Today’s trendiest luxury hotels are into art in a big way. At Fullerton Bay, Singapore, the extended lobby has this amazing three-dimension piece, nearly nine feet tall – it is oil and metal, and hanging in front are different white porcelain shapes. The artists, Anthony Davy and Helen Poon, call it Pages of the Past, by D’Art. The gal calls it the unique thing hanging behind a manager’s desk in the lobby. But this hotel, part of the whole Fullerton Heritage complex, is unique in many ways. The lobby twists and turns because you enter what was Clifford Pier warehouse, turn right down a shiny tiled walkway and after 50 yards turn left, and then right, and you find the elevators.
Clifford Pier was named for Sir Hugh Charles Clifford, Governor of Singapore 1927-1929. The architect, Frank Dorrington Ward, working for the Public Works Department, also did Changi Prison. Here he made the stone entrance to the pier warehouse in Art Deco style, with Mesopotamian ziggurats. It opened June 7th, 1933 as the pier for ferries to the southern islands and it operated as such until 2006. On June 7th, 2013, a ceremonial party was held, to unveil a fascinating exhibition of reminiscences and history that will run for some months to come.
The Pier warehouse is still there. On the site of adjacent buildings, built right out over the water, a seven floor rectangular construction, with open centre, is what is now the 100-room Fullerton Bay Hotel. Room corridors skirt around the open centre, which give some pretty extraordinary reflections. But this hotel is all about water. On the rooftop there is a big pool that seems to attract frolickers as well as swimmers all day long. From every one of the bedrooms, all of which have yard-wide terraces, you look down at water. The rooms have lots of mirrors, lots of windows.
At meals, in the Clifford Room or the Landing Point or up on the rooftop, you look out at water, and down at water. Sometimes I think the hotel will break from its moorings and float away, in a haze of nostalgia. It might be very modern but here is a display of old steamer trunks, there is a book on the history of Singapore, by Mark Ravinder Frost and Yu-Mei Balasingamchow (it sits, in room 0409, alongside other enormous coffee-table books, including one on Chopard. I lie in the bathrub, sweetened with bathsalts, Chopard on the ledge – and look out over water.
I take the room corridor on the fourth floor, and look across to reflections on the opposite wall, and think what a kaleidoscope vista is presented. While waiting for the elevator, I note that a bowl of apples sits on top of an antique-look Chinese chest. Back in my room I have old China pots on shelves next to padded-fabric wall panels, showing Chinese pots. A big orchid plant stands nearby, in a deep purple hue.
Purple and water, in alphabetical order, could well be the logo of this luxury hotel – come to think of it purple water is the name of Asprey’s scent and toiletries.. (here, they used Bulgari’s red tea toiletries, indicated by the colour of the stoppers). At breakfast in Clifford I am brought an energiser, which exactly matches the orchids around. And of course there is lots of water immediately outside. This is a very stylish abode.