SINGAPORE - So many staycays, so little time. What makes this hotel special?
Designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize-winning architect Kevin Roche, the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore's distinct geometric lines and octagonal windows have become a beloved icon of the Marina Bay landscape. It was named one of the "World's Sexiest Bathrooms" by the Tatler Cunard Travel Guide soon after it opened in 1996.
It has since been refurbished over the years, with the Colony and Summer Pavilion restaurants refreshed in 2015, and the spa, pool and fitness centre given a new look in 2016. The guest rooms and its Club Lounge were refurbished in 2013.
After I cleared SafeEntry protocols, a staffer quickly ushered me from the lift to the check-in counter, while alerting his colleagues via his earpiece microphone that "Ms Stephanie" had arrived. I felt like a VIP. My husband, who arrived separately from the gym, was also treated with the same warmth.
We were soon whisked away to our 775 sq ft Premier Suite on the 22nd floor.
This corner suite (from $850++ per night) is the only room type with a bathroom that overlooks the Singapore Flyer, but the living area also has a breathtaking view of Marina Bay, which made it perfect for our couple wefies.
Even though the rooms were last renovated seven years ago, the suite still looked and felt luxurious.
Was it love at first couple's spa?
Couple spa treatments may be a romantic cliche, but given the exceptional times we live in, I think they are a fun way for partners to surrender to the moment.
We certainly did at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, where we spent an indulgent hour having massages. The Ritz-Carlton Spa Suite is so big, it has his-and-hers dressing areas, which are a thoughtful addition. Usage is priced at $200++, excluding treatment costs, but if you don't want to shell out for this, there are two other couple rooms available.
My husband's 60-minute Muscle Recovery massage ($210++) was exactly what he needed to recover from his intensive exercise regime, so much so that he said "I want to sleep" right after it. Not the mood I was aiming for, but at least he was relaxed.
My 60-minute Hot Lapis Stone Massage ($210++) was similarly therapeutic, the warm blue stones radiating their healing touch as my therapist ran them up and down my tired limbs. Hot stone massages can be too blistering for comfort, but this one was perfect.
If you are classical music lovers and have a special occasion to celebrate, the hotel also offers a unique Cello Concerto treatment, where a cellist performs live within the spa suite while you and your significant other enjoy a 60-minute massage. The $720++ package comes with a 30-minute hydrotherapy bath experience as well. Book at least 48 hours in advance.
Ideas for a romantic nightcap?
The Ritz is famous for its butler-drawn bath, so we opted for the Relaxation Bath ($50++) as our after-dinner treat. A friendly staffer arrived at 9pm with a tray of ESPA bath oil and two cups of creamy bath liquid, which he expertly blended and coaxed into a bubble wonderland.
The result was sudsy, warm and calming, with an intoxicating blend of sandalwood, rose geranium and frankincense that appealed to my husband and me. The bathtub was a bit of a tight fit for two to recline, but the view of the Flyer's twinkling lights against the night sky was surprisingly mesmerising.
If you want to make this moment even more special, I would recommend ringing room service in advance for your favourite bubbly, or bringing your own.
Is there breakfast in bed?
Not quite, but a leisurely breakfast in our room on a rainy morning was a wonderful way to start the day together, with no Zoom calls to rush to, no kids to ferry and no agenda.
As with many other hotels now, orders must be placed the night before, and I was happy to see the extensive choices available, including a Healthy Breakfast set where you can tuck into an egg white omelette with chia seeds, and Bircher muesli. My American breakfast was huge, with eggs, chicken sausage, hash browns, baked goods and more. The spread was so good, we polished off everything.
Time to pop the question: Bliss or miss?
If you ask me, love is not about the grand gestures but the little details. While it may not inspire the dopamine rush of a trendy new hotel, the Ritz-Carlton has my heart for its legendary service.
We were bowled over by the sincerity of the staff who did all they could to make our brief stay an unforgettable experience. It was comforting to see that the magic of the Ritz is still very much alive, even with masks on.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore
Where: 7 Raffles Avenue
Rooms: 608, of various types
Rates: Packages run the gamut from room and breakfast, to specialist interest ones. The Reconnect staycay starts from $490++ and includes breakfast and room credit (valid until Dec 28 next year). For whiskey connoisseurs, its new Spirited Away option includes a 30-minute private tasting session at The Whisky Distillery in Millenia Walk (from $500++ per night, valid until March 31 next year).
Hot tip: It is too popular to be a quiet, romantic restaurant, but you can trust Colony to serve food made with love. Start or end your stay with one of its decadent buffets for the festive period, including Vintage Champagne Brunches on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. Call 6434-5288 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This staycation was hosted by the hotel and is part of a weekly series. For more staycation reviews, go to str.sg/SuiteLife