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Singapore Surprise!

“The Merlion cried when I arrived. Singa­pore‘s landmark is standing in the warm rain, as is the legendary Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Rain, it can happen in Singapore. I‘ve been here over 20 times in the past 15 years and rain in Singapore means everything turns green – and off we go to new discoveries.“

Kai Böcking

I love the Lion City. For one, having Leo as my zodiac sign, but also because this city embodies the possibility of bleisure like few others on my travels. As soon as you arrive at the 24-hour mega airport Changi: free Wi-Fi in excellent quality and tourist SIM cards with 5 GB everywhere for less than 15 euros, which allow you to work anywhere in the city-state at any time, even in the spotlessly clean underground. Singapore has adjusted 100% to visitors who want both: Remote work and relaxation.

The last time I was here was for a TV production in early 2022, when Covid-19 testing was being heavily controlled. The city was just shaking off the shock of the pandemic. Many restaurants and street food centres were still closed and Singapore was coming back to life. Now, over 16 months later, the shock has been dealt with and I‘m determined to try something new. Thus, I won‘t be staying downtown this time, but on Sentosa Island. For many locals, expats and visitors, it is THE weekend getaway with beaches, family hotels, beach clubs, theme parks and entertainment of all kind. However Sentosa is also a destination for remote work. You just have to know where.

Palawan Beach, Sentosa
Palawan Beach, Sentosa

Two hotels are my choice …

The Outpost and The Barracks Hotel. They belong together, share a conference and wellness area as well as the Mess Hall at Sentosa – the former military post for British soldiers and now location for cafés, restaurants and a supermarket.
History was written here on the outskirts of Singapore. The buildings were largely historical accomodations and supply stations for the British artillery from 1904, when the island of Sentosa was still known as Pulau Blakang Mati. It was not until 2020, at the start of the pandemic, that it became The Barracks Hotel, a 5-star luxury hotel.

The former parade ground is now an avenue of palm trees which sets the scene for the magnificent colonial, snow-white buildings. On two floors with high ceilings and wide corridors, everything is chic and elegant. The open patio with the Club Lounge for breakfast and afternoon cocktails and tea – that are all inclusive for the guests of the 40 rooms and suites. It only takes a minute to check in at the small reception desk – I was being expected. My vintage room on the first floor has a free-standing bathtub with dark wood, a leather-cladded minibar and a small terrace overlooking the inner courtyard.. This hotel is definitely sexy! I‘m miles away from the tourist hype many visitors associate with Sentosa. It‘s a shame that I still have to work. But it‘s no big deal thanks to the excellent Wi-Fi and personal butler service, which organises printouts on request in just a few minutes.
Two 30-meter pools are available to the few guests from 7 am. This is my personal swim-paradise. I can flexibly order my breakfast at a certain time in the morning, with an à la carte selection ranging from Asian noodle soup to Eggs Benedict. And of course, a shuttle into the city is an included service here.

The Outpost Hotel
The Outpost Hotel

Gin from Singapore?

There are so many new things to do in this lively Singapore that the few days of my business trip are nowhere near long enough. On my last visit, I discovered a local gin in a bar – Brass Lion: a shimmering violet-blue cocktail creation mixed with tonic in a large wine glass. Gin from Singapore – who would do something like this? Satish Vaswani, a former airline manager. He proudly shows me his laboratory in his warehouse, which has been converted into Singapore‘s first distillery that showcases Gin in small quantities, with local ingredients and German expertise. I stand in awe in front of his German distillation unit which, with a coppery glow, distils the local gin through various stills and filters. And where did Satish get his knowledge from? From the Schwarzwald! The self-taught distiller spent six months learning the craft of gin distilling there and now supplies various varieties in small quantities to the Asian region. I took the secret of the violet-blue gin with me in a well-packaged bottle: Brass Lion – Butterfly Pea Gin.

Gin from Singapore
Gin from Singapore

Analogue experience

Chinatown Food Street
Chinatown Food Street

Singaporians are foodies which can make their lives quite difficult because they can choose from an incredible variety of restaurants, street food and bars. An expert recommended Analogue to me, a restaurant and bar, or vice versa, located in Chijmes, a picturesque food complex with a church – a Singaporean institution. I‘ve been going here regularly since my first trip, as well as to the neighbouring Hawker Stalls, where the freshest street food in town is prepared on the spot. Chijmes offers everything: western restaurants, steak houses and so on.

