Thursday, June 24, 2010

Channelling the inner rock star

Technically going to Resorts World doesn't classify as "Travel" since we live in Singapore but our 3-day, 2-night stay was as much of a vacation to us as any of our previous holidays so I'm going to blog about it here. Plus it gives me an excuse to update my otherwise woefully inadequate travel blog.

We'd planned to bring our kids to Universal Studios during the June holidays and decided to stay two nights at a Resorts World hotel just to make the experience seem more like a real vacation. It was a toss up between Festive Hotel and Hard Rock Hotel, the latter being just a tad more expensive. In the end, we went with Hard Rock Hotel even though Festive Hotel is billed as the family hotel because I saw pictures of the Hard Rock pool and was sold.

We were glad we went with that decision when we walked by Festive Hotel and were confronted by Ikea hues and hordes of screaming kids. In contrast, although there were also families at Hard Rock Hotel, it wasn't noisy and it never felt over-crowded.

The edgy, hippie-chick ethos of Hard Rock suits us and brings out the party mood. Everything about Hard Rock Hotel has that retro glam ambience which I love. From the bling bling in the lift (we were excitedly taking pictures, to the amusement of someone who walked in and probably thought we were mountain tortoises) and the dimly-lit corridors to the Rock Shop (bottom left), the check-in counter (bottom right) and the lobby, it was all too cool for words.

Throughout the hotel, there were windows displaying costumes and paraphernalia of the musical greats, like this one below.

The room had a very luxe feel with dramatic "rock-star" touches. You can see how enamoured Andre was with the room, even though he wasn't too thrilled by the groovy montage of Jimi Hendrix over the beds, whom he pronounced "the creepy weird guy". Sacrilegious!

Despite being something of a boutique hotel, the room was surprisingly large. There were two double beds and another pull out bed, meaning it can sleep five. I imagine families with three kids would especially welcome such an arrangement.

The cordoned off bath area had separate shower and toilet stalls but really, it's more design-worthy than practical. The shower stall had no facilities to hang up your clothes so you still had to emerge to change anyway, thereby negating anyone else from using the toilet while you're in the shower unless you're the type of family that bares all at home.

Apart from that impracticality, the bath area too had rock-and-roll features like the cute guitar-shaped amenities holder (left) and a large mirror studded with light bulbs.

The room also featured a verandah and we were fortunate enough to get one with a pool view - breath-taking.

View from verandah at night:

Amidst the many "stars" at Hard Rock Hotel (sorry, bad pun), this pool truly gets the award. I have been to many hotel pools in my lifetime and I've honestly never seen a pool like this one - it's the motherlode of all pools. It looked impressive in pictures and even better in real life.

The free-form pool has more features than the car in Knight Rider. There's a children's play platform with fountains and a slide, a sandy beach area with palm trees, even a beach volleyball court.

For adults, there's a lap pool and a sunken bar where you can savour cocktails to the strains of the Beach Boys, Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan. Instantly transports you to the 1960s blues, chill mode. Very Forrest Gump.

I had a lychee martini in the middle of the day. How very decadent! Lesley-Anne had a more age-appropriate cranberry juice while enjoying her book at the cabana.

We visited the pool twice during our three-day stay. Fortunately the weather held up.

Here's Lesley-Anne cooling off her feet at one of the half-submerged deck chairs. Pretty nifty idea, I thought. Yeah, she's reading again. Once a bookworm, always a bookworm.

And here's a very happy little boy.

Ok, enough about the pool, moving on now. What we love about Resorts World is its convenience. In most cities, theme parks are located in isolated, sprawling pieces of land in the middle of nowhere, necessitating long walks which can be tough on little legs.

Resorts World however, is a fully self-contained entity. Right next to the hotels is the Forum which is a covered complex housing mostly F&B outlets as well as the entrance to the casino. We appreciated the fact that there was a good variety of culinary choices within easy reach and we weren't limited to over-priced hotel buffets.

As you can tell, soccer fever has taken over the Forum, there were mini competitions being held (Ben & Jerry's was giving out prizes to those who could guess the top player of each LOSING team) and nightly screening of the World Cup matches. Bleahh. As an indication of my soccer expertise, I have been known to remark on a couple of occasions to Kenneth, "hey, there's another Ronaldo!" To which he'd roll his eyes and reply, "there's only one Ronaldo, it's the same guy."

