If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to stay within the hustle and bustle of Singapore with kids in tow, and yet be completely at peace and in a different world altogether, the answer is a resounding yes. And we discovered this through a family of five “staycationing” at the courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, following their worldwide launch of the Ritz Kids children’s programme back in December 2013.
The quick one-night getaway was equivalent to a longer holiday overseas but without all the hassle of planning, and left us pampered, refreshed and recharged for a new week ahead. Here’s why the experience was heavenly for the entire family:
A Warm Welcome
We checked in on a Saturday afternoon and the hotel was operating almost at full capacity. Yet the butler service that The Ritz-Carlton is well known for remained par excellence. While waiting for our other room to be ready, we took a short walk within the premises and were pleasantly surprised to be greeted by name. Their staff whom we didn’t notice before had seen us amidst all the buzz at the entrance and remembered us. Small touches like these and many more moments certainly made us feel very comfortable and instantly at home.
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As we entered our rooms, the first sign of the Ritz Kids initiative designed to engage young guests aged between four and twelve at all The Ritz-Carlton properties, delighted our young charges immediately. The Singapore hotel had localised the in-room welcome with miniature edible books of delicious prune-filled Kueh Lapis, over and above the generous bowl of welcome fruits, and we tucked in happily.
On the desk, a personalised handwritten card from no less than the General Manager himself greeted us, and the kids each had an Ritz Kids arrival folder with activity sheets and stickers that encouraged them to explore things around the room, the hotel and the environment. The kit for kids was specifically created by Ocean Futures Society for The Ritz-Carlton and features four pillars of experiences – water, land, environmental responsibility and culture.
Awesome Views of the Marina Bay
What literally took our breaths away was the panoramic view of the entire Marina Bay and the Singapore city skyline that stretched across the breadth of our rooms and bathrooms. Within minutes of our settling in, our four-year-old declared in no uncertain terms all that he liked about the stay – the cake, the view and the fruits – which set the positive tone to our family time together. All family rooms in the hotel have this same glorious Marina Bay view and this was the pièce de résistance that fronted our stay.
In luxurious comfort, we watched the sun set with the kids and realised this was also the perfect spot for catching New Year’s Eve and National Day fireworks, the laser light show at Marina Bay Sands and even the bird’s eye view of River Hongbao held on the Floating Platform. At night, the twinkling lights of the city were a sight to behold.
Surprisingly, the “Kallang View” rooms on the opposite side of this streamlined, elegant hotel have an even better view for the F1 Singapore Grand Prix races as they face the pit building directly. And with the new Singapore National Stadium hosting National Day soon, there is an added reason for these rooms to be highly sought after too.
Spacious Family Rooms
Family rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore are interconnecting deluxe rooms with a difference. Instead of the usual door between the walls, both rooms are adjoined by a common foyer, which doubled up as an extra play ‘room’ for the kids. Best of all, it also gave us adults the privacy of our own space.
Thoughtful Little Luxuries
The in-room amenities continued to delight us. Our youngest member of the family was mighty pleased with his rubber duckie, the cute child-sized plush white bedroom slippers and bathrobe.
The man of the house appreciated the great layout and thoughtful placements of electrical points all around the room. Complimentary wireless access, a must-have valued also by the kids, was readily available throughout the hotel.
Surrounded by the expanse of space and creature comforts, the two older girls even found it conducive enough to finish up the homework they had brought along! We wondered if it was the chocolate or the correction tape and the generous in-room stationery provided that motivated them, but they simply attributed it to the relaxing view and comfortable, peaceful environment.
But the icing on the cake, the ultimate indulgence and favourite in-room pastime for both young and old alike was the long warm bubble bath in the luxurious bathrooms.
Fun Family Activity Areas Within the Hotel
The definite place for families was the good-sized swimming pool with a baby pool area at a quiet corner. On the weekend we were there, they happened to even have a large screen set up for a romantic outdoor movie screening right by the poolside!
Our adventurous feet also led us to explore the landscaped gardens, an area I didn’t have the chance to step on before when attending business functions at the hotel previously. The wind was fantastic and we had a thrilling time of free play with the kids in this delightful garden oasis.
Viewing of artwork at the Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is actually listed in Time’s list of 10 Things to Do in Singapore story. We simply borrowed an iPod from the concierge and off we went on an artistic self-guided adventure to view the massive Cornucopia Frank Stella installation at the lobby, the twin pair of Dale Chihuly’s Sunrise and Sunset hand-blown crystal glass pieces flanking both dining halls and many more prized pieces of art. The tour was insightful, easy enough for an eight-year-old to comprehend and the brochure was helpful in furthering our knowledge of art.
Excellent Buffet Spread
No stay in any hotel is complete without mention of delectable food. We had a fantastic international buffet dinner at the Greenhouse. The spread atop island counters ranged from chilli crabs, oysters and lobsters to sashimi and sushi, as well as local favourites. The kids were fully engaged in the filling up of their own plates, and had fun decorating their favourite ice cream with a multitude of generous toppings.
Buffet breakfast the next morning was also at the Greenhouse and once again the spread was fit for a king and included a special menu for the Ritz Kids. Service staff were attentive and brought out activity books for the kids.
Dining at Greenhouse is free for children aged four and below. If you are there for a longer stay, there are several other dinner options within the hotel including the signature Summer Pavilion with Cantonese specialties and Shiraishi Japanese restaurant.
For a dash of old school hawker dining, simply cross the road to Glutton’s Bay at Esplanade Theatres by the Bay or Singapore Food Trail at The Singapore Flyer. The large air-conditioned food court right next door at Marina Square also has great views of the sailing boats in the Bay.
Things to Do Around the Area
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore is a good focal start point to exploring the entire Marina Bay area and the hotel has specially developed a Marina Bay Discovery Trail for guests. The activity book focuses on 10 pit stops and is filled with interesting nuggets of information on the attractions, including the ArtScience Museum, Esplanade, Marina Bay City Gallery, Merlion Park and Sir Stamford Raffles.
Best of all, the book encourages you to take photos with the attraction as your backdrop, let the hotel concierge print out your photos and slot them back in for you. Hence, this activity book turns into an excellent take home book of memories for families.
From start to end, the hotel had invested every detailed effort in making the stay for each individual and families a comfortable and memorable one. And with a special immersive programme like the Ritz Kids implemented consistently worldwide, we certainly give them two thumbs up for having the kids in mind and upping the ante in memorable and perfect family escapades.
7 Raffles Avenue, Singapore 039799
Tel: 6337 8888