Singapore, officially the Republic of Singapore, is a sovereign island city-state in maritime Southeast Asia.
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia
Built in 1996 at a cost of S$500 million, a staggering sum at the time, The Ritz-Carlton (it’s never called the Ritz) remains beloved by Singapore’s moneyed set, who roll up to the narrow, royal palm and heliconia-lined driveway in chauffeured Jaguars and Bentleys for afternoon tea beneath a Dale Chihuly blown-glass sculpture. Set in nearly three hectares of gardens, the 32-storey building was designed by Irish architect Kevin Roche and Pritzker Prize laureate John Dinkeloo as a deceptively simple geometric form clad in steel and glass. Every bathroom is positioned on an outside wall, which means lingering baths with the breathtaking sweep of either Marina Bay and the Manhattan-esque splendour of Raffles Place or of the island (ask for a corner room ending in 26 on the higher floors). In 2011, every room was spruced up by Burega Farnell with a new palette of pale faux-leather walls, soft carpet and timber floors, refining the already hyper-luxurious ambience, while the Club Lounge, refurbished in 2013, is a delicious treat. The whip-smart staff, easily the city’s best, deliver proactive, polished and discreet service. And in a city that prides itself on overt gluttony, the ridiculously extravagant Sunday brunch of oysters, soufflés and free-flow Moët & Chandon in the spruced up Colony restaurant is legendary. For less conspicuous consumption, the dim sum at the Tony Chi-designed Summer Pavilion is flawless.
Design Orchard is a long overdue antidote to the Singaporean shopper’s one-eyed devotion to foreign brands, and its debut in early 2019 in the midst of Orchard Road’s glittering Rolodex of bold-faced names was a move of first-grade chutzpah. Housed in a distinctive pile topped with a terraced rooftop garden and amphitheatre, the three-level complex – designed by architectural studio WOHA with lashings of green, timber and glass – is part retail space, part events hub and part co-working space for up-and-coming designers. The retail experience is joyfully eclectic – fragrances, skin care, fashion, textiles and accessories, alongside artisanal food and home furnishings – with the only common denominator being that each of the sixty-plus brands on show is Singaporean owned and designed (though not necessarily made).
Open Farm Community
Designed after a greenhouse, this idyllic restaurant is surrounded by an urban farm that grows a variety of herbs along with tropical fruit trees and vegetables such as tapioca and sweet potato. There are also two lawn bowling lanes for anyone who fancies a bit of a romp in the sun. The menu is focused around supporting Singaporean farms and sustainable enterprises. Think local Barramundi bathed in mussel butter, paired with snap pea shoots and wreathed in pea flowers; and a garden-oriented spin on countryside pasta: gnudi atop a pesto made with herbs from the garden, volcanic pili nuts from the Philippines, and preserved local lime. It is, however, the simple dishes that impress the most here, perhaps a crunchy bowl of cauliflower glazed with miso and sesame, or fresh radishes swimming in a tangy yoghurt dressing. After dinner, take a stroll around the property and chat up the farmers who are usually more than happy to talk about the plants they grow.
Arts and Culture
With its genesis as far back as 1822, this stunning grande dame houses almost too many attractions to list. Heritage trees, of which there are fourteen, with some predating the 1819 founding of modern-day Singapore. Stunning bronze sculptures among the foliage, of which there are about twenty. Orchid Gardens, which are home to more than 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, with about 600 species and hybrids on display. A six-hectare area of primary tropical forest, in which more than 300 species of herbs, ferns, climbers, shrubs and trees co-exist. A lake where beautiful white swans glide along, a romantic and historic bandstand that was the stage for some of the country’s earliest public performances of Western classical music, a rolling lawn on which to enjoy a rest and perhaps a free concert. Gardens of healing herbs, gingers, highland foliage. Lush green in every shade, everywhere you turn (or jog), all lovingly tended by hands and hearts that are at one with nature. The Gardens is the first and only tropical garden on Unesco’s World Heritage list.
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