That Time I Refused to Leave the Marina Bay Sands Pool

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.

Marina Bay Sands Pool

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!

Marina Bay Sands Pool
I even got fancy for you, Marina Bay Sands!

Let The Fun Begin

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”.

Marina Bay Sands Pool

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.

Marina Bay Sands Pool

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).

You is Kind, You is Important

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.

Cocktails. More Cocktails.

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? 

Marina Bay Sands Pool

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).

I’m NOT Pond Scum!

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

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Marina Bay Sands Pool

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  1. Pamela Marie | 14th Nov 17

    I loved your review! I happened to stumble across your review, as I watch a Netflix documentary “Amazing Hotels: Life Beyond the Lobby.” Released in 2017, featuring…You guessed it, this hotel as it’s first featured “AMAZING HOTEL. ”
    I agree, once you check out.. Literally that moment one checks out of any fine hotel(see fine hotels: anything that costs too much /has room service/ offers three-room suites or bowling lanes inside the room) , that customer is no longer visible to the employees at these hotels. Their credit cards may still be holding incidentals (don’t get me started lol) , for days post check-out.. However, we become invisible and yes,” pond scum” as you so awesomely stated in your review.
    I’ve stayed at luxury hotels, for several days even ( yes, wtf was I thinking).. and I was treated like royalty even when I found a huge roach ( not the kind cheech nor Chong would partake in) but the living, crawling kind! This can scare a girl at 3am , as she “stumbles” into the restroom and hits the light. It’s bad enough this hotel was “haunted”, according to the masses and Ann Rice(respectively). However, the only thing haunting me that stay was a cockroach the size of the bathroom, and a hangover the size of the cockroach. Argh, and no this wasn’t the above hotel. For the record, I understand bugs will be present, regardless a 5-star or motel6. I squashed it, using my sandal and it died guts and all, spilling onto the beautiful WHITE bathrug that lay by the shower. I felt bad for whomever was cleaning those roach legs from the snow white berber carpet, and at 330a I stood at front desk with my iPhone and the crime scene picture. I’ve never seen a man try to whisper so softly , ” we will take care of that inconvenience at once and you will be compensated with tonight’s stay on us” while looking around nervously & talking in the “please stop saying ROACH, the others will hear”. I was treated like royalty, until check-out..A few days later thanks to that room comp for the roach night. It went from “hi Miss. M******, how are you enjoying our amenities…Would you like your bed turned down for the evening? Room service tonight or hot breakfast on us for that small inconvenience that we can’t help, because people bring things in from all over & Lord knows what makes it into their luggage but no it can’t be this ancient mission with cracks & holes that flow perfectly w/this city’s finest sewer fun.” To ” yes, can I help you..Oh you are checking out.ok. yoir name?just leave keycards , um next”
    Bastard! I really thought we had something! Lol
    Thank you again, your blog piece on hospitality was spot on, we are nothing but roach smuggling jerks as soon as 11am check-out arrives.

    • csaradar | 17th Nov 17

      Hey Pamela! So happy you enjoyed my post and identify! Your roach story is both horrifying and hilarious!!! “not the kind Cheech and Chong use”… LOL!!!! I’ve had great hospitality at hostels, campsites so when I pay THAT much I expect the best!

  2. Caitlin Boylan | 9th Oct 17

    Ugh. How tacky. That’s certainly not how a luxury hotel should be treating their guests. Crossed off my list (of place I’ll stay when I meet a billionaire in a hostel)

    • csaradar | 9th Oct 17

      Haha yes! When you meet that billionaire let me know…I have plenty of recommendations for luxury places that are actually worth it!!!

    • Pamela Marie | 14th Nov 17

      Bahaha yes, awesome . Let me know what hostel and if he has a brother. ????

  3. Marina Bay Sands Pool | | 2nd Oct 17

    […] source – that time i refused to leave the marina bay sands pool Marina Bay Sands Pool […]

  4. canon cameras | 7th Jun 17

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  5. Julie | 31st May 17

    What a day! I hate it when something that’s supposed to be awesome turns out to be quite the opposite. They definitely should have treated you better!

