Sofitel recently took over the former Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa and reopened its doors under Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa in Nov 2015. The hotel is located on the western part of Sentosa island somewhere between the entrance to Sentosa Island and Sentosa Cove. In terms of location, the hotel is some distance from the major attractions on Sentosa Island, however with shuttle regular shuttle service plying to Resorts World Sentosa and mainland Singapore, guests are still able to gain access to some of the major attractions on the island. Since it is somewhat isolated, guests can be assured of spending some peaceful time in the garden hotel. The hotel has direct access to one of the beaches on Sentosa island via a stairway next to the swimming pool of the hotel.
The facade of the hotel
I checked into the Prestige Suite for a long weekend staycation over the Good Friday Holidays. The Prestige Suite has a total floor space of 64m sq, according to the hotel website. Opening the door to the suite, I was greeted by the artwork of two sculptures hung onto the wall of the small lobby. The in-suite lobby serves as a walkway, separating the living room and the bedroom.
The lobby in the suite linking the bedroom to the living room
Interesting artwork in the lobby of the suite
To the right from the main entrance to the suite, passing through a double-panelled wooden door, guests will find the location of the living room. Decorated in a soft earthy tone, the living room is a very comfortable place to hang out. Entering the living room, a study table facing the TV, placed behind a 3-seater couch greets guests living in this suite. Behind the work desk is a wall of mirror, which makes the room looked more spacious. Tucked in one corner away from the door is the minibar. The minibar is housed in a white roundish cabinet, which houses the mini-fridge, glasses/mugs, the coffee machine and the kettle. I find the design of this cabinet rather unique and the placement of this cabinet is accessible yet non-obstructive.
Entrance to the living room
I like how the work desk was placed to face the TV
Fully stocked minibar. The price of the items is very pricey. A can of coke and a standard packet of Milo sets you off $7 (GST and service charge extra)
Glasses are stored on the side panel of the minibar counter
Minibar fully opened
In front of the work desk is a 3 seater couch, facing a 42″ LED TV. A good 2/3 of the space of the living room space is dedicated to this couch area. The coffee table is rather unconventional. The beige coloured square shaped coffee table blends in very well with the other furniture in the living room. The side chairs in the living room look like a smaller version of the coffee table, giving this part of the furnishing a retro look. There is a rocking armchair by the side of the living room. There are also a couple of shelves placed by the walls of the living room. These shelves served more like decor pieces rather than for guests to stow their stuff.
View of the living room with the couch and a rocking chair at the side
Another view of the living room with the TV
These shelves served more as a decorative item than for practical usage
Shelves in the living room
Outlets under the work desk, which is not at all obstructive
Welcome fruits and sweets were placed on the coffee table with a card signed off by the Hotel Manager
The suite that was initially assigned to me had garden access, however, the so-called garden access suite overlooks a carpark and a patch of dead grass. The view from this suite was so depressing and so bad that there hardly was any tranquillity.
A depressing view of outside the suite, facing carpark and a patch of dead grass
I wonder how can anyone sit here to look at the depressing view of the carpark and a patch of dead grass
To the left of the entrance tot he suite, from the suite lobby through another double wooden door is the bedroom. Extending the comfortable feel from the living room, the bedroom is also decorated in earthy tones, with numerous art pieces scattering around the bedroom. There is no lack of storage space in the bedroom. Entering the bedroom, guests can find a ledge to store their luggage. Beneath the ledge is a couple of drawers, providing guests additional space to store their stuff. next to the luggage ledge is a couple of wardrobes decorated with some art pieces, taking the boredom out of these wardrobes. The wardrobe nearest to the entrance of the bedroom has two parts to it. The left half of the wardrobe is where the iron and iron boarding is nicely concealed into the room as well as a short bar that serves as an extra space for guests to hang their clothing. The right panel of this wardrobe has a 4-tier drawer with the in-room safe placed on top of them. There are a couple of open shelvings above the safe. The wardrobe furthest in the room is purely for the hanging of clothing. The combined wardrobe space in the bedroom allows guests to store up to two weeks of clothing. The centrepiece of the bedroom has to be the super King size bed. The bed is large enough to sleep three comfortably. The sleep quality on the bed is superb, which is not too soft nor too hard. The sleep quality on the pillows are rather bad, my friend had a neckache after sleeping on them. The pillows are too soft for my liking. The hotel provides a pillow menu, the oddly shaped oversized square pillows offered under the pillow menu is hard to sleep on comfortably. I find even the firmest pillow offered on the menu to be too soft for me. There are a couple of bedside tables, built onto the walls, on each side of the bed. These bedside tables both have PowerPoint sockets for guests to charge their lifestyle gadgets. On the other side of the bed, there are more PowerPoint sockets, with international outlets that guests can charge their gadgets. There are also a couple of bedside lamps on each side of the bedside table. On the headrest of the bed, there are additional reading lamps that guests can use as night reading lights. There is a side couch placed beside the bed, near to the windows. This side couch is very comfortable both to sit on and lie on. Another 42″ LED TV is placed facing directly to the bed. The angle of the TV is perfect for one to laze on the bed and catch their favourite shows. There is no lack of channels from movies to talk shows as well as news channels and local channels that guests can choose from.
