As we walk out onto the terrace, the Chinese junk Admiral Ho – no doubt full of tourists – is returning from an afternoon pleasure cruise, crossing wakes with a tugboat on more serious business. On the eighth floor, the Swaines’ penthouse apartment probably has the best sea view of all the apartments at The Coast at Sentosa Cove.
“Our first apartment when we moved to Singapore from Melbourne in 2002 was at The Trevose, and had no balcony off the living area, so we lived in constant air-conditioning,” says Michelle. “Our second place was in Regency Park, which had lovely semi-circular balconies, so we’d leave the doors open most of the day to enjoy the breeze. For the next four years, we lived in a landed property in Narooma Road, off Kheam Hock. And in December 2009, after the children had both graduated from school and left home, we decided to down-size to an apartment.”
Of the 3,000 square feet, a good proportion has been allocated to living and outdoor areas. That it has plenty of public space was part of the apartment’s attraction, but it does mean having a small guest room. There’s a study, too, with a splendid view back across Sentosa to the city skyline. And in case you were wondering, the maid’s quarters in these new developments are just as cramped as they are in most Singapore condos.
To create more storage space, Michelle had a brainwave and requested that the stairwell be enclosed; everyone needs a place to stash essential odds and ends – generally known as “stuff” – out of sight.
It was Garry’s job that brought the family here, but you could say that it was the children’s school that kept them here. Both Adrian (now 21) and Eloise (20) went to UWCSEA, explains Michelle, and the fact that Adrian in particular so loved the school and was reluctant to leave it was a big part of their decision to stay.
Now at university in Melbourne, the two younger Swaines enjoy coming back to Singapore to meet up with their friends. “One of the many things they miss is the local food, especially chicken rice!”
Apart from school and friends, Adrian and Eloise have another compelling reason to feel attached to Singapore. Michelle is half-Chinese from her father’s side, and her dad was born here.
The Island Life
Sure, Singapore is an island, too, but it’s a very busy and crowded one where the traffic can be horrendous. There’s no denying the suburban attraction of this sleepy neighbourhood, where dog-walkers, pram-pushers and cyclists stroll past pristine waterways and manicured lawns.
To get to and from his HarbourFront office, Garry uses the free shuttle bus that Sentosa Cove provides for residents. It takes a little longer than you might think, says his wife, but they’re both relieved that they no longer have deal with the congestion and unpleasantness of Bukit Timah Road every day.
“It was a step away from the hustle and craziness of Singapore,” says Michelle. “It feels more like home, rather like a Queensland resort development.” It’s a good place for dogs, too, in this case the friendly 12-year-old English cocker spaniel who came with them from Melbourne.
”What I like most is going with Coco for our 5pm walk along the water to catch the cool breeze – especially on weekends, when there’s no construction work going on. Sometimes, Garry and I take our bikes to Coastes for a margarita.
Another favourite is Suburbia, a wine and dine venue established by the owners of Wine Network at Dempsey. “I had a ‘big’ birthday party there last year, and it was great! If you’re having a function and are looking for a live band, I recommend Band on the Run.”