Ship Ahoy!

Love it or leave it – you are either into Singapore or you're not. Here you can get fined for almost everything you do, say, for dropping cigarette butts, for bringing in chewing gum or for taking food to the subway. But where else in the world would they build a hotel like the Marina Bay Sands?

Marina Bay is an area located at the Southern tip of the Singapore peninsula. It covers 360 hectares. In case you wonder what was there before … not a run-down residential area, no grassland, but – the sea. The area has been reclaimed from the sea, a project which had already started way back in the 1970’s. The surrounding landscape and seascape has been thouroughly „redesigned“ during the process. On September 28, 2008, the first Singapore Grand Prix of the Formula 1 took place on a street circuit through Marina Bay. Not only was this a spectacular event by itself, it was literally flooded by light. So for the first time in history a Formula 1 race was held at night.

The heart of Marina Bay and its main attraction is, of course, the gigantic entertainment, gaming, shopping and hotel complex called Marina Bay Sands. It may not be exactly beautiful, but it is definitely a spectacular building, and certainly the boldest architectural venture ever built in a city which is not known for being unduly modest when it comes to competing with fellow Asian metropolises Kuala Lumpur, Seoul, Shanghai, Beijing or Tokyo. Las Vegas Sands Corp. invested no less than US-$ 5,7 billion in the enterprise, inclusive of land cost. The Marina Bay Sands is situated on 15,5 hectares of land with a built-up area of 581,400 square meters. It was designed by by renowned Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie whose most famous buildings include the Habitat 67 at the Expo 1967 in Montréal, the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the new Central Museum at Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial in Jerusalem, and the plantages tower in Toronto. Legend has it that Safdie was inspired by a deck of cards when he designed the Marina Bay Sands. The construction of the complex commenced in early 2007, the opening was scheduled for 2009 but had to be postponed several times due to the lack of building material and qualified construction workers. The global financial crisis added to the investors’ worries. On April 27, 2010, the Marina Bay Sands was finally officially opened – and stormed by the public as one would have expected.

The Marina Bay Sands hotel has three 55-story towers with 2,561 luxury rooms and suites. The three towers are capped by the Sands SkyPark on the 57th story (191 metres above the ground), which offers 360-degree views of Singapore’s skyline. It is home to restaurants, lush gardens, the world’s largest public cantilever housing an observation deck, and – probably its major attraction – an infinity edged swimming pool which is no less than 146 metres long. The Sands Expo and Convention Center can host over 45,000 delegates and has 250 meeting rooms. It features Southeast Asia’s biggest ballroom, which can accommodate 6,600 people for a banquet, and up to 11,000 for an auditorium-style lecture. The Shopping Area at Marina Bay Sands has close to 800,000 square feet of retail and dining space. Luxury retailers include all the usual suspects from Hermès to Chanel, from Gucci to Yves St-Laurent, as well as Austrian stockings designer Wolford. Marina Bay Sands offers more than 50 dining choices. These include celebrity-chef restaurants helmed by Mario Batali, (New York), Daniel Boulud (New York), Wolfgang Puck (Los Angeles), Santi Santamaria (Barcelona), Guy Savoy (Paris), Tetsuya Wakuda (Sydney) and Justin Quek (Singapore).

In case you still have money left, you can visit the Marina Bay Sands entertainment area consisting of nightclubs, the ArtScience Museum which has a lotus-inspired design and features blockbuster exhibitions from around the world., two theatres offering a total of about 4,000 seats, and a casino covering four stories and offering no less than 600 tables and more than 1,500 slot machines. Feeling exhausted? Take a stroll along the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade, and you will enjoy 3,5 kilometres of natural scenery plus a fantastic view of the city from every spot on the way. And, yes, one shouldn’t forget to mention that the Marina Bay Sands employs close to 10,000 people.