I related to you the strategy for getting inexpensive plane tickets. I’ll now go through the planning and execution phases for our hotel nights in Singapore.
So the good news is that Singapore is one city so you can’t wander too far when booking a hotel. Sometimes I have booked a hotel in a “city” only to find it was really out in the boondocks. Normally, I am a Marriott guy with Hilton as my secondary. This is a neccesity due to the wide number of properties the two chains have and the high probability that no matter when I need to go TDY, they will have one of these available. However, I have heard great things of the Starwoods program (SPG) and I signed up for their AMEX deal at the end of August based upon all the blogger hype for the 30k bonus points. The trouble was that you only get 10k in points after the first spend and the remaining 40k come after you have spent $5,ooo in six months. I (more importantly, the wife) have no problem spending that amount, but not in such a short period of time. So here is what I am faced with as ammo to use in our hotel stays. 12k in SPG points (includes the 2k in spend before the trip), ~75k in MR points and ~150k in Hilton points. Just got to find the best way to spend them without breaking the bank.
Starting with SPG: the Sheraton Towers was close, but not on, Orchard Road and offered $202 or 16,000 pts. or $110+6,000 pts. per night.
Marriott: $360/ night for the Marriott on Orchard Rd. (Great location) or 35,000 pts. per night
Hilton: The Hilton is located on Orchard Rd. at $360 or 60,000 pts. per night. But I also saw the Conrad available for less on the weekend. The Conrad is the six star signature proprety of Hilton, just as the JW Marriott is the same for Marriott. They also had a hybrid deal of $127+24,000. The Conrad was located in the Marina District which didn’t mean anything to me, but the address was 7 Raffles Blvd. and I knew Raffles Blvd. was the high class (and expensive) part of town.
The Conrad deal sounded great since I knew that was a great property even though I had never tried one. I could have stayed there two nights for free, but that would have used up almost all my Hilton points and I didn’t really want to do that. I also dodn’t want to pay $720 for a two night stay! The hybrid of pay a very reasonable $127/night and using 24k in points sounded the best to me and I went for that for Sat. through Mon. of our stay. For the remaining two nights, I did not have enough SPG points to stay for free at the Sheraton, but hte hybrid option would just be enough for the 12k in points that I had and paying $110/ night for a five star property seemed pretty reasonable to me. Note that for the hybrid stay it will also mean getting credit for those night for elite status although in my particular case, I don’t think that will matter.
One additional note is the I just signed up for the Milepoint Premier Access offer which gave me Gold Status for Hilton, previously I had only been Silver due to the AMEX card. This would end up paying off big time.
So a little detail to add is that since we arrived at midnight, I had told my wife that we should just stay up and not get a hotel room for that night, since why do you want to pay for half a night? She would later claim that I never said any such thing. We arrived at the Conrad at about 2 am and I told her that we should go have a cup of coffee. This killed about an hour and then we waited in the lobby. We walked around the hotel and checked out the closed malls and mostly closed restaurants. Then back to the hotel where the bellhop said we could register and just wait for a room. The staff was extermely helpful and apologetic that we would have to wait until 0600 to get a room! They actually came to us just after 0500 and explained that since I was a HHonors Gold, they upgraded our room, threw in free breakfast, $20 off of laundry daily, free internet, and a nice fruit plate!
The room was large and the amenities first class. This was easily a $500/night room. They even had their own Conrad rubber duck for the bathtub!
The last photo is the view from our room of the Fountain of Wealth. There is a huge mall underneath the entire traffic circle and connecting all the malls in the adjoining buildings! There were at least four major malls within two blocks of our hotel and we spent most of the next day checking those out. The free breakfast was great. It was Continental, but from every continent! I could have all the pastries and bacon that I wanted, while the wife had Dim Sum and other asian foods. We actually got three free breakfasts since they had let us check in so early on the 9th. These breakfasts alone were worth the price I paid for Milepoint Premier.
Our two nights here were over too quick and on Monday we checked in to the Sheraton Towers. This is located in the embassy district and about a ten minute walk from the heart of Orchard Road and more shopping! The Sheraton was very nice but the room smaller with no freebies. Having to pay $16 for internet was the first time that I have had to do that in as long as I can remember. It really pays to have status. I guess I’ll have to work on that for future Starwood stays.
So in the end what was a better strategy? I would say stay where you are getting the most benefit and just travel to where you want to go. The Conrad was a much better location for tourism, as well see in the next post, but the Orchard Road area was bad. The latter definitely had more choices for shopping and food, but you are comparing one area where there are fifty different restaurant to the other where there are a hundred. In the end how many choices do you really need? So shop around for the best deal. If you can get free breakfast, that will save you a lot in this expensive city. In the end, any place you stay will be a good launching point for the sights and sounds of Singapore.