This is my first legit ‘travel’ related post since the whole COVID nonsense started.
As ridiculous as things could be, we are currently in this semi-lockdown state known as ‘Phase 2 (Heightened Alert)’ -> which was kind of an in-between of ‘full lockdown’ and Phase 2. I do have quite a number of my readers who are non-Singaporeans, so I thought that it would be interesting to share more information about this (and also it would be useful for me to ‘reminisce’ this nonsense in the future)
Since May 2021, there had been a surge in the number of ‘community’ COVID-cases and such community cases are more dangerous because this group of people could potentially be mega spreaders, as compared to the ‘imported’ cases which are contained in the quarantine facilities. The number of community cases (from 0 to 3 per day) surged significantly (to 20+/day) and this led to our government announcement of a new set of ‘Safety Management Measures (SMM)’ which disallows us to dine outside, work from home as the default, gym (and other high-risk indoor facilities) closures and to cap the limit at ‘2’ for visiting and hanging out in public spaces. The announcement was made on 14 May, to be implemented from 16 May and my staycation booking had been for 24 – 26 May. When the new restrictions came in place, there were a lot of people scrambling to cancel their reservations (most hotels offered refunds/postponement) but my friend and I decided to do the ‘wait and see’ approach (perhaps also known as the lazy way out). To be honest, 80% of the people I spoke to discouraged me from continuing the staycation plans as it would be ‘pretty lame’ to just be cooped up in the hotel room with just one other person (without the new measures, we were planning to have 3 – 4 ppl over as well).
However, as the dates drew closer, the desire for me to have a true vacation increased and we decide to continue the staycation as planned. At that time, I was wondering that since COVID was here to stay, we should be learning to ‘deal’ with the restrictions and limitations; rather than the (non-stop) postponing of plans in hope of a ‘safer’ future. I wanted to maintain having my occasional ‘breather’ from work and like the chinese saying goes xiu xi shi wei le zou geng chang yuan de lu (Resting allows you to recharge for a long journey ahead).
Prior to our dates, we were hoping to receive news of an early check-in opportunity (thinking that many other people have made cancelations) but sadly, my email had been ignored (probably due to the high influx of cancelations). Well, we had the option of calling the hotel to check on this but I decided to ‘leave it to fate’ and fate concludes that we got a room with a bathtub (previously requested upon booking) but due to the room’s popularity, we could not get the extra perks of early check-in and late check-out.
Anyway, so the tip is that if you’re planning to request for early check-in / late check-out, please do not request for the room with a bathtub as they tend to be more popular. Furthermore, I didn’t exactly get a good view from my room too – we faced an office building / suntec area. If I peeked my head at the window at a certain angle, I could see the Singapore flyer. I believe that there are other rooms that have a sea view (you can try requesting).
When I entered the lobby area at about 3PM sharp (the official check-in timing), there were 5 other groups waiting around as well. I was pretty surprised as I thought that many people would have canceled their stay. I did not have to wait long before a staff approached me and brought me to another area (with a makeshift counter) to do my check-in. I guess it was a good gesture as that would mean having more space as a safe distancing measure. The check-in was a breeze – all I had to do was to provide my NRIC and sign a few documents (health declaration etc.). Oh, and if you are planning to visit their rooftop pool, please remember to make a booking with the concierge. For now, they allow up to 8 pax per one hour slot – starting from 6:30am till 10:30pm.
As this was a serviced apartment, the lobby is rather small (like all serviced apartments I’ve been to) as they don’t usually host short-term stay guests. I guess this pandemic has resulted in a huge decline in corporate long-stay guests and they have pivoted their operations to cater to short-stays as well. The Pan Pacific Serviced Suites at Beach Road is a relatively new property as it was built only in 2013. Previously, it was just a carpark building for residents staying in ‘The Plaza’, and sometime after 2011 (verified with Google Maps), they started the construction of the additional 15 floors to house 180 guest suites.
Anyway, here are some photos I’ve taken of my room; before it gets messed up.
I enjoyed the idea of having a separate living room space from the master bedroom. It is useful in containing the smell of the food and if you and your friend/partner have differing habits, it is very useful. I sleep like 3-4 hours earlier than my friend who continues playing PUBG in the living room area. There are also two television sets as well – and you don’t have to quarrel over what to watch on the TV.