And now there‘s Analogue: a plant-based-restaurant, meaning a vegetarian eatery, with a bar counter like a blue wave made from plastic waste. One of the owners is Vijay Mudaliar. The wiry, Indian-born bar manager helped develop the concept. Exceptional drinks with exceptional dishes. I‘m always a bit critical of vegetarian food. Not because it doesn‘t taste good, but because it is usually so dogmatically nailed onto the menus of this world that I simply refuse to eat it. There are only seven dishes on the menu today. Vijay orders me his version of chicken nuggets, created by his young chef, served with homemade curry sauce. It blows me away, it simply tastes fantastic.. Also the trumpet mushrooms with an artichoke-soy-milk sauce and the sweet potato fries.

But Analogue has become famous for its cocktails. – “Expen­sive shit“? Sounds like my kind of drink: Gin, peach, a seaweed waffle, champagne and vegan caviar on top. You have to come up with something like this first. This is how to be successful in Foodie Town Singapore.

Remote work at the beach club

The next morning I have two things to do: move to a new hotel and try to work at the newest beach club. I check into The Outpost Hotel, just a few steps from the Barracks, and I‘m in a different concept: no kids, modern rooms, sea view, spa and a spaceious rooftop bar with an extraordinary pool and restaurant. The view from the top extends over Palawan Beach to the Straits of Singapore, where freighters wait in line like a string of pearls to enter the harbour. The hotel is sleek and modern, the rooms are bright with plenty of charging facilities, plus a seating area, desk and coffee machine. When checking in, every guest receives three free minibar drinks – this definitely makes it easier to work in your room.

The newest beach club, close to the hotel, is +Twelve on ­Palawan Beach. The beach is popular, especially on weekends. And to be honest: there are a number of beach clubs for families here, so it‘s loud. That‘s where my air pods give up – and so does my concentration. I need/want to work here with my laptop and still enjoy the amenities of a beach club. +Twelve only opened a few months ago. It looks like ­somewhere in the Mediterranean. Terraced cabanas and wide daybeds right on the beach, with a bar and restaurant. And yes, even a DJ whose lounge music my headphones can suppress. No loud party, no freaky hipster groups. My daybed is just over 2 meters wide, there‘s a table in the middle, towels, waiters and waitresses around all of the guests.. I open my laptop and enjoy my remote working. All is good. And the rain on this trip – not an issue for me.

Seng Road in Katong
Seng Road in Katong
Chinatown – Buddha Tooth Relic Tempel
Chinatown – Buddha Tooth Relic Tempel

In conclusion: Singapore is constantly reinventing itself. People from all nations live together peacefully here and are incredibly welcoming. At the same time, the Lion City has long been the business hub in the region and now also also offers all kinds of freedoms and options for remote work.
And Sentosa? The island has unjustifiably received the reputation of “just“ being a tourist destination. Leisure and business are both at home here.

Kai Böcking …

… loves Singapore as a traditional, modern melting pot and as a hub for the bleisure and workation world. Cities like Singapore gave him the idea for this magazine in 2018.

Bleisure Tipps Singapur

Singapore is a melting pot of cultures and cuisines. The offers range from the best street food in the world to international star rated ­cuisine. You can get anywhere with the spotlessly clean underground railway or in an inexpensive taxi.
In the basement of the Chinatown Wet Market, there is a market that goes beyond all Western expectations. Fish, meat, spices – you can‘t beat the freshness of what‘s no longer alive. Two floors up is my favourite Hawker Stall, a street food temple. Tip: reserve a table with a pack of tissues. Then it‘s all yours.
Malcolm Lee celebrates Singapore‘s traditional Peranakan cuisine in his restaurant Candlenut, one Michelin star.
The best restaurant in Asia is run by Frenchman Julien Royer. His creations at Odette are world class.
Bar tip: Austrian Wolfgang Puck runs his bar by what is probably
the most famous pool in the world, on the roof of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Go there in the evening and enjoy the view over Singapore.

Info Sentosa Island

Sentosa is an approximately 5 square kilometer island off the coast of Singapore. The former British military base is connected to the mainland via a bridge. Casino hotels, theme parks and water sport – Sentosa is one of Singapore‘s favourite MICE and excursion destinations. In addition there are more and more adult-only peaceful oases, premium resorts and restaurants.
Sentosa Golf Club is home to a number of top restaurants, from Chef‘s Table to the upscale Panamericana Grill. Great view.
The newest beach club is the +Twelve. Relaxing place with great sushi, cool music and view of the Straits of Singapore.
The classic is the Capella Singapore, repeatedly honoured as the best hotel in Singapore. Cascading pool complex and ultra-luxury in the lively neighbourhood of Sentosa.

www.visitsingapore.com, www.sentosa.com

Fotos: © Singapore Tourism Board/Yik Keat, Singapore Tourism Board, Hype Digital, Danny Santos, Kai Böcking, Sentosa Development Corporation, Asia Consolidated DMC PTE. LTD,  Mount Faber Leisure

Tags : Destination