Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa Review
The Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa is a luxurious treetop sanctuary built around an enchanting waterscape of deep pools and tranquil ponds. This clifftop retreat, with its incredible sea views, is the perfect escape in which to unwind and refresh. Built within one of Singapore's stunning colonial heritage buildings and blended with French chic, the Sofitel Sentosa epitomises grace and charm. Only a short 20-minute drive from the CBD once ensconced at the Resort it feels as if you are a million miles away from Singapore's hustle and bustle.
This incredible mix of easy accessibility and the sense of isolation is precisely why I chose to take my family to one of my favourite hotels in Singapore. What I was looking for was somewhere we could unwind, be pampered and most importantly was child-friendly. Having previously lived in Singapore during the early 2000s, I was familiar with the hotel under its previous manifestation as the Beaufort Sentosa. Venue to an excellent New Year's Eve Party (I can't remember which). Since 2014, however, it has become a Sofitel Resort under the management of the Accor group. And while the building itself has not changed, the decor and service now more than live up to the Sofitel's reputation for luxury and elegance.
Booking a Room & Getting There
The other reason I settled on the Sofitel Sentosa rather than say the Shangri-La was that is represented excellent value for money. Where we could stay in a room at the Shangri-La, for the same amount, we could have a suite at the Sofitel. And while staying, we received a 50% discount on food and 15% off of our drinks bills. These savings were thanks to my Accor Plus Membership, as I booked the room during a members-only 30% sale. If you would like to learn more about Accor Plus, I have written a full review of the benefits. The other option I sprung for when making the booking was the MyKids option (AUD 50/ Day). MyKids includes a welcome gift, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, as well as unlimited playtime in Villa Des Enfants (Kid's club).
We caught the 2 pm Singapore Airlines SQ226 up, an enjoyable 5-hour flight from Perth. Just enough time for lunch and a couple of movies. The crew were absolutely fantastic; they were so welcoming and thoughtful. Bub left clutching an origami bunny rabbit made out of one of the steamed face cloths that Singapore Airlines is always handing out. The creator of this mini work of art was none other than the customer service manager, who was determined that our 3-year-old would have the most incredible flight possible. When airlines say they go out of their way to make children welcome, Singapore Airlines means it. We often travel in business with our daughter but whereas most airlines tend to treat her with gentle indifference Singapore Airlines made her feel special. Once on the ground, Changi Airport with its usual incredible efficiency reunited us with our bags, and we were soon in a taxi for the 30 minute trip to the Resort. Monday night traffic was light, and in no time we were heading over the bridge to the Island of Sentosa—immediately a hit with my daughter, as the first thing she saw was a fairy castle (Universal Studios).
Frogs & Fruit Cocktails
We pulled up in front of the striking white-pillared entrance to be warmly greeted by the concierge and invited into Reception. Having dealt with the formalities of passports and credit card imprints, we were soon enjoying refreshing welcome fruit cocktails. Bub at this time was becoming better acquainted with her welcome gift, a plush green frog with a brown Sofitel scarf. She was under the impression that this was a Sentosa frog that had started life as a tadpole in one of the Resort's many ponds.
The foyer perfectly exemplifies the Resort's fusion of colonial architecture and modern French style. The striking modern metal and glass chandelier sits happily within the high ceiling of the original building. The tall white pillars and black polished marble floors reflect the pink triangular roof panels; eclectic elements working in harmony.
The Prestige Suite
Once we were ready, one of the charming ladies from reception escorted us to our suite in the Tranquility Wing. I was very grateful for this consideration, as the Resort has a large footprint and I could see myself getting us hopelessly lost otherwise. When we reached our room, we were delighted to find that it was set off of a light-filled quadrangle overlooking a picturesque water garden. Stepping out the door first thing in the morning to be met by this view was a great way to begin the day.
For our visit, we had decided on a Prestige Suite, principally because it provided total separation between the living room and the bedroom. The idea being that when Bub went down to bed, we would not be tiptoeing around in the dark and reading phones with blankets pulled up over our heads.
