Marina Bay Sands (‘MBS’) is an iconic hotel and a landmark that identifies Singapore immediately. The boat shaped roof structure is a magnificent sight. Tourists (usually) flock to MBS for drinks on the roof top bars, or wander on the Sky Deck and resident guests enjoy the fabulous views from the infinity pool. Since the borders have been closed during the pandemic it has been eerily quiet there, as have the The Shoppes at MBS. As a consequence, MBS have been offering deals to Singapore residents who want a staycation. And boy, do we all need a staycation after a year of restrictions (and 3 family deaths in my case).
Our 20th Wedding Anniversary was approaching and after some discussion about the cost (even with the deal) we decided to book a 3 day, 2 night stay in a junior suite. It was our 20th Wedding Anniversary after all. We would take our 14 year old daughter with us because she has always wanted to stay there and use the infinity pool. We thought that would be lovely as she would be at school during the day leaving us alone to celebrate our Anniversary. Or so we thought.
Now Singaporeans will know what is coming next and even the best laid plans can be derailed in an instant during a pandemic.
Derailing of best laid plans
There was an air of inevitability that ‘something’ would be done about the sudden surge in Covid-19 cases in the community. Singapore had virtually no cases at all for months and suddenly there was a resurgence. It’s not entirely clear where the cases have emerged from but there are clusters from Changi airport and the Indian variant has entered Singapore.
On Friday 14th May Gov.sg announced “As of 12pm, MOH has preliminarily confirmed 24 new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 infection. Based on investigations so far, the cases are in the community, and there are no new cases in the dormitories. There are 28 imported cases, who had already been placed on Stay-Home Notice upon arrival in Singapore. In total, there are 52 new cases of COVID-19 infection in Singapore today. MOH will share further updates in its press release that will be issued later tonight.”
The cases had been rising each day and there was some uneasiness about what was going to happen. At 10.25pm that night Gov.sg announced the following:
“Further SMMs from 16 May – 13 Jun
➡️ Max 2 persons for social gatherings, up to 2 gatherings/day
➡️ Max 2 unique visitors per household/day
🏠 Grandchildren cared for by grandparents daily exempted from limit
💼 WFH default for employees able to do so
❌ F&B dining-in, wedding receptions not allowed
For solemnisations and worship services: Max 100 pax; PET required if >50 pax
⚰️ Max 20 pax at funerals at any point in time
➡️ Antigen Rapid Testing will accompany existing PCR tests for swifter detection
💪 Let’s all play our part
➡️ See a doctor early if unwell, even if vaccinated or with mild symptoms
➡️ Do not rush to supermarkets/malls, SG has adequate supply of food & essentials”
Back a step to Phase 2 with heightened measures in place for another month. Back a stage after we had come so far and the end was in sight. It was so deflating. Would this “lockdown” never end? Restricted activities for over a year. Being unable to meet in large groups for barbecues and drinks for over a year. No bars open for over a year and now we were going back a step. It was just so upsetting.
Adjusting best laid plans
We had already booked Marina Bay Sands so I immediately contacted them to see if this was still able to go ahead – clearly a lot of other people were trying to do the same. It took a very long time on hold for my call to be picked up and when it was answered the customer service agent had no idea whether the booking could proceed, as she hadn’t been updated by management, and suggested I contacted them again the next day. Not reassuring and nor appealing as I had spent so much time on hold already. I emailed them and asked for confirmation as soon as they had been updated.
I was gutted. I had planned this staycation for some time. We needed the break as well as the celebration – after 3 family deaths in a year had taken its toll on us all, and the thought of not being able to go was just about to tip me over the edge. It was just another knock back to deal with along with all the others on top of the pandemic.
The next day, MBS confirmed our staycation but with restrictions and offered to amend the date of booking. As it was our Wedding Anniversary we didn’t want to change the date, as it would make it all rather pointless frankly, so we decided to go ahead, and with the imposed restrictions.
The rule of two and the Infinity Pool
So now our Wedding Anniversary would be celebrated with our daughter in tow, as she would now be with us all the time, home schooling from the hotel. Celebrations would certainly be different now. The hotel said we could be together in the room but at all times outside the room we had to separate into two groups to comply with the new rules. (How this is supposed to prevent the spread of Covid-19 I will never know – it doesn’t make any sense at all to separate a family of 3 outside when they are together all the time inside.) As this was “enhanced measures” we were allowed to go out in twos and go shopping as retail outlets and malls were still open at reduced capacity. As it happened, my sim card broke and we had to make a trip out to replace it. (Safe Entry doesn’t work with a broken sim card!).
So when we went to our allotted one hour slot, per room per day, in the Infinity Pool, we had to separate. Gone were the plans for a family fun time, as we carefully split into two groups to observe the rules, under the beady eye of the Life guards, Safe Distance Ambassadors and security and others, some of whom were recording videos and taking pictures. We had to book in advance, receive a booking number via text message, show the text message to security, have our temperature taken and then swipe our room cards, as only one session per day was allowed.
The pool had been separated into three sections and we had to check into the section of our choice and could not leave that section once we had checked into it. The Life Guards were watching for adherence to that.
Once we were in the pool, it was enjoyable even though we had to separate as a family. The views from the Infinity Pool are spectacular. It was only a shame that we could not enjoy a cocktail on the sunbeds as well (no food or drink allowed under the enhanced measures). There was no lingering either. Once the hour was up the Life Guards blew a whistle to signal everyone was to leave the pool asap as the next batch of guests would be arriving. An hour was nowhere near long enough to enjoy this wonder sadly. The largest roof top Infinity Pool in the world deserves some time to enjoy it.
Meal on Wheels
As all restaurants (and Hawkers) were closed again, for dining in and takeaway, and delivery only available everywhere, this also scuppered our Wedding Anniversary meal plans. The hotel informed us that we could order takeaway, physically at the restaurants that were open, and take it to our rooms ourselves to consume. How incredibly romantic! We immediately dismissed that idea and simply ordered room service – which was fabulous.
Club Room Adjustments
As we were staying in a Junior Suite we were entitled to access the Club Room and its facilities. Because of the Phase Two Enhanced Measures this was now closed. As a consequence we could order those amenities via room service – so we did. We ordered canapes and cocktails the first evening and could not quite believe the array of goodies wheeled into our room along with a bottle of champagne and soft drinks. Breakfast was equally spectacular meaning we skipped lunch and went straight to Afternoon Tea which was also another fabulous array of dishes and drinks. The service was excellent, the staff friendly and welcoming and the food delicious and plentiful.
Our room overlooked the Gardens by the Bay and had a balcony to sit out on, with two small tables and chairs. It was lovely to do so in the evenings and watch the sun set over the gardens. Indeed the sunrise was equally as spectacular.
We also received a small free gift from the gift shop during our stay as well as a complimentary fruit bowl.
Would I recommend MBS?
As you would expect with a 5 star hotel, the room and facilities were excellent (and the bathroom was huge!). The staff were friendly, efficient and helpful. The views are spectacular and the pool is amazing.
Just don’t go in a pandemic, with enhanced measures, so you can’t fully enjoy everything the hotel has to offer.