It’s obvious why most people have a staycation at Marina Bay Sands — that 146m-long bucket list, once in a lifetime, highly instagrammable body of water that reigns as the world’s largest, longest, infinity pool at that height. But there’s more to this Moshe Safdie-designed property than just the infinity pool and its gobsmacking view, we discovered. Here’s the lowdown on our MBS staycation, and tips on what you can do to get more out of your stay than just a series of happy snaps at the tallest infinity pool in the world (though that’s amazing too of course).
DIsclaimer: we were invited to stay and play so our review started from a lofty +100 points :)
10 cool tips for the best MBS staycation for families and kids
1. Keep that confirmation number
You will receive your confirmation number via email a couple of days before your stay. These seven digits are the key to two important things: 1. your check-in time, and 2. your pool time. Both can be booked one day before your stay though an SMS link. Don’t bother trying earlier as the system will have to validate your confirmation number and your check-in date before proceeding.
2. Book a early check-in time at Marina Bay Sands
As a safe distancing measure, staggered check-in times are implemented. You can secure your slot 24 hours prior to arrival via SMS. Do note that your room may not necessarily be ready at that time. Still, you can take a chance and if it is (ready, that is) you’ll get to enjoy the views early!
3. Book your infinity pool time ASAP
Pool slots are per room, and each room gets 75 minutes of pool time per day. These run out at light speed so if you really want that perfect shot for your IG grid: be kiasu. If you wait till the day itself to book, you may not get a slot. Case in point: when I tried at 6.45am on our last day, the only timeslot available was for 7.25–8.40am and there were “<4” spaces available.
4. Chase the golden hours for the best pool pictures
That means booking your pool slot for sunrise or sunset to get those gorgeous honey hues in your photos. In addition, you’ll witness the world shift from dusk to night, or from dawn to day, 57 levels above the city (200m above sea level). It’s pretty phenomenal.
5. Visit the Artscience Museum
There’s always something new to see at this cutting edge museum and you don’t have to be a dedicated lover of art, or science, to appreciate it. Kids of all ages love Future World with its immersive digital interactive installations that swirl and transform before their eyes and under their fingertips.
Older ones will enjoy Virtual Realms: Videogames Transformed which transports visitors into six experiential realms conjured by the world’s leading video game developers and media artists.
We take part in a half-day Mini Holiday Camp: Ready, Get Set, Play! which is part of the museum’s Gameplay special event (running through 17 September 2021).
First up is a quick tour of the Virtual Realms exhibition. After that the kids learn how to create their own playable video games from their own 2D drawings on paper. Verdict from the young one: “It was great! I liked drawing monsters and how they made the ‘work’ so fun to do!”
We return the next day for another exhibition, Orchestral Manoeuvres: See Sound. Feel Sound. Be Sound, a beautifully curated trip through the art of noise. One quietly provocative installation even evokes the art of meditative silence through sound as you sit and are serenaded by a choir through 40 speakers surrounding you!
There’s also an intriguing musical installation inspired by an Olympic race, and a look into how a woman who was born deaf interprets music. Especially fun for kids is the interactive section where you can create your own musical notation, step on sounding boards, see household objects turned into sound chimes, and ‘perform’ on a piano.
If I haven’t said it yet, this is one of the kids’ favourite museums to visit. When I mentioned that we would be having a staycation at Marina Bay Sands, the first question they asked was, “Can we go to the Artscience Museum?”
6. Go on the FREE Sustainability and Art Path Tour
Complimentary for guests who stay two nights or more, this 75-minute walking tour introduces some of the art installations and sustainability practices around the property.
We find out how sensors in the Shoppes determine when lighting is required so electricity is not wasted. We also learn how underground tanks store excess water from the Rain Oculus to fill the canal (where you can take a sampan ride) during drier weather. Did you know that there’s another oculus at the Artscience Museum? Water from here is recycled to flush the toilets in the building.
The artworks aren’t just there to look fabulous. They play a part in the hotel’s sustainability efforts as well. Ned Kahn’s Wind Arbor, which consists of over 260,000 aluminum “flappers” blanketing the hotel’s exterior, creates a constantly shifting panorama while reflecting heat to help keep interiors cool.
Then there’s the restaurant RISE whose herb garden is where the hotel’s horticultural team nurtures over 100 species of plants and vegetables which make their way into the menu’s dishes. We even saw a strawberry, a cucumber, blue pea flowers, and roselle fruit.
After the tour, kids will receive an activity book (partly illustrated by artists from The Art Faculty, which promotes the talents of people with autism) with quizzes, pop-ups, facts, and ideas on what to do around Marina Bay.
7. Feast like a beast
Both the Hotel and the Shoppes have celebrity chef restaurants with cuisines that will satiate any and every appetite. If (like us) you have not taken both vaccination shots and are hence unable to dine in at the restaurants, you can still enjoy these in the comfort of your room thanks to MBS’s Gourmet Takeaway service. Food collection is from a counter at the MICE centre — very convenient!
If you’re wondering what to order, these received rave reviews from the kids:
- db Bistro & Oyster Bar by Daniel Boulud – Herb-roasted Chicken (“heavenly”), Mediterranean Sea Bass (“this is amazing!”), and Roasted Maine Lobster
- RISE – Hokkien Mee (so good it should be on all the “best ever” lists), Har Cheong Gai, and Rojak
- Yardbird – Chicken ‘N’ Watermelon ‘N’ Waffle, Mac & Cheese (“I’m finishing all of this”), and Smoked Pork Ribs
- Black Tap – Korean BBQ Wings and Greg Norman burger (“oh the blue cheese actually tastes good!”)
8. Take a stroll around the Marina Bay Promenade
At around 3.5km long, this is the perfect distance to whet your appetite for a gourmet meal or kickstart your digestive system into burning off some calories after indulging. It’s a (mostly) stroller-friendly path and there are lots of photo-ops too.
Start from the Artscience Museum, go up the Helix Bridge (the only stairs along the route), and through the Youth Olympic Games park. You’ll pass the Floating Platform as well as the Esplanade before crossing Jubilee Bridge towards the Merlion.
This walk is a great way to introduce the kids to Singapore’s trading history too. Show them where bum boats would have sailed in to get to Collyer Quay (which was built by convict labour). Tell them how Clifford Pier was once the landing point for immigrants who left their homes to seek a better life in Singapore.
As you round the Bay back towards MBS, you’ll pass the Red Dot Museum. This is undergoing renovations till April 2022 but the playground next to it is not! Along the Waterfront Promenade are deck chairs and a massive oversized bench (created using recycled benches from the old National Stadium). This is a fun climbing structure (hold the kids) and photo op. Sit back, relax, and watch twilight fall over the city.
9. Bring binoculars
If your room faces the city, it’s a fun way to show the kids the civic district from a different perspective. See how many iconic bridges, historic buildings, and landmarks you can identify with the naked eye. After that, use the binoculars to take a closer look at them.
10. Visit the SkyPark Observation Deck on level 57
The SkyPark is why it really doesn’t matter where your room faces. You can get views from the other side here, and entry is free for hotel guests (one keycard per person). Depending on which day you stay, you can also book a session of sunrise or sunset yoga. This is conducted by Virgin Active (separate cost and Sands Rewards LifeStyle members get a reduced price).
10 ways to level up your Marina Bay Sands family staycation
As you can probably tell, we had a pretty fabulous time at Marina Bay Sands. If you are thinking of having a family staycation here soon, we hope these tips help you to make wonderful memories too. We can’t wait to to go back for more!
(See also: How to Take the Best Family and Kids Photos)