The Suite more than lived up to expectations; the size, layout and furnishings were all exceptionally well thought out. The 64 sqm suite was split evenly down the middle so that both the living room and bedroom were both an excellent size. The rooms were separated by two sets of double doors and a small corridor; perfect for keeping noise and light out of the living room where Bub had her bed. You will not see Bub's bed in these pictures as it arrived shortly after and was set up against the wall. The bed was a single with a proper mattress and base, much better than the trundle I had expected.
The Living Room was generously furnished with a three-seater sofa, a couple of leather armchairs and a desk. The general style of the decor was rich and sumptuous with the occasional touch of outright bling. I loved it as while there was a sense of theatre, first and foremostly the room has been designed to be functional and comfortable.
A perfect example of this would be the credenza for the minibar and coffee machine, a striking white and gold piece custom-designed to both house and disguise the more mundane functions of fridge and kettle. Other quality features of the living room were the couch that was firm and provided excellent back support and the large flatscreen tv that had been beautifully flush-mounted. The heavy-duty blackout curtains were great at keeping out the light and both rooms had separate air-conditioning controls so that it was possible to set entirely different temperatures.
The bedroom continues to blend function with style successfully. The cupboards were more than large enough to allow us to fully unpack while the gold pendant light over the gold chair was an attractive element. The bed as you would expect was extremely comfortable; being a Sofitel MyBed. Sofitel makes their own mattresses designed to provide whole-body support and motion absorption. The MyBed mattress is medium-firm with a soft top layer, which just happens to be my preference. The room had an excellent range of different lighting options to choose from; directional reading lights, full-sized lamps and night lights.
The standout design feature of the bedroom for me, however, has to be the full-length window into the ensuite shower. The large flat screen did go a long way to providing a modicum of coverage, though there was a full-length blind if total privacy was desired. The shower was beautifully tiled in a mosaic of different iridescent pinks and was fitted with a massive rain head.
The shampoo, conditioner and shower gel were from Lanvin, one of France's oldest high-end fashion houses. Specifically from their Orange Ambre range that has notes of green tea, lotus, amber, orange and lemon. This information is thanks to their website, as to be honest, my nose is not that discerning. I can tell you that it smelled nice, not too floral and that it lathered well. In any event, my wife definitely seemed to like the body lotion.
While not huge, the ensuite was exceptionally well designed, comfortably fitting the full-sized bath and a separate toilet. The toilet like the shower had the floor to ceiling mosaic tiling and was partitioned off by a frosted glass door. The decor was warm and luxurious with black marble surfaces, rich timber flooring and mirrors every which way you looked.
The Suite was everything we could have wanted, wonderfully quiet and more than large enough to give us the individual living areas that we had wanted. The in-room entertainment was excellent; the large flat screens had a superb picture quality and a vast range of stations to choose from offering Movies, News and Sport. There was also the ability to connect your laptop to the TV in the bedroom using an ingenious wall plate. So instead of rummaging around behind the TV, you simply plug your HDMI cable into the wall. Being Singapore, the internet was lightning fast, allowing me to keep on top of work or stream Netflix easily. Housekeeping was excellent; the room was beautifully made up around midday so that if we wanted to come back for an afternoon siesta, we could. And every night we came back to a turned down room with a selection of delicious French pastries.
Breakfast at Kwee-Zeen
The Resort has three restaurants, a classy Italian, a healthy one and the casual dining Kwee-Zheen. Located at the front of the resort, just to the left of the main entrance, Kwee-Zheen provides guests with a sumptuous buffet breakfast from 6:30 am till 10:30 am (11 am on weekends). Guests have the choice of either indoor or outdoor dining.
The first thing that strikes me about the restaurant is the sense of light and space. Massive wooden pillars rise 20 feet to support the vast geometric red ceiling, from which powerful lights and mirrors bathe the room in light. More light comes streaming through the large floor-to-ceiling windows to reflect off of the restaurant's parquet floor. And just in case you missed the Sofitel's French connection, a beautiful translucent Eifel Tower sits in pride of place on the main service counter.