Getting to the Forum from Hard Rock Hotel can be tricky. On the map, it's just next door but the first time we walked over, we ended up manouvering an elaborate labyrinth past Festive Hotel, up and down escalators that never seem to end. The signages left much to be desired and we were convinced that the arrows were randomly arranged (or maybe someone changed the directions every night just for fun).

Anyway, after several dead ends and mis-directions, we finally found it - a three-minute stroll through the Convention Centre that leads right from Hard Rock Hotel to the centre of the Forum. Seems like it's not a well-known route since we didn't meet many people along the way, the few times we used it. We called it our secret passage.

We were at the Forum for every meal (except the one lunch at Universal Studios) and believe it or not, we only ate at two places. One of them was Toast Box. I'm partial to the BreadTalk group as they're one of my clients but apart from that, we really like their teh, otah thick toast and quirky assortment of buns. Cheap and good, Toast Box serves up a hearty breakfast that leaves us satisfied.

On our last morning at Resorts World, Kenneth and Andre woke up early, nipped over to Toast Box and tar-pau-ed breakfast back to the hotel, which we enjoyed out on the verandah.

The other restaurant that we patronised was none other than Hard Rock Cafe. I was stoked when I found out that they'd recently opened an outlet at the Forum. I mean, staying at Hard Rock Hotel without dining at Hard Rock Cafe is a little incomplete, isn't it?

I know eating three meals there in three consecutive days seems excessive but let me say this: we LOVE the food at Hard Rock Cafe (especially when there's an irresistible 1-for-1 entree promotion by DBS cards). The steak and beef fajitas are exceptional, and there's a new item on the menu - Twisted Mac 'n Cheese which my kids tried and adore.

And of course part of going to Hard Rock Cafe is to soak in the music culture, which was an apt complement to the whirlwind rock tour my kids had been receiving at Hard Rock Hotel. U2, Led Zeppelin, the Doors, Police, the Killers - all the legends in their full glory blasted on large screens and surround sound.

If you haven't gathered by now, our hotel and food experience at Resorts World more than lived up to our expectations and I would recommend it to anyone. At just under S$300 a night (before GST) per room during off-peak periods, admittedly Hard Rock Hotel doesn't come cheap. But if you consider that we didn't have to pay for airline tickets, our whole staycation cost us less than if we'd travelled out of Singapore to the nearest theme park, which would be Hong Kong. All in all, it was well worth the splurge.

Coming up soon, Universal Studios. Stay tuned.


Jo said...

Hey hey Mon !

We also stayed to Hard Rock Hotel at the start of the school hols for a night and did the Hard Rock Cafe and Toast box thing too! My girls absolutely loved the pool(s) ! We did a late check-in (6pm) and check-out (6pm) - the hotel had asked if we could as the day before was fully booked...and it turned out to be the best thing ever ! We arrived around 4pm...while waiting for our room the girls played at the pool. Then, you get almost a whole day the next day - just for the price of 1 night ! I think our kids spent more than 3 hours hanging out by the pool !

Did you try the Garretts popcorn next to Hershey's - fabulous !

monlim said...

Jo: So funny that you did the Hard Rock Cafe/Toast Box routine too! Great minds think alike :) Sounds like you had a great deal, 6pm - 6pm, nice of the hotel staff to suggest that. We tried the Garretts popcorn but didn't buy any. It's Oprah's favourite apparently!

kjj said...

i shall show your blog post to my husband - the man who'd be willing to go to Universal Studios in LA but not here. ok, LA he had no say - cos i said we go LA. but that was back in the pak-tor days. now, 12 yrs into the marriage, i shall hv to do a bit of pitching to him. wish me luck!

monlim said...

KJJ: Yes, yes and Hard Rock Hotel is perfect for second honeymoons - ask for the room with the king sized bed. Lounge at the cabana, sip a martini, then go to Universal Studios for a whirl. Shiok lah!

Kristen said...

Seems like you had fun! Did you take the Revenge of the Mummy rollercoaster ride? I took it thrice. We didn't stay overnight though, but the hotel looks special. Different from the ones we usually stay. The camera for Lost World is right before the drop, when the T-Rex is right above you. It is when it opens its mouth. The camera for Revenge of the Mummy is right before the 2nd major drop (after the break where there is fire above you and you can actually feel the heat). I enjoyed Waterworld too. My parents were completely drenched after the drop at Lost World! :) I'm definitely visiting Universal STudios again after my PSLE.

monlim said...

Kristen: We didn't take the Revenge of the Mummy since we didn't enjoy Disney's Space Mountain. Was it scary? Sounds like you had a great time too - study hard for your PSLE and cajole your parents to bring you again after!