Sunrise @ Marina Bay Singapore (Time Lapse) as seen from Swissotel

Time Lapse View of the Marina Bay area capturing landmarks such as the Marina Bay Sands (MBS), The Singapore Flyer, Pan Pacific Hotel Singapore, The Esplanade, The Padang, Marina Square, The Fullerton Hotel, Clarke Quay, Merlion and many more. Taken from my room at 54th storey of Swissotel The Stamford


Review: Park Regis City Centre, Sydney

My rating:

I’ve had to attend a workshop in Sydney and needed something within budget and yet within walking distance from Hilton. This was one of the hotels shortlisted by our travel agency and I settled for this primarily for the distance I have to walk at 8am in the morning.

It was a huge mistake. While I had done my homework and saw that the hotel lobby is nothing but just some shop space between Subway and a coffee joint, I didn’t expect the lift lobby to be so narrow that there is only space for 3-4 pax to wait for the lift at any one time.

There is no bell service or even a trolley. You’ll have to carry all your luggages up by yourself.

Room is very small and not suitable for claustrophobic people. The toilet floor was extremely cold and my room window opens up to roofs of nearby buildings so all you can see are the water heaters and ventilation shafts.

Each room toilet has an individual water heater that makes a loud banging sound when you switch on the hot water. There is instruction pasted near the shower stating that due to weak water pressure, guests have to turn on the hot water to the maximum for 45 seconds before easing in the cold water until the desired temperature is reached.

The air-conditioning in the room is nothing but a centralised heater that runs noisily like you have an old air compressor in the room. Even though it was winter, the room felt extremely warm with the air-conditioning on. Switch it off and you’ll have no ventilation. I made a call to reception and the staff politely said that I would have to open the windows if I need ventilation and cool air. And If I need more ventilation, I can proceed down to get a table fan from them. In the end, I went down to get the table fan.

Maybe I’m spoilt but I wouldn’t want to spend my birthday in Sydney in this run-down place. I called the Duty Manager, Anthony, to cancel the last 2 nights out of my 4-night stay. Anthony politely rejected my request but I put forth my reasoning and he agreed to come back to me after consulting higher management. In the end, Park Regis agreed to cancel the 2 nights but will only refund me 1 night’s charges.

To be absolutely fair, the hotel is clean and safe. The frontdesk is manned by very service-oriented people. If you don’t mind a no frills hotel, then stay here.

If you’ve been spoilt by 4/5-star hotels, stay somewhere else. I didn’t even feel like taking a photo of my room during my 2-night stay.

I am currently in Westin, Sydney as I am typing this review.


Grand Lexis, Port Dickson

It started when my fiancée told me that she had always wanted to stay at Grand Lexis in Port Dickson. I started planning 2 months prior to the trip as a surprise treat for her birthday. In order to add personal touch, I did not sign up through a travel agency.

I linked up with the reservation, Normala, via email and told her my requirements which included a special bouquet of pink roses and a birthday cake that were to be delivered at 12 midnight on my fiancée’s birthday. After some deliberation, I decided to opt for the Grand Pool Villa with full sea view which comes with the following:

• Size of units – upper 1312 & lower 1291 square feet
• Number of units – upper 23 & lower 23
• 2 king size beds
• Can accommodate 04 persons
• Glass panel for underneath sea viewing
• Private swimming pool with garden
• Dry Kitchenette
• Separate bath and toilet
• Rain shower
• Wall mounted hairdryer
• Mini fridge
• In-room safe box
• Astro – 19 channels
• 42’ LCD flat screen TV
• Coffee and tea making facilities
• Electric kettle
• IDD telephone
• Ceiling mounted air-conditioner
• Ceiling fan
• Stationary exercise bicycle
• DVD player
• Microwave oven
• Iron and ironing board (upon request)
• Bathroom weighing scale
• Umbrella

* Surcharge of RM150.00nett per room per night will be applicable for Full Sea View Room (Room subject to availability)

Normala sent me a form via email to fill up and also asked me to send her a copy of the front and back of my credit card to secure the reservation. Not hard at all.