The restaurant can be divided into two distinct styles of cuisine, Western and Asian. Inside are the continental and cooked breakfasts, while on the verandah is where the dim sums, laksas and curries are prepared and served. Having been warmly welcomed and shown to a table, we were ready to start gathering provisions. The first stop was the juice bar where a selection of freshly squeezed juices—orange, apple and guava—were available for self-service. There was also a dedicated "juicer" who was making daily specials to "detox" or "powerup" with cucumbers and carrots.
Also at the juice bar, you will find a sizeable automated coffee machine which will grind beans and froth milk for your morning cappuccino. The end result is good, but to be honest, there is an art to making a great cup of coffee which machines have yet to master. I would love to see a human barista added to the Resort's breakfast service. Where the Resort excels is in the baking of pastries; piled high are some of the best croissants and chocolate croissants I have come across at a buffet before.
For those of you with a sweet tooth, then the freshly cooked waffles are a must. I know they were a hit with my daughter, though it is fair to say that the pancakes gave them a good run for their money. Trying to show some self-restraint myself, I postponed the pastries till at least after some savoury options. The continental selection included cold meats, smoked salmon, cheeses, salads and a wide array of condiments. Not surprisingly, being in Asia, both the range and quality of the fruit was excellent. The watermelon, melons and pineapple were sweet and perfectly ripe, while the crisp apples and juicy pears came in handy as snacks throughout the mornings.
The cooked options were to the rear of the restaurant, and that was where I headed first. The chicken sausages were delicious, well cooked and full of flavour. The eggs were a beautiful colour and consistency, up there with some of the better buffet scrambled eggs I have enjoyed. The bacon was crisp and the mushrooms firm and bursting with flavour. As far as a cooked breakfast goes, it was excellent.
However, I only opted for the cooked breakfast on our first day, before being lured away by the beautiful steamed dumplings and curries on offer on the verandah. The prawn dumplings nestled in their bamboo steamers and the roti prata served fresh from the oven were delicious.
The verandah makes for a beautiful breakfast venue, well shaded by black and white awnings, cooled by fans and with restful views out over the treetops. Breakfast on the terrace is an extremely relaxing way to start the day, even with Bub. It is very family-friendly; high chairs are available, and children are given colourful plastic cutlery. One of my only regrets about our visit to Sofitel Sentosa was that we were unable to attend Kwee-Zheens piece de resistance—the Sunday Champagne Brunch. Sunday Brunch offers 16 different service stations, serving everything from live seafood to nitrogen icecream. Diners, as the name implies, also enjoy free-flowing Tattinger Champagne from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm.
At the heart of the Resort is its magnificent 33-meter pool framed by towering trees and terracotta-tiled rooftops. As soon as you step into the pool area, you immediately feel the cares of the world lift from your shoulders. Every thought of jumping in a cab and going somewhere evaporates. As far as my family was concerned, all we wanted to do was stretch out on the comfortable deck chairs and plunge into the inviting waters.
The Pool has a child-friendly side which is reasonably shallow and has steps to make for easy entry. This safe corridor is clearly identifiable by a blue and white lane rope. However, once past the rope and into the main body of the pool, the dark-tiled bottom shelves away to become quite easily the deepest pool I have ever swum in. Temperature-wise, the pool is perfect: cold enough that you feel refreshed when you get in but warm enough that you are not getting out because you are cold. Bub loved the pool and spent hours bobbing around, but for myself, it did not take too many 33-meter laps for me to decide that I had earned a drink.
On what I have termed the forest side is where you will find the bar. Though to be honest, it was not necessary to visit, as the table service at the pool was excellent. As soon as we were settled, we were handed menus and asked if there was anything we would like to drink. You will, however, need to at least pass by the bar when you first get to the pool, as that is where you will find the towels neatly stacked.
