The spate of new hotel openings has gotten architectural and design buffs excited about their skyrise gardens and rooftop pools. But here at Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa, set on 27 acres of lush tropical greenery and with unfettered views of the South China Sea, lies an architectural gem.
Here are five fun facts:
Singapore’s first resort-style hotel
Before it was rebranded as Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa in 2015, the building housed The Beaufort Hotel.
Designed by the late Australian architect Kerry Hill, and opened in 1995, the property made waves for being the first resort style hotel in Singapore.
While Hill, renowned for designing luxury resorts, was inspired by the idyllic beach resorts found in Bali and Phuket, he added in elements that also reflected the island’s history, such as designing the Resort as separate blocks, much like how old British military buildings on Sentosa were designed.
The present interiors were designed by French designers Beatrice Martinet and Pierre Maciag, blending the best of local culture with Sofitel’s French origins.
The resort has picture frames everywhere, if you know where to look
The Resort’s multiple columns are present not only for structural purposes, such as to hold up the roofs, but were designed to serve as frames to the surroundings. Take a walk along the corridor at LeBar, and you can see these columns framing views of the Sofitel Pool and beyond onto the South China Sea, or on the opposite side, the central fountain and the Resort’s two accommodation wings.
Water features – for serenity and for the ‘gram
While the Resort’s 33-metre black-pearlescent tiled pool (laid by Thai craftsmen) is the main attraction, there are several other reflective pools, including the ones in the courtyards of the accommodation wings.
When Hill designed the property decades ago, it was unlikely he had the water features in mind as photographic spots, but today these pools have become Instagram-worthy hot spots. Hill had designed the pools to create a sense of serenity to the hotel. There’s something special about the sound of water that instantly calms the mind and soul.
Sofitel SPA was once a barrack
While the Resort building was constructed from scratch, Sofitel SPA (the brand’s largest in the world) is housed in a heritage building. Once known as Block 59, it was one of many buildings built by the British between the 1880s to the 1930s to accommodate their garrisons.
When the British left Singapore, Block 59 was left empty and laid in a state of dilapidation until it was turned into a recreational building for The Beaufort.
The only spa in Singapore that is housed in an architectural heritage award-winning building
Home-grown firm H.U.A.Y. Architects lovingly restored the building, turning it into what was then known as Spa Botanica. During the restoration, existing roof trusses were selectively replaced, and damaged roof tiles were replaced with similar ones.
In restoring the building façade, the architectural team amplified the building’s original cross-balustrade feature, to reflect its heritage. More cross-balustrades were added on in the area around the pool.
The building was awarded an Architectural Heritage Award from the URA in 2005. Spa Botanica was rebranded as Sofitel SPA in 2015.
As the largest Sofitel SPA in the world, facilities include 14 treatment rooms, a private garden with a lap pool, an outdoor whirlpool and two waterfall pools; in addition to indoor hot and cold pools and steam rooms for each gender.
Adding to the allure of the surroundings is a muster of resident peacocks.