Regent Singapore 

Review by Jae-Ha Kim / Photos by Denton Morris
jaehakim.com
July 24, 2017

Principal shooting has begun on the film adaptation of Kevin Kwan‘s bestseller, “Crazy Rich Asians.” With a good chunk of the storyline focused on the wealthy elite of Singapore, it seemed a fitting time to include a review of the Regent Singapore, a Four Seasons Hotel.

When you’re traveling overseas and don’t want to rent a car, being in a central location is key. That’s one reason I opted for the Regent Singapore (1 Cuscaden Road).

It’s a close walk to all the shopping on Orchard Road (comparable to Beverly Hills): Prada (501 Orchard Road), Gucci (581 Orchard Road), Versace (300 Orchard Road), Valentino (290  Orchard Road).

Singapore boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in Asia and Singaporeans take their shopping seriously. While the prices at the aforementioned boutiques were too steep for my pocketbook, I did check out the annual Great Singapore Sale, where thousands of stores slash their prices up to 70 percent off. This year, the event is being held from June 9 through August 13.

To be honest, as I have gotten older, I have become less interested in shopping. I know — 20something me would be shocked at this revelation! The high-end boutiques held less interest for me than the trinkets sold in the city’s ethnic enclaves. I picked up a jade(ish) ring in Chinatown and some pretty hand-crafted necklaces in Little India. (We didn’t walk — we took a cab that came to about $5 or $6.)

The first time my husband and I stayed there, we dined at Iggy’s. An intimate restaurant seating just 30 people, Iggy’s serves modern European cuisine. We indulged on such deliccies as Tasmanian spanner crabmeat with ponzu jelly, steamed foie gras with tofu and a deliciously rich soft-cooked egg yolk spiced with a piquant truffle salsa. (Iggy’s has since moved to the Hilton Singapore.)

Don’t cry about Iggy’s having moved, though. The hotel’s dining options are plentiful and delicious. And, the room service fruit fondue was fresh and comforting.

Whether you stay here or not, make time to visit the gorgeous Singapore Botanic Gardens (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). It was a short walk from our hotel, but we were drenched in sweat. (TMI? Sorry…) Yes, I was a hot mess from the heat and humidity, but the SBG is a must-see that is worth a trip.

TO TIP OR NOT TO TIP
Let’s face it: The United States is one of the most tip-happy countries in the world. You tip maids, servers and doormen. But when you’re in a foreign country, what do you do? The locals always will tell you if natives tip or not. I remember the Kiwis rarely tipped in New Zealand and then only if service was extraordinary. In South Korea, no one tips — except the foreigners at hotels geared for tourists.

According to this tipping guide in USA Today:

Tipping is no expected in Singapore. And most of the country’s hotels and restaurants will automatically include a 10 percent service charge in the bill. Check whether your bills include the fee and, if they do, refrain from leaving any additional gratuity. If the bill in a hotel or a restaurant catering to tourists and does not include a service charge, tipping is optional. Leaving around 10 percent is more than adequate, as a gesture of thanks for good service. But, Frommer’s guide cautions that servers rarely receive any of the “gratuity” that is included in hotel and restaurant tabs and recommends personally handing the server any tip you’d like to leave.

Do not tip at the airport. It’s actually prohibited to tip anyone there.

On the other hand, MakeMyTrip.com recommends a middle-of-the-road approach, leaving up to 10 percent when the bill doesn’t include a service charge. World Executive.com takes an even more frugal approach, advising visitors to leave nothing at beauty salons, in cabs or anywhere else that the bill does not already include a service charge. You can take your own travel budget and relative means into consideration, and decide to what degree you will adopt the customs of a Singaporean or you play the part of the comparatively wealthy foreigner.

In early 2010, several Singapore restaurants did away with the policy of charging a service fee, instead inviting diners to tip according to their satisfaction with the service. The restaurants did so in concert with studies by the Restaurant Association of Singapore on the comparative tipping cultures in the United States and Singapore. The diversity of Singapore’s tourists may continue to affect tipping policies in the country. To keep up with any changes, it’s advisable to consult up-to-date guide books for the most current trends.

© 2017 JAE-HA KIM | All Rights Reserved

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