A touch of French flair in Sentosa

With miniature boats dotting the ponds and seats scattered throughout the compound, the new Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa aims to channel the French charm and elegance of Paris' Jardin du Luxembourg garden

The famous Jardin du Luxembourg garden in Paris is the epitome of French charm and elegance. Now, you can get a taste of that at the Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, previously known as the Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa.

The old beachside hotel was a rather stern-looking 1930s colonial property with plain green lawns.

After a facelift that cost more than $40 million, the five-star resort now boasts a new design, and refurbished rooms and restaurants.

Sofitel Singapore Sentosa is the second hotel by the French hotel chain here. The other one, Sofitel So Singapore, is in Robinson Road. Both hotels are managed by Accor.

Property investment and development group Royal Group Holdings bought the 109,265 sq m property from Hong Kong-based HKR International for about $210 million in March last year.

The makeover started in December last year - with the resort still in operation - and was completed on Oct 21, the same day the hotel's name was officially changed.

There is no change to the number of rooms. There are 174 luxury rooms, 37 suites and four villas. The luxury rooms now have a refreshing green-and-blue scheme, while the suites and villas are decked out in subdued red and purple, with gold-toned furnishings.

Each of the 3,229 sq ft villas comes with a master bedroom, guestroom, private pool and carpark. Rates start from $344 for a luxury room.

Ms Beatrice Martinet, 45, owner of interior design agency Toineinbangkok; and Mr Pierre Maciag, 54, and Ms Jordane Nguyen, 32, of M.A.X Studio, are behind the redesign. Both studios are based in Bangkok.

It was very important to have this same elegance in the hotel.''

FRENCH DESIGNER BEATRICE MARTINET, on having features reminiscent of those found in Paris' Jardin du Luxembourg garden in Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa

While much of the original building structure and layout of the resort were left intact, the new design is a far cry from that of the old Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa.

Ms Martinet, who is French, says they were inspired by Jardin du Luxembourg. For instance, miniature fibreglass boats in the hotel's ponds are reminiscent of the toy boats in the Parisian garden.

The designers also tried to recreate the communal feel of the garden by putting seats around the hotel, just like those in Jardin du Luxembourg where people meet to sit and talk.

Ms Martinet says: "It was very important to have this same elegance in the hotel."

Off-white drapes lining the outdoor corridors help soften the rigid facade, imparting a feel of serenity - particularly at the open- air LeBar located beyond the lobby.

French artefacts and artworks are also displayed throughout the resort, so guests feel like they are walking through an art gallery.

In the lobby, a 3.5m by 5m glass lighting installation titled Stellar hangs from the bold pink ceiling.

Inspired by a jewel box's interior, the installation was created by Czech bespoke glass artwork and lighting manufacturer Lasvit and features 685 hand-blown glass pieces that were assembled on-site.

But while the decor may be mostly French-inspired, the designers have blended in Singaporean elements as well. Throughout the resort, orchid motifs are used.

Mr Vincent Lelay, cluster general manager of both Sofitel hotels here, explains: "The Sofitel brand DNA is to promote French elegance and culture through our network of luxury hotels as well as to blend in with the location we are in."

There are also new food and beverage options. Kwee Zeen, Sofitel's upscale chain of restaurants that is also found in Bali, replaces The Terrace buffet restaurant, offering Asian, Western and French cuisine.

It leads to the new Chocolaterie, where guests can dine on French patisseries and chocolates.

The refurbished So Spa, previously known as the Spa Botanica, is the largest in Sofitel's chain of spas, at 64,500 sq ft. It was the first area to be renovated and comprises a spa garden, 14 treatment rooms and six outdoor spa pavilions. Spa packages are priced from $100 to $620.

•Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa is at 2 Bukit Manis Road, Sentosa, tel: 6708-8310.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 31, 2015, with the headline 'A touch of French flair in Sentosa'. Print Edition | Subscribe