Friday, May 25, 2012

Singapore = Wonderland? - Amazing Marina Bay Sands and Changi Airport

Of all the places I visited in Singapore, I was most impressed by the Marina Bay Sands hotel/casino/shopping complex and the Changi Airport.  Let's explore!

Marina Bay Sands

The complex is topped by a 340m-long SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people. The SkyPark is home to the world's longest elevated swimming pool, with a 146-metre (478 ft) vanishing edge, perched 191 meters above the ground. The pools are made up of 422,000 pounds of stainless steel and can hold 376,500 gallons (1424 cubic metres) of water.

Imagine yourself swimming in the pool and looking over the whole world! 

Outside the complex - This is the first time I see a palm tree with stem protection.

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands also boast close to 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of retail space with over 300 stores and F&B outlets. This mall reminds of Houston Galleria but a cleaner, higher end and better food choices version. 

Beautiful jewelry design with Chinese elements

Hotel inside: The resort is designed by Moshe Safdie, who says it was initially inspired by card decks.

Architecture, investment and social fun facts

  • Marina Bay Sands is developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including cost of the prime land. Las Vegas Sands declared the undertaking as "one of the world's most challenging construction projects and certainly the most expensive stand-alone integrated resort property ever built".
  • Singapore citizens and permanent residents have to pay a S$100 daily entry levy or S$2,000 for annual unlimited access fee to get into the casino.  As you can see, the government is more interested in making money from tourists and discourages their local people from spending too much time in casino.  Considering the history of Chinese opium war, I think this is a very effective public policy. Comparing with Las Vegas where 60% income is from American local guests, more than 60% income of Marina Bay Sands is from overseas guests.
  • After two years of operation, Marina Bay Sands already got its initial investment back, and made S$19 billion
  • Singapore is the world's second-biggest casino gambling market, behind Macau, in front of Las Vegas.  Let's look:
Las Vegas Sands - 2011 Casino Revenues (USD '000s)

Macao Venetian                      2,430,144
Macao Sands                          1,251,084
Macao Four Seasons               583,476
Total Macao                            4,264,704         57.3%
Marina Bay Sands                   2,364,922
Total Singapore                       2,364,922        31.8%
Las Vegas                                430,758
Sands Bethlehem                     376,618
Total U.S.                                807,376           10.9%
Total                                        7,437,002
Source: Company 10-K report

Changi Airport

Between traveling in Singapore and Malaysia, I ended up spending a fair amount of time in Changi airport.  Before I came to Changi, I considered Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport to be the world's best airport.  It is clean, nice, highly efficient, and has lots of shops.  Now Changi airport just added another level of amazing fun to me.  While it's usually the threat of a long security line and missing my flight that makes me show up early to the airport most of the time, at Changi you'll want to arrive early!  Depending on how much time you have, here are some of the fun things I found that will make your travel experience so much better. 
  • Visit a butterfly garden in the airport (20 mins)
  • Get a FREE foot massage (15 mins)

  • Rediscover the beauty of nature at one of the themed gardens - Cactus garden, Orchid Garden, Fern Garden, Sunflower Garden and Koi fish ponds  (15 mins)
  • Try a fish micro-massage therapy at the Fish Spa & Reflexology (30 mins)
  • Refresh with a quick shower (20 mins)
  • Have a go at the FREE Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 (30 mins)
  • Soak up the sun and take a refreshing dip in the rooftop swimming pool (30 mins)
  • Catch a blockbuster movie for FREE at the movie theater (2 hours)
  • Join a FREE Singapore tour and get a glimpse into Singapore's ethnic heritage and tourist attractions (2 hours)
  • Catch a nap at one of their FREE quiet rest areas or check into napping facility (60 mins)   
And let's not forget mentioning the various lounges, huge amount of food choices and business centers with Bloomberg terminals, free internet, hair and beauty services and airport hotels.  I bet I can live in Changi airport for a month without feeling too bored!

And have you ever seen this anywhere in the world?  Complete with name and photo of your "sanitation engineer"...

toilet seat sanitizer

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