The space is really big enough to host small parties comfortably. Everyone will have a chair to sit on =p
It comes with a fully functional kitchen with cutlery and plates for 2. There’s a working oven (can’t exactly figure out how to use it properly) with a standard flat baking tray. I would imagine that it can be used to bake frozen pizzas from the supermarket. Furthermore, they have a rice cooker and toaster as well (in the cabinet). We didn’t do any cooking in the end as it would have involved bringing too many condiments but we did make use of the oven to bake the Camembert cheese.
The bed was ultra huge and comfy. I’m pretty sure 3 to 4 people could sleep on it comfortably. I had quite a decent sleep throughout both nights there. The curtains were dark enough to not wake me up before my alarm rang.
<Continue reading if you are finding ‘inspiration’ of things to do>
After settling down in the room (means lazing on the sofa, setting up my HDMI input to the TV (Note: I brought my own HDMI cable + HDMI to Type C cable to connect my iPad Air)), we decided to head out at about 5+ after seeing that the sun rays were no longer that harsh. (I hate the sun, or rather I hate UV rays, or rather I hate getting tanned)
We walked to Bugis Junction, cutting through Duo for the sheltered walk. The agenda was to buy cheese at Cold Storage for our cheese platter (fancy shit we do). We ended up dabao-ing other food like ‘Wo Ai Tai Mei’ mala fried chicken, aburi salmon from cold storage, and tea from steeped tea bar (at Tan Quee Lan Street). The basement F&B area and the supermarket were a lot more crowded than my expectations – there were people queuing to buy stuff, even though it wasn’t exactly dinner time yet. Sadly, the retail shops were in pretty bad shape and I barely see anyone paying money at the cashiers.
I booked the pool for the 7:30-8:30 pm slot, forgetting that sunset timing should be earlier. Well, it didn’t really matter that much as it was super cloudy that evening – any sunset view would probably look very underwhelming.
Before entering the pool area, you would have to collect the ‘pool access card’ from the lobby.
During our slot, there were only 3 others in the pool (total of 5 people) and there were 2 other people who were just lazing by the lounge chairs. The water was rather chilly that night (together with the wind) and we just loitered inside the pool from end to end taking photos of the night scene, playing with the jacuzzi jets, and just enjoying being in the water. The other 3 people left before the time slot ended so we kind of had our own private pool for about 15-20 mins. As seen from the photos below, they were probably trying to mimic the infinity pool concept of MBS, but of course it is same same but very different.
Just so you know, the pool is ‘open-air’ which means that it is not weather-proof. It might not be ideal for a swim if it is raining heavily.
It is very comfortable to snuggle up in the sheets after taking a shower and watch my dramas from a TV (not an iPad). I want my future home to have this set up.
FYI: I brought my own alcohol with me – this was a glass of Moscato, bought off shopee.
In order to mimic the ‘overseas travel’ experience, we decided to wake up for sunrise. As we couldn’t see the views from our room, we requested to keep our pool access card till the next morning and booked the 6:30 – 7:30 am pool slot. I wasn’t intending to enter the pool as I did not want to freeze in the morning. So I just lazed around on the lounge chairs and took a couple of photos of the underwhelming sunrise views. Oh, and we were the only (crazy/lame) ones during that time slot to be on the pool deck at that timing.
*Back to sleep*
We headed out again at about 11+ to grab ‘breakfast’. I bought tarts from ‘June Bakery’ – a famous bakery specializing in Yam-Paste (Orh-nee) tarts. When I was there, they did not have any yam flavours left as everything remaining had already been reserved. Thankfully, my minor display of disappointment convinced the baker to bake more and I went back to collect a few hours later! At $1.20/$1.30 per mini tart – it is quite a value for money! Would love to have it again.
Image below shows the remaining Chocolate and Black Sesame tarts that were available for sale.
Now that I have tried the Yam flavour as well, I would definitely choose the Yam ones over any other flavorus. (It was what made them famous too)
We headed to the golden mile food center (hawker center) and my friend queued for the famous lor mee. It was a long wait as the person in front bought more than 10 packets! Anyway, it was a pretty sad scene at the hawker center. There were a couple of stalls with queues (the more famous ones) and everything else was just.. empty. Most hawkers were just sitting in front of their stall.. waiting. The rule which disallows outside dining is really affecting these F&B establishments 🙁
Took a photo of the ‘blocked’ seats.. sighs. I hope this would be all over after 13 June.