    • csaradar | 31st May 17

      Thanks for the support! All in all I managed to enjoy myself but I definitely felt unwanted!

  6. Siera | 22nd Apr 17

    This post had me cracking up! I’m sad to hear you had a bad experience, but it sure did make a good story! Thanks for the honest review, too!


    • csaradar | 28th Apr 17

      LOl I’m always happy to provide some laughs!

  7. Kathy | 11th Apr 17

    I smiled all the way through this post. I love your writing style and complete honesty. I do not understand why when you are spending money next to the pool and had checked out of your room, you couldn’t stay. It makes no sense. . . . Actually it does when you are pond scum of which you most certainly do not looks like!

    • csaradar | 13th Apr 17

      Thank you so much! It’s tough being pond scum but I’m getting used to it! LOL

  8. laurareflected | 10th Apr 17

    Amazing! I’ve never been to anywhere considered “luxury” but always curious if they’re worth it. Sorry you had such a rubbish experience, but I love that you didn’t hold back! So refreshing to see an honest review. x

    • csaradar | 13th Apr 17

      Thank you! I definitely have never been accused of holding back! lOl

  9. Sapna | 10th Apr 17

    I understand the infinity pool is one of the main attraction of Marina Bay Sands but sometimes these luxury hotel people behave very stubbornly.
    Other than that…. Your pics are glamorous and beautiful.

    • csaradar | 13th Apr 17

      Thank you. At least I got some good pics out of the experience! Haha! Expensive pics!

  10. Charmaine Yipe | 9th Apr 17

    This is such a great story! I found it absolutely hilarious! Good on you for being so persistent! I will also never forget the time that they wouldn’t leave, believing as if I MUST have snuck in. A lot of people do but I was actually legit!!! I’m glad you are shedding some light on such a “great established” organization – the world needs to know what they REALLY are made of!

    • csaradar | 13th Apr 17

      I really do want to hear your story!

  11. Page_Traveller | 9th Apr 17

    Omg what a shame! I totally agree – an hour makes no difference, neither does half a day at the pool! What should matter is their reputation for being somewhere where people want to stay.

    • csaradar | 13th Apr 17

      My thoughts exactly!

  12. GirlAstray | 9th Apr 17

    Can´t believe they were arguing about hours with you, that is ridiculous 😀 Don´t they want happy customers who come back? It must have been a funny scene though to argue with them in a bathrobe 😉

    • csaradar | 13th Apr 17

      It must have been funny to anyone watching. I feel the same. It wasn’t that big of a deal to keep me happy. I didn’t ask for an organ! LOL

  13. C-Ludik | 9th Apr 17

    Loved this post, so hilarious ! I’m 100% with you: if you spend that much money, it shouldn’t matter that you have checked out. This would be a DREAM of a pool but definitively not for all of the running around !

  14. JAIMEE | 9th Apr 17

    I really love this honest post because it’s so, so true of luxury places – the second you’re done with your stay or whatever, they are acting like you’re the scum of the earth. It’s truly shit, especially when you’ve just spent about a bazillion euro at their place. This place does look stunning and you did good standing up for yourself until you couldn’t anymore! 😉

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      Thanks for the support! I tried to be fair in my post but man they pissed me off!

      • JAIMEE | 9th Apr 17

        I’d be pissed too!

  15. Memoirs of a Globetrotter | 9th Apr 17

    Ever since I heard about the infinity pool, it’s been a big dream of mine to go there! Thanks for sharing your experience – it was very entertaining to read and you look so glamorous in the photos! 🙂 ! I didn’t know about the strict check out restrictions. Even though you paid $500 to stay there, they seemed so eager to get rid of you! 🙁 It sounds like if I stay there for one night there would not be much time to spend at the pool. I still really want to go though because it looks so amazing!!

