With the award-winning Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore as our playground and actor Rakul Preet Singh looked like the proverbial dream girl, Travel+Leisure India and South Asia’s June cover shoot turned out to be a La-La Land Lark. By Rashima Nagpal
Over the last one year, we have shot our covers at a wide range of locations—from exotic lands like Israel to iconic cities like New York and Paris.
But when I learnt that the cover for our annual Asia issue would be shot at the glorious Resorts World™ Sentosa Singapore, I knew this time would involve an entirely different kind of fun.
At India’s Best Awards 2018 organised by this publication, Resorts World Sentosa won the title of Best Integrated Resort, the same year Singapore was voted the Best Family Destination. Meanwhile, at the TTG Travel Awards which recognise the best in Asia Pacific’s travel industry, the resort has been winning top honours in the category of Best Integrated Resort for eight consecutive years since 2011. Be it couples on honeymoon or families of any size, a variety of visitors can be found having truckloads of fun at any given time of the year here. That is the best thing about an integrated resort, and specifically, about Resorts World Sentosa—it comes with dozens of different experiences for all moods and ages. Located on Sentosa Island, this iconic family destination is home to Universal Studios Singapore™ (winner of the Best Amusement Park at India’s Best Awards 2018), the larger-than-life S.E.A. Aquarium™, plenty of elegant hotels and restaurants, a fun waterpark, quaint promenades, a wellness sanctuary, world-class entertainment, and much more. What gives Resorts World Sentosa brownie points among foreign tourists is the fact that it follows English as its primary language as opposed to its counterparts elsewhere in the continent.
On the day of the shoot, after snoozing through most of the flight, I was happy to be driving to my destination with a fresh mind. I had just begun to make sense of the Singapore cityscape when the car took a sharp left onto a bridge that seemed to lead to a different world altogether. I slid the window down to listen to the sound of water gushing beneath us, gaze at the European street lamps flanking the road, and squint at what looked like a castle craning its neck in the distance. The air smelled of dreams and cotton candy.
As soon as I entered the world of Resorts World Sentosa, I knew that picking a few spots on this massive dreamland and capturing its essence was going to be a challenging task.
After witnessing the kind of energy the theme park hosts, it’s safe to say that Universal Studios Singapore is the beating heart of the integrated resort. No matter how young or old you are, walking through its gates gives you an adrenaline rush. It houses seven zones with themes like Hollywood, New York, Sci Fi City, Ancient Egypt, The Lost World, Madagascar and Far Far Away spread over 20 hectares. In this spectacular setting, you can experience a riot of thrilling rides, entertainment shows and a host of other attractions.
If Universal Studios Singapore triggers an adrenaline rush, then the S.E.A. Aquarium offers a surreal sense of calm. One of the world’s largest aquariums with over 1,00,000 marine animals representing 1,000 species, it serves as an insightful lesson for any underwater enthusiast and a wonderland for the uninitiated. While a guided tour of its 50 habitats—from the Open Ocean Habitat to the Coral Garden—is bewitching on its own, interactive conservation programmes and close-up encounters with the fish are also on offer for those keen on immersive experiences.
Water babies will want to spend a generous amount of time at the Adventure Cove Waterpark™. Its exciting offerings include the Adventure River, which takes you through a tropical jungle and a mystical grotto. The waterpark also offers an opportunity to engage closely and carefully with marine life—imagine snorkelling with 20,000 fish in Rainbow Reef.
With its engaging exhibits, shipwreck artefacts, life-size ship replicas and a wide range of educational programmes, The Maritime Experiential Museum™ is a walk back in time. It takes you through Asia’s rich maritime history, with tales of seafarers and the trade route between Asia and the Middle East. The museum houses a total of 15 unique galleries that feature state-of-the-art visual projections, multimedia shows, interactive exhibits and plenty of informative displays.
Meanwhile, at the Dolphin Island™, one can rendezvous with the friendliest creatures of the sea, while also learning about their behaviour and conservation. The attraction is home to more than 20 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins. The dolphin interaction programmes range from edge-of-the-lagoon and shallow water interactions, suitable for kids, to adventurous sessions in deeper water. During all these interactions, you also learn intriguing facts about dolphin behaviour from the trainers, who provide round-the-clock care and stimulation for these mammals.
