Amara Sanctuary Resort, Sentosa
What is it? A new 121-room 'chic' boutique resort on Singapore's Sentosa island.
The 'fun-for-all-the-family' island? Until now. According to the Amara chain, the hotel is 'the next step in the upgrading of Sentosa to Singapore's sophisticated luxury lifestyle island'. Genting International and Star Cruises have recently been given the green light to build an enormous 'integrated resort' on the island and it's full speed ahead for high-end resort development. A Sir Norman Foster-designed property is due to open next year and there are plenty more on the way.
How's the ambience? The place is a combination of restored colonial buildings and new low-rise construction. The resort stands on an old British Army sergeant's quarters, built in the 1930s, when Sentosa was turned into a fortress to repel the oncoming (from the other direction as it turned out) Japanese. The verandah and courtyard suites are in the original two-storey barracks while the deluxe rooms, villas and restaurants - one offering Thai fine dining - are in new buildings. Each villa has a tropical fruit garden, plunge pool and private outdoor bath. There is also a 13-seat Japanese restaurant in an old British military chapel.
That's mildly ironic. So too, then, is the fact the Amara Sanctuary's architect, Masaki Miyake, is Japanese.
What are the facilities like? The resort is set in about 3.5 hectares of tropical gardens on a hillside above Palawan Beach, on the south side of the island. There are three swimming pools, two for family use in the gardens (complete with wandering peacocks) and a rooftop infinity pool, which is reserved for adults, overlooking the sea. The soft opening was in May, so some facilities, including the spa, are yet to open. Check for updates on the website before booking.
What else is on the way? A separate beach house containing two dining outlets, one called Silk Road of the Sea, which promises 'delicacies from the areas traversed by Marco Polo on his historic home voyage back to Europe', and another, as yet unnamed, rest-aurant that will be operated by Loh Lik Peng, the man behind the New Majestic and Hotel 1929 in Chinatown.
Anything else we should know? The Sentosa Golf Club is a five-minute drive away and there is a free shuttle-bus service into town. Specially designed accommodation is available for disabled guests.
What's the bottom line? Deluxe double rooms will remain on offer for S$285 (HK$1,450) a night with breakfast until the end of next month.
Amara Sanctuary Resort Sentosa, 1 Larkhill Road, Sentosa Island, Singapore, tel: 65 6825 3888; www.amarasanctuary.com.