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Singapore visitors with a luxury stay in mind will soon have a new choice available for consideration. The iconic Raffles now has a sister property in the city-state, located in the Sentosa Island district of Singapore. The all-villa resort is scheduled to open this year, after pandemic delays slowed its development. Its opening will help signal that Singapore is back in business as a tourism hub in Southeast Asia.
The new Raffles Sentosa Resort & Spa Singapore will have 61 villas, each with a private pool and terrace, making it the first villa-only hotel in Singapore. They range in size from one to four bedrooms, with private pools and terraces, and views over the South China Sea. The original Raffles, near the city’s central business district, is a Singapore symbol of luxury lifestyles, known worldwide.
Also on the horizon, after delays determined by the Covid-19 virus, is the Mandai Wildlife Reserve, back on track with progressive openings. Its full debut later this year – new branding, etickets, signage – will consolidate some existing wildlife parks within one district, plus add a new park experience (Rainforest Wild Asia) and welcome the relocated Jurong Bird Park, renamed Bird Paradise.
Others within Mandai include the Night Safari, Singapore Zoo and River Wonders, which was formerly the River Safari. Together, Mandai offers an integrated wildlife experience, with meandering, groomed walkways and overhead foot bridges, enabling views of mostly tropical creatures from different vantage points.
“Mandai will be a showcase of sustainable tourism,” said Rachel Lo, senior VP for the Americas International Group at the Singapore Tourism Board.
Lo recently co-hosted a travel trade event in Vancouver with Singapore Airlines, in which 30-plus tour operators and travel agents from the Vancouver area assembled to reacquaint themselves with the city-state and its national air carrier.
The evening dinner and presentation event was held at the Steamworks on Vancouver’s waterfront to welcome back travel retailers, who have been largely absent from the market over the course of the pandemic.
Mandai is accessible by car or public transit, but those who want a truly immersive experience can look forward to booking a hotel room in the park in the future.
The luxury hotel chain Banyan Tree is slated to open a new property in Mandai by 2023. The resort will offer an immersive staycation in the midst of wildlife, with 338 rooms, including some elevated cabins and tree houses. The Banyan Tree at Mandai aims to be the first Super Low Energy (SLE) resort in Singapore by incorporating measures like natural ventilation and solar panels. Low-level lighting will be used on paths to guide guests and an eco-bridge will be built for animals to provide connectivity between the north and south sides of the nature reserve.
Singapore is now open to travellers with valid vaccination documents, so news about the operation of flights by Singapore Airlines to North America is increasingly a priority for travel retailers. Bookings are brisk on flights from Vancouver, whose scheduling and capacity was recently changed.
That is, the frequency has gone from four flights a week, with a link to Seattle, to three flights a week with no link to SEA. The flights operate using Airbus A350-900 equipment, and all are direct, non-stop flights.
Sentosa Island is an historic enclave that is linked to Singapore by short bridges, and features themed entertainment options like Universal Studios.
Sentosa is also the site of the new SkyHelix Sentosa, the highest open-air panoramic ride in the city. Riders sit in an open-air gondola and take in views from 79 metres above sea level.
Also, noteworthy on the hotel front is news that the eye-popping Marina Bay Sands, with its SkyPark suspended on top of three hotel towers, will be adding a fourth tower. The fourth tower will sit separate from the tri-tower first hotel and will have 1,000 all-suite rooms, plus its own multi-level SkyPark and a concert arena.
Back down on the ground, Singapore visitors can choose to tour the city in style, in the new sidecar tours of the Civic District by Sidecars Singapore. It uses vintage Vespa scooters to give guests a one-hour guided tour from the unique open-air perspective of a sidecar.
Those seeking a connection to much more horsepower will be pleased to know that the Formula One race on the wide boulevards circling Marina Bay is back on again this year. The only night race on the F1 schedule will take place on Oct. 2, as part of a long weekend starting on Sept. 30.
Go to www.stb.gov.sg for more.
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