Oasia Hotel Downtown, Singapore
At first glance the new Oasia Hotel Downtown Singapore resembles any of Singapore's flash new hotels, although the beginnings of a vertical garden growing on its striking red facade gives some clue to the hotel's greener, more sustainable model. Far East's newest hotel and second Oasia-branded hotel is in Singapore's historic Tanjong Pagar port district, alongside shop houses, condominiums and government-built apartments. The distinct hue of the aluminium-mesh exterior means no matter how far away you wander, you can always find your way back.
On checking in on the club floor on the 21st floor, we are welcomed with a cooling coconut water by the infinity pool. As I take a seat looking out at the impressive vistas over Singapore, cooling breezes waft through on all four sides of the massive club floor. Breezes? Open air? Yes, this is a 27-storey, 314 room urban hotel, but its clever design with rooftop gardens and facade eventually clad in a "living" skin of greenery minimises the need for air conditioning, and forms the basis for Far East's ethos – to create a hotel brand that focuses on mental, spiritual and wellbeing. Designed by Singaporean award-winning firm, WOHA, the facade's vertical garden includes 21 different species of creepers - creating colour and life, much-needed fresh air in the city, and even attracting bird life. There are a further two rooftop pools with whimsical hanging chairs and vines tumbling from a 30-metre-high sky garden. The hotel also offers a 24-hour gym, all day dining at the Marmalade Pantry on the ground floor, and a terrific club lounge. At street level is a fabulous secret-agent-themed craft-gin bar, Cin Cin.
Designed by the renowned Spanish designer, Patricia Urquiola, my 28 square metre club room with freestanding tub looks out across the club pool to the cityscape beyond. Inside, the Zen-like room features lots of copper and wood, and thoughtful touches designed to create a sense of wellbeing – some you can see, some less obvious. There's a quality king coil mattress, and by the bed an essential oil pillow mist to help ease you off to sleep. In my complimentary mini bar is both sparkling and still mineral water, along with coconut water. In the closet is a yoga mat. Guests are encouraged to get out in the fresh air, and I spy several stretching and practising yoga at the garden on level 12 (the main check in area). There's a high definition TV that includes all the hotel information (minimising clutter), a Handy phone, providing free local calls, concierge, maps, and even calls to Australia. There are also TWG tea bags and Tripod coffee capsules and Biology Smart skincare amenities, both from Australia. By the time I see smashed avocado and feta on the breakfast buffet in the club lounge, I'm suspecting an Antipodean may be in charge. Sure enough, general manager James Coleman is an Aussie, and also responsible for the excellent coffee in the club lounge by barista-trained staff.
Take a tea workshop nearby at Yixing Xuan Teahouse, followed by lunch at Afterglow by Anglow, a vegan deli bar that's pioneering Singapore's raw food movement (try the avocado salad bowl). Have dinner at Newtown Circus hawker market, then head to Gardens by the Bay for drinks at Indochine, with gobsmacking views from the pinnacle of the tallest Supertree. You'll feel like Alice in Wonderland.
So can a wellness hotel actually make you feel better? After doing yoga in the open air garden, swimming laps in the infinity pool, downing litres of (free) mineral water from the mini bar, eating healthy breakfasts and sleeping with the air conditioning off (there was no need to have it on), I checked out feeling refreshed, refuelled and recharged. Oh wait. That's the hotel's tag line. Let's just say the hotel is conducive to being healthy while travelling, while also offering a resort-type ambience. I loved it.
100 Peck Seah Street Singapore, +65 6812 6900. From $330 for a club room for two, including breakfast, evening cocktails, city tour, two hour Changi Airport lounge access and either early check-in (10AM) or late check-out (4PM), for stays until December 31, 2016. See stayfareast.com/en/hotels/oasia-hotel-downtown-singapore
HIGHLIGHT Cocktails in the private tepee-shaped cabanas by the infinity pool, exclusive to club guests only.
LOWLIGHT Noticeably absent is a spa, which seems a little peculiar for a wellness-focused hotel.