like yesterday. Would it be arrogant to say, “It’s good to be back home?”
Seen on blueprint in 2005, a steel framework in 2009, an icon in 2011.
Mandarin Oriental offers the best seat in the house to view the changing skyline of the Lion City.
The superb reception of the Filipina front liner made me proud (it’s innate, thus, genuine more than PR), and the room she escorted me in gave me the goose bumps- a “familiar” Harbour Room in its stylish Oriental exquisiteness, and it offered on display the most beautiful portrait of Singapore. There were changes in its composition this time. It was more stunning.
The Lion City was roaring in its full glory with the new exciting additions in its dynamic landscape and glowing skyline. Ensconced in the best seat in the house (read: Singapore) once more, I told myself, “I am blessed. There can’t be a better way to admire this magnificent artwork than through the eyes of Mandarin Oriental.”
(P.S. My stories are taking a brief stopover to the Lion City and head back to the Land of the Rising Sun after.)