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HomeSouth East AsiaSingaporeA visit to the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort

A visit to the Marina Bay Sands Integrated Resort

Lets get on the bridge already!

Upon my return back to Singapore for the summer holidays, the Marina bay sands resort is one of my few places must visit places before I head back to the UK for my next university term. I remembered passing by the ECP from the airport ogling at the newly glass-cladded monstrosities, standing on a once large undeveloped piece of reclaimed prime land, which never quite saw the light of development until the conceiving of the IR and construction more than 3 years ago.

It’s one to brag about too, the Marina Bay Sands in a nutshell is an integrated resort (IR) fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world’s most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion (US$5.7 billion), including cost of the reclaimed prime land.

A good way to get started off the Sands is to arrive offsite, let be taking public transport such as the MRT to the Promenade MRT Station on the Circle Line or parking around the flyer/millennia walk area and taking a short walk over to the resort- where you can really appreciate the sights along the way to your destination. The resort will be served by the Bayfront Station on the Downtown Line in 2013.

The linking helix bridge walk, lets go!
The helix bridge link
the sheltered bridge offers peeks of the IR through it's helix
Peeks of the IR through the Helix
view of the central business district on the bridge
CBD from the Bridge

You will see yourself hitting the Youth Olympics park, presumably not a one-off item created for the games but I believe a place marked in stone as the venue of the world’s first Youth Olympics. The Helical bridge, widely known by engineers as one of the most structurally stable designs conceived from nature is flaunted in full glory over the marina bay. A dedicated road bridge runs parallel and serves the IR directly together with few active bus services.

You will have the option of the main entrance to the shopping complex or the bay-side pavilion at the end of the bridge. A 120,000 square meter, convention center resides adjacent to the shopping complex. There is also an Art & Science museum, the iconic Lotus shaped amphitheatre, sands theatres, complimented by two floating pavilions and six “celebrity chef” restaurants.

Impressive and large was the shopping area on first impression only to be greeted disappointingly, largely by unfinished works despite it’s official opening nearly 2 months ago. The shopping centre is still largely under renovation, with half of it only open and accessible to shoppers.

The front of the convention center, shops & casino
Convention center, shops & casino
Inside the main building
Inside the main building
The entrance to the casino
The casino entrance

I guess Sands might have their operational objectives in place. With the casino and convention center possibly being the biggest revenue draws, it’s not surprising to see them all primed and operational in stark contrast to the sawdust still around most of the other less important attractions.

Humorously, a small “river” spans the width of the shopping area, which could be mistaken for a fountain/canal. Unlike most Casinos in Vegas, I was still torn to finding a theme for the Marina Sands resort. It’s not quite Venice with the boats but not in any way “Singaporean” in any way too with a few Asian themed boats to add to the “oriental feel”. With a casino nearby, I guess the stores around the area have quite a fight to share for when punters.

The Casino is undeniably the major highlight of the attraction, let be exclaimed to be one of the
a casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. Given strict gambling rules in Singapore, the design of the Sands resort involves having the casino as a separate isolated entity as with the hotel and the convention center.

The adjacent iconic hotel blocks
The iconic hotel blocks
The front hotel facade.
Hotel front facade
The nice glass wall links between the towers
The tower interior

In contrast, I remembered the Casino gaming grounds in Vegas notorious for being just about everywhere, even a simple trip to the restaurant, hotel or lifts involves cutting through lines of jackpot machines and dealer tables, passing by most of the Casino at a go. You can either love or hate this.

I’ve not personally been into the Marina Sands Casino, despite the many recommendations from people I know we’ve been in there, citing that it as a once in a lifetime-experience, even if you do not gamble in there. It looks big, with one of the most modern gambling facilities I’ve seen to date, but I think I have better uses for the $100 Singaporean entrance fee.

Come to think about it, if I were to have any affiliation with a Casino, chances are I will be working for them, knowing the science and workings of Casinos myself. It’s an interesting subject combining the musings of mathematics, probabilities, psychology (human greed) & business elements such as gaming/jackpot revenue optimisation, beats actually throwing my money on the floors. I personally do not gamble on the grounds of the odds, the Casino is just a novelty here.

Looks awfully similar to Mandarin hotel
Looks awfully similar to Mandarin hotel
The dessert spread in the buffet
The Rise Cafe
Outside the convention center at nightfall
The CBD from the shops

The hotel blocks across the road is one of it’s kind weighing in with 2,560 rooms spanning over 3 towers each 55 floors high, all topped by a 340m-long sky park with their trademarked infinity swimming pool, which spans half the total length of the sky park itself. The sky park have capacity of 3,900 people and is too home to the world’s largest public cantilevered platform, with an overhang of 67m from the north (third) tower.

Interestingly, I remembered a remark from one of the engineers who designed the platform on the vibration analysis of the cantilever itself- despite it’s capacity to take on an excess of 1000 people dancing and stomping on it at a go (the cantilever is heavily counter-weighed on the other end of the tower 3). They even tested crowd vibration resonance tuned to various contemporary songs itself which can be played in a gig, and yes, there is actually a song blacklist for DJs.

The main hotel entrance and atrium is located at Tower 1. The atrium forms a long continuous span at ground level linking all three tower blocks through a glass covered walkway which tapers downwards towards tower 3. The cavernous open spaces in the Tower 1 lobby looks almost like that in Marina Mandarin, (which noticeably is just a few blocks away). Food-wise, there are 2 notable restaurants in the hotel itself, serving Chinese & international cuisines respectively. The latter located within the hotel’s main atrium café (rise) offers an impressive international buffet spread at $80 per head. It is so packed, the restaurant have a stand against reservations. No wine is served, unlike that at Ritz Carton with a better ambience a finer spread with a rate not too far off either.

The helix bridge all lit up
Helical bridge all lit
Coupled with a light show
Thats all folks! for now!
The IR at night

The views offered from the bay area are ones you will never see yourself getting sick of. Guests staying in the hotel will be treated to fantastic views of the Singapore skyline, whether you are on the north facing block towards the CBD or the south side overlooking the barrage, sea and the gardens by the bay. There are also occasional fireworks displays, coupled with a synchronised CBD light show.

That’s all I have of my first trip to the Sands Resort, I guess I might be back possibly next year for another peek where everything is nearing completion, not to mention also checking out the Sentosa resort as well. Cheers.

More photos of the Marina bay sands



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