Singapore’s rejuvenated resort island Sentosa is attracting corporate as well as leisure visitors, says Jimmy Yap

For many years, Sentosa, the small island at Singapore’s southern tip, was a sleepy tourist spot whose anaemic attractions struggled to keep visitors. Not any more. About a decade ago, new management made Sentosa more accessible by adding a road to the island and lowering entry rates. However, it is the launch of Resorts World Sentosa early this year that has put it back in the spotlight.

Resorts World is a 49-hectare property owned by Malaysia’s Genting Singapore. Its chief attraction is a 15,000 sqm casino, which has more than 500 tables offering a range of games. It also has a stage for live performances, a bar and restaurants serving local food.

As Singapore’s first legal casino (the second, Marina Bay Sands, opens officially in Marina South in central Singapore this month), Resorts World is attracting many tourists as well as gamblers from around the region. The venue attracted some 60,000 people within three days of it opening on February 14, and more than 149,000 by the end of the first week. People who enjoy a flutter can get whisked straight there from Changi airport, and for visitors to the city-state, entry is free. In contrast, to dampen the enthusiasm of locals, the government has stipulated that Singaporeans and permanent residents pay a daily levy of S$100 (£47) or an annual levy of S$2,000 (£955).

Resorts World is also home to the 20-hectare Universal Studios Singapore, the company’s second theme park to open in Asia (after Osaka, Japan) and the first in South East Asia. It opened on March 18 and has 24 attractions, including the world’s tallest duelling roller coaster.

Robin Goh, assistant director of communications for Resorts World, expects the theme park to draw in the meetings and incentives crowd too. “It’s closed to the public in the evening, meaning the various restaurants and attractions are available for private events,” he says.

The rest of the resort is devoted to six hotels totalling 1,840 rooms, as well as other attractions. Of the six, four are already open – Crockfords Tower, Hotel Michael, Festive hotel and the Hard Rock hotel. Crockfords, located just above the casino, is an all-suite property reserved for high-rollers, VIPs and royalty. Festive is more family-oriented, while the other two are the ones business travellers are likely to gravitate to.

Hotel Michael, named after designer and architect Michael Graves, is an 11-storey, 470-room “boutique” property. Graves’ stamp is on everything, from the guestrooms’ honey-coloured maple walls to the circular blue mosaic showers. It has two bars, a Tuscan restaurant called Palio and a contemporary Chinese eatery, Chinois, helmed by executive chef Susur Lee.

The Hard Rock hotel is likely to be popular with convention planners as it has 26 meeting rooms, as well as the Compass ballroom, a column-free space that seats up to 7,300 people. For dining, there is Starz on level two – open 7.30am-10.30pm, it specialises in a Sunday brunch with free-flowing Laurent-Perrier champagne for S$108 (£52). The remaining two hotels, Equarius and Spa Villas, are due to open some time after 2010, although specific dates have not yet been announced.

Those in need of retail therapy will find the usual high-end names at the Resorts World Galleria, including Alfred Dunhill, Bulgari, Chopard, Jimmy Choo and Shanghai Tang. Restaurants due to have opened by June included three outlets by chef Joël Robuchon – La Table de Joël Robuchon, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon and the Pastry Shop and Lounge. (Robuchon currently has 20 dining establishments worldwide, boasting 25 Michelin stars between them.)

Japanese haute cuisine is represented by Kunio in Crockfords Tower, which was opened by four-star Michelin chef Kunio Tokuoka on May 2, while Australian chef Scott Webster has brought contemporary Australian cuisine to his eatery Osia, also in the tower.

Other facilities on the way are ESPA wellness sanctuary, built at the western-most tip of the resort, a water park, a marine life park that will be the world’s largest oceanarium, and a maritime museum. Several permanent shows are also in the works, including Voyage de la Vie at the Festive hotel and the water-based Crane Dance, which will involve 15-storey high mechanical cranes performing in the waters off the island every evening.

While Resorts World is Sentosa’s new jewel in the crown, there is plenty going on elsewhere on the island. Sentosa has seven other hotels – the most recent to open is Capella Singapore in March last year, a six-star, 111-room hotel designed by Lord Norman Foster. It is located on 12 hectares of secondary rainforest and borders Sentosa Golf Club’s two 18-hole courses.

Other business-friendly hotels are the 215-room Sentosa Resort and Spa, and the 121-room Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, which is set amid tropical gardens. Plus, coming up at the end of the year is the Movenpick Sentosa, a 191-room property with a ballroom for 320 delegates and a high-end Chinese restaurant.

Eateries on the island include private dining at 35 Artillery, which serves contemporary European cuisine, Cassia for Chinese (in Capella Singapore), Il Lido for Italian, Si bon and Nogawa for Japanese, Thanying for Thai, and the Cliff at Sentosa resort and spa for gourmet cuisine al fresco.