View of the bedroom with the wardrobe and a decorative chair
Wardrobe with drawers and shelvings for guests to store their belongings. An ironing board and an iron were nicely concealed inside the other side of the wardrobe
The other wardrobe where guests can hang their clothing in
There are no lack of artworks around in the suite
View of the bed and the side couch in the bedroom
TV facing the bed and the entrance to the bathroom
Powerpoint sockets in the bedroom. There are plenty of PowerPoint sockets in the entire suite
Powerpoint sockets on the other side table
Artwork on the headboard of the bed
The Bathroom in the suite is only accessible from the bedroom. The size of the bathroom feels a tad small, however, it has all the stuff that one needs. The bathroom is decorated in a retro theme, with bright mosaic colours. Entering the bathroom, the first thing that caught my eyes is the sink area. The use of mirrors in the bathroom makes the bathroom look bigger than it is. Despite being a single sink bathroom, the countertop is large enough for guests to stow their additional toiletries. On the left to the sink is a couple of cubicles. The cubicle furthest into the bathroom is where the toilet bowl is located, and the cubicle closest to the entrance to the bathroom is where the shower is located. The shower has both rain shower and regular shower head. There is a small ledge in the shower cubicle for guests to place the bath amenities. There is also a see-through glass that looks into the bedroom in the shower cubicle. For privacy, guests have the option of lowering the blind from the shower cubicle. Opposite the cubicles, one can find the bathtub. The bathtub looks smaller than it is. The bathtub is large enough for one to have a good soak in without having to squeeze into it. The hotel uses the luxurious Lanvin bath amenities and even comes with a large size loofah and bath salts.
Sink area in the bathroom
Walk-in shower with rain shower and regular showerheads
A large bathtub in the bathroom
The hotel uses the luxurious Lanvin bath amenities
Loofah and bath salt are available for guests to use
The swimming pool in the hotel is a great place for one to laze and spend the day under the sun. The large pool is over 2m deep on one side. There is a safety line that demarcates the shallow from the deep area of the pool. There are plenty of chairs and cabanas around the pool for guests to enjoy. One may spot the resident peacock and peahens occasionally strolling by the pool. I found the temperature of the pool water to be warm, which allows guests to swim comfortably in. The pool closes at 7 pm which limits the time guests can spend at the pool area.
View of the pool
Large day beds and cabanas are available at the pool
View of the pool
View of the pool. The safety line demarcates the shallow and the deep area of the pool
The in-house spa, SO Spa, is located off the main hotel site. The spa is around 5 – 10 mins walk from the hotel grounds. Buggy service is available to ferry guests to and from the hotel to the spa. Guests staying in a suite room are given complimentary access to the outdoor facilities of the spa area. The outdoor spa facilities is a tranquil place to spend an afternoon. There is a smaller pool, where one can soak the sunrays by, or float on the mat found at the pool. There is also another shallower pool with artificial waterfall for guest to cool off the sun. However, the water in this small pool is a tad too cold. There is a mud pool at the outdoor facilities where guests can apply mud onto their skin to rejuvenate their skin and a separate pool to wash away the mud. There is also females only outdoor spa facilities catered to female guests. In the changing room of SO Spa, there are steam rooms and indoor jacuzzi as well as a cold dip pool for guests to enjoy.
