After a Year of Unprecedented International Attention, Will Singapore Maintain its Edge in 2019?


2018 was a bumper year for Singapore, the fictional Mecca of crazy rich Asians and unintended beneficiary of the Trump-Kim summit. What lies ahead for the tiny island nation in 2019? We look to one of its most iconic hotel for some clues.


Often, the toughest consequence of achieving resounding success is the complete oblivion that follows upon. While Singapore is far from facing that depressing drop, can the tiny island state live up to the hype after a year of fabulous attention garnered from all over the world over 2 unorchestrated events that thrust it into the limelight?

As an often absent citizen of this food-mad, prestige-obsessed nation of 6 million inhabitants, the pride that gleamed off the temporal glory of Hollywood fluff and bootless politics can be easily negated by the annoyance brought on by too much attention and needless expectations. Singapore and its collective citizenry are always entering into some online fray with neighbouring countries over who created what dish or whose version of what dish tastes better. Now more than ever we are constantly being compared with other cities on all manners of pointless trivialities, like whose buildings are taller or if our air is cleaner.

Ironically, the tourism slogan of the decade past has been ‘Uniquely Singapore’. Not that unique now since all the attention the country is getting is how rich and expensive it is, like Tokyo, New York and Paris before, just to name a few. Perhaps 2019 needs to be a year Singapore returns to its roots, renew its aspirations and reinvent its image as illustrated by the Capella Singapore, arguably the country’s most famous hotel now and a timely lesson on how one should opt not to rest on its laurels.

Like the Lion City, the ultra luxurious Capella Singapore was also tremendously golden in 2018 as it was the spot where Trump and Kim held their talks. As the stunning hotel celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, it offers more than a glimpse on what sets a hotel truly a class above the rest by being ready for the next 10 years with newly announced renovation plans.


A frothy white colonial edifice raised in the 19th century, this former British army barracks stood derelict for over 100 years before it was developed and restored as the Capella Singapore by renowned architect Norman Forster who added a strikingly modern curved structure to the colonial buildings that now front the property. Few hotels can boast of such heritage value on an international scale, and there are even lesser that have survived the development process to emerge grander than before.

Entering its ten year milestone, even a hotel like Capella Singapore needs to take stock and reinvent itself to suit the present time and age, and work towards renewed interests. Before age and all the design inadequacies of the past decade begin to manifest significantly, the management has now set into motion extensive renovation plans which will be executed very soon for a complete facelift. The recently renovated Capella Manor offers strong persuasion for another decade of excellence for the property, at least design wise.


Offering larger than life retreats unafforded by any other hotels in the region, the Capella Singapore has 11 manors ranging from 391 sqm to 524 sqm that are fit for royalties and celebrities (like Madonna and Lady Gaga) setting up court in Singapore. Out of the 11 stunning furnished manors, the 2 colonial manors, impeccably designed by the late Jaya Ibrahim, are actually century old houses granted conservation status in Singapore. Each manor has 3 bedrooms, a full service kitchen, a generous-sized pool and palatial interior dripping with views of the surrounding greens. The spanking new Capella Manors, light drenched 2 floor sanctuaries built to wow the ‘unwowables’, are currently my dream accommodation.


Like the country it sits upon, Capella Singapore was invested with good structure and had attained a high level of success as a hospitality landmark. Even at the zenith of its existence, its minders know the time is now to dive into renewal and reinvention.

I wonder if the steerers of Singapore’s tourism sector have the same foresight.

Personally, I would also like to see Capella’s Bob’s Bar, a criminally underrated drinking hole with its own bosun call and fabulous Negronis concocted from barrel-aged rum, more discovered and frequented this year, just as I would like visitors to understand that Singapore is really more than just a golden mirage and little else.


Believe me, this glittering metropolis is also a place where you can sit within acres of unspoilt nature and relax with a drink in hand while watching the golden sun setting over the shimmering sea.

If you happen to be at Bob’s Bar.


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