The bar makes a range of signature cocktails, and I would particularly recommend their Mojito. Made sweeter than usual, it went down exceptionally well on a hot afternoon. The bar also offers a good selection of reasonably priced wines, which was good to see. Singapore is generally an expensive place to drink wine because of the high flat-rate tax applied to it. We picked up a very drinkable bottle of white for around $65, which I considered excellent value.
We loved the pool and spent at least half of every day chilling out beside it and soaking up the tranquil ambience. Thanks to the pool, I ended up cancelling a whole range of other activities I had planned, including a visit to the Zoo. But having taken Bub to Universal Studios at Resort World on our first day, I did not feel that she was being too hard done by.
Couples and families would come and go throughout the day, but at no time did the pool ever feel crowded or noisy. The facilities and furnishings were pristine; everything from the tan umbrellas to the blue and cream coloured cushions looked brand new, while the pool area was kept immaculately clean by the ever-attentive staff. I cannot think of a better place in Singapore to go to relax and unwind.
The Cliff restaurant serves modern-casual Italian fare while providing its guests with sweeping views out over the South China Sea. The Cliff was our favourite restaurant for both lunch and dinner. Firstly because we love Italian (especially Bub whose favourite food is pasta), but even more so because of its convenient location. The Cliff sits on the western side of the pool: perfect if, like us, that was where you were spending your days.
The decor was stylish but relaxed, with the signature colour being a turquoise blue. When we dined, we opted for the more informal outside seating, as there was less likelihood of Bub disturbing other guests. During the day there was plenty of shade provided by the attractive triangular-patterned awnings and, due to its clifftop location, a pleasant breeze.
For lunch, we ordered a couple of the tomato, basil and mozzarella woodfired pizzas to share. When they turned up on their wooden boards, they were delicious—some of the best pizzas I have eaten, and I have eaten a lot. This deliciousness was due to mouth-watering ingredients and an incredible pizza base, a perfect combination of crisp outside and softer base. The pizzas were a good size, with two of them comfortably feeding the three of us.
Something else that The Cliff does exceptionally well is cocktails. One of my more enjoyable holiday projects was to teach the bar to make me a dirty martini just the way I like. My wife, on the other hand, prefers lychee martinis, and according to her, the bar got that just right on their first go. The only word of advice I would make concerning drinking at The Cliff is that while they make barista steamed coffee, it is $11 a cup. You might be better off using the coffee machine back in the room unless you desperately need a caffeine fix.
At night, The Cliff takes on a warmer, more intimate feel as the awnings, which during the day shaded the restaurant, now reflect warm lamplight down onto the verandah. With the transition from day to night, what we will be drinking with dinner needs reassessment. Now, as I previously mentioned, wine is generally expensive in Singapore, so there is even more incentive not to pick a bad bottle. Fortunately, at The Cliff, there was an unexpected gem on the wine list, the Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz from the Barrosa Valley. A red that fights well above its price tag and is one I can very much recommend.
For our dinner, we started with the bruschetta followed by the buffalo mozzarella ravioli for our mains. Bub, a staunch adherent to the "if it ain't broke don't fix it" school of thought, opted for another pizza. We were extremely grateful for this, as while our pasta was truly excellent, there was just not enough of it. One of the reasons I find Italian food particularly appealing is because it typically embodies a spirit of generosity, both in flavour and serving size. Our mains, however, were more in keeping with what I would expect from a starter, which meant that Bub's pizza very quickly became communal property. Though since she was allowed to have a selection of sorbets and gelati to herself for dessert as a thank you, she left happy.
If the worst I can say about a restaurant is that I would have liked more of their delicious food, then that is quite an endorsement. We loved eating at The Cliff; there was a genuine sense of casual Mediterranean fine dining. The service was superb, the location incredible, and the food bursting with flavour. Also, thanks to our Accor Plus membership, it was very reasonably priced—50% off of the food bill and 15% off of the drinks bill.