SO Spa signage
The spa is located in a colonial building away from the main hotel grounds
SO Spa porch
The reception area of the spa
Swimming pool at SO Spa
This pool is a lot quieter than the main pool in the hotel
Another pool at SO Spa. The water in this pool is rather cold and the pool is only 0.9m deep
Mud pool. Guests are encouraged to apply the mud that is available and dip in the pool
Container with mud for guests to use
Outdoor garden at SO Spa
Entrance to Spa villas
Another view of the pool at SO Spa
Rest area outside the men’s changing room
A cold pool and jacuzzi inside men’s changing room
The steam room inside the men’s changing room
Shower facilities inside the men’s changing room
Lockers inside men’s changing room
The hotel gym (named SO Fit) is located in a separate building next to the spa. The gym is rather large and is very well equipped, with machines for a full-body workout. Other than the standard treadmills, there are machines for abs, back and biceps workouts to name a few. Water and apple are available at the entrance of the gym for its users to enjoy after a great workout. There is a shower area in the gym area for guests to freshen up after a good workout. A steam room can also be found in the changing room, ideal for gym-goers to relax their muscles after a workout.
SO Fit signage
The lounging area outside the gym
Entrance to the gym
Well equipped gym
Well equipped gym
Lockers are available in the men’s changing room
Shower cubicles inside the men’s changing room
The steam room inside the men’s changing room
Breakfast is served in the Kwee Zeen restaurant located opposite the lobby of the hotel. Guests are treated to both local and Asian cuisine as well as international flare for breakfast. The Asian option is located in the outdoor area. There is numerous type of bread for guests to choose from, coupled with the generous choice of spread from better to an assortment of jams.
Kwee Zeen is where breakfast is served
International cuisine selection
Asian selection located in the outdoor section of the restaurant
Decor of the Kwee Zeen
Part of a hotel stay that is equally important to me is service quality. The service quality in Sofitel Sentosa has more misses than hits. The horrid service starts at check-in. Two days before my stay with Sofitel Sentosa, I received an email from Accor informing me of their online check-in service. This online check-in is touted to cut short on the check-in time required so guests can get their rooms early. I have done online check-in before my arrival at the hotel. I arrived at the hotel at the check-in time of 3 pm. At this point, queues are forming up with guests waiting to check-in. I waited in the queue for a good 15 mins before it is my turn to check-in. Despite having done the online check-in, the check-in process is slow. The whole check-in process takes around another 15 mins, which makes no difference between having done online check-in. The whole check-in process took around 45 mins, from the moment I started to queue for check-in, to getting to settle into my suite. Despite the Accor website’s claim for a priority queue for Accor members, the Accord counter was unmanned throughout my stay, making the claim rather redundant.
An unmanned counter for Accor members
The state of the suite was also unacceptable. Other than the lousy view of the carpark from the so-called “Garden Access Suite”, when we arrived at the suite, the air-conditioning in the living room was not working. The living room felt like a sauna at the time of our arrival into the suite. Initially, I thought the warmth in the living room was due to the hot climate in Singapore. After staying put in the suite for about 30 mins, the temperature in the living room does not seem to come down. I notified the “One-touch” centre and a technician came moments to fix the air-conditioning. After 1 hour of fixing, we were assured that the air-conditioning should be working. After waiting for another 30 mins, the temperature does not seem to come down. It seems as though the air-conditioning is not working at all. Technical staff came by after my call to the reception to fix the air-conditioning, which wasted 1 hour of our time.
When the technical staff was fixing the air-conditioning, I gave a call to the “One-touch” Centre to request for extra bath towels and bath amenities. A housekeeping staff suddenly barged into our suite without knocking or ringing the doorbell to place the items that I had requested for when her colleague was in my suite trying his best to solve the air-conditioning issue. I find this act as an intrusion of privacy and not professional for a 5-star hotel standard.
