There’s a saying to “start as you mean to go on”. With this in mind, the kids and I spent our first official weekend of 2023 enjoying a series of fun, colourful, and memorable experiences (that will hopefully pave the way for more of the same in the coming months), thanks to the Family Vibes Staycation Package at Vibe Hotel Singapore Orchard. The Family Vibes Staycation starts from March (in time for the school holidays!) but you can book it now. In brief, here’s what this weekend getaway includes:
- 3D2N stay (Friday to Sunday only) for two adults and two children (aged 4 to 12 years) in a Family Room
- A one-hour family photoshoot with MovingStills Photography
- Breakfast in the Wild at the Singapore Zoo (one-way transport from the hotel included)
- Outdoor terrarium making by the hotel pool
- Breakfast at ROOS
- Complimentary parking (request during checkout)
As you can see, the package is an inspired curation of family time that blends thoughtful experiences with family bonding, fun, and memory making. What’s there not to like?
(See also: January 2023: Eat, Play, Shop & More for Families in Singapore this Month)
First look: Vibe Hotel Orchard Singapore
Vibe Singapore is the first Vibe location outside Australia. Here it is managed by Far East Hospitality which oversees 26 properties, like its neighbouring property Quincy Hotel, as well as one of our favourite family-friendly stays, the Village Hotel Sentosa.
Located in the residential enclave of Orchard Road, Vibe Singapore (which took over the now-defunct Elizabeth Hotel) is a short stroll from Far East Plaza at Scotts Road in one direction, and Paragon on Orchard Road in the other. This makes it incredibly accessible via public transport, and convenient for shopping and sightseeing. You’ll get a bit of a workout too as the hotel is upslope in both directions, something to keep in mind if you have to carry your little ones.
As mentioned earlier, the Family Vibes Staycation Package includes three activities: a photoshoot, Breakfast in the Wild, and terrarium making. About a week before our stay, I receive an email asking which day/time we want to schedule our activities for. I choose Friday for the photoshoot, Saturday for the Zoo outing, and Sunday for terrarium making.
FRIDAY: Check in
Check in on Friday afternoon is smooth. Although the lobby area is not vast, there is a sense of space thanks to the high ceiling. A cascading waterfall feature runs along the entire outside wall of ROOS, the hotel restaurant, bringing a sense of greenery into the lobby.
One thing you will notice as soon as you step into the hotel is the gorgeous aroma that permeates the space. This is Vibe Singapore’s signature scent, a sumptuous blend of sky dews, tropical fruit, and garden herbs like lavender, rosemary, and eucalyptus. It was specially concocted for the hotel by local scent crafter la Brise de parfums, and gives the place a classy, boutique hotel feel. I love it.
Vibe Hotel Orchard Singapore Family Room
Vibe Singapore has 256 rooms across five room categories (Superior, Deluxe, Premier, Family, and Suites). We are in the 35 sqm Family Room which has one king and one single sized bed. In addition there is a sofa, a work/vanity desk, and three panels of plug points and USB ports. What I particularly like is the alarm clock with Bluetooth and wireless charging. It’s the first thing I use in the room actually, to charge my iPhone.
What’s missing is a cupboard, which has been replaced by a black metal rack and four wooden hangers. A similarly minimal industrial-style rack frames the 55-inch flat screen television. There are the usual local and cable channels, as well as the ability to Chromecast shows from your own device.
While the room is upgraded, the bathroom has not been endowed with a similar level of reno love. As you know, Vibe Singapore took over the old Elizabeth Hotel. Apart from the sink area, the rest of the hardware in the bathroom, such as the toilet bowl and the bathtub, remains unchanged. That means they have existed since the 1990s. While this is not a problem if the facilities are well-maintained and in good condition – and don’t get me wrong, they are – we have some problems with ours.
Firstly, it requires almost superhuman strength to turn the bathtub knobs as there is no mixer tap. Hence, the water temperature has to be adjusted little by little using each individual knob for hot and cold water. Secondly, the bathtub tap can’t stop dripping. After I highlight these issues to the front desk, they are promptly addressed; the knobs turn more smoothly by the time we return from our activity.
Activity #1: Family Photoshoot with MovingStills Photography
Have you seen those posts on how mothers tend to be the de facto photographers in the family? They are always behind the camera, never in front, and have no pictures of themselves, only of their children. #iykyk The Family Vibes Staycation planners are probably privy to this, for the package includes a family photoshoot! How thoughtful, right? It’s a great way to cement staycay memories and document family bonding at the same time. What’s more, you can choose your preferred time and location, as long as it is within 5km of the hotel.
David from MovingStills Photography meets us at the National Gallery Singapore where the Light to Night Festival is taking place. Our shoot is scheduled for 6pm to take advantage of the ‘golden/magic hour’ that makes everyone look better. I can hope, right? ;p
Alas, there is rain coming in from the east. Thankfully, it turns out to be a passing shower that peters off after a while. David is a consummate pro who makes us comfortable from the start. He also offers pose suggestions so we don’t look like awkward, self-conscious mannequins in the photos.
