Words: Matthew Brace
As soon as you walk into the new PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore you are hit by the grandeur of the hotel. Its atrium is one of south east Asia’s largest indoor sky-lit atriums, towering 63 metres above the lobby on level 4, and graced with space-age lifts, a huge (and very feng shui) hanging sculpture, and pockets of living foliage making up a verdant indoor garden. It’s big, bold and dramatic, like the ambitious set of a futuristic Hollywood film, and it’s sending a clear message: luxury and sustainability can be fabulous together.
This is the latest reincarnation of an amazing building that was previously the Marina Mandarin, designed by celebrated American architect John Portman. My wife and I knew that old hotel well and loved sitting in the atrium lobby and imagining we were inside a vast, hollow pyramid because as you look up the floor levels get closer together, meeting at a huge skylight at the top.
Somehow the Pan Pacific Hotels Group has made an iconic building even more impressive. The PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay Singapore has shot to the top of a heap of Tripadvisor lists, thanks not just to this amazing atrium but also its luxurious rooms, 25m open-air pool, calm and minimalist check-in area, and buzzing all-day restaurant Peppermint. I’d like to think a lot of its success is also down to its dedication to sustainability, which includes numerous environmentally progressive innovations including rooftop solar panels, an on-site urban farm and an electric VIP car that runs on a recyclable lithium battery.
Look and feel
The hotel is both green and serene. The first thing that hit us as we walked in at the street-level entrance was a 30m tall living wall made up of hundreds of real plants and mosses. There are lots more pockets of green on the first few floors, which are best viewed from the Skybridge on level 4 (lobby floor). From there we saw how these green areas join up to make what the property calls a ‘garden in a hotel’.
All up, the cavernous atrium contains more than 2,400 plants, trees, shrubs and groundcovers from more than 60 species of flora. They have helped the hotel to reduce its internal temperature by up to 2oC, allowing it to use less AC and less energy.
Among the greenery are four discreet and semi-private spaces, partially enclosed by latticework. They’re like giant weaverbird nests, in which you can ensconce yourself for breakfast, afternoon tea, evening cocktails or just to read a book or people-watch.
We snuggled into one of these one afternoon and relaxed to jazz and soul coming from Portman’s Bar and entrancing melodies from the songbirds that inhabit the hotel during the day. We’re not crazy about seeing birds in cages but we couldn’t deny it was lovely to hear their beautiful songs echoing around the atrium. Keeping singing birds is a long-standing Singapore tradition and the hotel’s ‘birdman’, known affectionately as Uncle Chia, has been bringing his delightful singers into the lobby here for decades.
Best room for two
We had a Lifestyle Premier Room up on the 18th floor, with a lovely window seat and our own balcony from where we watched Singaporean fighter jets practising aerobatics for the upcoming National Day celebrations.
Mornings were spent sampling flavours from the in-room coffee machine and lying in our luxurious king bed reviewing our sightseeing and shopping plans. As another green innovation, the hotel use lower-pressure water pumps and low-flow shower heads, which reduce water flow from 27 litres to nine litres a minute, but we would never have known if they hadn’t told us. The shower was better than ours at home and having amenities from Australian skincare brand Appelles (in refillable bottles, of course) was a nice surprise.
This might sound like an odd thing to get excited about in a hotel room but next to the bathroom sink was a miniature drinking water fountain. So, no more traipsing to a nearby 7-Eleven to get armfuls of plastic bottles of water to keep hydrated; instead we used the water provided in glass bottles in the room and then simply refilled them from the fountain. This practice alone takes 360,000 plastic bottles out of the hotel’s operations per year – almost 1,000 per day.
Food and drink
After our first evening meal at the Peppermint all-day dining restaurant, we were totally rethinking our views of hotel buffets. We had never experienced a hotel buffet meal that included snow crab, Pacific flower clams, lobster, oysters, edamame, chuka kura, hot dishes from all corners of Asia (including plant-based, meat-free ones) and sashimi sliced for you on-demand by one of the hotel’s chefs. While we served ourselves, bamboozled by choice, the speedy staff delivered chilled Tiger beers and sake to our table.
What we didn’t realise until we returned the next morning for breakfast – which was just as varied and thrilling – was that next to Peppermint is the hotel’s urban farm, one of the largest in Singapore’s central business district. It grows more than 60 varieties of fruit, vegetables, herbs and edible flowers and supplies roughly 20% of the hotel kitchen’s needs. The food travels about 10 metres; now, that’s low carbon footprint!
On our second afternoon we indulged in the hotel’s fabulous Afternoon Tea, called Picnic In An Oasis. Not only was it delicious but the presentation was delightful: it all came in a miniature picnic basket, which the staff then carefully opened to reveal an assortment of sweet and savoury items such as mini croques monsieur, smoked salmon and small cakes decorated with floral icing. As if that wasn’t enough, they also wheeled round a trolley of small macaroons and mini doughnuts. Heaps of fun.
We had our tea in Portman’s Bar and added a glass or two of champagne, poured by the excellent and very funny bar guy Monzie.
Couples will love
Cosying up in the weaverbird nests, enjoying afternoon tea and champagne in Portman’s Bar, dining on a truly memorable smorgasbord of an evening meal buffet at Peppermint and taking a night-time dip in the pool… all the while helping the hotel pioneer and promote environmentally sound practices.
Book via the PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, Singapore website , call +65 6845 1000 (+1 800 01 7747 toll-free) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.