Staycation is the best option when arranging for the whole family to go for a vacation becomes close to impossible due to differing work schedules. So in June we took a weekend break downtown at one of our favourite hotels, the Novotel Clarke Quay Hotel. Of course being Accor Plus members, we used one of our complimentary nights stay. We also booked another room during one of the Great Accor Sales with a room rate of slightly over $100.
It was partly cloudy at Clark Quay around noon time when we arrived. Clark Quay was relatively quiet at this time. We went up to the hotel but our rooms were not ready. So we went over to The Square Restaurant for lunch. We didn’t want to stuff ourselves with a full buffet lunch so we ordered different dishes from the a la carte menu.
We were very familiar with many of the wait staff having dined here over the years. It was very comfortable dining at the restaurant with familiar faces serving us. Bread and dip sauce were served first. Our food came shortly. The food was tasty and the lunch was good.
After lunch we approached front desk again and our rooms were ready. We collected our keys and went our to our rooms. We were given rooms next to each other. We had specifically requested for high floor non-smoking rooms facing Marina Bay. When we entered our rooms, the view of Marina Bay was great. We could see all the way to Marina Bay Sands and the splendid view of the city centre. We had enjoyed watching fireworks during quite a few special occasions when we stayed at Novotel Clark Quay over the years.
As usual, the bed was comfy and clean. Rooms were typical Novotel standard. Bathroom came with shower stall and full range of toiletries. TV with plenty of programs and wifi was excellent. Everything was in order and we were of course very pleased. We rested for a short while and then went shopping at Liang Court Shopping Centre connected with the hotel.
This was one of our usual rituals. It was so convenient just to descend to the shopping mall to take a quick look at what events were held during our stay in Novotel Hotel. We roamed floor by floor and the children spent some time at Kinokuniya Bookstore. There are quite a few restaurants and café as well as McDonald restaurant here. Of course Uniqlo Store can be found here as well as other retailers selling clothes and other stuff.
The basement supermarket was another interesting place where we spent some time checking out stuff. Japanese frequent this mall, in particular, the supermarket here. Some of the fruits imported from Japan would astound many not familiar with the pricing of such fruits here. The prices were quite mindboggling. A watermelon could cost $70. One time there was a promotion on Japanese bread and the cost of a loaf of bread was around $20. Should you visit this supermarket, check out the prices to get a quick reality of the standard and cost of living for Japanese living here.
With shopping done, we returned to our room for another short rest. It was a hot day, perfect to go for a swim. So not long after, we went to the swimming pool. The pool was a hive of activities with kids screaming and adults playing with them having a great time. The pool area was pretty crowded. We managed to locate the last two available deck chairs to put our stuff. The table with left over food was not cleared. This was a busy place that afternoon.
We had a great time in the pool, immersing in the fun like everyone else on that lovely afternoon. The sun was beating down fiercely but it was windy up at the pool area compensating the merciless heat from the sun. It was really good to laze around after the swim to soak in the ambience of this pool area with a tropical garden setup on this beautiful day.
Back to our rooms after the swim, we showered and rested for a while watching TV. The view from our room was great as we watched Clark Quay getting busy as evening approached. When it was no longer as hot out in the open, we decided to head to the Bay area for the Bay Beat Festival.
We left Novotel Hotel and walked along the Singapore River starting from Clark Quay. Restaurants along the river were getting ready to welcome diners and tourists were starting to throng the area. The place here though still too early for night live activities to come alive was pleasant and lovely. We strolled past restaurants and crowds of people and soon reached the underpass at Hill Street and New Bridge Road.
We walked through the underpass and soon emerged at the opposite side of the river at Boat Quay. We continued walking along Singapore River. We then turned back for a look and the sun was at the lower end of the bridge we just passed. It wasn’t very hot any more, especially with the wind blowing along the river. Boat Quay across the river wasn’t as busy as Clark Quay. After all, this was a Saturday afternoon and office crowds were no longer around.
Walking further along the river, we soon encountered piano sets placed on the walk way facing the river. These were interesting piano sets. A piano tuner was there doing his work tuning up the pianos. Tourists were taking pictures with the pianos too. This was an interesting sight. It was the first time we came across pianos displayed along Singapore River. Perhaps this might be part of the Bay Beat Festival setup. Weather was good so these pianos were perfect for this event.
Walking further we soon reached the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall and the Asian Civilisations Museum. The ground ahead was set up with party atmosphere. An outdoor concert was getting ready to begin the evening with exciting songs and music. Crowds were already gathering.
