Singapore is arguably the leading events destination in Asia for groups with a serious business agenda. Last year, the city-state topped the International Congress and Convention Association’s ranking for the most meetings held in the region for the third year running.
Still, the Lion City has another equally important pull factor – its potential for fun and relaxation. Great effort has been made to maintain its parks and rural areas, and the island of Sentosa, which is connected to downtown Singapore by bridge, has emerged as a destination that offers tranquility for corporate groups, as well as lively teambuilding and get-togethers.
Surrounded by lush greenery and a stone’s throw from the beach, hotels such as the Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa and Capella Singapore fit the bill for corporate retreats where the peace is disturbed only by the rustle of wildlife. At the same time, the properties are just minutes from the exciting attractions and venues of Resorts World Sentosa. If you’re seeking a new side to the city-state, here are some properties to consider.
Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa
Set on ten acres of tropical gardens, the luxurious Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa has 140 rooms, suites and villas starting at 400 square feet, some located in a former British army barracks from the Second World War.
The property’s meeting and event facilities are housed in a two-story glass-clad building, which has a pillar-free ballroom that can host 500 guests for a banquet or 1,600 for cocktails, plus an adjoining foyer and seven meeting rooms. There’s also the Glass Pavilion, a circular space with floor-to-ceiling windows, which seats 40 guests.
The Amara encourages event planners to incorporate wellness therapies into their programs. Back and shoulder massages can be arranged between sessions, along with the 30-minute “Meeting Energizer,” which is free for groups of 20 or more and doubles as a team-bonding exercise, with fitness trainers on hand to get attendees motivated.
The property also has two restaurants, a bar, four pools and a tennis court. Sentosa Golf Club is a five-minute drive away.
1 Larkhill Road; tel +65 6825 3888; sentosa.amarahotels.com
A chic historic hotel surrounded by rainforest, the five-star Capella Singapore is minutes from the Amara. Designed by Foster and Partners, the property combines two 1880s bungalows – which once accommodated British Royal Artillery officers – with curving modern areas, all set on 30 acres of grounds.
The hotel offers more than 21,500 square feet of event space, including Singapore’s first circular ballroom. A glass-dome floods the pillarless 8,400-square-foot venue with natural light; it can accommodate 500 theatre-style or 700 for a reception. The Gallery seats 100 guests for a banquet, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the gardens. The three Sentosa rooms hold up to 220 people theatre-style when combined, and look out onto the South China Sea.
Outdoor options include areas for poolside dining and parties. The property also has a spa and direct access to the public beach, a five-minute walk away.
1 The Knolls; tel +65 6377 8888; capellahotels.com/singapore
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort and Spa
Sunglasses at meetings are encouraged at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa – fitting as the 454-room property, located in the north-west of the island, has a private beach. Despite its resort feel, the property is well set-up for corporate events, with a range of sound-proofed meeting spaces. The largest, the Siloso ballroom, holds 480 guests theatre-style or 360 for gala dinners.
The events team can organize themed activities such as beach barbecues and Hawaiian nights with live music, as well as teambuilding sessions and community and environmental programs. In their downtime, attendees can enjoy the Chi spa, beach activities and water sports.
101 Siloso Road; tel; +65 6275 0100; shangri-la.com
Mövenpick Heritage Hotel Sentosa
Open since 2011, the Mövenpick is a short walk from Resorts World Sentosa and includes two wings – a modern section and a heritage wing in a former army barracks. There are 191 rooms and suites (starting at 320 square feet), some overlooking Sentosa’s mythical Merlion statue.
Meeting venues include the Heritage ballroom, which divides into three and seats 180 for dinner, and three smaller rooms. There’s also a whiskey lounge serving up 250-plus kinds of spirits.
23 Beach View; tel +65 6818 3388; movenpick.com
Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort and Spa
Previously the Singapore Resort and Spa Sentosa (and, before that, Sentosa, a Beaufort hotel), this 215-room property joined Accor’s luxury Sofitel brand last year after a complete refurbishment.
Set on 27 acres of greenery, the hotel offers sea views from its location above Tanjong beach. The two-floor conference center has more than 14,000 square feet of event space, including the 360-capacity Straits ballroom which opens on to an outdoor terrace, and the Saffron ballroom which seats 170 theatre-style. In addition there are six other meeting rooms.
The hotel offers a pool, spa and direct beach access, and Sentosa Golf Club is next door.
2 Bukit Manis Road; tel +65 6708 8310; singaporeresortsentosa.com
W Singapore Sentosa Cove
Starwood brought its W brand to Sentosa in 2012. Located in the mixed-use marina development of Sentosa Cove, on the east side of the island, the slick waterfront new-build has 240 rooms and suites, and more than 16,000 square feet of event space.
The 7,750-square-foot Great Room can accommodate 540 guests, who can arrive by boat thanks to a private berth.
There’s a garden terrace for al fresco gatherings, plus a spa for post-meeting relaxation.
21 Ocean Way; tel +65 6808 7288; wsingaporesentosacove.com
Resorts World Sentosa
When large groups – particularly from sales companies – come to Singapore, one of the most popular choices for memorable events is Resorts World Sentosa. Since opening in 2010, it has won the hearts of incentive specialists and corporate groups thanks to its spectacular facilities. These include the Sea Aquarium, which is home to more than 100,000 marine creatures from over 800 species. Dinners and receptions can be arranged in the aquarium viewing area.
Universal Studios is another fun stop to include on itineraries. The world famous theme park has a variety of venues which are available for events, and arrangements can be made for buyouts of specific zones, or even the entire park, with customized menus and entertainment.
Covering 121 acres, Resorts World Sentosa can accommodate 35,000 guests at any one time. The 65,000-square-foot free span ballroom has room for 6,500 guests theatre-style and can be divided into three smaller spaces or nine halls.
There are also 21 function rooms offering a combined area of 30,000 square feet, as well as several hotels, including the Hard Rock, which has 364 guestrooms and five function venues, and the 172-room Equarius hotel, with seven banquet spaces.
A recent addition to the Resorts World megaplex is the stunning Royal Albatross, the only luxury tall ship of its kind available for charter in Asia. It had its official launch in 2015 and is berthed next to the Adventure Cove Water Park.
The 155-foot-long, four-mast superyacht has a sailing capacity of 130 guests for events, and offers two bars, three stages and gourmet catering. Teambuilding options include sailing and climbing rigs designed by Jim Barry, who worked on Pirates of the Caribbean films.
By Martin Donovan with additional reporting by Brooke Bumgarner