Mövenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa
Property name: Mövenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa (new wing)
Where: Sentosa Island, Singapore
Street address: 23 Beach View, Sentosa, Singapore 098679
Rates: The “best average rates” start from about S$350 (US$276) for a Deluxe Room, S$550 (US$432) for an Executive Suite, and S$700 (US$550) for an Onsen Suite.
Room count: 105 Deluxe Rooms, 1 Onsen Suite, 3 Executive Suites, 2 Penthouse Suites. 5 Onsen Suites will be available by Feburary 2012; 19 by October 2012. For now the Onsen Suite and Executive Suites can be booked only via telephone, not online. The Penthouse Suites will be available from sometime next year.
Switzerland-based Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts started in Europe and expanded into the Middle East and North Africa, and more recently into Asia. While its hotels in Europe have tended to be business oriented (often close to airports), the company is emphasizing design and lifestyle in Asia. Other locations include Hanoi, Phuket, and Bangalore.
The Mövenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa has two wings, new and heritage. The latter (housed in a former military building) won’t be completed until around the third quarter of next year. This review is limited to the new wing, which was built from scratch and entered its current soft-launch phase in April.
In an unpromising start, you pull up in a nondescript lot. But to the side is a tall, narrow lobby drenched in natural light, with huge windows and a long rectangular block of wood that runs down the middle and serves as a bench. It’s a nice blend of modern and natural touches, though the bench is a bit uncomfortable and seating options are scarce. Impossible to miss is Sentosa Island’s giant Merlion statue just outside the entrance: a bit tacky, but at least somewhat impressive by night in colored spotlights.
The rooms bear the mark of Japanese interior design firm Super Potato, responsible for many a MUJI shop in Japan and known for its minimalist style.
In the rooms, the clean lines, uncluttered spaces, and calming earth tones create a Zen atmosphere, punctuated by the occasional quirky touch. The bedside clock looks like a block of wood with glowing electronic numbers, and the bathroom amenities are kept in baskets resembling the kind used to serve dim sum.
The beds are comfortable, and the spacious bathrooms feature a lovely tub that’s separate from the shower (the suites have high-tech Toto bidet toilets, too).
Caffeine addicts will appreciate the Nespresso coffee machine and a variety of capsules to choose from. TWG tea bags are also provided.
The sound insulation is not perfect. I had a room near the road and could faintly hear the monorail and occasional car or bus. It didn’t bother me but might others.
While I enjoyed the minimalist style, it sometimes left me puzzled. I didn’t know where to hang my towel after showering, with no hooks or racks in sight, and only through some experimenting did I finally figure out which wall switch lowered the shades.
The Deluxe Rooms are 30 square meters, the Executive Suites about twice that size.
The Onsen Suite — of which there’s only one at the moment — is about the size of an Executive Suite but with some of the space dedicated to an unusual open-air section. This features recliners, water-misting nozzles, and a Japanese hot tub. It’s a definite highlight of the property.
The Penthouse Suites, available starting sometime next year, feature a private rooftop pool above the room and would work well for hosting a small party.
Eat and Drink
For now the dining takes place in a small restaurant called Linkbridge, located on a glass-covered span that connects the two wings. Some dishes from the international menu are quite good, but more dining options (and dining space) would be nice. The heritage wing, when it opens, will offer an all-day restaurant with public and private dining areas, plus a whiskey bar and a cigar lounge.
The online access at this property is excellent. There’s free and fast wireless throughout, and Internet cables are also provided in the rooms. Why can’t more hotels do this? The large LCD flat-screen TVs have plenty of channels, plus there’s an integrated multimedia system and an iPod station. The heritage wing, when it opens, will feature a business center as well.
Health and Fitness
The central courtyard features a striking 25-meter pool with glass walls, and the heritage wing will include a fitness center. But the best option might be to just step outside. Jogging or walking is a pleasure in the fresh — and sometimes flower-scented — air of Sentosa.
The location on Sentosa Island means not enjoying the maximum urban convenience that Singapore has to offer. But taxis are easily arranged, and it takes only about 10 minutes to reach the central business district.
Across from the hotel is a station (Imbiah) of the Sentosa Express monorail line, which is free to ride if you show your hotel guest pass. That delivers you to the Harbourfront area, and from there a five-minute walk through VivoCity (a spacious waterfront mall) takes you to the MRT subway line. (Tip: The rooftop of VivoCity feels like a public park and is a great place for al fresco dining and strolling around.)
Be aware that, at least in the past, taxi drivers from the city center have been sometimes reluctant to go to Sentosa Island, or been unsure of how to get around once there. This has been changing as more people go to the island, drawn by the new Universal Studios and other attractions.
Exploring the Area
Sentosa might have an artificial feel to it, but the place can be quite a bit of fun. Don’t expect Andaman Sea-like coastal beauty — from the shore you’ll gaze upon distant container ships instead of limestone karst formations — but you’ll certainly feel as if you’re on a tropical vacation.
The property also serves as a welcome alternative to the integrated Resorts World Sentosa nearby, which has its own hotels, a Universal Studios, and a casino but can make you feel a bit, well, integrated. Mövenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa stands apart from all that but is still within walking distance.
The hotel puts you within a pleasant stroll of beaches, restaurants, and numerous family-oriented attractions. Don’t have kids? Fear not. You’ll find party people at Bikini Bar and similar venues, especially during late afternoons on weekends.
Until the heritage wing is finished later next year, I can’t give a full verdict on this property. It’s already a welcome alternative for anyone wanting to experience Resorts World Sentosa without feeling trapped inside of it 24 hours, and access to the island’s beaches and bars is excellent. Plus I like the minimalist design and general high quality of the place. But the hotel clearly has not yet become what it’s destined to be, and we’ll have to wait about a year to find out what exactly that is. Meanwhile this property is definitely one to watch and is certainly worth a stay.