However, we continued to stroll on towards Marina Bay. Across Singapore River was the iconic Fullerton Hotel, adorning Singapore River in majestic splendour. It was really an enjoyable stroll along the river. Looking across the bay was the unmistakable durian structure of the Esplanade Theatre. Further out across the bay was the grand and unique Marina Bay Sands that defines the Singapore Marina Bay area and its attractions.
We loitered around enjoying the beautiful views of the Bay area while the RSAF helicopters were practising for the upcoming National Day Parade event dragging the huge Singapore flag circling further outside away from shore. This area was quite crowded with tourists and locals alike enjoying a day out admiring the pretty skylines of the downtown area.
As we proceeded nearer to the Esplanade, we stopped by a small concert with a group of young musicians performing some English songs. The crowd here wasn’t very large but they seemingly enjoyed this performance. We didn’t spend a lot of time here as they were several other groups at different locations at the Bay area where we could pop in for some entertainment.
The Bay area was getting rather crowded now. The sun at the far end was colouring the skies with a hue of light pink on some floating clouds. Marina Bay Sands was also reflecting different shades of colour at this time and with the helicopters flying past occasionally with the huge flag, it was a lovely sight to behold indeed.
We then walked further down to the amphitheater outside the Esplanade where a much bigger crowd gathered for a performance that was soon to begin. So we stayed around for a while snapping more pictures of this gorgeous area around the bay. The performance then started and some audience seemed to joined in enthusiastically with three young chaps clapping and jumping up and down in front of the main stage. The music was too loud and rowdy to our taste and we didn’t want to lose our hearing as well hence we decided to walk into the Esplanade for some other performance.
Inside the Esplanade was even more crowded. Some were dinning while others were shopping. At the main atrium area, another group was getting ready to perform. The musicians were a guy and a lady team from Malaysia. Their music was more soothing but on the higher tone variety. Crowds were there to watch and visitors were having some difficulty getting through the crowd to get to other areas in the Esplanade.
We were getting a little tired now and we went back outdoor intending to walk back to Novotel Hotel. Marina Bay was even more beautiful now with the area lighting up. The skylines further across the bay were now a display of lights from the office buildings and the Fullerton Hotel, the grand old dame that sat beautifully on the edge of Marina Bay with her warm glowing lights was delighting visitors with her majestic presence. The Merlion was still spewing water into the bay and was also lit up nicely with tourists eagerly snapping pictures and taking selfies to bring home this iconic symbol of Singapore.
We were really feeling weary now and having checked our phone apps on SG Buses, we realised bus 195 would be arriving at the bus stop outside the Esplanade in 5 minutes. So we walked back hurriedly into the Esplanade and reached the bus stop just outside the entrance. Soon enough, bus 195 arrived and we hopped on. We were so glad to sit in aircon environment to get back to Novotel Hotel. Very quickly, we arrived at Liang Court Shopping Centre just 4 bus stops away which took less than 10 minutes bus journey.
We wasted no time to head into the mall and went straight to Saizeriya Restaurant on level two for dinner. Saizeriya is a mixed Italian and Japanese restaurant where the food items are reasonably priced for a quick meal. The restaurant wasn’t very crowded yet. So we had pastas, baked rice, hot plate rice sets and other items. The meal was good and we enjoyed our time chatting and reminiscing all our past experiences staying here.
After dinner, we adjourned to the lobby lounge at Novotel Hotel. We settled down for our Accor Plus member’s complimentary welcome drinks. We ordered different types of coffee as well as fruit juice. So this was another occasion to sit down and chat and while away the time. Soon it was time to return to our room for the night.
Back in our rooms, we settled in to enjoy the night watching TV. The children brought a laptop and so we called the hotel’s technician to hook up the laptop to the TV via the HTMI port. Apparently the port on the front wall panel didn’t work. The technician had to make the connection to the back of the TV. Once set up, the children settled down happily to watch their movies while dear wife and I returned to our room.
There was some packing to do and once done, we too settled down to watch TV. The night view of Clark Quay from our window was quite mesmerizing too. It was a great day spent here with all the activities we enjoyed together as a family. The family bonding was good and this was the very purpose for our staycation.
Novotel Hotel at Clark Quay is one of our favourite haunts. It is an easy walk to Marina Bay with quick access to Clark Quay at our doorstep. Liang Court Shopping Centre is connected with the hotel so stocking up on supplies is very convenient. This is no doubt a very strategic place to park ourselves over a weekend to unwind. So our first day of fun came to an end as we slipped into our comfortable bed for the night.
Continue to Day 2 …