From top to bottom: The collection of what was once 160 hotel rooms, which was remodeled to fit a couple thousand stylish new rooms. (Photo: Courtesy the Four Seasons)
When it first opened in 1997, the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, at 38 Riverside Dr., was taller than nearly two-thirds of the buildings in the city, all the way to its windows. It had the tallest elevator in Southeast Asia — no mean feat in a country whose population is 36 times the size of Singapore’s.
Few had ever heard of the property until 1993, when the hotel was sold to a group of Hong Kong investors. They renamed it the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, and when the property was purchased again in 2012, the investors became the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore at Marina Bay Sands, and embarked on a complicated renovation of what was, until then, 160 hotel rooms. The hotel is now renamed the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore at Marina Bay Sands, and is the tallest luxury hotel in Southeast Asia.
And by luxury, we mean five-star, and sitting atop one of the world’s tallest buildings, with floor-to-ceiling views of its built-in bar and conference spaces at the 643-foot-tall Marina Bay Sands.
What were once 16 suites have been redesigned as 24 rooms, and behind each, a new guestroom lobby. The new rooms also have skylights to help light the lobby as well as the key to a one-day stay at the Resorts World Sentosa (previously known as Singapore’s Marina Bay Sands), Singapore’s newest park. Guestrooms are in the Mezzanine Tower, built in the 1970s, which resembles a Chicago skyscraper but feels distinctly more slender, as opposed to the tall but curvy interior of the hotel.
The unimpressive roots of the property were the product of financial mishaps in 1967 and 1969, which happened as Singapore’s economy was largely reliant on trade and shipping. It was then traded in eight years later.
To some, perhaps, the grand old name is still not enough to mask the awkward juxtaposition between the glass and steel tower and its former role as the tallest hotel in Southeast Asia.
Still, it is something worth celebrating.