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      If you go…make sure you check in as early as possible to enjoy that day because they next day you are shut out at noon…unless you raise hell like I did. LOL

  16. The Wanderlust Dietitian | 9th Apr 17

    This would be a DREAM of a pool but not for all of the running around. At least you had good drinks and memorable photos.

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      Oh you know I got those photos girl! LOL

  17. Lucy Pearson | 8th Apr 17

    42?? Say what?! Tell me the secrets of everlasting youth please!

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      Travelling of course! Lol. For serious though, my tips are good diet, (although I do eat pizza once a week), lots of wine, and good skin care. Number one is sunblock!!!! And thanks for your sweet comment. Made me feel great:)

  18. Sandy Cadiz-Smith | 8th Apr 17

    What a great read, I was laughing out loud and picturing you arguing in your robe and slippers in the foyer of a posh hotel! I hate all those rules, and you are right, the minute you are close to check out all the superb service disappears. Even if the hotel is half empty! Look forward tor reading more about your travels. PS drinking cocktails at the infinity pool at 10am is aspirational!

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      I felt kind of foolish in my robe. That added to my outrage!. It was probably a good thing I had those early cocktails because front desk got a more mellow version of me! LOL

  19. Alaska Rue | 8th Apr 17

    Loved this post! Totally had me laughing. Yeah, customer service at top notch hotels really should be better, if you’re going to be paying that much money. Sigh. They really should think long term.

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      So glad you could have a laugh! At least some good came of this ordeal. LOL. I totally agree. When I pay that much I want royal treatment!

  20. JoAnnah | 8th Apr 17

    I’ve always wanted to go to the Mariana Sands resort just for the infinity pool! But reading your post is giving me second thoughts lol. You are right, there are other infinity pools across the world. Gonna look into those. Thanks for sharing!

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      There’s a gorgeous infinity in Kuala Lumpur at the Regalia Residences…no body serving drinks but I paid $40 per night on airbnb (it’s in my Malaysia post).

  21. Eulanda | 8th Apr 17

    I tried to hide my endless laughter and vigorois head nodding as I read your article at the train station, but failed miserably. I almost missed my train! We’d just seen a documentary on the hotel and thought of adding it to our list of places to visit. However, we will definitely think twice about going. It has a luxury price tag, so yes, you should expect luxury service. Thanks for being so real and transparent!

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      lol I love laughing that hard! Glad to have given you some entertainment! I’m sure I’ll have more posts like this. I am trying to tell more funny stories on my blog.

  22. Alaine | 8th Apr 17

    Wow! I really dislike bad service but I’m not surprised. I’ve worked in hotels and fine dining restaurant in Singapore (I have a postgraduate in hospitality management from a top Swiss school) and have seen appalling behaviour as a colleague and as a guest. It’s really frustrating actually and I will always call them out on it or outright laugh it off then write a scathing yelp review (lol!). But… I sometimes find spots in Singapore with lovely people with great service. Because they are passionate and caring people. I’m sure the check in attendant that you encountered was trying to please you and did his job well. Unfortunately not everyone is like this (sigh…. why aren’t there more caring people working in hospitality). Anyways, I used to be a regular at ku de ta ( now ce la vie) partier and had a group of friends that went all the time. We had good service because we were VIP. You know that kind of place, all about superficial face… I stopped going because I moved and when I’m in Singapore there are so many more fun places to party and much better drinks at mixology bars.

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      I look forward to going back and experiencing other places in Singapore! I also stayed at the Park Royal on Pickering and had a wonderful experience there.

  23. Practical Wanderlust (@practicalwander) | 8th Apr 17

    This is hilarious!! I’m totally with you 100%. If you spend that much money, it shouldn’t matter that you have technically checked out. There are too many fancy AF pools in the world for this one to think it’s the end all be all of pools. I probably wasn’t going to go anyway, but now I’m for sure not (umm, unless I get a free stay there with my credit card points, in which case I’ll snatch at least 6 extra vanity kits from the gym in your honor.)

