Ong Chin Huat spends a weekend at the super luxurious St. Regis hotel in Singapore and is seduced by its charm and the captivating experiences on offer
Stepping into the St.Regis Singapore is to enter into another realm where elegance and restrained opulence holds court. The marble and chandelier adorned interiors of the lobby sets the tone for my entire stay at this sumptuous hotel.
Ideally situated at the end of Tanglin and beginning of Orchard Road, with a multitude of designer boutiques, plush art galleries and antique stores all within a stone’s throw. If one is to make an impressive debut into Singaporean high-society, there can be very few better addresses to stay at.
Greeted by a friendly and professional receptionist, the check-in procedure is painless and smooth, thanks to three reception desks with comfy burgundy chairs which is far better than standing at a counter filling in one’s personal details. Seamless and smooth, we were quickly led to the elevators which in turn took us up to our rooms. A sturdy velvet lined bench placed in the elevators is a thoughtful addition and provide a welcome resting place for those world-weary travellers whose legs are too tired to endure standing all the way to their room.
Upon checking-in, we were given a card containing some information on Press Reader, a nifty app which enables guests to read leading newspapers and magazines from the comfort of their smartphones and tablets when staying at the St. Regis. We were told we had to download the app for access and the reading materials are only available within the vicinity of the hotel. What an ingenious way to cut down on the bulk and save the environment as well.
A Grand Deluxe Room awaited us and the moment the door of our room was opened, we were suitably impressed – plush looking beds made up with the finest Egyptian cotton with a 300 thread count, subtle gold brocade fabrics for cushions and pillows, aesthetically pleasing padded walls with silk chinoiserie panels, beige carpeting and the trademark chandeliers, not just in the rooms but also in the bathrooms as well. Breaking the monotony of the beige and light gold colour scheme is a curved burgundy sofa and drapes, a nice pop of a rich and muted colour which brightens and adds cheer to our comfortable room.
After a quick unpack, and the help of the St. Regis butler service, we met with Jackson Sim, the senior digital marketing manager who was accompanied by a St. Regis butler for a unique and exclusive St. Regis speciality – The Art of Living Tour. This short interactive tour is held every evening in the hotel and explains to the participants about all the important artworks scattered around the hotel’s public areas.
As with other St. Regis hotels around the world, the St. Regis Singapore possesses valuable and important art pieces and it houses one of the finest private art collections in Asia. The art collection comprises of over 100 original paintings and sculptures by world famous artists such as Fernando Botero, Marc Chagall, Joan Miro, Frank Gehry, Gu Gan as well as Singaporean pioneering artists such as Chen Wen His and Georgette Chen. There were even original Picasso lithographs hanging on the wall of the Astor Bar, the ideal place if any, to hang any art work by the co-founder of the Cubist movement. Each piece has been carefully selected and chosen to complement the hotels stunning interiors and the result is clearly evident. The St. Regis Singapore is a living museum and pays tribute to the artistic and cultural heritage of not just the city it exists in but the four corners of the globe where their guests hail from.
After this eye-opening and informative art tour, we retired to the Astor Bar, so named after the founder of the original St. Regis in New York, John Jacob Astor IV. To quench our thirst, we order a St. Regis original, the Bloody Mary, and its local counterpart, the Chilli Padi Mary.
Invented over 75 years ago in the King Cole Bar in the St. Regis New York, the Bloody Mary has been part of St. Regis history since 1934 when bartender Fernand Petiot introduced the “Red Snapper” which later became known as the Bloody Mary. The famed cocktail was created when Serge Obolensky, a well-known man about town, asked bartender Petiot to make the vodka cocktail he had while visiting Paris. The cocktail was spiced up with salt, pepper, lemon and Worcestershire Sauce but as “Bloody Mary” was deemed too vulgar for the St. Regis’s elegant King Cole Bar, so it was rechristened to the “Red Snapper.” The drink caught on and gained a large following, alas the name did not, but over the years it still became a signature cocktail of the King Cole Bar at the St. Regis New York.
Singapore’s offering, the Chilli Padi Mary is part of the St. Regis World Collection Bloody Mary menu which pays tribute to the regional influences of St. Regis destinations worldwide. Inspired by Singapore’s culinary heritage, the spicy Chilli Padi Mary is an inventive recipe that is described as a modern and contemporary adaptation of the original Bloody Mary. Tangy, spicy and hot with an Asian twist, I found it even fierier than the original Bloody Mary, but it was something which my taste buds could adapt to quickly, possibly because of the vodka present which numbed the heat receptors on my tongue. My pleasant and amiable cocktail hour companion, Jackson Sim, who was ever ready with informative tid-bits, told me that the cocktail substituted chilli padi ( a small and extremely spicy chilli popular in the South-East Asian region), old Chinese ginger and lemon grass for Worcestershire and Tabasco sauce. Definitely not for the shrinking violet, Chilli Padi Mary also uses fresh organic cherry tomatoes instead of canned tomato juice.
As a prelude to dinner, I found the Chilli Padi Mary was a perfect aperitif as it stimulates one’s appetite for more food. A Mediterranean Seafood Barbecue was planned for us at LaBrezza, a delectable restaurant serving casual trattoria-style cuisine. Located by the swimming pool, diners can elect to sit in the cosy cabanas with billowing white curtains overlooking the serene pool. It appeared we were in luck as the barbecue was only on offer on Friday evenings. Feasting on char-grilled lobsters, salmon, tuna, scallops and prawns complete with roasted vegetables, there was also an Antipasti buffet which offered mozzarella and tomato caprese, 24-month old cured Parma ham, a selection of gourmet Italian cheeses and an oyster bar with freshly cooked seafood on ice. For meat lovers, beef sirloin, lamb chop and chicken is also on offer.
