Since it’s a break from the normal day-to-day routine, a hotel stay can provoke even the most self-controlled amongst us to shelve our healthy eating habits and exercise regimes. Katie Roberts tested her willpower during a staycation at The Westin Singapore.
The five-star Westin Singapore’s own research reveals that more than 41 percent of its guests are afraid of stacking on the pounds while travelling. So they’ve kindly taken on the role of a mum, and, through a worldwide wellness programme, gently and politely remind guests to watch their eating and maintain their exercise levels while far from home. Make no mistake, this is a luxury hotel, not a health retreat, but The Westin’s approach is a boon for business travellers who spend more time in hotels than at home. Families with kids are not forgotten either.
Fresh approach to food
New breakfast juices, jam-packed with great ingredients like beetroot, pomegranate, coconut water, spinach and blueberries, star at The Juicery. Unsurprisingly, children may prefer the likes of the berry booster shots – tiny portions of berry goodness – over a carrot juice. After a cleansing drink, I was tempted to swipe a rasher of bacon and slap it on a bagel. But, to curb that desire, I walked another five paces to the make-your-own granola bar.
At the expansive Seasonal Tastes lunch buffet, the Westin encourages people to avoid taking one helping from the salad bar and four from the dessert section and to do the reverse instead. Symbols on food labels indicate which items are ultra-healthy, and which contain “super” ingredients. At the Indian station, the chickpea dhal, for example, gets a tick instead of the cream-based korma chicken; and the Italian station gets many ticks for fresh ingredients like tomatoes and basil. The healthiest section is understandably the salad bar, with gluten-free options readily available too.
While all-you-can-eat buffets are fun for adults and children, it’s probably easier to avoid over-indulging by ordering from the à la carte menu. The Westin’s research shows 50 percent of parents are concerned about limited access to healthy eating options for kids while on the road. So it created the Eat Well Menu, tested by chefs, nutritionists and children. Options include fish tacos, turkey sliders and a deconstructed Caesar salad, with not a fried morsel to be seen. Because the food is so delicious there’s no intense negotiations or bribing required. The menu’s available in Cook & Brew too, the hotel’s artfully decorated gastro-bar (but steer clear of the 100 tempting beers).
The Westin’s 305 guest rooms and four restaurants are positioned to take full advantage of the spectacular outlook from levels 32 to 46 of the Asia Square building in the city’s financial district. At the street level entrance, the hotel’s gourmet deli, Daily Treats, sits adjacent to lifts that swiftly whisk guests to Reception on the 32nd floor.
When the lift doors open it’s the spectacular 11-metre, floor-to-ceiling windows and stunning view that attract attention, but the eye-catching light fittings and furnishings in the Lobby Lounge come a close second. Seasonal Tastes, well known for its Veuve Cliquot Sunday brunch, is around the corner. Gastro-bar Cook & Brew is on the 33rd floor, while the fitness studio, pool and Heavenly Spa are higher, on the 35th floor.
No couch potato
Inspired by guest feedback, the Westin launched a global wellness campaign this year to encourage guests to stay healthy. If you don’t have any fitness gear with you, for just $6 you can hire New Balance clothing and shoes for your workout – a clever option if you like travelling light.
On weekends, room-service menus offer options such as oatmeal, bruschetta and healthy pancakes until 3pm, perfect for after a Loopz fitness class, a gym session or a few laps of the infinity pool (where it’s OK to catch your breath while sneaking a peek at the sea views). And there are maps that lay out five and eight kilometre runs or walking routes around the hotel. The wellness reminder is subtle, but it’s everywhere. Even the room keys are printed with The Westin’s slogan, “For a better you”.
I managed to stay on track and have a healthy weekend, apart from a second helping of chicken korma, and a tiramisu treat during lunch at Seasonal Tastes. Oh, and a dark chocolate petit four with a cup of peppermint tea after dinner at Cook & Brew. The exercise reminders worked, though; it was easy to fit in a daily swim plus a fitness session on Sunday morning. Altogether, it was a balanced weekend, and lots of fun too.
Make it happen
A weekend staycation including breakfast, parking, Wi-Fi and extended 4pm checkout starts from $335 per room per night, for stays until 31 December. Offer open to all residents of Singapore (permanent residents and employment pass holders included).