John Gay declared ‘whether we can afford it or no, we must have superfluities’ … and so it is on Sentosa; visit and discover your nirvana.
Capella, ah Capella !
Give us the luxuries of life and we will dispense with its necessities, goes the well-quoted quote and after a weekend (or more) at the Capella Singapore (+65 6377 8888), you begin to comprehend how fundamentally true this statement is.
Built around two beautifully restored colonial bungalows (dating back to the 1880’s), atop a hill, with accents of rainforest, overlooking a sward of green on one side and the aquamarine of the South China Sea on the other, this is luxury defined and redefined.
With the Asian premiere of Capella Hotels & Resorts (March 2009), Capella Singapore quickly staked its claim as one of the Leading Small Hotels of the World, in addition to joining the ranks of the 100 Most Beautiful Hotels & Resorts in the World, 2009 / 2010.
What might be your pleasure ?
A room, a sea-facing suite, a penthouse, a garden villa or a manor ? Private plunge pools, outdoor showers, bathrooms in stone with recessed lighting, golf courses, gambling, beaches or butterfly parks ? (If all are not available within the hotel grounds, certainly a short walk or a few minutes in a car will transport you to all of these earthly delights, all on the island of Sentosa. Should you wish to make this your home, you certainly may; opt for ‘long stay accommodation’, which is daily bliss in fully-serviced, double storey, generously proportioned manors with access to a clubhouse, the exceptional Auriga Spa and your own private pool.
But those who come and go (and come again); they are met and escorted by personal assistants, invited to enjoy the complimentary beverages from the refreshment centres in their rooms, assured global connectivity anywhere they choose (complimentary wireless internet access, everywhere) and cosseted by perhaps the most excellent service ever to be experienced anywhere in Singapore.
For a hint of what to expect, consider this (for starters): suites and manors offer 46” high-def flat screen televisions in all the rooms (angle adjustable and floating off the wall with a clever use of hinges and frames), iPod docking stations, posturepedic ® beds and IP phones. (The luxury of technology and the senses !)
The Cassia is Chinese fine dining, almost a setting out of Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution; lattices of wood, banquettes, huge glowing lamps, partitions, nooks and a reclining with jasmine tea, fragrant from the teapot. The Knolls, overlooking the sea, is light and modern and offers signature culinary experiences while peacocks wander iridescently and incuriously in the sunlight, beyond the glass. Bob’s Bar, the locus of summer breeze, sea breeze and open spaces, is best by night; whispering zephyrs, deep cushioned recliners – sofas and daybeds – and candles and lamplight endlessly reflected back and forth in mirrors that define the seating areas. In The Library, books, board games, magazines, newspapers, music, movies and complimentary fruit, drinks, tea and coffee; nibble as you browse.
Nature and culture, the old and the new. Capella offers a seamless intermingling of heritage trees and fine art – the johor fig, its orange figs filled with tiny seeds, the angsana, whose flowers are used as a source of honey and as leaf infusions in shampoos, and the towering pulai with its deeply fragrant white flowers. Sculpture, painting and glasswork in and around the hotel include original works by the likes of Takeshi Kawashima, Jessie Morgan, Yeo Siak Goon, Isabel Bigelow, Andrew Miller, Ha Taem, George Chemeche, Roland Fischer and Jamclau.
Sentosa of the Senses
Sentosa may be many things to many people, but hedonists, bon vivants and the well informed will disappear into one of the two spas on the island, the Auriga Spa at the Capella (Reservations : 65 6591 5023) or the Spa Botanica, and you might ask where they were going and they might reply it is impossible to overdo luxury, offered casually as they evanesce.
Auriga is luxe luna : enter and be charmed and indulge in ministrations that soothe and lull, that clarify and purify, that rejuvenate and resuscitate. The treatments augment the phases of the moon and complement specific energies of the lunar cycle on the body: Full Moon (the time when you realize your full potential), New Moon (a period of revival and reflection), Waxing Moon (the time for reappraisals and new beginnings) and Waning Moon (the ideal time for purification).
Wraps, massages, exfoliations, signature treatments, moon baths, facials, manicures and pedicures … discover the pleasures of immoderate sybaritism amidst private outdoor gardens, luxurious spa facilities (including heated beds), vitality pools, herbal steam rooms, ice fountains, sound wave lounge chairs and beverages corresponding to the current phase of the moon.
The newly arrived at the Spa Botanica might note that the spa is located at a fair distance from the hotel and there is a buggy service between the two.
A Pedicure Recalled
Gentle women who seem to be wearing togas gently offer a medical history form (allergies, asthma, cholesterol, surgeries ??) to be filled, (you mildly mention it is just a pedicure). A white clad young man leads the way to the changing room and you divest yourself of all clothing and don a dressing gown. He might suggest you wear the house footwear and you might remind him that you are here for a pedicure. Into a lift, to another floor and a dim room with louvered wooden shutters (drawn) … sparkles off the waters of a pool, glimpsed through the slats … mood music, a bed taking centre stage, orchids, a scattering of aromatherapy candles, wash basin of hollowed granite, an operating-theater-lamp.
The young man might kneel at your feet and gently wash and pat them dry, you might wonder at the full head of hair of the young and you might also notice that his translucent pearly pink nail polish complements his fair complexion perfectly.
Andy, that might be his name, Andy might suggest that you lie down and you might ask in some bemusement are you sure this is a just a pedicure and he might hush you with soothing, lulling sounds, turn down the lights, turn up the music, don a surgical mask, place a bolster under your knees, draw another towel carefully across your prone stillness, place a folded towel across your eyes and proceed to give you a short head massage.
You might faintly ask again, are you sure this is a pedicure as he coats your legs with some fancy mud, glop and gloop, knees downward, and abracadabra, there is cling film in his hands and he is wrapping the mud and your legs in the glossy stretchy film, winding tight. He switches on the operating-theater-lamp and holds up an innocuous box – which he calls a sterilizer – from which he withdraws gleaming implements of torture, winking and shining in the dim room, and for the next hour, he works on you, toe by toe.
You might lie slightly frozen, terrified to move in case you break his concentration as gleaming stainless steel rises and falls, your skin might itch inside the cling film and mud and you try to suppress the not-so-occasional twitch and fleeting tremor. And you might ask yourself, what to do with my mind ?
Exactly one hour fifteen minutes later, Andy unwinds the film, removes various towels, opens the shutters, washes his hands and diffidently stands before you with a contrite Andy must apologise to Anita. Andy has cut Anita’s leg.
I know, I felt it you might admit, but you might not tell him you were too scared to move or utter a sound. He might offer some lavender oil as an antisetic (sic) which he slowly applies with soft dabs of cotton wool.
Then he might take you on a tour of the mud pool, the flotation pool, the resting pool, the maze garden and the spa garden and you walk obediently beside him, barefoot, sandals dangling from fingers, and it is time to bid Andy and the toga clad women goodbye and climb into the buggy, return to your room, order a large frozen margarita and slip between one ply Egyptian cotton sheets, a thread count of 1,500, warp and weft a gossamer lightness of sensual ease.
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Photographs by Anita Thomas