As the sun’s last rays for the day break through the clouds, Atelier Sisu’s massive installation of giant balloons on the Padang – Ephemeral – gleams an otherworldly luminescence. We head out to take pictures with it, and also manage to get some with a gorgeous, fully arched half-circle rainbow – thanks to the rain!
(See also: 48 Top Maternity, Newborn, Children & Family Photography Studios in Singapore)
Activity #2: Breakfast in the Wild
It’s the weekend but there’s no sleeping in when you have a hot breakfast date with a hunky animal or two. We’re in our very comfortable ride (a Toyota Alphard, included in the Family Vibes Staycation Package) by 8.05am, and arrive at the zoo at 8.25am.
From the entrance it is a short stroll to Ah Meng Terrace where Breakfast in the Wild takes place. This iconic Singapore Zoo event happens on weekends and public holidays only, from 9–10.30am. You’ll get to meet at least five species of animals, of which there will be one that you can touch, and three that you can get close to.
There’s a planet-friendly buffet of Asian and Western specialities to enjoy but everyone’s really here for the animals, whose keepers share stories and fun facts about each creature as it makes its appearance.
We meet Spike the iguana (has a ‘third eye’ on top of its head that helps it to spot predators), umbrella cockatoo Ella (who is actually a male 🙂 ), an anteater named Tina (she’s a princess who throws a tantrum when woken up to feed; she eats up to 9,000 insects a day!), JoJo the coatimundi, and a couple of macaws.
The stars are a mother-daughter pair of Bornean orangutans, whom everyone queues to take a photo with. A Zoo photographer will do the honours (you can buy a framed print), and the staff will help you take pictures with your phone. This is our first Breakfast in the Wild experience, and I wish I’d brought the kids here when they were younger. Not too young though. It’s probably best when children are at least four. After breakfast, it’s time to explore!
If you are with young ones, Rainforest KidzWorld is a must-do. There’s a water playground, and docile animals that kids can pet. Another one is the Fragile Forest. This biodome mimics a rainforest and entering it is like walking into an enchanted otherworld. There are butterflies fluttering overhead, sleepy sloths, flying foxes, toucans, squirrels, mouse deer, ducks, crowned pigeons, and more.
We spend the day getting reacquainted with the zoo and its inhabitants, then hop onto bus 138 out of the Zoo. We switch to the TEL (Thomson-East Coast Line) at Springleaf MRT station to board the train to Orchard. From Orchard MRT station, it’s an easy walk back to Vibe Hotel.
(See also: 13 Kid-friendly Nature Trails for Easy Hiking in Singapore)
Activity #3: Terrarium making by the Pool
No hot date this morning, and it’s the third and last day of our Family Vibes Staycation at Vibe Hotel. We wake up late and make it down to breakfast at ROOS just before it closes.
Normally I’d head for breakfast early when we are away. But being late here is fine because breakfast at Vibe Hotel is not done in the traditional buffet style. This means you don’t have to scavenge for scraps from the buffet trays just because breakfast time is ending.
Instead ROOS has a menu of mains (there’s a kids’ selection as well) for you to choose from. These includes café standards like the Chef’s Brekkie and Avo Toast, as well as local fare like Nasi Lemak and Chicken Congee. The kids’ menu has French Toast and Full Stacked Pancakes. All mains come with pastries and yoghurt with berries. Coffee and tea are self-service, while kids can opt for juices, fresh milk, and hot chocolate served to them.
We have a Terrarium making session by the pool after breakfast. All the materials are provided, including a cute little jute bag to carry the terrarium in. The session takes longer than I expect as my offspring suddenly become highly meticulous creatures who insist on making sure that every grain of sand and every little pebble is in its right place before proceeding to pour more in. The end products are nice though!
After this, there’s just enough time to squeeze in a quick splash in the pool before check-out. Vibe Hotel provides pool floats and inflatables, useful as the deep end of the pool is deep – 1.75m. There’s not much swimming done, just a lot of relaxing on an inflatable llama, before we go back up to the room, pack up, and prepare to go home.
Family Vibes Staycation at Vibe Hotel Singapore Orchard
In retrospect, the Family Vibes Staycation at Vibes Hotel Singapore Orchard is rather perfect. It has just the right balance of activity, giving us space to bond, play, experience, and enjoy downtime with each other as a family. Even better, the hotel organises the activities, so mums, there’s no need to do any planning at all. So if you’re looking for a family staycation with a difference, why not try this?
Family Vibes Staycation Package at Vibe Hotel Singapore Orchard
- 3D2N weekend stay in the Family Room (Friday to Sunday only)
- $1,580 NETT for 2 adults and 2 children (aged 4 to 12 years old)
- Book here from now till 13 June 2023
- Stay between 3 March 2023 and 25 June 2023