Lee Sutton, head of PR for Asia for Marriott, emailed to say she had a surprise for us in Singapore and would we like to come down for the weekend?
So last Friday, Tan and I arrived from Bangkok on Thai Air Asia . I always experience a spring in my step when I get here the same feeling of freedom I have when arriving at Geneva or Zurich. Here is a totally 21st-Century city where everything works perfectly, and the sidewalks wider than Manhattan’s Madison Avenue are made of sparkling granite, and are free of food carts and pirated-CD vendors as in BKK.
Alan Goh, Guest Relations Officer, escorts us to the 5th floor and out to # 3 on the dazzling, brand-spanking-new, pool terrace with its Thai-style pavilions, sun beds that match the sky, and the exclusive collection of ten resort-like Pool Terrace Rooms�our new home for the weekend.
Our room is stylish and slick, with pale wood accents.
A fretwork grill slides open to reveal the centralized bath tub, polished concrete shower stall, and matching loo.
In the bathroom, chiseled granite matches the walls surrounding the pool, and a hidden skylight lets in the sunlight.
There’s plenty of closet space, the much lauded Marriott Bed-Revive think 10-inch mattress covered with a soft feather topper, plump Euro pillows, and a warm feather duvet with a 300 thread count cover (the thermostat is set at 68F), chaise longue, and flat-screen TV.
Out the window, the breeze sways the bamboo and makes diamonds on the water. You’d swear you were at a tropical island resort…well, you are; only it’s on the fifth floor of the most iconic building in the city.
You know I love the Four Seasons Singapore for luxury, and the Strand for budget-conscious practicality, but these Pool Terrace rooms are my new favorite; and the Marriott’s front door opens right onto Orchard Road and some of the best shopping in the world!
The plan was to meet for lunch. Wong Yong Yee, PR for Marriott Singapore, meets us at the stunning, new Pool Grill. It’s a chic and trendy, alfresco restaurant overlooking the terrace. Suddenly, from behind, I get a big hug and kiss � great to see Lee again!
The Marriott imported Chef Harry Callinan from Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Australia to be responsible for the Pool Grill (and some 170 cooks throughout the hotel). As he strode across the terrace, Lee whispered that even though it was his day off, he had come into town to make lunch just for us.
He beamed hello in typical, hearty, Australian enthusiasm. I’m going to make you my unique sashimi salad.
I love Hunter Valley wines and said, Can you recommend something white?
…Milk? was his wry response.
Funny man, great chef, wonderful lunch that lasted well into the late afternoon, and lots of giggles all round. I’ve written you about Lee several times; she’s the personification of Marriott’s spirit, and an inspiration to all marketing communicators worldwide.
The new Pool Grill morphed from the original Garden Terrace with the development of the Pool Terrace Rooms. Harry is a passionate gourmand and his menus are styled to mirror the look and feel of the whole Pool Terrace concept. The daytime menu combines lightness with freshness: great Gazpacho, succulent John Dory, or a simple pasta, pizza, sandwich, or salad. The sashimi salad was drizzled with a Wasabe sauce of extraordinary subtlety and lightness.
At night, when the lights create an enticingly romantic and cozy atmosphere, the menu features tantalizing seafood dishes that showcase Chef Harry’s expertise in bring his art to life. Must-tries include classic Bouillabaisse, an oriental seafood salad with palm hearts and lychee, and baked rock lobster tail with lemon butter.
After lunch we went shopping. Singapore really is one of the great shopping capitals of the world. Things aren’t cheap, nothing is in Singapore, but Marriott offers a wonderful shopping package with significant freebies and discounts!
That evening we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Da Paolo on Club Street (read my previous review) followed by a night cap and a disco or two.
The next morning, I called room service for some orange juice, coffee, and a basket of croissants. The friendly operator said it would arrive in 45 minutes. Wrong it arrived in eight! Same thing the next morning! By the way, the butter is French, the jam from Austria, and the margarine (who wants margarine?) is from Australia.
Besides the terrific service, the staff is truly amazing. At every level, 24/7, each is more friendly and helpful than the one before. Very special.
Saturday night, the Pool Terrace was bathed in moonlight. Strange, the moon wasn’t yet up…the terrace is gently flooded with pale blue lights: a marvelous effect.
We taxied to Boat Quay � a buzzing, happening place filled with cheery people, jammed bars, and overflowing restaurants. We chose Forbidden City, the latest in the IndoChine family. Overlooking the water, we sat on the indoor balcony and enjoyed chicken soup from an Hanoi recipe, summer palace duck, rainbow pork, and barbequed venison with jasmine rice and stir fried aubergine. (S$229 = US$153 including two cocktails and three glasses of good house wine.)
Tan found a disco and friends and returned after breakfast the next morning. Ah youth!
Sunday evening we dined in the Marriott’s Wan Hao Chinese Restaurant. It is an elegant room with large round tables for traditional family dining, and a couple of intimate booths. We dined in a booth.
The cuisine is traditional Cantonese. We enjoyed several varieties of dim sum, and had Peking Duck followed by a braised, whole, boneless duck stuffed with Conpoy, diced Yunnam ham, mushrooms, chestnuts, and salted eggs; delicious!
There are several more places to dine at the Marriott and they seem to be almost full all the time.
Before leaving the next morning, Lee told me the latest news. As the saying goes, You are what you eat and Singapore Marriott Hotel cares enough to make a difference. The news is that the hotel has implemented a Trans Fat-Free initiative leading the industry locally to eliminate trans fats from all food products served in the hotel.
Trans fats are a direct cause of obesity and increase the risk of heart disease and stroke by raising bad cholesterol and lowering good cholesterol. They are formed during hydrogenation in many manufacturing and production methods where liquid oil is turned into solid fat. They are commonly used in cakes, pastries, margarine, and most processed foods to give them a longer shelf life and stop them melting.
Lee explained that providing healthier dining alternatives has been a primary focus of Marriott International for many years. To this end, the Fit for You program (a global Marriott initiative) was designed to not only address Low Fat, Low Cholesterol, and Carb-Conscious needs, but also other dietary concerns such as Gluten intolerance, saturated fats, food allergies, and trans fats. The prime concern is always to serve quality food rather than the trend of the moment.
In line with this healthy move, Singapore Marriott is promoting their special Fit for You selections at Marriott and Crossroads Cafes, together with a series of creative low carb cocktails at all restaurants. This assists diners in making wise food choices, and to show that healthy food need not be boring. In fact, with these hearty dishes that are weighing-scale friendly yet totally delectable, diners can now literally have their cake and eat it too!
That pretty much describes our lovely weekend in Singapore. Thanks again, Lee, it was great!