To get the most out of your visit to Resorts World Sentosa, it is recommended that you stay at one of the six hotels within its premises. The exceptional monorail and shuttle services here make moving around a breeze.
As we checked in at Hotel Michael™, its American design aesthetic was instantly evident. But the hotel’s most attractive feature is its convenient location. In between location recces and shoot personnel co-ordination, I found the hotel’s strategic location—close to most of the resort’s offerings—to be a blessing. Another great option in terms of accessibility is the Festive Hotel™, perched adjacent to Hotel Michael. Always home to a vibrant mood, it impresses with its variety of rooms with options for loft beds and availability of cribs, making it ideal for families with kids.
Seekers of luxury and extraordinary experiences will find delight in the Ocean Suites of Resorts World Sentosa. With 11 of these two-storey townhouses, the resort offers a personalised window into the Open Ocean Habitat at the S.E.A. Aquarium. Imagine a 24-hour live display of marine life from the comfort of your bed—that’s what makes the Ocean Suites so hard to get or forget. Further in the realm of exclusivity, the resort offers two TreeTop Lofts™, Angsana and Tembusu. Perched high in the middle of the woods, with minimal and elegant furnishing, these are renditions of the modern-day treehouse.
Sprinkled all across the resort are dining venues that cater to your hunger pangs as you sprint from one attraction to another. From round-the-clock budget eateries and cuisine-oriented restaurants to fine-casual dining venues where the food is curated by Michelin-star chefs, there’s something here for every mood and pocket. Head to Oasis Spice Café at Universal Studios Singapore, if it’s home-style Indian food that you yearn for. Sessions at the Hard Rock® Hotel Singapore is popular for its flavourful Singapore-style crabs and other local delicacies, and serves as a great place to grab a nice cuppa and cake. The Malaysian Food Street offers a taste of nostalgia with an array of local, traditional flavours from Southeast Asia in a rustic setup, done up with wooden benches and tables. The Ocean Restaurant, as the name suggests, features a huge floor-to-ceiling glass wall that acts a window to the marine life at S.E.A. Aquarium. Then there is Syun, which impresses with its take on modern Japanese cuisine; Fratelli Trattoria, which is a dinner-service-only trattoria featuring fine Lombardy-inspired specialities; and Osia Steak and Seafood Grill, which serves the best of Australian barbeque grilled to smoky perfection in a stone hearth oven, among others.
The perfect thing to do after an eventful day is a rejuvenating spa treatment. Enter ESPA at Resorts World Sentosa. Think landscaped gardens, 24 multi-functional treatment rooms—all of which come with a balcony view of the reflection pool or the forest—a Turkish hammam, private male and female gardens featuring vitality pools, air and water massage jets, plunge pools, tropical gardens featuring traditional Japanese-style onsen, 18 sleeping pods with integrated music, suspended relaxation swing chairs, plenty of loungers, a state-of-the-art gym, a chic, hexagonal Zen Studio and more. This is no ordinary spa.
A few days at Resorts World Sentosa, spent mostly working to capture its many attractions and our cover girl’s effortless charm, made me want to stay forever. But then, reality beckoned. As it always does.
Air India and Singapore Airlines operate direct flights from major Indian metro cities to Singapore. Resorts World Sentosa Singapore is a 25-kilometre drive from the award-winning Singapore Changi Airport.
The integrated resort’s six accommodation options cater to different requirements and preferences. You could book yourself the one-bedroom Beach Villa (doubles from INR 66,312) for a lavish tropical-themed stay, or a room at the Festive Hotel (doubles from INR 20,413) to be in the heart of activity, or one of the Ocean Suites (doubles from INR 1,21,249) for a truly exquisite experience.
The resort offers world-class attractions, including Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A. Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark and a variety of shows. Check out the official website for the schedule of non-ticketed public attractions such as the Crane Dance and Lake of Dreams and special deals and offers, when planning your visit.