We all form mental images of places we haven’t visited, especially when those places sit literally on the opposite side of the globe. Before I visited Singapore, I imagined an exotic land, brimming with lush gardens and evidence of the multiple ethnic forces that shaped it, a hint of its colonial heritage, stunning men and women, no gum on the sidewalks — heck, there’s even a drink named after this spot. My vision was a patchwork sewn together from too many vintage movies and the occasional headline.
The reality turned most of those preconceptions on their heads. Singapore is a thoroughly modern, efficient, clean and vibrant destination. From the airport to the towering skyline, the high-tech Gardens by the Bay to the giant malls and modern casinos, the ever-present construction cranes and office workers streaming from the subway to the air-conditioned glass towers, Singapore thrives as an important shipping, manufacturing and financial hub. As those industries expanded, so have leisure businesses, including many options for dining and shopping as well as a growing variety of nightclubs, casinos and other spots where one can blow off steam.
Singaporeans are passionate about food, and they fortunately have at least three distinct cultures — Indian, Chinese and Malaysian — influencing most of the dining choices. If you remain undaunted by language and cultural barriers and you entertain clients who care more about the food than the setting, you can make like a local and sample authentic street foods from the hawker centers that dot the city (ask for recommendations at your hotel). If you seek convenience and a slightly more refined environment for a casual lunch or supper, try one of the modern-day sanitized versions of a hawker center located in mixed-use complexes and malls such as Rasapura Masters at the Marina Bay Sands. These food court kiosks take on local delicacies like spicy chili crab, fish head curry, chicken fried rice and char kway teow, a local dish of fried rice noodles, seafood and bean sprouts.
Often in Singapore, the more serious the cuisine, the more breathtaking the view. A prime example designed to wow even the most jaded client: Sky on 57, atop the towering Marina Bay Sands resort complex. Featuring local celebrity chef Justin Quek, the expansive space offers unparalleled 57th-floor vistas and refined Franco-Asian cuisine. Breakfast, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea are served daily, and the nearby Flight Bar & Lounge offers bottle service and an expansive menu of cocktails and Champagnes.
Important business contacts and fans of Asian food will relish Keyaki, a Japanese oasis on the fourth floor of the Pan Pacific Singapore hotel. Set amid a lushly landscaped garden and koi pond, the tastefully elegant, relaxed eatery specializes in masterfully prepared sashimi, teppanyaki, sukiyaki and more. Keyaki provides superior service as well as private dining rooms for meetings or other important business events.
Traditionalists will appreciate a stop at the iconic Raffles, a lovingly preserved icon that captures the city’s history as a British colony. Service levels (and prices) are high at longtime dining/drinking options such as the Long Bar, where the Singapore Sling was born a century ago.
Another good option for drinks is 28 HongKong Street, named one of the world’s top 50 bars in 2015 by Drinks International. Selections center around American classic cocktails, with some craft beers, Champagnes and U.S. wines in the mix. Groups can book a private room called The Office that seats up to 12 and features its own dedicated sound system and special access to the bar staff.
A more casual atmosphere for laid-back business meals and meetings lies along the busy Singapore River, where a series of restored wharf buildings transformed into a lively shopping, entertainment and dining district. The river, lined with restaurants and lounges, bustles with bumboats, an iconic water taxi system.
Doing business with golf fans? The Marina Bay complex includes a course with expansive city views, Singapore’s only 18-hole course open to the public. Outside the city but within easy reach, the leisure-focused Sentosa Island also supports two golf courses.
A word about the climate: Prepare for oppressive heat and humidity in Singapore. This is the time to break out your lightest wardrobe, but nothing too casual for the office. Singaporeans dress conservatively but comfortably, so men in business settings wear lightweight suits and dress shirts (but not always ties) while women favor suits or conservative dresses in muted hues. You can’t go wrong with a well-cut dark suit and a white shirt.
Singapore has no shortage of world-class hotels that cater to business travelers, but three stand out from the crowd. The Marina Bay Sands, with its unmistakable space-age towers (the most iconic building in a city of iconic architecture) will remind the visitor of a Las Vegas megaresort but with better food and service and to-die-for views. It connects to a casino, large shopping center and convention center. The Westin is a lively and well-located property meticulously updated with all the modern conveniences. For a more intimate experience, the PARKROYAL on Pickering provides an urban oasis near the city’s Central Business District with lush gardens; chic, modern accommodations; and a relaxing spa.
Getting around this destination proves simple: The public Mass Rapid Transit system is clean and efficient, and taxis are safe and reasonable.
Deep Dive Dubai, home of the deepest swimming pool for diving in the world, opened in Dubai, in the Nad Al Sheba neighborhood. Guinness World Records verified the pool as the world’s deepest swimming pool for diving at a depth of 60.02 meters, or almost 197 feet, holding 14 million liters of water, equivalent to six Olympic-sized swimming pools.
You probably didn’t know you needed to visit the Dominican Republic until you learned about the new, beautiful, modern, all-inclusive resort in Punta Cana.
Family gatherings are extra special this year and we chose to celebrate a milestone birthday in New Orleans. The JW Marriott New Orleans, across the street from the historic French Quarter, is ideally situated for exploring the city. Streetcars roll in front of the property and are especially fun for first-time visitors. Within a ¾-mile radius, we could walk to the National WWII Museum, Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Sazerac House, Harrah’s Casino, the Shops of Canal Place and numerous restaurants.
For the third year in a row, Regent Seven Seas Cruises broke the company’s world cruise opening day booking record. The 2024 World Cruise sold out around 11 a.m. on July 14, after going on sale that morning at 8:30 a.m. Fares started at $73,499 per guest for a deluxe veranda suite, up to $199,999 per guest for a master suite.
The biggest names in the Middle East sporting community will gather for the Sports Industry Awards as the event returns for its eighth edition. SPIA recognizes the achievements of individuals, organizations, facilities and campaigns that contributed to the development of sport in the region.
Aqua-Aston Hospitality, with hotels in Hawai’i, Florida and Costa Rica, introduced an intelligent text messaging platform at its hotels and resorts, streamlining real-time communication with guests. Since the mobile technology has been implemented, the platform has been successfully used to answer guest questions, manage check-in, deliver amenities, quickly communicate updates on services, send alerts and enable contact-less check-out.
As the vaccine rolls out and travel picks up, it’s time to start dreaming of your next trip. Here’s some destination inspiration for you. Take a visual journey through Okinawa with us.
The Sports Industry Awards returned with a bang last night as 200 guests packed the W Hotel Great Ball Room for the gala ceremony.
After more than a year of staying home and social distancing, Americans are ready to experience live entertainment again. According to Allianz Partners USA’s Vacation Confidence Index survey, 55 percent of Americans plan on attending at least one ticketed event before the end of 2021, with 16 percent planning to attend three or more events.