Every time the gal has been to Singapore’s most obvious hotel – the standing-E-shaped Marina Bay Sands – there has been a stunning food experience. Some will say this is a casino that comes with retail, others could say it is a foodie paradise with over 60 restaurants, and there happen also to be 2,561 bedrooms in the three adjacent and parallel 55-floor towers that make up this unique luxury hotel. All the elements are wildly successful. The SVP of Hotel Operations, Ian Wilson, who is currently also interim COO of the whole caboosh, says the bedrooms run at around 96% occupancy.
This can make changing lightbulbs or cleaning carpets difficult and I should really like, sometime, to see how this housekeeping operation works. There are 9,000 people working here, with minimal turnover of staff, about ten percent, which shows how happy they are. I am tremendously impressed. Today I am lunching at Spago by Wolfgang Puck, up on the rooftop next to the 1,000 ft-long rooftop SkyPark pool that, 570 feet above the ground, stretches over the three tower tops and beyond. This is selfie heaven, with everyone taking photos up here (no need for marketing!).
I think I would put Spago at the top of my Marina Bay Sands’ dining list, together with Gordon Ramsay’s Bread Street Kitchen – Gordon must be celebrating today, by the way, as he has just got his second Michelin star for his gourmet restaurant at InterContinental Le Grand Bordeaux. Here at Spago, the hostesses are chic in black, the table cloths are crisply starched-white, and my meal is colourful. I start with Big Eye tuna tartare cones, three of them, supported in a little wooden frame. Each cone is seasoned with chili aioli, soy, wasabi, shaved bonito, scallion and masego.
Going the whole tuna hog, if that is not a mixed metaphor, I have tuna in my main-course sashimi salad, shown above – I also have a Hokkaido scallop and yellowtail. Showing how this luxury hotel has something for all tastes, I walk past a yoga sign on my way out, and then a Barbara Rihl handbag shop. When I first saw the Rihl name, back at La Mamounia in Marrakech a couple of years ago, it was new to me: she must have a good distribution system as now I see her brand at least every month, variously around the world. I walk on, out of Marina Bay Sands and its hubbub of people (about 1,200 check in daily around 3 p.m. and the same number check out, typically after two nights, as near as possible to the 11 a.m. deadline). On the way back, past a centre of culture, the armadillo-like Esplanade domes supports workmen as if they were an interim artwork as striking as any of the Botero or Gormley sculptures around Singapore.