Welcome to the new normal. Singapore has gone to great lengths to provide citizens with local travel opportunities, such as opening up several hotels such as the Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, for staycations and local visits. You can have the full list of hotels in Singapore open for staycations if you want to start planning your local journey.
After a few long months in lockdown, we were ready for a vacation, but with leisure travel still not allowed in Singapore, we find ourselves doing staycations to remember what it is to actually pack our luggage!
For that occasion, it was a good idea to go to Sentosa and “get away” from the city. We booked our Grab, 25 minutes later, we arrived at the Sofitel in Sentosa. As our car pulls in, we already noticed posts ushering guests to a step by step check-in journey. It wasn’t the regular 5-star stay it used to be. We were not ushered out of the car by a doorman who took our bags but to maximize our own safety, were required to roll your own bags for the first part into the reception, after a temperature check and check-in with the QR code (Singapore’s way to do contact tracing). We didn’t mind doing that at all as we only had carry-on luggage, so it was no worries for us, but we could see someone being annoyed if carrying a baby in hand or a few kids around with a load-full of luggage!
After the required health safety checks, we left our bags with the staff and turned into the regular check-in room, now all geared up with glass dividers between the staff and the guest, again to limit contact. We were greeted at reception with smiles, all staff wearing gloves and masks, with hand sanitation stations at every possible touchpoint for you. After check-in, you must pass on your room number details so your bags can be transported to your room.
At the Sofitel Singapore Sentosa, you are welcomed by a huge lobby surrounded by ponds and a myriad of colours. The chandelier design above you is certainly worthy of a nice photo, which we did not hesitate to snap!
Where is Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa located
The Sofitel Sentosa is located on Sentosa Island, one of the resorts at the southernmost point of the island nation of Singapore. Once you access the islands’ main gate, it is a 3-minute drive and you will be at the Sofitel’s gates. There are walking paths all over there areas, so if you are an explorer, there are plenty of jungle and beach walkways for you to enjoy.
Facilities at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
The first thing you notice about the property is the greenery and space. With its open planning, everything is spacious with gardens pools and long walkways.
The second thing you notice when you enter is the extremely high chance of seeing peacocks scattered around the property. The males are chasing the females around all day and they are definitely worth following around just to gauge the guests’ reactions. They love the pool area too as they know guests do leave some of their food and snacks around! We were lucky enough to catch when the male had his feathers out.
The fitness centre is slightly larger than a shipping container, but they somehow found a way to condense and fit in all the equipment without making it feel squashy. Due to COVID-19, every second set of exercise equipment was taped off for spacing, but there are enough free weights and treadmills to get in a good workout for anyone’s taste. It is also limited to 5 people maximum, with staff constantly cleaning up and making sure that safety measures are respected.
One of the standout features of the resort is the big 50-meter pool virtually in the middle of everything, beside The Cliff restaurant and near Le Bar. There are cabanas and deckchairs (first come first serve) all around the pool, a bar and music when COVID is not around. They still play cool music but nothing too strong or annoying. The pool is open from 9AM-7PM.
Because of COVID-19 and the government regulations, the pool is limited to 50 people max and mandatory masks on the sunbeds unless you are consuming some food or drinks. We have heard some frustrations about the rules, but it is actually organized and not as bad as it sounds like. To go to the pool, you have to reserve your two-hour slot at the entrance of the pool via The Cliff. They will give you a colour band which they switch every two hours. That system is to be able to rotate groups, but if there are no more than 50 people, you don’t need to leave the pool and can stay beyond 2 hours.
Spa Experience at So Spa at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
The spa is located at the back of the property, so you have the option to walk the 10 minutes through the hotel to get there, or, as we did, get the reception to arrange a buggy for you which takes only 3 minutes. We recommend taking the lift because it is actually much quicker!
Upon arrival, you are greeted by a customary safety and temperature check and then some tasty Ginger Tea to calm and relax you. While sipping tea, you will fill out your recommendation form, advising the team where your sore spots are and which areas to avoid. We are then individually ushered to our respective locker rooms to change. Both the men and women change rooms have a mini jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. The facilities are very dated, with locks that are a little bit un-intuitive to use and could be ready for an upgrade.
Once in your therapy room, you get to choose your own essential oils and flavours for your massage. The signature scent is with bright notes of bergamot, white rose and jasmine de grasse.
