SINGAPORE - Capella Singapore is so swanky you have to watch out for peacocks stealing food off your table instead of shooing away the odd mynah or pigeon.
I encountered one of several peacocks at the poolside, snatching thin-crust pizza off a low table and causing a minor ruckus.
According to hotel staff, Paul the peacock and his harem of three peahens, which recently gifted him with offspring, are also very fond of the nuts at Bob's Bar as well as chilli, which they nibble off plants outside the Chef's Table room.
Consider yourself warned.
Predatory peacocks aside, Capella is the closest one can get to the luxe resorts of Bali, now that Covid-19 has put the kibosh on air travel. The garden villa where I stayed was surrounded by lush greenery. You could hear the soothing chirping of cicadas and birdsong against a backdrop of rural silence throughout the day and evening, a rare soundtrack in urban Singapore.
Technically, since Sentosa is an island, going to Capella counts as an overseas trip for Singaporeans starved of travel.
A friend, upon hearing I was headed there, gushed about the spa and advised me that Capella is not about "doing", but "undoing".
Heeding my friend's advice, I left my iPad at home and instead took along a bimbo beach read. Lauren Ho's Last Tang Standing is an acceptable chick lit romp, by the way. Plus, the graphic cover makes for good Gram fodder when teamed with hat and sunglasses.
FYI, the Wi-Fi is excellent, and I love that you do not need to go through the rigmarole of signing in with a password.
For $1,150 a night, the garden villa offers Aesop toiletries (lovely), a Bose sound system that is great for jazz and classical (hip-hop devotees of thundering Beats headphones are out of luck), a gorgeous outdoor rain shower and tub, as well as a hothouse worth of orchids tucked into assorted towels and linens.
The 133 sq m room is bigger than some studio apartments, and the 3m by 3m plunge pool is good for a poor swimmer like me who can only dog paddle.
The serious swimmer can head for the lap pool. I also appreciate that there is a family pool and an adult pool, with table service, haunted by the aforementioned marauding birds.
Given the sprawling 12ha grounds, it is easy to social distance. The hotel's safety measures are discreet but diligent. Besides the usual SafeEntry check-ins, temperature checks are enforced consistently across the different outlets. Each room is also provided with a care pack with masks, hand sanitiser, disinfecting wipes and an ethanol disinfecting spray. I felt safer at the hotel than I do at shopping malls.
Service staff were attentive, but not cloying. The sharp-eyed pool attendant appeared with towels and an ice bucket with a water bottle and glasses almost the second I plonked myself down on a sunbed. Especially endearing was the self-professed auntie at The Knolls, who attended my table at breakfast, recognised me at lunch, and, despite her self-deprecation about her poor command of English, chatted perkily with me.
The arts and heritage tour focused more on the heritage architecture than the art. But senior culturist Wilbur Phua was very accommodating when peppered with questions, and an envelope with detailed printouts of the art appeared in my room after the tour. He even tracked me down before I checked out to answer one of my questions.
One of my unexpected discoveries was the fact that Capella Singapore is very family-friendly. Parents who need breathing space can fill their kids' time with activities, including a Build Your Own Boba workshop and an eco-art class. I witnessed two girls get very excited over the boba workshop, even though it was the second time they were making bubble tea.
Other more adult pursuits include a cocktail making class (I assembled a rather respectable mojito) and a rum appreciation session. These activities, included in the price of the stay, are open only to guests.
Enjoyable as my stay was, my inner auntie baulks at the prospect of paying $1,150 for just one night's stay at the garden villa. The villa options are for well-heeled couples or families willing to pay for privacy and, in this Covid-19 age, a sense of security.
A more sensibly priced splurge would be the Capella's rooms, which offer equal access to the resort's charmingly isolated ambience and programmes without the eye-watering expenditure.
• Hot tip: Check out the workshops and book a slot early. Classes are capped at five participants.
Where: 1 The Knolls, Sentosa
Rooms: 112 rooms, suites and villas
Rates: Starts at $624 a night. There is a villa promotion where guests staying two nights get a third night free. The Sentosa Staycation package offers 20 per cent off the hotel's best available rates and includes $100 of dining credits.