SINGAPORE - So many staycays, so little time. What makes this hotel special?
There are hotels nestled in parks and verdant gardens, and then there is Villa Samadhi Singapore, a boutique hotel tucked inside Labrador Nature Reserve along the island's southern coast.
Its 20 rooms and facilities occupy colonial buildings that used to house a military garrison in the 1920s. Opened in 2017, the hotel is part of Samadhi Retreats, which operates properties in Kuala Lumpur and Tioman Island as well.
It is drizzling when I drive up to the hotel, only to find I cannot park there. I head to its Tamarind Hill restaurant - about a minute's drive uphill, where there is ample private parking - before making my way down to the reception on foot via a wooden walkway that cuts through the forest.
Each Samadhi hotel has a long walkway, which symbolises a gateway to a "dream state", according to its corporate philosophy.
It is scenic, but after two days of continuous rain over the New Year weekend, the only thing I dream about is not slipping on the wet concrete stairs leading down to the reception.
My Crib room on the ground floor is an entry-level one with solid wooden furniture. It scores design points for cleverly combining heritage and sustainability.
Instead of plastic water bottles, there is a lovely copper jug and tumblers. Loose tea leaves in containers take the place of tea bags, and toiletries come in pretty ceramic pump dispensers.
I see some mosquitoes outside - not unusual as I am in the middle of a forest, but the hotel tells me later that a non-toxic spray is released daily from the borders of its buildings.
The king-sized mattress is just the right firmness and the pillows are well-stuffed, not squishy like what you find in many hotels. I sleep like a baby.
What else is there to do?
Chill out at The Library on the second floor, which commands attention with its scarlet drapes and ornate chandelier. The large daybed there beckons, but two couples are having afternoon tea (part of the staycay deal) and I do not want to lounge with eyes on me.
I walk to the nature reserve in the late afternoon, which is deliciously empty thanks to the wet weather. Serenaded by a symphony of cicadas and warblers, I feel at one with the forest.
In the morning, I head to the coastal boardwalk, which is, thankfully, not crowded. It is a nice stroll, with lots of jungle fowl to take photos of, and views of Sentosa and Marina Keppel Bay.
Breakfast is a hearty affair at the picturesque Tamarind Hill, which is popular for its Thai and Myanmese fare.
Verdict: Bliss or miss?
Because of its secluded location, Villa Samadhi seems to attract couples who want a quiet escape from the city without the usual staycation crowd (read: screaming kids and loud extended families).
I cannot fault its eco-luxury and friendly service, yet I wish there was more to do here.
The good news is that the hotel will be building a swimming pool and spa soon, which will add to its appeal.
Hot tip: If your budget allows, book the top-end Luxe Sarang with its own private pool and garden. It is popular, so fastest fingers first.
WHERE: 20 Labrador Villa Road
INFO: Villa Samadhi's website
ROOMS: 20 with five room types.
RATES: From $380++ per room per night. The Peace & Tranquillity promotion comes with a host of benefits, from afternoon tea to cocktails and dinner. Valid for stays between Sundays and Thursdays, until June 30.
This staycation was hosted by the hotel and is part of a weekly series. For more staycation reviews, go to str.sg/SuiteLife.