We were booked into the couples room, which also comes with a relaxing area and a jacuzzi, which unfortunately with COVID-19, are not available at the moment. Usually, for massages, the ritual starts with a foot wash or scrub, which we wonder if usually is part of the ritual of the massage we booked, or simply had to be removed due to COVID-19. We had an hour massage, a very pleasing one which respected our exact wishes on focusing more on our backs. The level of service of the massage was great, but we wished we could’ve had a few minutes post-massage to relax and get out in the privacy of our room, but the one staff stayed behind waiting for our departure to already start cleaning up.
Although, we caught up on our relaxing time by going to the exclusive adults-only pools for those who have booked a spa experience. It was much less crowded and no kids around, it is quite nice to stay to relax or tan post-massage. Make sure you block off some time to stay there as it is really quiet and peaceful compared to the other main pool. Our favourite spot of the hotel must be at one of their pools with the waterfall.
The Spa is available for bookings from 11AM to 8PM, the last treatment being at 7PM. It is SG $180 for 1 hour and SG $240 for 1 and half hour.
Staycation Deals at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
There are currently great savings that can be done with the staycation deals at the Sofitel Singapore Sentosa. There is a Retreat to Sanctuary package and Infinite Family Experiences.
The basic deal for 2 adults goes from SG $338++ per night, inclusive of a night stay and all meals provided (breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) with free flow of soft drinks, with options of an early check in OR late check out based on availability.
The Infinite Family Experiences package is for 2 adults and 2 children from SG $538++ per night in a Family Room (connecting room) and also all meals provided (breakfast, Lunch, Dinner) with free flow of soft drinks. The option of an early check in OR late check out is also available based on availability.
Finally, the Retreat to Sanctuary package is for 2 adults from SG $338++ per night, inclusive of a dinner for 2 on the night of check-in and a 1-hour Sofitel Spa Massage Voucher.
Rooms at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
We stayed in the Junior Suite, located at the Tranquility Wing of the resort on the first level. We are not usually on the ground floor, so we were initially not sure what it would be like, but it turned out to be great. We were able to watch all the peacocks coming by and managed to get some cracking photos of them as well. There was no issue with noise on the ground floor either, so two thumbs up.
The room itself is split into two sections, a massive living area with couch, coffee/fridge zone, working office and the master bedroom. The living area has a large couch, a swinging chair and is actually quite big. The bed is massive, and there is plenty of luggage storage space around the bed as well, so bring as much as you want! The layout of the room is quite unique and it was the first time we stayed in such type of setting.
The bathroom is not accessible directly from the bedroom but from the living area. The shower has tiles of vibrant shades of pink and purple with a rainforest shower set which was very spacey! It had a single vanity area but a large bathtub for a relaxing Epsom salt bath (salt is provided!)
The room design feels dated, but that furniture did give us the impression of being in a home rather than a hotel room, which could be in that perspective a positive thing. In Singapore, space is at a premium and this room has so much of it!
Dining at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
Because of COVID-19 restrictions, most of the F&B has been centralized to their restaurant The Cliff, located right next to the central pool. This is where we ate for lunch and dinner during our whole stay. The best views are here, but you must make sure to reserve in advance the specific spots on the viewing deck. There, you can look out over the rainforest to the ocean, stay inside or look out to the Infinity Pool.
Lunch options are also limited compared to normal times, but features the best of the Sofitel’s usual offering, according to the team. The Grilled Octopus, marinated in harissa, with smoked eggplant caviar & tomato braised chickpeas, is very much praised by the team, but although very delicious and tender, the spiciness was a tad too much for the both of us. Beware if you can’t eat spicy! Our absolute favourite is the Summer Panzanella with Stone fruit, which is delicious homemade fresh cheese, with seasonal stone fruits, heirloom tomatoes, sweet herbs & torn fried croutons. It was so good we ordered it more than once during our stay. If you like cheese and want more of it, don’t miss the Mozzarella Cheese Sticks. They are not some frozen cheese sticks, it is absolutely cheesy and delicious. We also had the Avocado Toasts, with bread, poached egg, Béarnaise sauce & mesclun salad, Salmon and a Meatlovers Pizza (fior di latte mozzarella, tomato sauce, pepperoni, guanciale, bacon & fennel sausage), both very tasty but not completely mind-blowing like the first two.
During our whole stay, we have quite experiences the whole dinner menu! We had some Spaghetti Bolognese, spaghetti with classic pork ragu from Bologna, which is absolutely delicious due to the big fat piece of cheese.
The Beef Tagliate, served with green garlic salsa verde was be was our favourite dish of the whole stay! Cooked to perfection, tender and very well marinated. The second highlight is the Pollo Al Mattone, spiced spring chicken crisped under Himalayan salt brick, cooked perfectly and very tender.
