The Dusit Thani group’s first Singapore resort feels disorienting and unfamiliar – and wonderfully so.
The drive into Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore wasn't looking reassuring. The sun was in my eyes and the air looked visibly thick with dust stirred up by construction sites in the vicinity. It seemed as though the idyllic staycation that I had envisioned was beginning to unravel even before we could get started.
I needn't have worried. All my cynicism and gloom quickly dissipated when I entered the lobby and saw the view that laid beyond the full-length windows.
Before the pandemic, Singapore's lack of natural landscapes has never really been an issue. With low-cost airlines and the city's travel hub clout, there was always somewhere to slip off to. Now with international travel cut off, things were feeling pretty closed-in. Sure, there are nature reserves to traipse around, and Sentosa too has a wealth of beautiful resorts – it's just that these are all such familiar spots and our travel-deprived souls were craving for a sense of newness, a change of scenery.
At long last, it seems like Dusit Thani Laguna Singapore will be filling that void with a whole new staycation experience: A resort set right within the sprawling Laguna National golf club. The unfamiliar juxtaposition – a series of swimming pools that span gloriously long, and to the left, picturesque undulating fairways fringed with rain trees – made for a vista that is as captivating as it was surreal. Here, an expanse of green meets vivid blue skies. From the pool deck, the only buildings in sight were the hotel's villa-like event spaces. There were no other traces of the urban city, safe for the occasional low-flying plane making its approach to the nearby Changi airport. We could almost make-believe that we were on vacation somewhere else entirely.
Because of the on-going construction for the East Coast Integrated Depot (miraculously, the noise barely registers once we're in the resort), the management has been deliberately keeping occupancy rates much lower than its 198-room capacity and putting up guests on the pool-facing side of the hotel. The rooms, all generously appointed with spacious bathrooms, are clad in a soft, neutral palette. The minibar is complimentary, and there's a Sleep Well menu with options for mattress toppers of varying firmness, buckwheat pillows, bolsters, anti-snore pillows and more.
The plan was to wrap ourselves in a bubble of tranquil isolation so thankfully, the food at the resort was up to muster. The poolside Tee Deck, pitched as a breezy grill bar, serves a mean flame-kissed spring chicken as part of its Bangkok street plates. Then there's Greenhouse, the resort's main restaurant. Hanging fronds and little isles of potted plants carve out cosy nooks, while the dappled light that filters through the foliage creates a dreamy aura of dining in a secret garden. Alternatively, sit by the glass façade for a lush view of the greens and lake. Instagram-worthy holiday snaps? Check. Come March, the restaurant will also be rolling out champagne brunch ($128 with free-flow Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve), featuring the likes of Sanchoku wagyu from the robatayaki, Thai grilled skewers, freshly shucked oysters, and wood-fired truffle pizza from its theatre kitchens.
For the wellness-conscious set, the Dusit Thani has a great many propositions. Thanks to direct access to Laguna National's two championship golf courses – the vary grounds where legends such as Tiger Woods and Nick Faldo have played – the resort is unparalleled when it comes to convenience and flexibility in tee-off. The 24-hour fitness centre is among the largest hotel gyms in Singapore, clocking a good 369 square metres of free weights and workout machines, with a killer view to boot; three tennis courts are also slated to open in the coming months. And if like me, you subscribe to the school of thought that no getaway is complete without a good massage, the in-house Devarana Wellness spa is another highlight. The Signature Massage mixes Thai, Ayurvedic, Shiatsu and Swedish strokes for 90 minutes of intense yet invigorating full-body therapy.
Even with all that, the pool deck remains for us the crowning experience of the stay. Pool slots here are in three- and four-hour blocks, lavish compared to what most other hotels in the city have been setting. There's time aplenty to luxuriate in all that the pool deck has to offer: Laps up and down the 53-metre pool, a relaxing sojourn in the jacuzzi, some languorous reading (or napping!) in the shade of the cabanas. Lounging by the pool, taking in the changing colours of the setting sky as the clouds glide over the verdant hills – it's all too easy to forget that we're still in Singapore.