24 Hours: Best-Kept Secrets in Singapore

As you disembark from your plane at Changi Airport, you’ll probably hear plenty about Singapore’s Mandai Zoo, Bird Park, ArtScience Museum and S.E.A. Aquarium.  And indeed, these famous attractions are certainly worth a visit.

That said, Singapore’s not just a nation of pretty theme parks; it is also full of hidden gems for the free-spirited and unconventional traveller.  So if you’re craving a different kind of adventure, allow me to take you off the beaten path to discover some of the best-kept secrets in Singapore.

Morning – Decompress At The Reservoir

Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir - https://forestadventure.com.sg

Forest Adventure at Bedok Reservoir – https://forestadventure.com.sg

Singapore’s reservoirs are a picture of serenity at sunrise.  Even before the city stirs, the birds begin their morning song amidst emerald foliage.  The magical light of dawn illuminates the lake with soft colours, and the air is clear and cool.  A few moments at these lush sanctuaries will restore you with a quiet sense of calm.

This scenic spots also offer adventure for solo travellers, adrenaline junkies and families with young children.  Bedok Reservoir Park for instance is a popular spot for dragon boating and kayaking.  It also features a 2.5-hour Forest Adventure with bridges, trapezes, wobbly logs, a Tarzan swing and zip lines across the reservoir.  There is also a Kids Course and Mini Course, if 2.5 hours seems a tad long.  Do keep your eyes out for swallows, herons and kingfishers amidst the 14,000 diverse wetland plants.

Noon – Discover Art Havens

Kondo Akino at Mizuma Gallery

Kondo Akino at Mizuma Gallery

Take refuge from Singapore’s unforgiving mid-day sun at our latest contemporary art cluster. Gillman Barracks is so named because it used to be a military camp.  The charming colonial barracks now houses 11 international art galleries, the NTU Centre of Contemporary Art Singapore and three restaurants.

These galleries feature art from the region and around the world.  I’m currently fascinated by the fantastical, subversive and dystopian worlds depicted by some of the artists at Mizuma Gallery, as well as the well-curated exhibitions at Arndt, Fost Gallery and Sundaram Tagore Gallery.

Late Afternoon – Explore Secret Beaches

Sisters' Island - picture by NParks

Sisters’ Island – picture by NParks

Singapore and Sentosa island are too small to harbour any secret beaches – so rent a yacht, head out to sea and go island hopping.  Pack a picnic, pop some champers and soak in the golden sun rays.  Companies such as Lloyd Marine and White Label Charters offer private yachts of various sizes for rental.

Besides pristine beaches, Kusu Island has a lovely tortoise sanctuary, Sisters’ Island is perfect for snorkelling or hiking, and Pulau Ubin is home to Singapore’s last kampung (a traditional Malay village), as well as a diverse ecosystem of mangroves and corals.

Night – Rendezvous At A Hidden Bar

Operation Dagger

Operation Dagger

There’s something irresistibly sexy about secret bars or speakeasies – perhaps owing to a sense of covert romance.  So if you’ve had enough of rooftop bars, swing by these ‘underground’ establishments instead.

Try Operation Dagger along the hip Ang Siang stretch.  Its name sounds like a Hong Kong spy flick, and you won’t find any signage here – merely a gothic symbol near the door, as well as apothecary-like bottles with indecipherable labels.  Another fun find is Bincho @ Hua Bee (more information via City Nomads here), a nuclear bunker serving Japanese whiskies and cocktails.  Pick a tipple you’ve never tried before, an have an unforgettable evening!

I love discover the many secrets in Singapore!  For more interesting and unusual experiences, speak to your Personal Assistant at Capella Singapore, then share your favourites with me!

Celebrate 50 Years: 6 Unique Singapore Experiences

If you’re in Singapore over the next few weeks, you’ve picked the best time to visit!  On the cusp of our golden jubilee, Singapore is one of the most exciting cities to be in.

We may be just a tiny red dot on the world map, but our small size simply makes us better at packing a lot of flavour into every experience.  And to celebrate our 50th birthday, our nation has gone the extra mile to orchestrate unique Singapore experiences in the month of August.  Here’s a peek at my personal calendar this month!

#1  Watch Fireworks Light An Iconic Skyline

Screen Shot 2015-07-15 at 11.41.12 pm

There’s something magical about watching firework light up the night – the dancing lights juxtaposed against a spectacular urban skyline is truly unforgettable.  Although catching the National Day Parade fireworks is a yearly ritual for me, I am particularly excited this year.  To celebrate 50 years of independence, the fireworks next month will be at an unprecedented scale, and specially designed to reflect the theme of ‘Majulah Singapura, or ‘Onwards Singapore’ in Malay.

