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Suite Life: Business hotel Conrad Centennial pampers baby, offers calm oasis to parents

22 February 2021 - Straits Times

While located in the heart of Marina Bay, the Conrad Centennial Singapore's Millenia Walk neighbourhood and tucked-away entrance bring back memories of quiet getaways rather than big-city trips.

At first glance, the hotel - which celebrates its quarter-centennial this year - seems frozen in time. The lobby and mezzanine are as they looked when I attended a wedding here in 2014. The mix of dark wood panelling, granite columns and objets d'art that dot the space imparts an old-world charm.

I learn later the look had been deliberately maintained through a 2018 renovation helmed by famed Indonesian interior designer Jaya Ibrahim.

His signature feel of calm is apparent as soon as I step through the door of my Centennial Suite, which has a cream-and-wood palette and an inviting, extra-length daybed by the windows overlooking the downtown area.

So many staycays, so little time. What makes this hotel special?

The business hotel, named Singapore's Leading Conference Hotel at last year's World Travel Awards, has pulled out all the stops to become a staycation destination for young families. And it shows.

With the Family Escape package, two children aged 12 and under get their own room next to mum and dad's, making them feel grown-up and important while giving the real grown-ups some vital down time.

My 16-month-old son enjoys his teepee, set up for toddlers under five. In the evening, it becomes his little space for a bedtime story with mum while the fairy lights blink outside.

He is also thrilled to take home a Conrad Kids gift pack, which includes an old-school snakes-and-ladders game and a jigsaw puzzle in a cute knapsack. There is also the signature Conrad bear and rubber duckie souvenirs.

While my wife and I pamper ourselves with the Shanghai Tang-branded Mandarin Tea bath works, our son is not forgotten: a little zip-pouch nearby is filled with baby toiletries, including baby wipes and a bottle of baby oil.

What are the high points of the stay?

The hotel knows that the way to any Singaporean's heart is through his or her stomach.

As Suite guests, we are pampered with a delectable three-tiered afternoon tea (3 to 5pm) at the Executive Lounge on the 31st floor.

Depending on where you sit, you either soak in a breathtaking view of the Central Business District skyline across the bay or gaze down on the Fountain of Wealth.

The business hotel, named Singapore's Leading Conference Hotel at last year's World Travel Awards, has pulled out all the stops to become a staycation destination for young families.

I return in the evening for drinks and hors d'oeuvres (6 to 8pm).

At both sittings, I find the savoury items such as the charred smoked eggplant tartlet and stuffed otah mantou competently done, but the true standouts are the desserts.

The golden baked banana friand is just the right amount of moist and packs a lovely nutty finish, while the walnut carrot cake might be the best version I've had yet.

My wife and I opt to do dinner at Oscar's, a classic hotel buffet restaurant. Due to Covid-19, it now serves an a la carte buffet, which turns out to be a blessing given the energetic toddler we have in tow.

The restaurant's take on laksa is a signature dish for a reason, and my wife demolishes the fiery mala steamed fish. The royal chocolate hazelnut crunch is what a Ferrero Rocher dreams of being. Perhaps I have a sweet tooth.

What else is there to do?

Suntec City is right across the road, with a convenient underpass that opens up to a mammoth Food Republic and a litany of other family-friendly dining options.

There is also a Giant Hypermarket to grab snacks and the Cow Play Cow Moo arcade is a sure-fire draw for older children with its retro mix of arcade and carnival games.

My plan to visit Gardens by the Bay is thwarted by baby's afternoon nap. Instead, we take an after- dinner stroll to The Float @ Marina Bay, taking in the sights of the Singapore Flyer and the now-aglow CBD skyline. Being mid-week, there are few others around, which means we can take all the unobstructed wefies we want at our leisure.

After an in-room breakfast the next morning, it is time for a swim. For most of our pre-reserved hour, we have the entire pool to ourselves.

The adjoining new Kids Club offers small-group activities such as cooking and drawing classes and a hotel-wide scavenger hunt.

Despite the foam-padded floor and colourful beanbags, the space retains an ethereal cool from when it was the Pool Lounge and Spa: The walls are finned with American walnut, as is the scalloped ceiling.

For the young family looking to get a quick recharge at a property that manages to both be smack dab in the city centre and also an oasis of calm and comfort, the Conrad Centennial Singapore is a great choice.

Hot tip

The hotel underplays its treasure trove of more than 3,400 pieces of Singaporean and Asian art.

Among the local highlights are Gathering, a painting by Tay Bak Koi that depicts a herd of buffaloes and cowherds in the lobby; and Kites, an artful assemblage of textiles traditionally used by the Republic's different ethnic races.

Another showstopper is Thousand Flowers Bloom, an oil on canvas work by Shanghainese painter Cheng Ya Jie, who specialises in photo-realism. His almost 2m by 5m richly coloured work of flowers and hummingbirds did the nigh impossible: it held my toddler's attention.

Conrad Centennial Singapore

WHERE: 2 Temasek Boulevard

INFO: str.sg/JHEb

ROOMS: 613 rooms, including 25 suites and 101 connecting rooms

RATES: The Lavish Retreat package starts at $300++ and comes with complimentary breakfast for two at Oscar's and an $80 food-and-beverage credit that can be used at the hotel's restaurants or afternoon tea at the Lobby Lounge.

The Family Escape package, priced from $380++, comes with a complimentary connecting room for two children under the age of 12.

It also offers exclusive access to the hotel's new Kids Club and dedicated children amenities. Both packages offer late check-out till 4pm.

Source: Straits Times

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