Waking up for breakfast is usually a drudge but when it’s at the enticing Brasserie Les Saveurs at the St. Regis Hotel Singapore , it’s something to look forward to
As the signature restaurant of the St. Regis Hotel Singapore, Brasserie Les Saveurs has the ambience of an aristocratic European mansion and is the most dignified way to begin your day.
With its opulent décor reminiscent of a well-appointed drawing room of European nobility, the spread of breakfast includes both European and Asian choices. I opted for the St. Regis Epicurean Omelette which consists of lobster and prawn, lobster bisque and a side of arugula salad with avruga pearls which was perfect with my Virgin Mary (there was no Bloody Mary for breakfast!).
After a leisurely breakfast, it was time for my spa appointment. The award-winning Remède Spa located on Level 2 of the hotel and is the first Remède Spa outside the US. Popular with both hotel guests and local socialites, the Remède Spa is an urban oasis of tranquillity and a sanctuary for the senses. With a design elements within the spa which is inspired by water and the various stages of water formation, the Remède Spa has raised the standards for spas in the region and distinguishes itself from other Asian-inspired spas with its sleek marble-clad interiors as well as the cool brilliance of a specially-commissioned crystal chandelier suspended above the reception area, which symbolises the formation of stalactites.
An extensive bespoke menu of body pampering massages and skin beautifying treatments on offer makes it difficult for any spa-goer to make a choice. Among the treatments which caught my eye include the Warm Jade Stone Massage and the White Cellular Brightening Facial Treatment. However being pushed for time, I opted for the Perfect Synergy Treatment which combines a customised facial and a Bastien Gonzalez pedicure. The Padi:Mani:Cure Studio by Bastien Gonzalez is housed exclusively in the Remède Spa of the St. Regis Hotel Singapore and features world-renowned hand and foot treatments specially designed and created by French Podiatrist Bastien Gonzalez, also known as the Foot Virtuoso.
I made sure to go to the Remède Spa a little early to relax and enjoy the facilities in the Wet Lounge. With unique facilities such as the Cedarwood Finnish Saunas, Eucalyptus Scented Steam Chambers and the Ice Fountains; I tried out the outdoor foot reflexology path before relaxing on the warm infrared-heated white marble loungers in front of the Jacuzzi while waiting for my appointment. When it was time for my treatment, I was ushered into the cosy treatment room and Steve Desobeau and Cathleen Chang greeted me and performed their magic. Combining two signature Remède Spa treatments in a perfectly synchronised four-hands indulgence, both my pedicure and facial was performed by Steve and Cathleen in tandem, saving time as well as killing two birds with one stone. In 75 minutes, which is the duration of this four-hands treatment, I had both a facial and pedicure, a perfect solution for the time-challenged socialite or business executive. According to Desobeau, who is also the manager for Bastien Gonzalez’s Studio, lots of his clients like the fact that the pedicure is combined with a facial which saves a lot of time. With the use of a scalpel and drill plus Desobeau’s gentle and expert hands, he restored my feet to the baby-soft skin I was born with and reshaped and polished my toe nails to a sheen I felt proud enough to show-off in a pair of Havaianas. After this treatment, I felt renewed and refreshed and left Remède Spa on cloud nine.
Civilised and refined, the Grand Astor Afternoon Tea at Brasserie Les Saveurs is inspired by Caroline Astor, the grand dame of New York high society who also happened to be the mother of the founder of St. Regis New York. With a fine selection of sweet or savoury items to tempt you, the freshly-baked scones which consist of the classic variety as well as those with Pesto Parmesan, blackcurrant, lemon, Pistacchio or Perrigord Black Summer Truffles deserve special mention. Other enticing treats include hand-made waffles and crêpes prepared a la minute, pastries and cakes as well as local specialities such as an assortment of Nonya Kuehs (local cakes). An attendant chef made me a delicious savoury crêpe filled with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella.
A three-tiered silver stand filled with delicious finger sandwiches, quiches, profiteroles, éclairs and fruit tarts was served to our table together with a choice of TWG speciality teas.
No Sunday will be complete without the Weekend Dim Sum Brunch at Yan Ting, St. Regis’s signature Chinese restaurant serving fine Cantonese cuisine. Chef Tony Wun who hails from Hong Kong, has outdone himself with his skilful mastery of authentic Cantonese food and not surprisingly Yan Ting has become a favourite place for prominent and high society families from Singapore to gather for Sunday brunch. The Dim Sum brunch starts off with a serving of Double-boiled Fresh Abalone Soup with Black Garlic followed by Wok-baked Boston Lobster with Superior Soup. With the free-flow of “R” de Ruinart Brut champagne to complement the food, you can choose from a wide selection of Dim Sum dishes available. We had Steamed Crystal Shrimp Dumplings with Bamboo Pith and the Barbecued Pork with Honey Glaze, Roasted Duck, Soya Sauce Chicken and Crispy Roasted Pork. The champagne went perfectly with the light and delicate flavours of the Dim Sum dishes which were followed with Deep-Fried Live ‘Soon Hock’ fish and Sweet and Sour Pork with Trio-Coloured Pepper and Pineapple. The Poached Spinach with Trio-Coloured Eggs was done just right with the freshness of the spinach preserved perfectly while the Wok-fried Jasmine Rice with Prawn was neither oily nor dry.
The Refreshing Aloe Vera Jelly with Fresh Fruits was a nice way to end this wonderful Sunday meal as well as one of the most enjoyable weekends I’ve spent in Singapore.
The St. Regis Singapore is located at 29 Tanglin Road, Singapore 247911 Tel: (65) 6506 6888
For further information, please visit www.stregissingapore.com