advertisement

The newest and most imposing structure on the Singapore skyline, this "integrated resort" comprises three hotel towers with over 2,500 five-star guestrooms and suites; a 1.2-hectare (3-acre) SkyPark, an enormous four-level world-class convention and exhibition center, a high-fashion luxury shopping mall, two theaters, a museum, almost 60 venues for dining and nightlife, and one of Singapore's two new casinos.

The 24-hour casino is abuzz with lights and sounds from 1,600 slot machines; over 500 tables offering Baccarat, Roulette, Sic-Bo, "Singapore stud poker" (Note: poker is not on offer here), noncommission Baccarat, and Money Wheel; new electronic, or "Rapid Table Games," with touch screens and computerized wagers for playing Baccarat, Roulette, and Sic-Bo; and invitation-only salons for high-stakes games, all located on four floors, one of which is nonsmoking. You must be 21 years or older to enter. While foreigners can enter the casino for free, Singapore citizens and residents must pay S$100 levy for 24 hours of access, a policy designed to decrease the temptation for Singaporeans to gamble their savings away (you will be asked to present your passport). There's also a dress code prohibiting beachwear, flip-flops, casual shorts, and sleeveless T-shirts. There are three main entrances to the casino via the shopping mall, outside of which you'll find banks of conveniently located ATMs.

The Sands SkyPark, a cantilevered garden on top of the hotel blocks, is large enough to park four and a half Airbus 380s nose to tail. The open-air observation deck is open to the public, with views from the 56th floor over the city's skyline, the Marina Bay, and out to the sea. Some areas are limited to hotel guests only (such as the mind-blowing rooftop infinity pool that appears to be spilling over the edge), but there are a couple of dining establishments that are open to the public, including KU DÉ TA and Sky on 57 (tel. 65/6688-8868), an offering by Justin Quek, one of Singapore's most celebrated chefs. Tickets to the Sands SkyPark are S$20 for adults, S$14 for children, and S$17 for seniors, purchased at the Basement, one level beneath the third hotel tower. It's open daily from 10am to 10pm but closes during extreme rain.

The integrated resort also includes The ArtScience Museum -- the curious lotus-shaped building at the water's edge -- which contains 4,600 square meters (49,514 sq. ft.) of gallery space for permanent and touring exhibits that merge science and technology concepts with art and design.

The complex is home to some interesting permanent art installations that are incorporated into the architectural design. An art map is available that will point out pieces such as Ned Kahn's mesmerizing 260,000 aluminum flaps attached to the buildings' facades, waving in the breeze to create undulating visual effects.