Sentosa also has a wide range of other attractions that provide exciting options for corporate groups. Wave House Sentosa is a S$15 million (£7.8 million) artificial wave centre that offers the experience of surfing in a three-storey complex. The highlight is the Wave, which can simulate a three-metre swell for those who like surfing but haven’t got the time to slip off to the beaches of Indonesia. Meanwhile, wake boarders and thrill seekers can head for the Azzura Hydro Sports Centre, which offers rides on banana boats and “flying fish” (an inflatable towed behind a speeding boat that rises into the air).

The Megazip Adventure Park is for true adrenaline junkies. It features a 75-metre high, 450-metre long zip line that hurtles you at a maximum speed of 50km per hour. If that isn’t hair-raising enough, there is a three-level obstacle course that is a vertigo-inducing 12 metres above the ground, as well as a 15-metre high Para Jump that replicates the feeling of free-fall parachuting.

Lastly, opening by the end of the year is iFly Singapore, said to be the world’s largest skydiving simulator. This transparent vertical wind tunnel offers a flying height of 17 metres and simulates the effects of skydiving, while at the same time offering a view of the South China Sea and Sentosa’s Siloso Beach.

Thanks to the land bridge between Singapore and Sentosa, getting to and from the island is now possible by car or taxi, while a monorail service links it to the Vivo City mall. So there’s no excuse for not paying a visit if you have some free time between meetings.


The Club, a boutique hotel by Harry’s Hospitality (also known for its chain of Harry’s bars), was set to open in May on Ann Siang Road. It has 22 rooms, a tapas bar, an outdoor terrace, sky bar and two meeting venues. Visit

Studio M, from the Millennium and Copthorne Hotels, opened on Nanson Road in March. It has 365 rooms, a 25-metre pool, a bar, an Italian-style café and al fresco Japanese dining at Take. Visit

Wanderlust, a member of Design Hotels, will be the epitome of industrial glam when it opens in July in the Little India district with 29 rooms. It’s being fashioned from a series of old shophouses. Visit

The Fullerton Bay hotel, located at Clifford Pier, the landing point for Singapore’s early settlers in the 17th and 18th centuries, will open later this year with 100 rooms. Visit



Klapsons the Boutique hotel, a member of the Design Hotels collection, is a unique annexe to Tower 15 at the southern end of the central business district, writes Margie T Logarta. It opened last summer and has a philosophy of challenging benchmarks, which is clearly seen in many of the public spaces, boasting striking design and iconic furniture such as the Moraine bench by Zaha Hadid.

Expect the unexpected in each of the 17 guestrooms, no two of which are alike. On the first floor is Lucas, a grill that serves up classic dishes with a modern twist. Signature dishes include the 14-day dry-aged prime US beef cuts, grilled blue-fin tuna and dark chocolate mousse.
15 Hoe Chiang Road; tel +65 6521 9030;,


The aluminium cylindrical façade immediately proclaims this 41-room hotel, open since December, as unusual. And this impression continues inside, where a flora and fauna theme is brought out in a stunning collection of original artwork.

Rooms come with king-size or twin Sealy Posturepedic beds, luxurious linens, goose-feather down duvets, pillow menus, free wifi, 37-inch flatscreen TVs, DVD players, iPod docking stations, electronic safes, and selected drinks from the minibar free. The bathrooms feature views of the city. Visit Nectar for modern Asian cuisine and Halo on the rooftop for martinis. 231 Outram Road; tel +65 6595 1388;


Located in Outram, the 12-storey, two-year-old hotel’s retro décor transports guests to the funky scene of the 1960s and ’70s. The 140 rooms feature LCD TVs, wifi access, and accent walls with silhouettes of icons such as Marilyn Monroe and James Bond. In keeping with the property’s moniker, the restaurant is called Refill (for international cuisine), the spa is Refresh, and the function spaces are Reunion (for up to 120 people), Rejoice (for up to 500), Retune and Recall (20 in each). 175A Chin Swee Road; tel +65 6827 8288;


?    Through a service called Wireless@SG you can get free wifi at most cafés and malls around town. Sign up at and you can be online from your laptop or smartphone. You will need to input your mobile number to register.

?    Orchard Road is home to a staggering amount of high-end shopping centres. The latest to open are the Ion Orchard and 313@Somerset. Ngee Ann City is older, but is still one of the largest malls in Singapore – you could spend the whole afternoon in here, if only you had the time…

?    There is no shortage of art galleries, museums and theatre performances in the city. The Singapore Art Museum ( is well known for its collection of contemporary South East Asian work, while the National Museum of Singapore ( offers exhibitions on everything from food to fashion. The Esplanade ( is an arts centre with a world-class concert hall, theatre and event spaces.

?    Singapore has a reputation for excellence in medicine and people from around the region fly here for specialist treatment. For this reason, if you are here on business, you might consider a medical check-up. Private hospitals such as Mount Elizabeth, Gleneagles and Raffles are good options. Ask your hotel concierge to help you get an appointment.