Singapore is a favourite destination with our family and not least because of Sentosa Island, recently re-branded by the Singapore government as ‘The State of Fun’ and this week host to no less than Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump.
Although these days it’s billed as Singapore’s top holiday resort and home to monster chunks of family entertainment, Sentosa has not always been synonymous with family fun.
Formerly known as ‘Pulau Belakang Mati’, or ‘island of death from behind’, it was once a pirate hang-out and later became a brutal prisoner of war (POW) camp for Australian and British POWs during World War II, following the surrender of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942.
In the 1970s Sentosa was renamed, rebranded and polished up for the tourist market. It is now home to 17 hotels, two golf courses, and a plethora of major attractions.
While Kim and Don will be enjoying the luxurious five-star Capella Hotel for their meeting, our firm family favourite is the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort, where we have spent many a happy holiday. There’s a great outdoor pool, mini kids waterpark, active kids club and a beautiful terrace breakfast restaurant (a popular conference hotel, it’s just so luxurious being able to watch the ‘suits’ plod off to a day’s meetings while we linger over a second stack of pancakes and another coffee – we can only guess how Kim and Don will be feeling about their own buffet breakfasts this morning, Mr Kim at the St Regis and Donald at the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore, both near to major Singapore shopping hub Orchard Road).
The Rasa also offers a regular shuttle service over the bridge to the ever-popular Vivo City shopping mall on the mainland. Family restaurants of note here include Jamie’s Italian and the Queen and Mangosteen – think British pub grub with lashings of classic English puds. The shopping is good with a handful of British stores that have not yet made it to Hong Kong.
Back on Sentosa, there is an incredibly handy free shuttle bus service that picks up from the Rasa and continually loops around the island. The island is also great cycling territory as the roads are quiet, wide and flat and there are plenty of hire bikes available, including ofo and Mobike (just download the app and you’re good to go).
Over the years we have enjoyed the MegaZip (terrifying), Skyline Luge Sentosa, the Singapore Cable Car to Faber Peak in Singapore (it goes through a high rise building at one point which is quite exciting), the FlowRider at Wave House Sentosa, Tanjong Beach Club, the South East Asia Aquarium, Adventure Cove Waterpark and had masses of fun at Universal Studios.
There are heaps more activities I don’t have the space to cover here, plus tons of casual beachside dining options – Hong Kong could certainly learn a thing or two.
It barely leaves you time to chill out by your hotel pool. Plus the Rasa kids club was so good we have even managed a handful of sneaky ‘adult-only’ afternoons in Singapore over the years.
So if the talks don’t work out, or they’re wrapped up ahead of schedule, there’s a whole island of fun out there for the boys.