The menu also has Asian influenced dishes. If you feel for it, there is Indian and Chinese cuisine. We tasted the Butter Chicken, Wok Fried Greens and Fried Rice. It was not as grand and large as the first-night meal but was still rich and tasty. The highlight of the night was the Wok Fried Prawn with Salted Egg Yolk.
If you have a sweet tooth, dessert shall not be missed with the Taster’s Choice. It is the team’s favourite as it is 4 slices of individual portions of all their tarts, including the Lemon Tart, Strawberry Tart, Chocolate & Macadamia Tart and Myer’s Dark Rum Pecan Tart. Our favourite being the Strawberry Tart (closely followed by the Chocolate and Macadamia tart). Throughout the whole stay, we have to say that our favourite dessert of it all is the Chocolate Brownie serves with Vanilla ice-cream.
For drinks, we tried the cocktails Electrifying Thor and 600 Miles from Home. To be honest these were ok but not the type of drinks that you would buy 10 of because they are quite sweet. For better cocktails, get them at Le Bar at the centre of the property.
If you miss brunches, there is a Sunday Brunch available with free-flowing champagne and exquisite smorgasbord of steamed lobster, freshly shucked oysters, meat selections and delicious tarts. It is available from 12PM to 3PM at SG $166 with free-flowing champagne and SG $97 for the Brunch only without free-flowing champagne.
Kwee Zeen is where the breakfast is held. Breakfast is usually a buffet but due to the ever-evolving situation, you will choose from five different choices. Indian, Malay, Asian, American and Healthy Breakfast. This may not work for some who love buffets, myself included, but we were really happy to try attempt some options we would have previously not have considered.
Le Bar, located in the dead centre of the hotel, is the cool place to be. With 360 degree views of the whole resort, the staff will make up any cocktail you wish. In the evening, there is music and drinks flowing. With super comfy chairs. As per Singapore regulations, the alcoholic drinks need to disappear from tables at exactly 10:30PM!
You can find the full menu here.
Our experience at the Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa
- The property seems large but is extremely easy to walk around and has accessibility to all.
- The “wildlife” is absolutely stunning. It was a pure joy to try to find peacocks and photographing them. You can find them all around the property and if you are lucky, you might just open your windows to a surprise appearance from a peacock!
- Although there are no specific pools for the kids, the central pool has a whole marked section with stairs going deeper, which can still allow you to swim in with a toddler if you want to.
- There is plenty to do close to the resort. You are a short walk to Tanjong beach, it is near golf courses and the Sentosa Theme Parks, an exceptional location. Our favourite is to head over to Palawan Beach and cross over the suspension bridge.
- The lunch and dinner menu is incredible with some of the most tender chicken we have ever tasted.
- The waterfall pool is the most beautiful and unique feature of the hotel.
- The staff is lovely and you can see through their eyes that they are all trying so hard. We understand how some guests would think that they are no happy, but between you and me, it’s quite hard to show a smile behind a mask!
- In the current situation, there are less staff to cater to some “5-star” needs that we are privileged to have. It is a hard hit considering the premium service most guests are used to from the Sofitel brand and for sure will need adjustments as the time passes by.
- The breakfast menu is short (5 main options and few smaller ones like pancakes, etc), a definite shock from the majestic buffets most guests love about hotel stays. With the usual breakfast buffet gone due to circumstances, breakfast can be either enjoyed in your room or at the Kwee Zeen to you preference.
- The team at the pool definitely needs to be more clear and less shy to brief the guests about the pool new regulations. We noticed a lot of guest not tidying their towels and not telling a staff when they are done with their consumptions, leaving behind a lot of their rubbish.
- The property shows signs of age. Although this is totally understandable given the age of the property and the destructive forces of this tropical climate.
- The hotel is positively going through renovations, but we unfortunately got some interruptions with noise during our spa treatment.
In a nutshell, do not let the interior shadow of the true strength of the hotel, and that is the staff. They go above and beyond their call of duty to make your stay feel more like a staycation, and not just any hotel visit, even shorthanded.
I think more now than ever, it is very important to put things in context. The hotel will not be able to provide the exact experience due to the high restrictions that are being imposed. If you are a little relaxed in regards to these things, then I guarantee you will have an excellent and pleasant stay at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa.
Lastly, we encourage you to share your honest feedback with the managerial team as you go through your journey to give the chance to the team to adjust so you can maximize the experience during your stay itself. The best way to improve anything during this pandemic is through constructive feedback, so we rebuild the travel industry back to where it was left before March!