This year, in additional to fireworks on National Day (9 August) and at the National Day Preview (1 August), you can also catch fireworks on 7 and 8 August at the Marina Basin.  The best part is, you won’t even need a ticket to the parade to witness these spectacular light displays.  Simply find a good spot along the Marina Bay Sands Waterfront, Esplanade, Marina Barrage or Helix Bridge for an unblocked view.

#2  Soak In Local Culture At Singapore’s First UNESCO Site

Singapore Symphony Orchestra  Palm Valley

I’m extremely proud to share that our garden city finally got its own UNESCO heritage site!  And fittingly, it is one of my favourite gardens in the world – the Singapore Botanic Gardens.  The minute you step into this green sanctuary, you will pick up a whiff of exotic herbs, flowers and lush foliage.  From the exquisite National Orchid Garden to the finely sculpted Bonsai Garden, our trees reflect our nation’s unique history, culture and personality.  I also love exploring the century-old heritage trees, which always inspire me to appreciate the fleeting beauty and transience of life.

After an afternoon of exploration, I particularly enjoy kicking back and enjoying an evening concert or outdoor movie screening accompanied by a cool evening breeze.  To celebrate Singapore’s birthday month, the Singapore Botanic Garden’s August line-up include local films such as It’s A Great Great World and Singapore Dreaming.  If you’re visiting Singapore for the first time, this will offer you an instant immersion in local culture and common expressions.

#3  Try The 50-Finger Massage At Capella Singapore’s Auriga Spa

7. Couple's Spa at Auriga

I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for spa treatments. Carving up me-time is my secret to staying young, and beating everyday stress.  Auriga Spa is one of my favourite places because it instantly transports me from the mundane demands of life and the ceaseless bustle of the city.

For the month of August, Auriga’s Spa director Shanti has designed the ultimate indulgence – the 50-Finger Massage.  As you can imagine, this 50-Finger Massage was inspired by SG50 and Singapore’s 50th birthday, so no expense is spared to ensure your utmost comfort and relaxation.  Performed by five therapists in synchronised motions, this massage soothes the legs, body, hands, neck and scalp, kneading away every tensed muscle in the body at once.  It takes one through Auriga’s four signature moon phase therapies – the New Moon to awaken the senses, Waxing Moon to loosen tight joints, Full Moon for balance and Waning Moon for detoxification and cleansing.  I felt utterly renewed after this treatment.

#4  Go Museum-Hopping Around Singapore


Museums are the best place to soak in culture, and Singapore offers some of the best museums in Southeast Asia.  From art to culture, history and science, museum-hopping is one of the best ways to indulge my inner geek.

One of my favourite museums is The National Museum – also the oldest museum in Singapore, and a haven of intricate artefacts.  Singapura: 700 Years is currently on display at this museum, and chronicles our nation’s transformation from a fishing village to modern Singapore.  Also worth a visit are the Asian Civilisation Museum, the Singapore Art Museum, and The ArtScience Museum.

#5   Shop For Quirky Souvenirs


Whenever international friends visit Singapore, I love presenting them with Singapore-inspired souvenirs.  However, one thing I do not love, is ‘Singapore Is A Fine City’ T-shirts.  If you’re looking for more design-driven and less clichéd options, two of my current raves are Naiise and Mandy T.

Naiise is a Singapore-based shopping portal that stocks curated designs by more than 250 brands from Singapore and around the world.  This includes homeware, art, T-shirts and fashion accessories that allude to local humour and expressions.  Many of these designs are modern, clean and intelligent.

Beautyphiles will also adore Mandy T, an artisan natural skincare atelier that will give many large brands a run for their money with tasteful and personal creations.  Mandy, founder of the eponymous label, is a former marketer and publicist who cooks up beauty remedies free from synthetic dyes, artificial fragrances, parabens and petrochemicals.  Many of her products feature fresh herbs from her very own garden.

#6  Toast To 50 Years Of Singapore At Bob’s Bar


If like me, you’ve had one too many Singapore Slings, it’s time to discover a new Singapore-inspired cocktail.  Exclusively for the month of August, Bob’s Bar unveils a new national cocktail crafted by bartender Vincent Zheng.

The Red Island is made with ingredients that represent the four main ethnicities of Singapore – Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian.  It is as complex and unforgettable as it sounds.  An ode to Singapore’s cultural diversity, this Shiraz wine concoction is an ideal way to round up my Singapore adventures.  Cheers to more amazing travels!

For more activities in Singapore, please visit the Capella Singapore’s website here, or contact your personal assistant for recommendations.



