In January, we ran a competition to win a two-night family stay in the beautiful Shangri-La Singapore, and then write about the experience for the mag. The lucky winner was JULIA HENRY. “With such an idyllic prize up for grabs, I couldn’t resist entering!” she says. Here’s Julia’s story of their weekend staycation at the Shangri-La Hotel.
Shangri-La by name, Shangri-La by nature! This property is a 15- acre tropical sanctuary – think plush rooms, lush gardens, amazing restaurants and a luxury day spa; plus, at its heart, a sparkling deep-blue swimming pool. There’s also Splash, a unique water playground with a family pool, and an indoor kids’ play centre known as “buds” rounding out the impressive acreage. Together, it makes for a staycation where kids and adults alike have all their wants and needs met – with no family infighting over what to do and where to eat!
Paradise is just 15 minutes away from our home, and it’s a fuss-free arrival at our staycation at the Shangri-La on Orange Grove Road. We leave behind the city thrum and step into the cool, tranquil foyer with its grand sweeping staircase. I can already feel my harassed-and-hectic mum vibe start to ebb, and my relaxed-and-fun mum vibe taking over.
From the get-go, you can feel the sense of hospitality. Checking in is a breeze, and the package we’ll be enjoying on our stay – Shangri-La’s Family Playcation Wellness Camp – is seamlessly planned for maximum family harmony. The itinerary (given on arrival) has a wide variety of fabulous activities designed for kids to love!
Our Deluxe Family Terrace Room is spacious and full of light, opening onto a gorgeous green space. There are special welcome packs for the children who dive straight into the tepee that’s been set up in our room to check out the goodies.
The first session starts shortly after check in. As we adults relax by the pool, the kids meet their fellow Camp buddies and get busy with a Peranakan tile colouring activity. Next up, we wander over to Splash, the water playground that kiddo dreams are made of! It has a giant pirate ship, water slides, water spouts, jet cannons, wading pools and a big bucket splash (our fave). The kids run around, splashing, sliding and having a blast. We watch from our comfy parent lounges; it’s a very happy hour for all of us.
The afternoon activities give us all a good appetite for family dinner. We choose Waterfall Ristorante Italiano – pizza and pasta for the kids, with more sophisticated offerings for the adults, including delicious salmon and beef cheek dishes for our mains. And we finish with mango gelato and cannoli. Yum! After dinner, it’s time for a few evening drinks on the terrace, while the littlest members of our family are tucked up in their beds.
In a collective great mood, we wake up excited about what’s in store. The Saturday plan is blessed with a full day of activities for the kids. These start at 9am, with creative writing and story-telling. The session allows them to explore the natural world for story journal inspiration, encouraging self-discovery and mindfulness. Later, they’ll break for a nutritious lunch, before having an afternoon “art jam” until pick-up at 4pm. Since I’m content in the knowledge they have an exceptional day of planned activities ahead, I don’t feel a shadow of mum guilt!
While the kids are away, the parents have a chance to play. We are spoilt for choice, deciding on a visit to Chi, The Spa and a couples’ massage – living the dream! We follow this with a kid-free lunch and afternoon drinks lazing away at the pool. What a unique luxury to have our two daughters busy socialising, learning, having a 100 percent kid-centric time, and I didn’t have to plan a thing.
Come 4pm, both girls are bursting to tell us about their super fun day and the new friends they’ve met, and share their stories and artworks with us.
We then decide to do the complimentary self-guided Treasure Hunt around the hotel and grounds. We find the stone fountain near the Banyan Deck, spot the colours on the koi fishes and find the floating elements used to decorate the Grand Lobby. Then it’s time to hit Splash for another dose of sliding, splashing fun. The girls recognise their new friends and spend an hour living it up in wild water-play hijinks.
Feeling fulfilled after our amazing day, we head back to the terrace for some early evening relaxation. As we lie in the outdoor cabana at twilight, heavenly scented frangipanis fall from the trees in the stunning private gardens. The girls put flowers in their hair and luxuriate in the soft grass. In the light breeze, staring at the soft pink sky, I might just have found that beautiful place where life approaches perfection. The real-life version of my Shangri-La!
This evening is all about enjoying our gorgeous room, so in-room dining is the go. It doesn’t matter if everyone wants a different meal; I’m not cooking and we all get exactly what we want (joy!). There’s so much to choose from, too, whether you want a pasta, burger, salad or laksa. Family movie time follows, and then we’re all off in dreamland.
It’s Sunday Funday! We’re refreshed and ready to enjoy our last day. First up, a buffet breakfast of champions at The Line restaurant. The kids are delighted with today’s activities: an interactive secret agent mystery hunt, followed by an hour of free play at the indoor interactive kids’ play space, buds. While they have a busy morning, it’s a peaceful pool session for the parents. At 11.30am, it’s time to pick up the pink-cheeked, fun-flushed kids, thank the amazing staff, and get ready to say goodbye. In a little family bubble of happiness, we float towards checkout. What a weekend!
Who the package is perfect for
- Parents craving a balance between quality family time and some “us” time away from the kids.
- Kids who benefit from new experiences, meeting new friends and trying fun guided activities.
A few hot tips
- Arrive promptly for Splash sessions so you get the pick of parent lounges on the pool deck.
- Do take the time to wander the grounds and feast your eyes on the stunning gardens, and The Orchid, a seven-metre-tall, open-air greenhouse.
- Also take a look at some of the amazing art installations and sculptures throughout the hotel.
- If you’re keen to go to special restaurants during your visit, book in advance before you arrive for your stay.
What the kids say about their staycation at the Shangri-La
“It was heaps of fun … and surprisingly educational!” – Aurelia (10)
“Make sure your Mum gets your new friends’ phone numbers so you can have playdates with them later!” – Mirabelle (7)
Thank you to Shangri-La Singapore for the generous staycation prize for Julia and her family! For information and bookings, call 6737 3644, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit shangri-la.com/singapore/shangrila.
This article first appeared in the April 2022 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase the latest issue or subscribe, so you never miss a copy!