Tuesday, October 11, 2016

an unexpected find

Most things I do is last-minute, and the staycation was also a last-minute decision.

But I didn’t want to stay in the same hotels we had stayed in, namely the Beaufort and the Rasa Sentosa, as both were pricey.

I googled something or other – hotels in Sentosa? - and randomly decided to go with one of them. It looked like the Lost World, lost in the jungle, and appeared terribly exotic.

I called up to book on a Thursday night, the day before our supposed staycation, and the receptionist on the other end told me – Ah, I think you go online better. You go booking.com or expedia, got better deals there.

I asked, so you want me to book from there? He replied, ya ya.

The telephone manner did not inspire confidence but that has never stopped me. Neither has online reviews, most of which were scathing about room quality and dirtiness and bad breakfast buffets. I find that sometimes, when you look past what most people think, it pays off. But only on occasion.

I booked.

Upon arrival, I saw a tiny glass-walled reception hidden in a mass of creepers and whatnot. No carpets, just one lady who was brusque and efficient behind a table. When we entered our room, Jo complained incessantly. KK found a hair on the towel, the towels were threadbare, the room felt sandy, there were stains on the mirror and quilt, the shower looked like our home shower (ie mouldy), and the very slow Internet could only be accessed from two floors, out of eight. KK had to bring his laptop down to the first floor café to clear his e-mails. “Why did you choose this hotel, Mama, why?” Jo wailed.

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* Mirror

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* Pool towels had lots of odd stains

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* Room bath towel

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* An aged room

But by the time we checked out, everyone changed their tune.

Different strokes for different folks, those who can’t abide sloppy housekeeping, blase customer service and average (some say bad) food will hate this one. I think Jo would still think twice.

The entire place - outside of the room - was just so naturally captivating. The hotel is amok with vines and creepers and plants which grow to incredible proportions, dripping with bright flowers growing in the wild, trees poking willy nilly out of the buildings and villas (because effort was made to build around the trees instead of razing them down).

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* Nature's art. The colours! The climbing plants, or whatever they are, started out in those teeny little pots on the bottom left but have since grown way beyond those confines. Apparently all they need is a spraying once or twice a week.

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* The buildings are mostly hidden by the foliage

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* Hanging things

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* A green dustbin

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* Not your usual pretty pond with clear water and koi

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* Loads of wild life, including this one, sun birds, monitor lizards

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* A tree in the villa (we didnt' stay in it because it costs $1000 a night) in a glass case. The soil and leaves and creatures which drop in are left there. The guide says creatures like frogs and snails can usually climb their way out

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* A tree poking out of the ground at the reception

It’s an eco-resort which was built as a paen to sustainable living but unlike high-end super-expensive resorts which PR the word “eco” and “sustainable” to death, this felt like the real thing. It’s a little bit unkempt and wild but so real, and they labour at it so quietly with little fanfare. Seven gardeners - four landscapers and three who specialise in growing things - keep the plants healthy and dream up new ways of how to recycle.

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* A floating raft and pots made of recycled plastic bottles

It runs a wormery, where thousands of earthworms packed in trays (a few thousand PER tray, not in total) feed on shredded vegetable and fruit remains from the kitchen to excrete earthworm castings - which look like rich dark soil - which are then used for the hotel's vegetable and herb gardens.

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* Trays of earthworms

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* Things I learnt: earthworms have no teeth that's why the stuff has to be shredded, and they only feed on healthy stuff like veg and fruits. Certainly no oil. When the cardboard was lifted off, the earthworms squirmed wildly in dismay before burrowing down deep into the soil. They don't like light. But the guide fished them out with a pair of chopsticks.

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* The earthworm shit goes to these vegetables, which supply 10 percent of the resort's needs

I was fascinated and went on a tour of the resort’s “green” aspects, guided by an American who was once a guest but is now an employee. KK and the kids weren’t interested, because they were more interested in going swimming.

Ah. This, then, is the crown jewel of the resort. That pool has to be the best pool we have ever swum in, anywhere.

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* Trees all around

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* By day

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* By night, where it continues to attract swimmers. That's my shadow in the water.

Nearly 100m in length and built over an existing road which used to run into the jungle, the water is chlorine-free. The spring water is purified through a process of filtration and with ionized salt, which makes it a little salty. It isn’t very clear or blue, but slightly cloudy green. We all felt the difference, especially Lu and I. Our rashes did not prickle or itch. After swimming, no one felt dried out, the skin and hair did not have the “siap-siap” chlorine feeling. Jo noted, “the water feels so soft”. Everyone comfortably opened their eyes underwater.

Combine that with a therapeutic waterfall (for KK), a hot jacuzzi, loads of rubber tubes for floating “down the river” and two slidey slides of sufficient length to create a big splash, the kids couldn’t get enough of it.

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* The jacuzzi, which is heated up using excess energy generated from chilling water for the air-conditioning system. It is really hot and so shiok

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* The waterfall

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* Dry steps and recliners right next to the water slides

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3 comments:

Dee said...

ha. i know which hotel is this. will inform a friend whom family runs this hotel to upkeep abit. Glad you still have an enjoyable time.

Sher said...

oh but we do love it! dont mind the not so nice parts, although others might. we want to go back. but must wait for good deal.

Dee said...

i think you did give the impression that you love it and didn't mind the not so nice part. I think it is a very fair post. I, too, am worried that the not so nice parts might put off others. a great feedback!