Capella Marigot Bay’s Rum Goddess Cocktail

RumGoddessHere at Capella Marigot Bay, the baristas at The Rum Cave are renowned for their delicious cocktails both on and off the menu! But there’s one cocktail that has become a favorite among visitors and it is aptly named, The Rum Goddess.

When I tried it for the first time I was blown away. It’s refreshing and tropical, just like a Caribbean island! I asked Gavin to teach me how to make it, and I’m going to teach you here today:

RG1 Ingredients:
Fresh Mint
1 ounce Ginger Syrup
1 ounce Cream
1 ounce Coconut Cream
2 ounces El Dorado Rum
Angostura Bitters





Place the mint, ginger syrup, cream, coconut cream and the El Dorado Rum together into the shaker. Muddle everything together so the mint releases it’s flavor!

RG8Next, add ice and shake very well! The shaker should get frosty on the outside.

RG9Strain ingredients into a glass.

RG10Now you’re ready for the bitters!

RG11Drizzle them on top and add a sprig of mint for garnish!

RG12Cheers! You’ve made The Rum Goddess Cocktail! Sit back, relax and let the flavors take you on a little escape to the Caribbean. And when you get a chance to visit The Rum Cave, we’ll have one waiting.

Super Summer Thirst Quenchers

Bob's Bar's Fresh-Pressed Mojito

Bob’s Bar’s Fresh-Pressed Mojito

Thanks to year-round summer in Singapore, ice cold drinks have become a hot weather survival essential.  Given that daytime temperatures average at 30ºC and nighttime temperatures rarely drop below 27ºC, there’s never a bad time for a chilled beverage.

When it comes to hosting, cold drinks are also the life of any party – you can always find a good crowd gathered around the cocktail bowl.  In fact, as far as Singaporeans are concerned, there’s no party without refreshing summer thirst quenchers!

Since making a good chilled beverage is an essential life-skill here, I’ve determined to learn from the best.  With that in mind, I’ve asked Bob’s Bar’s bartender Vincent Zheng, and The Knoll’s Pastry Chef Sam for their all-time crowd-pleasers.

Vincent prefers beach parties, and shares Bob’s Bar’s spin on the classic mojito.  Chef Sam, on the other hand, is known to host intimate dessert gatherings, and suggests an elegant cold-infused tea with tart apple notes. I simply couldn’t wait to have my first sip!

Recipe 1: Fresh-Pressed Mojito

Bartender’s notes: “I had my first mojito many years ago at a Full Moon Party in Koh Phangan, Thailand.  Since then, mojitos have been my drink of choice for beach parties.  This Bob’s Bar recipe replaces soda water in classic mojitos with sugar cane juice. Since rum, the key alcohol in mojitos, is made of sugar cane, this recipe accentuates the rich flavour profile of rum.” – Vincent

Serves 1

45ml white rum
60ml fresh sugar cane juice
15ml fresh lime juice
15ml sugar syrup
Handful of fresh mint leaves
Crushed ice


Combine all ingredients and stir well. Serve in a tall glass


  • If you don’t have a blender to create crushed ice, you can replace it with ice cubes. However, if you are using ice cubes, be sure to gently crush the mint leaves with your fingers to bring out their fresh aroma.
  • For a large party, you can also make this in advance.  Prepare it in a cocktail bowl and refrigerate. Simply scale up your ingredients according to the number of guests you are expecting. However, be sure to leave the mint leaves out, and only add them before serving to prevent them from oxidising and turning brown.

Recipe 2: Apple-Infused Iced Green Tea

Chef’s notes: At least once a year, I’d throw a dessert party for my closest friends, and this subtle tea makes an excellent pairing with my creations.  Unlike hot tea, cold brewing draws out fewer tannic compounds for a lighter-bodied tea with less bitterness.  This is elevated with sweet and tart apple puree – apple puree from jarred baby food works just fine.  You can skip the sugar or artificial fruit syrups! – Chef Sam

Serves 6

4 teaspoons of premium green tea leaves
6 cups of water
4 bottles of baby food apple puree


  1. Freeze the baby food apple puree in ice cube trays overnight.
  2. Combine tea leaves with water in a large pitcher.
  3. Refrigerate for 4-6 hours.
  4. Strain tea to remove tea leaves.
  5. Add frozen apple puree cubes and serve.


2If you love cocktails and spirits, swing by Capella Singapore’s Bob’s Bar to savour our fresh-pressed cocktails, and curated vintage and artisan collection.

And have a chat with our enthusiastic bartenders such as Vincent. They’d be happy to share recommendations and mixology tips!





