Capella Singapore: A Retreat Away from the Urban Jungle

Posted on October 2, 2015 by

A retreat at Capella

Singapore is a special place for me. It’s where I was born and raised, and where I spent almost 20 years of my life.

Regardless of how much time I’ve been away, Singapore is and always will be my home.

Every time I go back, there’s always something new to explore — be it a new museum, park or hip district.

On my recent trip back home, I discovered a beautiful corner that is close to the city, yet feels like a world away.

An Oasis in an Urban Jungle

Capella Singapore is a secret corner of Singapore that we didn’t know existed until now.

The heritage hotel is located on Sentosa, a small islet off the southern tip of Singapore. The name Sentosa actually means “peace and tranquility” in Malay and indeed it’s one of the few pockets of nature left in Singapore. Since I was a child, Sentosa has been a place where Singaporeans love to escape to on weekends or on vacation.

The islet barely covers an area of 5 square km (1.9 sq miles), but 70% of it is covered by secondary rainforest inhabited by monitor lizards and monkeys. Since the 1970s, Sentosa has been developed into an entertainment hub, with theme parks, resorts and mega casinos built to attract tourists. Despite that, environmental impact was kept at a minimum with over two hundred trees replanted elsewhere on the island.

Of all the resorts that have been built on Sentosa, Capella Singapore is one of the newest and most highly acclaimed.

Capella Singapore pool

Built on 30 acres of lush rainforest, the resort’s peaceful setting on a knoll surrounded by the South China Sea makes it feel like an an oasis tucked far away from the urban jungle. In reality, it’s just a 5-minute drive away from mainland Singapore and another 10 minutes to the palpitating heart of the city.

The architecture of Capella is another element that has given the hotel such high accolades in Asia. The bold design of contrasting old and new is unique and refreshing, and is a great display of Singapore’s British colonial past and its modern, edgy present. The architects behind this masterpiece, Foster + Partners, have ingeniously woven the best of old and new, the natural and the designed into an artful assemblage.

It’s no wonder Capella has been named TripAdvisor Traveller’s Choice as the #1 luxury hotel in Singapore in 2014 and 2015 and listed in Forbes Travel Guide’s Five Star Hotels collection year after year.

Capella Singapore

The Story Behind Capella Singapore

Once arriving at the drive way of Capella, you’ll get a strong sense of its history.

The main lobby of Capella is housed in two white colonial buildings dating back to the 1880s. They’ve been named Tanah Merah, or “red earth” in Malay.

This was where the British Officers of the Royal Artillery and their families used to live and enjoy recreational activities like dancing, tennis and dining.

From these two buildings, there’s a good view of Singapore harbor. It was a tradition for the officers and their families to welcome in the new year with the loud horning from the ships in the harbour.

Legend has it that in the last days before the British surrendered on 15 Feb 1942, the British officers quickly buried their silver in the lawn in front of the buildings. Part of the silver was recovered in Port Dickson in Malaysia in 1950 but the whereabouts of the rest is still unknown, and possibly still lying under the lawn right here in Capella Singapore.

Capella Singapore's colonial building

Historical Heritage Meets Contemporary Designs

Today, these British colonial buildings have been restored to their original glory, beaming with the kind of grandeur from yesteryears.

The grand entrance features white French doors, with detailed crowned mouldings, arched walkways and terracotta roofs. Inside, the vaulted ceilings hold wooden planks while the floor has been replaced by sparkling marble to give that elegant look. Victorian style sofas, antique chest boxes, abstract art and beautiful orchid flowers all combine to create a plush atmosphere in the hotel’s reception.

Capella Singapore's reception

Leaving the main lobby behind, you’ll find yourself instantly transported to the modern era amidst the curved, contemporary buildings that gently intermingle with both the colonial buildings and the verdant, vibrant rainforest. Splashed in brick red colors and grey granite stoned walls, these extensions are made to blend with the natural surroundings and to run with the earthy theme.

All of the 112 rooms, suites, villas and manors are immaculately designed with touches of Asia infused with ultra-slick contemporary designs to give Capella Singapore character. The slick lines, abstract artwork and sophisticated furnishing definitely provide the standards you would expect in a five-star hotel. With a waterfront location, the hotel is also built in such a way that all their rooms face the South China Sea and many of the suites (especially on the higher floor) have got stunning views of the harbor.

