When I visited Singapore 10 years ago, this place didn’t exist yet, when I lived in Singapore 20 years ago, the land this place is on didn’t even exist yet, and now it’s the first place everyone thinks of when they hear the word Singapore. I’m talking about the Marina Bay Sands, the luxury resort hotel that has become the single most recognizable feature of Singapore’s skyline since it opened almost seven years ago. Inside you’ll find a world reminiscent of Las Vegas with lots of glitz and glamour, and a little bit of kitsch. Besides over 2,500 guest rooms, the Marina Bay Sands also boasts a high-end shopping mall, a skating rink, and the world’s largest atrium casino, but the feature that really draws the tourists in is the famous rooftop infinity pool that stretches across the top of the hotel’s three 55-story towers. And the only way to get to enjoy it is to book a room. A very, very expensive room.
I had resigned myself to the fact that the closest I’d get to swimming in the Marina Bay Sands infinity pool would be if I accidentally fell over the fence separating it from the restaurant and bar above (which is impossible because it’s actually quite a tall fence), but then some very generous friends of ours came in town and offered us an opportunity we weren’t about to turn down. No matter how illegal it was.
GETTING INTO THE MARINA BAY SANDS INFINITY POOL
So, just how did we manage to sneak our way into the Marina Bay Sands infinity pool, past the Fort Knox-level security at every entrance? Our friends, who shall remain nameless to protect their identities (this is Singapore, after all), were so kind as to offer us their room keys (equivalent to the Key to the City at the Marina Bay Sands pool) while they went out sight-seeing for the day. All we had to do was use those key cards to get through the security gates and then play it cool if anyone approached us with questions for whatever reason. First part – easy. Second part – I have never in my entire life been able to play it cool when being questioned. Like, even if I didn’t do it, my extreme lack of ability to play it cool will make me look guilty every time. And so the beginning of our experience on top of the Marina Bay Sands went a little something like this…
From the moment we stepped into the elevator and pressed floor 57 for the pool, my heart was in my throat. I kept repeating everything I knew about my friend that I thought security might ask us over and over again in my head so that maybe, just maybe, my voice might sound natural instead of a totally guilty, stuttering squeak. When the elevator doors opened on the SkyPark level of the hotel, my heart sank a little. Everyone was wearing their white hotel robes as they went through security. We were in our street clothes with our swimsuits on underneath. Totally suspect. I try to project an I’m-actually-filthy-rich-despite-the-safety-pin-that-is-holding-my-shorts-together attitude as we approach security, but I’m sweating profusely and I’m like three seconds away from passing out cold on the cement floor.
Miracle of all miracles, we made it through with no problem, but I was still ready to run at a moment’s notice. I don’t know where exactly. I mean, we were 57 stories in the air, but I was ready. I felt like all eyes were on us, both the staff and the rest of the guests, so the first thing I did was start taking pictures. If we were going to get kicked out (or worse, arrested), I was at least going to have some pictures to make it worth it.
And, you guys, this pool is like the most photogenic pool ever. I’m no professional and I still couldn’t take a bad picture up here. It didn’t hurt that it was a beautiful day and the pool wasn’t quite as crowded as some of the stories I’ve heard. I have to say, if I were a tourist and could afford it, I’d definitely book at least one night of my stay here because this pool and the view it shares is worth every penny.
SWIMMING IN THE WORLD”S LARGEST ROOFTOP INFINITY POOL
At some point during my little pool photoshoot, my heart rate resumed its regular rhythm and I stopped feeling like I was going to faint and began to enjoy myself. Feeling more confident since no one had pegged us as intruders yet, we walked along the pool deck looking for a spot to lay our towels down and relax. This is when I discovered the one and only thing I could possibly complain about here at the Marina Bay Sands pool – there is no shade. Zero. And Singapore’s sun can be pretty strong, especially on a day like the one when we were visiting. I figured making a fort out of towels would make us look even more conspicuous, so I just dealt with it, but yikes – definitely layer on the sunscreen if you plan on coming up here.
As soon as we got settled on our sun chairs, I took off for the pool. Contrary to what I thought prior to visiting, the pool does not just completely drop off into nothing as it appears to. A few feet beneath the edge of the infinity pool is another platform, so were you to somehow flip over the edge of the pool, that’s where you’d land. But if you then fell off that second ledge, you’d be pretty well screwed, so security makes sure no monkey business goes on at the pool’s edge. Even lifting yourself up to look over the edge will get a whistle blown at you, so you can take your skyline selfies at the edge of the pool, but don’t even think about sitting on the ledge.
Because of the amount of people in it, the Marina Bay Sands pool isn’t so much a swimming pool as it is a standing pool. Good luck if you want to do laps! What I enjoyed the most was just leaning back on the edge of the pool and alternating watching everything going on around us and looking at the gorgeous view of Singapore’s bay and the city skyline we had from this high up. It was so relaxing that I finally let go of all of my fears of getting in trouble and started to feel like I actually belonged.
Eventually the hot sun made us so thirsty that we had to do the second scariest thing of the day – order drinks. Clearly I am living life on the edge. I don’t know if it was the whole experience of the day making me bold, but I rattled off our room number and fake name like it was nothing and even signed our fake name with only a little tinge of fear that they might have some sort of signature scanning device that would blow our cover once and for all. (FYI – They don’t…yet.) And then we spent the rest of the afternoon alternating between pool time and sipping expensive fruity drinks from our sun chairs.
SUNSET FROM THE TOP OF MARINA BAY SANDS
Even if you don’t have the golden key that gets you into a Marina Bay Sands room or the pool, you can still visit the top of the hotel by either buying a ticket to the SkyPark Observation Deck or grabbing drinks/dinner at one of the SkyPark’s lounges or restaurants. And the very best time to go is at sunset. The view that is stunning in the daytime is even more beautiful when the sun starts to go down. Make sure to check out the view from both sides of the hotel. The pool-side faces the sunset, but the opposite side overlooks the harbor and Gardens by the Bay and the Supertree Grove and is gorgeous just after sunset during “blue hour”.
I’ve now been in Singapore for almost a year and this is still, by far, the most memorable day I’ve had in this country. What an experience! Not gonna lie, I got a huge rush from this and it definitely brought back memories of all my teenage shenanigans, but for the record, I do not recommend anyone try to enter the Marina Bay Sands pool area illegally. Singapore is a strict country and the penalties you pay for far lesser offenses are high. Probably best to enjoy the view from the restaurant (CÉ LA VI is good) or the observation deck if you can’t afford a room. As for us, we’ve decided that when our time comes to leave Singapore, we’re splurging on a room here for a night just so we can do this all again and send off our years here in style!
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