Next was transport. I called up almost every coach company in Singapore and found a bizarre fact that while there are coaches to Port Dickson, there was none back to Singapore. I never quite understood why even till this day. In the end, I decided that we will fly to KL and get a cab to Grand Lexis.

On the day of our arrival, we arrived pretty early at the hotel as we took an early flight from Singapore. It was barely 11am when we registered at the front desk. We were very tired as we had gotten up at 5am that morning to catch our flight so I requested for the staff to get us the room quickly. Unfortunately, they appeared to be fully booked the night before and we had to wait for the guests to check out. I left my mobile number and deposited my luggage at the bell counter (Which is just a corner of the lobby) before taking a nice exploratory walk around the hotel with my fiancée. It was very windy and hot out there as it was almost noon. We returned to the lobby after 30 minutes to cool down from the heat.

Hotel Lobby
Hotel Lobby
Our room ... two king size beds
Our room … two king size beds
Bathroom and private pool view
Bathroom and private pool view
Another view
Another view

The lobby was pretty crowded as the Great Eastern Life group were having their corporate event. It irked us that their staff were pretty noisy and taking up most of the seats in the lobby. They appeared to be having a treasure hunt game – it was unbearable for us as the noise level was unacceptable. In the end, I suggested to retreat to the hotel’s Duyung restaurant for a light meal. Shortly after placing our order, I got a phone call informing me that our room is ready! As we couldn’t wait to get to our room, we requested for our order to be sent to our room instead.
We finally met Normala in person at the lobby and she arranged for a buggy to send us and our luggage to our room. As I had booked a full sea view room, the allocated room is understandably one of the furthest from the front desk. Before boarding the buggy, the General Manager of Grand Lexis, Mr Chan, came out to greet us personally. I could see from his profuse perspiration that he had been walking the ground and helping with ground work together with his staff due to the high occupancy!

When we arrived at our room, we couldn’t contain our excitement and started running around taking photographs of our large and spacious room. We even neglected the food that we had ordered earlier amidst our excitement! The team at Grand Lexis had painstakingly laid out rose petals of red and pink on BOTH our king size beds, TV console and coffee table! Check out the photographs!

After taking photographs, we laid down beside the glass panelled floor which showed the sea. Even though we were not able to see any marine life, the presence of a window on the floor to the sea was a very unique experience for both of us.

We took a free shuttle to Port Dickson’s waterfront at 3pm so as to get some supplies from the supermarket. In the end, we also bought bread and pizza (Dominos) before catching the return shuttle. Nothing to shout about at the waterfront and we were so glad to be back in our room by 6pm. Port Dickson would have offered very wonderful sunset views if not for the haze that was plaguing Singapore and the coastal areas along the Malacca straits.

At 12:05am, 2-3 hotel staff arrived in a buggy (I could hear from inside my room) so I quickly rushed out to grab the bouquet of roses and the cake from them before my fiancée noticed. My surprise was successful thanks to the Grand Lexis team!

The mini kitchenette was great as it came with a microwave oven, cutlery, plates and bowls for two, an electric kettle and the standard tea bags and coffee sachets. Due to this, we never had to eat cold food. Thumbs up for this as well!

Wi-Fi coverage was very good as there were two Access Points per room. There was one for the room and one for the pool area behind the kitchenette. Unfortunately, all the APs in the hotel grounds appear to connect back to the very same internet connection. This means that all guests in the hotel were competing for bandwidth and the internet connectivity was of little use to us throughout our stay. On the brighter side, we were supposed to be enjoying this vacation detached from our electronic gadgets so it wasn’t that bad after all.

Would we come back again? Absolutely! We would love to also try their new project, the Hibiscus, which is about an hour’s journey from here and it should be ready by next year.

Before I end this, I must add that the sleep quality was so good that we spent hours and hours sleeping on the comfortable king size bed. Absolutely wonderful!