WHAT’S IT LIKE? Originally opened in 1986, the Marina Mandarin was designed by John Portman and underwent a US$28 million refurbishment in late 2005. As with many of Portman’s buildings, it has a large open atrium throughout its 21 storeys from which you can access the 575 rooms and suites. The five-star property is managed by Meritus Hotels and Resorts, and is the only member of the Leading Hotels of the World group in Singapore. The front desk is located on the fourth floor, although for Club floors check-in can be done in the Club lounge, or in-room for regular guests. I was on a very late flight so check-in was done in my room with bags arriving before I had signed in.
WHERE IS IT? Directly opposite Suntec Convention Centre and the Esplanade with easy access to Marina Square Shopping Mall.
HOW MANY ROOMS? 575, including 209 Deluxe, 144 Executive Deluxe, 144 Premier, 52 Meritus Club and 22 suites.
ROOM FACILITIES: All rooms are the same size, and have wired and wireless internet access, but the furnishing and the facilities/amenities vary. For example, Club Rooms are furnished in a more modern style and have espresso machines, surround-sound systems with DVD players, free internet access, bathrooms with six-jet power showers, and Crabtree and Evelyn toiletries. They also benefit from access to the lounge on the 21st floor, which includes three complimentary computer terminals, a number of sitting areas, two-hour use of a boardroom, and free drinks, breakfast and appetisers. Unlike many lounges this one has a kitchen, so you can see your food being prepared and ensure your eggs are done to your liking.
I was staying in an Executive Deluxe Room – a category which was introduced in August 2007. It is essentially a Deluxe room but enhanced with new finishes and furniture. The main differences are a larger work area with built-in multi-region power sockets and broadband cable, an ergonomic chair, six hours of free broadband access and a 32-inch flat-screen TV. The marble bathroom features a walk-in shower, bath and two basins with own-brand toiletries. The room has illuminated wooden panels and decorative light screens with pressed orchids inside, which result in a well-lit room for work, but without direct bright lights. There is also a comfy chair and coffee table for relaxing, and should you want to escape the air conditioning there is a very small balcony. With a safe, minibar, ironing board and tea and coffee-making facilities provided as standard, it is a well thought-out room for business travellers.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS: Aquamarine on level four is the main restaurant and serves extensive buffets for breakfast, lunch and dinner. If, like me, you are concerned about your lack of willpower and don’t want a buffet, there is a good all-day dining menu offering international and Asian dishes. Ristorante Bologna on the other side of the atrium serves typical Italian fare with an outside terrace complete with waterfall, making a beautiful location for a reception or an alfresco meal. Peach Blossoms on level five serves Cantonese food and excellent dim sum. Its deserts were unusual and I was particularly impressed by the avocado and sago cream with walnut and vanilla ice cream. For drinks and snacks there is the Atrium Lounge and Pool Garden, and of course 24-hour room service. If you want to host a special function each restaurant has an area where the chef’s table is. Here you can have a custom-created meal introduced by the chef himself, with paired wine starting from US$70 per head.
BUSINESS FACILITIES: The executive centre on level six is open 24 hours and has complimentary refreshments, meeting rooms and modern computer terminals, as well as the usual services. Also on the sixth floor are eight meeting rooms (all with natural daylight) capable of holding up to 40 theatre-style, and on the fifth floor is a ballroom for functions of up to 300 people. If you need a bigger room, the ballroom on the ground floor can cater for up to 700, and with five other rooms just nearby it creates a very flexible space. Events can also be held outside by the swimming pool or on the terrace by Ristorante Bologna as described above.
LEISURE FACILITIES: The well-equipped fitness centre and 25-metre mineral water pool (purified by the NASA Carefree Ionisation system so there is not too much chlorine) are located on the fifth floor. Both are open 24 hours a day and are accessible with your keycard. The St Gregory Spa, which was launched in 2006, is on level five and has seven treatment rooms. Its signature treatment is Chinese acupressure massage (Tui-Na).
PRICE: Internet nightly rate for an Executive Deluxe King is US$211.45 excluding tax and service charge, for a weekday stay in early May.
VERDICT: A conveniently located hotel with good facilities, restaurants and service.
CONTACT: The Marina Mandarin, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square, Singapore, tel 65 6845 1000, marina-mandarin.com.sg