Meet Capella Washington D.C.’s General Manager, Marco Bustamante

I would like to introduce you to the Capella Washington, D.C., Georgetown General Manager, Marco Bustamante.  Marco, a 10 year veteran of the Capella family,  took D.C. by storm, bringing with him a wealth of experience and charisma.

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Marco to get a better idea of why he loves being part of the Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown team.

Marco Bustamante HeadshotWhat do you love most about Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown?

The people.  We have an amazing team with people from all different backgrounds and experiences.  We have a lot of local Washingtonians as part of our staff and I think it brings great soul to the property.

What makes our property unique in D.C.?

The design of our hotel gives guests an intimate, sophisticated, modern, and high tech feel. From relaxing in the Living Room to enjoying a cocktail in The Rye Bar, our guests have the option of feeling like they are in an urban oasis.

You’ve been part of the Capella team for over 10 years, what is your favorite memory?

When I was working in Los Cabos, we had a couple buy-out the entire hotel for their wedding.  We really wanted to make their experience special and unique, so we built a 120-foot long table to host 150 of their wedding guests in an underground tunnel.  The tunnel started from the entrance of the resort and opened up to the front of property.  We strung chandeliers from the ceiling accompanied with drapery all around; it was really beautiful and different.

What new and exciting events can guests expect this summer at Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown?

We recently held Negroni Week, where $1 of each Negroni cocktail sold will be donated to helping aid the victims in Nepal.  We have an employee who is Nepalese and she started a charity fund to help out her homeland, so proceeds will be sent to support relief efforts.  Summer in D.C. is a great time, we are looking forward to our Father’s Day special package, our annual 4th of July Rooftop party, cocktail specials in The Rye Bar, and Chef Ruta has some amazing new brunch items to be enjoyed on our terrace.

What is your favorite thing to do in D.C.?

I love spending time with my two sons and taking them kayaking on the Potomac River.

We are so happy to have you leading the team here at Capella Washington D.C., Georgetown, Marco!  Here’s to another year of creating more True Capella memories!

Images via MoMo Photography

Cinco De Mayo con Margaritas de Mango

En México somos bien conocidos por nuestra naturaleza festiva y alegre, y sinceramente no podemos decir que no a ninguna excusa para celebrar la vida y a las personas cercanas a nosotros.  Como se aproxima el Cinco de Mayo, y hay muchas festividades planeadas principalmente con nuestros vecinos del norte, me gustaría tomar esta oportunidad para compartirles algunos de los planes que tenemos para celebrar esta fecha aquí en Capella Ixtapa.  Yo estoy principalmente emocionada con el cocktail creado específicamente para la ocasión por nuestro mixólogo Miguel, ¡Y no puedo esperar más para compartirlo con ustedes!

Hay mucho más que guacamole, nachos y tequila durante las celebraciones del Cinco de Mayo, que contrario a los que muchos creen no es el Día de la Independencia de México, el cual es en Septiembre 16.  En Mayo 5 se celebra a batalla de Puebla, la cual conmemora la victoria del ejército mexicano sobre el ejército francés.  En Mayo de 1862, un poderoso ejército francés avanzaba hacia la Ciudad de México.  Los franceses se encontraban bien armados, disciplinados y eficientemente habían destruido cualquier resistencia en su avanzar a la capital mexicana.  Sin embargo, al llegar a las afueras de Puebla, sucedió algo que nadie esperaba:  Soldados mexicanos, la mayoría de ellos sin ningún entrenamiento formal y con un armamento bastante deficiente, derrotaron a los franceses.

La verdad es, que el Cinco de Mayo es mayormente una fiesta regional celebrada en la ciudad y el Estado de Puebla, con un modesto reconocimiento a nivel nacional en México.  Sin embargo, aquí en Capella Ixtapa ¡no podemos decirle que no a ninguna celebración!  Nuestro mixólogo Miguel amablemente nos comparte su receta para uno de sus cocteles más populares, la Margarita de Mango:


Margarita de Mango


• 1.5 oz.  Tequila Maestro Tequilero reposado
• 1.5 oz.  Jugo de naranja
• 1 oz.   Cointreau
• Néctar de agave
• Jarabe o concentrado de mango
• Sal para escarchar


• Escarchar el vaso con sal y llenarlo de hielo.
• Añadir tequila, jugo, Cointreau, jarabe de agave y de mango en una coctelera shaker y agitar vigorosamente.
• Sirve el contenido sobre hielo (cubos o frappe).
• Decora con una fruta estrella o con una flor de bougainvillea.

Salud y feliz Cinco de Mayo!