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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).