Honest review on Marina Bay Sands Hotel

MBS (Marina Bay Sands)…

One of our country’s most prominent landmarks; part of our Garden Cityscape’s pride and joy.. Yes… 5-star hotel, no less.. And of course, given that it costs almost SGD$1K for one night in their cheapest suite, would it be too much to expect some degree of excellence? B and I were certainly left speechless after our experience, but for all the wrong reasons.

The specified check-in time was 3pm. We were at the VIP lounge slightly earlier and there was a long queue. It WAS the June holiday season afterall, so crowds were expected and with manpower shortage and all, queuing for at least half an hour could be pretty normal, especially in Singapore. O yeah, our favourite pastime is queuing – for the best Char Kway Teow, the cheapest deals during the GSS (Great Singapore Sale).. The longer the queue, the better. It means good stuff awaits you right..;p Some companies even pay students to queue so their products look more popular!

http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/singaporelocalnews/view/1166930/1/.html

And so, we the citizens of Singapore, were full of anticipation. Alas, after queuing for over half an hour, we were told coolly that the rooms were not yet ready (even though we were way past the check-in time) so we would have to wait another hour and a half…in a holding room. Wow. This was a first for us.

We were not told much else apart from that. No brochure about hotel facilities, or where to go for breakfast, nor were we directed where to wait. No explanation. No apology. Not a smile. The receptionists were all cold and expressionless.

We were just given two cards with the mysterious numbers 284 scribbled on a scrap of paper and told to proceed there and wait for their call. So with luggage bags in hand and baby on hip, we searched for the correct lift… There are literally dozens of lifts in MBS, btw, which lead to different parts of the building. Take the wrong lift and you need to go back down to the lobby to begin your search for the right one again… Which is what happened to us.

Since we couldn’t find a level 2 button in our lift, we interpreted 284 to mean level 28, unit 4.. Unfortunately, after getting off the lift, we realised there was no such unit on the 28th floor, so we went back down to ground level to find a lift that could take us to level 2 unit 84… We couldn’t find it. Finally deciding that we had to trouble some busy MBS staff, we approached one of them only to be waved off in some vague direction behind a restaurant. Aha! So the lifts were located BEHIND the restaurant.

Eventually, we found the holding room. Expecting to be able to finally rest our backs on a simple bed, we found ourselves face to face with four other groups of people in a large room. Most sofa seats were already occupied. One Thai lady was doing stretching exercises on the verendah, so no one else took seats out there. Inside, another lady was watching Cartoon Network (which I don’t think was her preferred choice; she was just too polite to change the channel in case someone else was watching it.) Little B and me took a single seat near a man who was sleeping stretched out on the three-seater sofa, (we later found out he was sick.) while B squatted beside us.

For one and a half hours we waited. Still no phone call. By then, Little B was exhausted and on the verge of tears. (She was, afterall still an infant.) B decided enough was enough. He went down to the lobby to check if they’d forgotten about us or something…and was told to queue all over again!

Feeling justifiably annoyed by then, he went straight to the counter to check on the status of our wait. It was only after some badgering that we finally received our room key. Without any sympathy or apology for the long wait, we were dismissed without so much as ‘have a nice day.’ We knew it would be useless reminding them about sending a baby cot to the room. We would just have to call for room service again later. When asking for directions, the chambermaids were clueless as they couldn’t speak English. They just shook their heads and claimed ignorance.

Anyhow, we finally managed to get into our suite nearly TWO hours after the check-in time. Goodness knows how long we would have had to wait if we had waited for their call. B wanted to make coffee, but to his dismay, there was none!

Beside the coffee maker was a brazenly empty coffee holder… B called for room service to send us a baby cot and replenish the coffee… Meanwhile, we checked out the suite…

Rubber band on the DAMP carpet(several large spots near the toilet were dripping wet!)… and little scraps of torn paper in the corners really didn’t speak well of the maintenance…. The suite was a comfortable size for a family…

…unfortunately, it wasn’t well maintained. The dresser on the right ROCKS and tilts precariously the moment you rest your hand on it…

And the wallpaper was torn in places…

Though the bins were not lined, and the paintings in the toilet looked like they had been damaged by hot sprays of water sent atop the varnish, the bath tub was nice.

The living room was alright, as were the beds.

Then, there was a ring at the door. They delivered the coffee. Three little capsules. THREE? What an odd number… One for B, one for me and one for little B I suppose…

B felt it just wasn’t right. So he called for room service to provide us with a complete set. Room service sounded annoyed. They took half an hour this time and the same guy who delivered the set was visibly irritated. He rudely snapped something in Chinese about this not being their job but another department’s before handing over the coffee and walking off. We didn’t quite know how to respond.

Seriously, I’ve never been to a hotel with that many consistently rude staff members- no, ‘TEAM Members’ (as they call them at MBS). Being united in rudeness was about the only team spirit we’d witnessed thus far. We searched the room for any brochures that might give us a hint about where and when breakfast would be served but found none. B decided to go down to the Reception desk to get a copy. Apparently, the lady had forgotten to give us our brochure and so, when we finally received it, we discovered we had already missed both the afternoon tea and Evening Cocktail. We were only staying one night- so it’s over, nothing we can do. Again, she wasn’t apologetic. It took another colleague to sense our frustration and offer some form of compensation by offering a $100 free in-dining voucher. He initally offered $50, but later decided to top it to $100, probably because each main course costs no less than $45… Which sums up the long story about how we ended up with a complimentary in-dining at MBS. To their credit, the in-dining team was warm and professional and the food was delicious.

Jumbo prawns

Rack of lamb

Overall though, we felt really embarrassed for Singapore’s MBS being represented by so many unprofessional, patronising and indifferent staff members. Imagine traveling all the way from a far-off land only to be made to feel so unwelcome… I felt bad for tourists like the poor sick man and those gracious Thai ladies who were still in the holding room when we left, all because unlike us, they were too nice to not badger the Reception desk for their rooms.

To be sure we were not being Very Irritatingly Petty spoilt brats, or prejudiced against a certain nationality, we checked TripAdvisor and found many similar unhappy accounts by different tourists from all over the world, though of course there were those who had good experiences. To be fair, MBS is a beautiful hotel with a great view. We didn’t swim in the sky pool eventually but the view was nice enough.

And the eggs on the breakfast menu @Sky57 are awesome… It’s kind of weird to say the highlight of our stay at MBS was the eggs…But they’re truly the best eggs I’ve ever eaten!

Hopefully MBS does something to improve its services. At the moment, it’s Mostly Bad Service in a nutshell and those who are planning to book a suite for experience sake, try not to, unless you have a free voucher or something! There are currently many other great hotels here in Singapore that offer much, much more for much, much less.