The Sofitel Sentosa being a Resort meant that there were a host of other activities to enjoy during the day. The first one I wanted to go and explore was the gym, which goes by the name SoFIT (number 9) on the map below.
SoFIT is housed in a separate building from the main Resort complex and sits next to the Spa, Kids Club and The Garden Restaurant. As far as getting from the main building down to the gym, there are two options: either the concierge will organise transport to take you down, or you can walk.
I opted for the walking option as it gave me a chance to explore the grounds as well as proving to be a proper warm-up. To get down to the gym, you walk through the main building, passing The Cliff restaurant on your left, which transitions into a concrete driveway. This driveway meanders past the tennis courts to meet up with a road and on the other side is the gym.
Walking through the doors of SoFIT I was met with a welcoming blast of aircon, looked around the elegant reception area and made my way to the front desk to sign-in. I was making a mid-afternoon visit, so I was not surprised to see that I was the only one there; the more motivated guests having already been and gone.
SoFIT is two stories, with a studio on the first floor and the main gym downstairs. I helped myself to one of the freshly rolled towels and headed in. The gym itself is a good size and filled with light from the large double aspect windows. There is a full assortment of pristine Lifefitness cardio and weight machines, as well as racks full of weights. But as the closest I come to lifting weights is the weekly box of San Pellegrino from the back fo the car to the fridge, I headed over to the treadmills.
The view from the running machines and bikes is incredibly relaxing: an elevated outlook over a light-dappled forest floor. I do not know why, but as soon as I saw it, I was reminded of Cameron's house in Ferris Buellers Day Off. The Mies van der Rohe inspired one that gets a Ferrari Daytona through the window. The gym is spotlessly clean and very peaceful, with scented oil candles wafting pleasant aromas and chilled water on tap. I was very impressed with the gym, and it was well worth the walk. In fact, it became quite the early afternoon routine.
For those of you looking for a little more pampering, then the World's largest SoSPA is where to head. Located directly across from SoFIT and housed in a beautiful two-story colonial building are 14 indoor treatment rooms, 6 outdoor spa pavilions, a private swimming pool and a mud pool.
The Spa is a fusion of French cosmetology and Asian treatments, ranging from thirty minute back and scalp massages up to the two and a half hours of sheer bliss with the So In Love package. Unfortunately, the closest I came to this oasis of indulgence was the front desk when I was looking for direction to the Kids Club. So while I continue to regret not visiting, I will leave you to peruse the menu at your leisure.
The Kids Club
You will find The Kids Club—Villa Des Enfants—in the same building as SoSPA, with the entrance just to the right of The Garden, the healthy restaurant. We did not make it to this restaurant as, to be honest, it was just a little too healthy for my liking. We did poke our heads in, and the restaurant was a strikingly airy, light-filled room with enormous ceilings and massive windows. The menu is Mediterranean in theme and primarily salad based—enough said.
To reach The Kids Club we climbed a couple of flights of stairs (don't worry, there are child gates). The Club itself is made up of separate rooms that have been set up with different age-appropriate activities. There is a rock climbing frame, tool benches, kitchens and train sets, as well as TVs playing children's shows and video games. The rooms are bright and colourful, decorated with paintings and posters, as well as being fully airconditioned. Children under 4 are required to be supervised by their parents, while older children are welcome to spend time by themselves (with a staff member on duty to keep an eye on them). If Bub had been 4+ and we could have dropped her off knowing that she was going to be happy playing with other children her own age, we would have made more use of it.
As to be honest, there are so many more fun things to do on Sentosa. On the advice of one of our friends who lives in Singapore, we went in search of Kidzania. Kidzania is a mini indoor city were children role-play different jobs and earn money for their participation. It was incredible and, in fact, turned out to be a bigger hit with Bub than Universal Studios. She was a doctor, a pilot, and a fireman, although being a courier was her favourite. The scenarios generally take 30 minutes to complete, which gave us a chance to enjoy a drink and read the news. Kidzania is a comfortable 15-minute walk from the Sofitel along Palawan beach, and you will definitely know when you get there as it has a plane sticking out the front of the building.