When I arrived at the suite assigned to me, I was delighted to find a welcome plate of fruits and sweets for guests. I thought this is a very good gesture as not many hotels provided such welcoming gestures. However, my delightfulness was short-lived. Together with the welcome fruit is a card. The card that was in my suite was NOT addressed to me, but someone else. I am not too sure if there has been a foul-up or the card was a leftover by the previous guests. This also left me wondering if the welcome fruits and sweets were leftovers from the previous guests and that housekeeping did not clear them. What is the point of having a welcome gesture and not addressed to the guest but someone else?
A welcome card that was not addressed to me was found in the suite
The lapse in service standards did not stop there. The “One-touch” service on the phone remains unmanned most of the time, especially at nights. I tried to order room service and request for pillows, most of the time I was kept on hold with no one answering to the phone call. The ringing went till the tone was dead for waiting for too long. Luckily I was able to reach the operator by pressing “0” (which I was trying my luck after a few unanswered calls from the “One-Touch service line”). The operator sounded empathetic of my situation and quickly took note of my requests.
Whilst at the spa using the outdoor facilities. After we decided to leave SO Spa, I approached an Indian (female) staff at the counter checking out if they sell essential oils. The first response I got from the Indian staff was “It is very expensive” in a very demeaning tone. I am not too sure if it is the hotel policy for its staffs to judge the guests by the way they are dressed (I was in bermudas, singlet and slippers). I find this response uncalled for and very unprofessional of the staff.
Amidst all the negativity, there were a few stars of the hotel which made me felt welcome. Firstly is Mr Steven, the uncle driving a buggy that ferried us to the spa from our suite. We managed to get through to someone from the “One-touch” service line after a few tries. Steven came and picked us up to SO Spa. Steven was welcoming and initiated a conversation with us. He even introduced to us some of the facilities in the hotel as he was driving us to SO Spa. His exemplary service does not stop there. After we were done using the spa facilities, we headed to check out the gym. As we were done, standing by the road wanting to get back to SO Spa to get a staff member to arrange a buggy service to send us back to the hotel, Steven spotted us. We saw him making a U-turn and came towards us, asking if we are heading back to the hotel. Such a gesture is fondly welcomed and a stark difference from the experience of the service we had in the hotel thus far. During the drive back to the hotel grounds, I mentioned a different room number to Steven. Steven can even remember the room number we were put up in.
Other than the housekeeper who barged into our suite, the other housekeepers we came in contact with were fantastic. In the evenings, there are a couple of housekeeping staffs came ringing the doorbell to our suite, presumably doing their turndown service. When seeing we were in our suite, these ladies passed us some cookies and additional bath amenities with a smile. Other than these ladies, there was a male Indian Staff who came after we requested for the pillows. After managing to get someone to answer the call on the “One-Touch” service line, I attempted to call them again to request for additional bottled water. As I was waiting for someone to answer the “One-Touch” service line (after attempting a few times), an Indian staff came ringing on the doorbell with the pillows that I had requested. After explaining to him that I was calling “One-Touch” service for bottled water, this staff apologised for the non-answering service line and requested me to wait for him to get back to his store to grab the water that I requested for. I apologised to him for making the extra trip, the staff replied with a smile and told me it is not trouble as his store is nearby. Such empathy from this staff astounds me. In the first place, he did not have to apologise for someone not doing their job. He did it anyway. He responded to my request for extra bottled water instead of brushing the request aside.
My experience with Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa was a mix. Despite the comfortable bedding and the spacious suite, the non-functioning air-condition in the living room of the suite we were assigned was a great disappointment. We wasted time in waiting for the air-con to be fixed, so much so that we did not manage to use the pool (which closes at 7 pm) nor the outdoor SO Spa facilities (closes at 6.30 pm). The surroundings of the hotel are rather peaceful and the pool was fantastic. SO Spa facilities and SO Fit facilities were awesome as well. However, the amount of service lapses we have encountered makes us wonder if Sofitel Sentosa Resort & Spa is worthy of its 5-star rating. There are more misses than hits during my stay at the hotel.