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      bahaha for sure girl! Do that. I also splurge on another place in SE Asia that WAS worth every penny. I haven’t written about it yet…Huma Island Resort. If you are looking for a fancy place instead of MBS.

  24. GallopAroundTheGlobe (@KiaraGallop) | 8th Apr 17

    I am a budget traveller but I have splurged a few times and each time I have I’ve generally found luxury hotels to not offer as much luxury as I’d expect for the price paid. Everything costs extra, yes the staff are very polite but they’re not real friendly down-to-earth, genuinely want to help you people like you find in hostels. Maybe I’ve just been unlucky with my choice of hotels, but even if I had the extra money I’d still choose to stay at a hostel rather than a luxury hotel.

    The way you told the story really made me giggle, by the way 😉

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      I gotta find humor in these situations! I agree. I had a first class experience at many hostels. Every now and then the luxury is worth it and I will be writing more about these places:)

  25. Jodie | 8th Apr 17

    Me and my girl friends decided to stay here for two nights before heading to Bali and I completely agree with everyone you have said here. They didn’t honor the fact you had stayed there, spent untold amounts of money and genuinely wanted to enjoy the experience – as soon as it was time to leave I’m surprised there’s no one physically picking you up and carrying you out the door. A stunning view and pool yes, but it’s nice to feel the love back when all you wanted was to relax in the man made sanctuary. Anyway, a fun read! Enjoyed this a lot

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      So I’m not the only pond scum? Great! You’re right…one day they will have people carrying you away from that precious pool!

  26. Enni Maria | 8th Apr 17

    I love the way you write! So sorry to hear that your experience wasn’t as expected. The pool indeed looks amazing.. thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      Thanks for the love! At least I have some pretty pics:)

  27. tashasoyster | 8th Apr 17

    That’s such a shame you had an unpleasant experience at this hotel, especially as it’s supposed to be one of the most luxurious in the world! Im surprised they made such a big deal about you wanting to stay at the pool longer. You were a paying guest after all! Hopefully the beauty of the pool can overcome the negative memories 🙂

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      I have a sense of humor which gets me through (after the fact…lol). And writing is my therapy!

  28. Carlinn | 8th Apr 17

    That’s so awful! Recently we stayed at a fancy hotel in Switzerland with an equally nice pool area and our train was only leaving at four so they actually let us stay in our room and check out at 3:45! We could use the spa and pool and take a shower in our room. I hate it when hotels treat paying customers badly! 🙁

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      Now that’s service! I have had good experiences like that and I always write reviews. They should know when they make people happy:)

  29. lincalinca | 8th Apr 17

    One of those stories where you really see how one (or three) employees can become the worst kind of ambassadors for their brand. If the promise had not been made at the check in, would have been fine that they don’t allow late check out, but after it had been promised… I guess I would go the next step and write to the management of the chain.

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      You’re absolutely right. They treated me like I was lying about what the man at check in had said, which made the whole thing worse!

  30. Svet Dimitrov | 6th Apr 17

    Ah, Cherene, I was literally laughing at your description – you are uproarious (thank Joella for sharing your article). In all seriousness, I just had a friend return from this “heavenly” pool and she seems to have enjoyed it.

    Anyways, you are downright right about that. I have imagined having a sip there, but now that I am warned, probably when I grow enough of a travel blogger to be offered to go there for free, I would do it then. Or wouldn’t. :))

    I am subscribing to keep track with your next one! And you got pinned in a Bulgarian style!

    • csaradar | 7th Apr 17

      Ahhh thank you Svet! And of course if it were free…I would go back! Lol. I just hated paying so much money and not having it be everything I dreamt. You live and learn, huh? I hope I was fair. I did give the restaurant and pool staff a good review:). Thanks for subscribing! I have lots of good stuff coming up!

  31. Christine Tenekjian | 6th Apr 17

    Get em girl!! Luxury schmuxury.

    • csaradar | 9th Apr 17

      Haha… you know homey don’t play!

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