After a month of budget travel in Southeast Asia and wholeheartedly concluding that I deserved a splurge, I impulsively booked a night at Marina Bay Sands. If you are not familiar, this is THAT place with the most famous infinity pool in the world, the one all over your Instagram feed. Oh yes, THAT POOL!
Unfortunately, my flight from Luang Prabang arrived late and after a ridiculously slow long line at customs at Changi Airport, I didn’t check in until after 5:00 pm. Definitely not enough time to enjoy that famous pool. I expressed this concern to the nice man upon check-in. He said I could have a late check-out (noon) and that I could hang out at the pool, then shower and change at the spa before my flight. That sounds perfect, I said! Ah, what great customer service they have, I thought.
So I checked in, got dressed up for the first time in a month after living the grubby hippy SE Asia life. I watched the sunset from the sky deck, had a fancy cocktail, ate a fancy dinner at Ce La Vie, and went to bed early so I could have an early start for my fabulous pool day. Talk about #poolgoals!
I got to the pool around 9:30 am. It was already crowded! I managed to get a nice lounge chair right by the pool and ordered breakfast. The staff at the pool is top-notch, by the way. Eventually, I moved to the adult only section, because the little boy in the pool near my chair wouldn’t stop playing “Tsunami”.
I started having cocktails served in a pineapple sort of early (is 10:00 am too early to drink?), and by noon was feeling great. At that point, I left my valuables (various cameras, laptop, world domination device) at the pool, under the care of the random strangers in the chairs next to mine, went to my room, gathered my bags and went down to check out. I was in a bathrobe and bathing suit, by the way.
The lady at the desk informed me that my pool privileges end with check-out. It’s these times that I’m thankful I have botox, and people can’t see the crazy expressions my face normally would make. Ex-CUSE me? Do you not see that I’m in my bathrobe? My stuff is at the pool…where I planned to be all day until my ridiculous midnight flight to Manila (screw you Philippines Airlines for that lovely change, when I had booked a flight for 5:00 pm).
At first, I stayed calm. Dignified. Classy. Mature. I reiterated the conversation I had with the gentlemen upon check-in and how leaving the pool at this minute was not in my immediate future. Clearly, based on my bathrobe sitch. Miss Thing acted like she didn’t believe me and asked for the man’s name. Does anyone remember the names of random check-in boys? I described him as best I could and pointed out which check-in station I had used. When it was clear that she wasn’t going to be helpful, I asked for her manager. I was still calm. Rage boiling under the surface, but calm. Steam slowly escaping from my ears, cartoon character style.
The manager arrived. Let’s call her Miss Thing Part Deux. She offered me a 2:00 pm check out. No. This was not the plan, nor what was promised. I had been eating, drinking and spending loads of money and genuinely making that pool a better place. Honestly, I would have won class president of the pool that day, had there been a vote. Or at least Miss Congeniality. Why the hell would they NOT want me to stay there all damn day? I asked for her supervisor and apparently, that person is only available by phone.
Faceless supervisor on phone upped the offer to 3:00 pm. This is worse than bargaining for cheap trinkets in the souk in Marrakech (and without all that good-natured sexual harassment)! I had wanted 4:00 pm, but was tired of standing there in my bathrobe wasting good drinking time. Fine, I said, no longer calm, as I angrily snatched my precious, updated key card and haughtily walked away. As haughtily as one can in slippers.
Back at the pool, I drank away the bad vibes and developed a vicious sunburn. The hangover came later around 8:00 pm. Was I being punished? Did I reach too high? Why the hell did I want to sit at a pool from 10 am to 3pm anyway? I NEVER sit in the sun. I never go to pools. What magnetic pull does this pool have over people to get them to spend all their money here?
My stubborn inner child dared me to wait until after 3:00pm, just to see what would happen, but I knew. The system is robotic and uncaring, just like those cyborgs at the front desk. I would be shut out, humiliated, unable to swipe out of the pool without making a scene. So I was a good girl, and I left on time.
I took the elevator down to the spa to shower. Oh no, they said…you’re supposed to go to the gym. But since you don’t have the magic key card anymore, you have to go up the way you came and back down a different elevator and then walk three times around the block, then swim across the moat with crocodiles (you get the point…it was unnecessarily complicated for a walk through a hotel). Oh that sweet man at check-in. He said spa but meant gym. Those three letter words matter!
It turns out, that the millisecond you check-out of Marina Bay Sands, you become pond scum to them.
I finally made it to the gym. Which was definitely nicer than your average gym bathroom. It was spa-ish. There were lockers, hair dryers and bath products. You know I took an extra shaving and vanity kit. I’ll show you, Marina Bay Sands! After that well-earned shower, I had some horrible pizza with horrible service at the Ce La Vie snack bar (what a difference from the restaurant, which was great).
Here’s the thing guys. I’m not a budget traveller. I know luxury. I’m 42 years old. I’ve been around. This isn’t my first luxury hotel rodeo. I get it. I’m not trying to get a hand-out. I spent well over $500 (room, drinks, food, etc) in under 18 hours and I expected to be treated better. That’s all. It would not have been a big deal for them to simply admit the check-in guy made a mistake, then honor their word. I simply wanted to stay at the pool until 4:00pm. I was out of the room by noon. The maids could clean it, dance on the bed, take a nap…whatever. I was out! It was ready for the next guest who didn’t know they had a future as pond scum.
After all the arguing and unpleasantness, they let me stay until 3:00pm. Would one hour have made a difference to them?
This is why I lost respect for Marina Bay Sands and would never stay there again, nor recommend it. There are other infinity pools in the world and at places where they know what customer service is. Furthermore, they exist in places not on the equator (where you burn to a crisp in ten seconds), nor with constant “cloudy-about-to-rain” skies.
I actually did LOVE Singapore and if you want to see how the rest of my trip went: Top Six Singapore Activities
Is Marina Bay Sands Worth It? Hell to the No! Want to know of a similarly priced place in Southeast Asia that is? Read about Huma Island Resort in Palawan, Philippines