Singapore is all abuzz with the Trump-Kim Summit scheduled for this Tuesday. The road closures have begun, and the air space is now restricted for the time being. I am not not looking forward to having two of the most odious people visit my country. I can safely say I am not the only one with such sentiments. But there’s little we can do about these big decisions that the powers-that-be make and impose. I can imagine the traffic congestions that we will wake up to on Monday. I plan not to venture anywhere near Sentosa where they are holding the summit, or the hotels in which are involved.
We all know where Trump is staying: the Shangri-La Singapore with its beautiful grounds and orchids, somewhat isolated from the town area which is good. That hotel is used to hosting high level pow-wows over the years, and the police blocks around it, when it happens, do not affect too many of us. It’s not on a main road and we can avoid it quite easily. But we’re still guessing where KJU is planning to check in. He wants to stay somewhere as swanky as his American counterpart, understandably in keeping with his stature, but according to what I read in the press, he’s not willing to foot the bill. There’s been some chatter about others paying for it (read, Singapore taxpayers), and I’m not thrilled. You know, the adage that you should not live beyond your means. Considering he has a private jet, I am sure he has enough money to pay for his stay. But if he’s not willing to fork it out, there’s always a good selection of budget hotels not far from town which his own taxpayers may be willing to finance. The Ibis hotels are very well located, or he can consider the no-frills but economical Hotel81, a very successful local hotel chain.
Speculation over the past few weeks has it that he was eyeing The Fullerton Hotel, easily our finest hotel, and if I may say so, even more majestic and luxurious than the Shangri-La Singapore. If he stays there, chances are he’ll want the best room in the house–the Presidential Suite. What’s that like? I had the privilege of spending a night there earlier this year. So here’s the suite that KJU would have enjoyed.
The Fullerton Hotel (previously called The Fullerton Building) is a 90-year-old building that sits at the mouth of the Singapore River and in the business district of Singapore. Built in 1928 as part of the centennial celebrations of Singapore’s founding, the building is a gazetted national monument named after the first governor of the Straits Settlements ages ago. In it’s 90 years of existence, had served as the General Post Office, military headquarters of the Japanese military during the horrific Japanese Occupation in WWII, and as government offices in later years. It only became The Fullerton Hotel in 2001.
The Presidential suite sits on the 2nd floor of the building, measuring a massive 201 sq metres. Room 225 is all marbled grandeur, very tastefully done, with a massive living room and soaring ceilings. If you look carefully on the photo below, you’ll also see a grand piano (could do with a bit of tuning) behind the pillar in the middle, and beyond the piano is the private lift.
The most beautiful part of this suite is the balcony. Most of it is enclosed in bullet-proof glass (as I was told anyway) and air conditioned — a must to stay comfy in our weather. But you can still walk outside and get a view of the busy streets below. The balcony is very long and broad, and its actual ceiling–not counting the glass–is two or three stories high, flanked by soaring columns. We had an absolutely memorable family dinner at the balcony below to celebrate my recent half century milestone.
In the evenings, the external lights of the building are turned on. It’s gorgeous looking at it from outside, and a very distinctive part of our skyline. But from the balcony, the glow of the lights and the columns make it absolutely magical. Sitting here and soaking it all in, you really can taste history here. If only walls could speak! Ages ago, when the Fullerton Building was still the General Post Office, it also housed the Singapore Club, a super exclusive members club for the elite. The suite now occupies the space that was once the card room of the club.
Spend the night there and you’ll get to see the city wind down late at night. It’s a unique experience to see it quiet and still, as it’s usually awfully busy in that area by day. In that late night tranquility, you finally have the peace and quiet to feel how old this part of town is and appreciate its historic significance. The hotel stands at the mouth of the Singapore River which had been the lifeline of the island from even 700 years ago.
Archaeologists have dug up evidence of a thriving marketplace and metal foundries here, when the island was a kingdom in the 1400s. The location is set within ancient city walls during the time when Singapore was a kingdom ruled by a series of five kings. The walls have long been torn down by the early colonials in the 19th century, heralded by the arrival in 1819 of Stamford Raffles who landed just a few steps away from the hotel’s site. He set up a trading post in 1819, which resulted some years later in the island becoming a British Colony. So important was this location that the British built a fort right where the hotel now stands, to protect the Singapore River. This neighbourhood had always been the heart of the business district, and continues to be. This location was also where Singapore’s founding fathers rallied people in the 1960s to gain independence. So it’s a super significant location and for history enthusiasts, you do feel the weight of history alive here.
And finally, to bed. For a couple of parting shots, have a look at the bathroom, a marbled palace with room enough for a waltz.
And the bedroom with study, and the Fullerton bear. The bed is extremely high, so take care you don’t fall off and risk having a hip replacement. The bathroom is to the right of the picture below. The balloons were put there by the hotel…so sweet of them.
But now, it seems KJU won’t be a guest at The Fullerton. My guess is, it’ll be St Regis, all afluster with activity, and no more than a 10 minutes walk from the Shangri-La.