The rooms here are also some of the biggest hotel rooms in Singapore, with the smallest room starting at 77 square meters. Our Sentosa Suite is divided into three sections: the living area with a daybed and writing desk, the bedroom, and the enormous open-concept bathroom. The furnishing includes polished teak tables, velvet upholstery, Pratesi linen with an Oriental flair. The bathroom is outrageously big, with a rainforest shower area and a massive bathtub that’s separated from the balcony with a ceiling-to-floor glass window (that can be dimmed for privacy).

Our Sentosa Suite

 

Another feature I really love about the hotel is its in-room amenities and how ultra modern they are. All of their rooms are equipped with bedside touch panel control for lighting, aircondition and drapes. There are also two 46-inch flat screen TVs – one in the bedroom and the other in the living area. The state-of-the-art technology are definitely the most advanced I’ve seen in any hotel — and that is truly impressive (judging by the amount of hotels I’ve stayed in).

Here at Capella Singapore, there’s plenty of outdoor lounging space, especially at the beautiful two-tiered pool area overlooking the harbor and lush rainforest. Tiled with turquoise slate, the pools have a natural element that aligns with everything else in the hotel. The higher-level pool is an adults-only area while the bigger lower-level pool is reserved for families.

The villas and manors all feature private plunge pools, so generally you’ll find the pool rather quiet – just the way we like it. The only companions you’ll find are probably the resident peacocks who are often roaming around freely in the hotel gardens.

The hotel's two tiered pools

A Personal Touch

I’ve already swooned over the cool architecture of the hotel as well as its beachfront location and the space and privacy it provides. Its personal service is another thing that really won me over.

Every guest at the hotel is assigned a Capella Personal Assistant (a feature that every Capella hotel has) who will contact you before you arrive to help fashion your stay and also help you with anything you need during your time there — whether it’s making a spa reservation or providing suggestions for dining choices.

We found our personal assistant very helpful. She was quick to respond to my enquiries and acted promptly to my request on things I needed for the baby. We also got plenty of help when Baby Kaleya got a slight fever during our stay there. A medical staff was sent to our room, and he gave us a thermometer and fever pad, and advised us what to do if it got worse. Luckily she recovered quickly thanks to everyone who helped.

If I have to think of something that’s missing from Capella Singapore, it would probably be a more resort feel. The interior design of the hotel is stunning, but it gives the sensation of a very formal, luxury hotel in the city. With the hotel being in the rainforest and surrounded by the sea, I would have thought they would add in more elements of the beach and nature.

A great place for the baby

Conclusion

All in all, Capella Singapore was an excellent place for us to kick back, treat ourselves and immerse in the little nature that’s left in Singapore. I got to learn a chapter of my own country’s history and take the time to explore my old stomping ground, Sentosa.

It felt like a true escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and best of all, we didn’t have to go far.


More Information

How to get there:

Capella Singapore stands close to the entrance of Sentosa and is accessible by the Sentosa Express train. The hotel also provides free transfers to and from Resorts World, Vivocity and Habourfront MRT.

What to do there:

There are plenty of things to do in Sentosa, from beach bumming along Tanjong beach to hanging out at Universal Studios with your family and shopping at Resorts World. It’s also just a 10-minute drive to the city center where you can visit Marina Bayfront or simply wander along Orchard Road.

Where to eat:

Capella Singapore offers different types of dining choices, with their modern Chinese restaurant Cassia offering Oriental fine-dining and The Knolls serving up casual Mediterranean cuisine. By night, Bob’s Bar also comes alive with some Cuban music and exotic cocktails. Guests staying at the suites, villas and manors also have free access to the high tea served in the main hotel building, between 3-5pm everyday.

If you want to eat out, I recommend heading to nearby Resorts World to try the Malaysian Food Street for some authentic hawker fare (albeit at tourist prices) or Ding Tai Fung Restaurant for the best dumplings in town.

Hotel Rates:

Daily rates range from S$664 (US$460) for a premium room to S$8,000+ (US$5,500+) for a colonial manor (with three bedrooms). Our Sentosa Suite is priced at S$1300 (US$906) per night. These rates include breakfast at The Knolls Restaurant. Check the hotel’s website for a full list of their rates.


Disclaimer: My stay was made possible by Capella Singapore, but all opinions are my own.

About Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is a professional travel writer and blogger with a special interest in off-grid destinations and adventure travel. Her mission is to visit every country in the world. In her quest, she's climbed an active volcano in Iceland, swam with sealions in the Galapagos, built a school in Tanzania, waddled with penguins in Antarctica, crossed into North Korea and drank beer in Palestine.

One Response to “Capella Singapore: A Retreat Away from the Urban Jungle”

  1. Andi October 3, 2015 9:29 am #

    Looks so beautiful!

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