The Resort runs regular buses down to Resort World, which is only a five-minute drive down the hill. The buses pick you up outside of reception, with one departing every 15 minutes. The buses are comfortable, airconditioned and the drivers friendly; they are a great way to get around Sentosa.
The two biggest drawcards of Resort World are Universal Studios and the S.E.A. Aquarium. Universal Studios is always popular, and it is worth getting down early. If you can make it through the gates at the front of the first rush, you can pretty much cover half the rides in the park before the queue times start to build.
We got down at 9:30 for gate opening at 10 am and by 11 am we had ticked off Madagascar, Far Far Away, Ancient Egypt and Sci-Fi City. However, by the time we hit New York and the Sesame Street Spaghetti Space Chase ride, the wait time was up to the more usual 30 - 45 mins mark.
12 o'clock was the perfect time to pit-stop for some chicken rice before heading into the Lost World to tick off the last of the rides suitable for a toddler. A short taxi ride back to the Resort and we could cross Universal off our list before the heat of the midday sun really started to bite. While a three-hour visit might seem on the short side considering the cost (SGD $75 an adult), I cannot overemphasise how draining the heat can be. At the end of our visit, Bub was pretty shattered, and we were very glad to have her home in time for her afternoon nap. For me, it was definitely one of those quality-over-quantity type outings
For a more relaxed and far cooler outing, I cannot recommend the S.E.A. Aquarium enough. The S.E.A. Aquarium is a great day out for kids and parents alike. There are 10 different zones to explore, with the centrepiece being the massive 36-meter-wide viewing window onto one of the World's best collections of manta rays. I love the fact that you spend the visit gently meandering from one dark, well-airconditioned room to another, encountering ever more incredible marine life.
The exhibits are truly world-class, the only aquarium I have been to which even comes close is Sea World in Florida. For the kids, the aquarium runs different themed activities, encouraging participation and providing rewards in the form of stickers, biscuits and juice bottles.
Once you are back at the Resort, then Le Bar is the perfect place to stop in for a refreshing drink. Le Bar is located in the central axis of the main building and surrounded by water. There is even a pond at the back where you are welcome to enjoy a fish pedicure. We visited on two occasions; once after an evening out with friends and then on our last afternoon so as to use our complimentary drinks vouchers.
The complimentary drinks were thanks to my being a Le Club Silver Status member, which is another benefit of Accor Plus membership—fast-tracked Silver Status. The friendly bar staff went out of their way to make us feel comfortable, finding us seats where there was the best breeze and making sure that the fans were set on high. Complimentary drinks do not mean, however, that you can order up a couple of glasses of Dom Pérignon, as you are given an approved list to choose from. Being in Singapore, I opted for a Singapore Sling and my wife went for the Sentosa Sling, the green one.
Between 2 pm and 6 pm, Le Bar serves a wonderfully quaint afternoon tea, where gourmet sandwiches and French pastries arrive in black jewellery boxes. These can be washed down with TWG tea, Illy coffee or Taittinger Champagne. At night the bar comes to life with live music, and the views out over the illuminated fountain are captivating.
The Final Say
The Sofitel Sentosa exceeded my expectations for our family holiday. We left feeling relaxed and revitalised after a wonderful week of enchanting surroundings and world-class service. As I had hoped, the Resort was extremely child-friendly, and being on Sentosa meant that we were spoilt for outstanding family activities to choose from. The warmth and friendliness of the staff meant that no request was ever too much trouble. I cannot recommend the Sofitel Sentosa enough to anyone looking for a luxurious but laid back getaway.
I hope you enjoyed the review and, as always, please feel free to ask any questions in the comments section below, and I will endeavour to answer them.
If you would like to learn more about the Accor Plus membership or would like some suggestions on things to do while in Singapore, these other articles might be of interest:
Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa
Address: Sentosa, 2 Bukit Manis Rd, Singapore 099891
Phone: +65 6708 8310
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