After dabao-ing the food + buying avocado milk shake, we headed back to our accommodation to ‘eat’. The good thing about being in a serviced apartment is that we could have our meals on a proper dining table and dining chairs, using non-disposable cutlery. It definitely helps to make the ‘experience’ better.
Anyway, my friend placed some orders for thai food so we were out at 1+ again to do the collection.
Food was from golden mile tower and golden mile complex. It was quite a sad sight to enter the building as they used to be always bustling with crowds and people. That afternoon, the old buildings looked extra haggard and worn out. Somehow, you could feel it from the emotions of the store owners too :/
We ate the food for ‘Linner’ – at a timing between lunch and dinner.
Another thing you can consider doing in the room is to play such karaoke music videos from YouTube and do a singalong. I didn’t sing with a mic but it was good enough. The perks of having a separate bedroom meant that your friend could have a space to ‘escape’ to if the singing is horrible. I hope you know where this is going.. Well, I’m fine, with my audience of four (stuffed toys).
Oh, and if you enjoy cold brew coffee (with milk), I highly recommend trying ‘White Magic’ from wakey wakey – a cafe situated at the concourse building (< 5 mins walk)
Yea, I brought my traveling bears along with me.. It’s a vacation after all!
Dinner / Supper was cheese platter – an expensive indulgence that I pretend to enjoy.
In my everyday life, I am a cheese lover but I always think that cheese platters are a waste of time. My family just buys cheese and cut then up into cubes and store them in Tupperware and eat it randomly every time we open the fridge.
However, I am not passing up the opportunity of having a chance to eat more ‘atas’ food with lesser consciousness on the price. The items below cost almost $50 – a price I wouldn’t normally pay for supermarket food – but hey, I’m ‘traveling’, so this is fine. (In case you’re wondering what this is about, I always feel comfortable with spending more money on food items overseas, as compared to when I’m in Singapore)
As my friend enjoys making everything aesthetically pleasing, I let her do whatever she wants – she even brought the ikea wooden board for her home.
We called the concierge at about 10 am to check on whether we could still request for late check-out (as cancelations can take place any time). Sadly, there were no cancellations (yay for the industry) and we had to evacuate by 12 noon. We left our bags at the concierge upon check-out and headed to Arab Street area to grab some food. My friend had to pick-up her order at ‘Motherdough’ – some bakery which I’ve not heard about but wow, there were at least 20 people queueing outside (despite the really hot weather). Another store which had a queue was ‘rich and good cake shop’ and ‘arabica % coffee’. I guess in times of pandemic, the ones with good branding/reputation is here to stay..
Just some final comments about the accommodation (Pan Pacific Serviced Suites, Beach Road) (in case it matters to you)
What I’m happy with:
- The staff were really courteous and polite – I didn’t even feel unhappy getting ‘rejected’. I guess this is what you expect from a 5* branding.
- While I am not certain about their actual occupancy rate, I did not have to share the lift often with other guests. It did make me feel slightly ‘safer’ as the hotel adheres to the COVID-19 restrictions.
- Although I stayed 2 nights and did not request housekeeping, the staff took the initiative to give us a bit of basic cleaning when we told her we didn’t mind new towels in our toilets. It was quite a nice surprise to return to a room with neat sheets and replenished toiletries; as we didn’t expect that.
- The mattress was really comfortable – I slept so well 😀
- Price – it was about $200/night which is super value for money given its convenient location and accessibility to food
What could be improved:
- The toilets do not have much ventilation at all. The floors can remain wet in the morning (from the night before)
- My clothes couldn’t dry too – not sure if it was due to the humid weather or perhaps something somewhere is not ‘dry’ enough.
For more info / to book:
I guess that’s about it for my staycation review.
If you’re thinking of going for a staycation or perhaps even considering having a mental break away from your home, please do so and have a change of environment even if it just 1 or 2 nights. The prolonged Work from Home culture has somehow made staying at ‘Home’ somewhat seem has something being associated to work somehow, not really a space for you to ‘rest and recharge’. At the same time, the travel industry really needs your help – the prices for many hotels are so low right now and I’m highly doubting if it is enough to even cover their operating expenses. There’s really no point in ‘saving’ your annual leave days in anticipation of being able to travel again. Taking multiple small short breaks is highly encouraged to prevent burnout.
The economy needs you – spend more within your means – and always believe in the multiplier effect 🙂