Norman Foster is as magic a name among today’s hotel architects as, say, Kengo Kuma, whose works tend to feature bamboo – think THE OPPOSITE HOUSE in Beijing and KAI YUFUIN in Kyushu, Oita Prefecture. Foster’s works, by contrast, feature painted steel statements, as at DOLDER GRAND, above Zurich, and CAPELLA on Singapore’s Sentosa Island.
Capella is an expansion of the three-floor 90-year old Tanah Merah Officers’ Club. That building is still all-white, with terracotta-coloured tiled roof. Foster has added a curvilinear extension, dark grey with prominent dull-blood painted railings. See above. The whole is now one continuous kidney shape and you can walk the whole.
When Girlahead last stayed in the 110-room hotel it was frankly rather shabby. Now, thanks to a redo by designer André Fu, bedrooms are appropriately gorgeous. As the video below shows, soft greens seem to bring the lush Sentosa vegetation inside. 77sq m Premium Suite #412, up 78 dark slate steps from ground level, had one long all-glass wall skirting the exterior of the overall shape: one two-metre width had, however, been cut out, to accommodate an outside day bed. The bathtub, in the bathroom behind, looked through another glass wall to the day bed terrace, and beyond to greenery. Also bringing nature in: a pair of tennis ball-sized rosy apples stood proudly, next to an informative sign (Envy apples, cross between Braeburn and Royal Gala).
The whole Capella campus is 30 acres. All meticulously attended. Those with any sense stay long enough to enjoy the grounds, with walkways and tennis, and pools and lawns dotted with heavy-metal sculptures that must frighten the life out of beetle-like robots buzzing around to devour loose grass ends.
And of course there is time to enjoy five-month old Fiamma, a phenomenally successful André Fu all day restaurant (warning, the 120 seats inside and about half that number outside, were all taken both at dinner and breakfast – book ahead, breakfast really early and cross fingers there’s a table at lunch). This is a Mauro Colagreco restaurant and his chef on the ground is Neopolitan Antonio Corsaro, ex-Ducasse. He’s an absolute hoot, as well as a genius on the stove. Of course he kept on sending out tasters.
Open kitchen, soft brown leather menu with cream and soft orange interior, dishes like Mediterranean red prawn crudo with kumquat, and Orecchia di elefante, veal Milanese with your choice of arugula salad and fries, and a glass of an Italian wine, Ferrari Perlé 2016; Castel Giocondo Brunello de Montalcino 2017 Frescobaldi; PRA Morandina Amarone della Valpolicella 2015, and Limoncello.
Authenticity and generosity are the key words here and Antonio Corsaro has met his match. Hotel GM Yngvar Stray has generosity written on his forehead, albeit invisibly.