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Singapore Airlines restarting Frankfurt-New York and Hong Kong-San Francisco flights

Singapore Airlines will resume two more fifth freedom flights in November: Frankfurt to New York and Hong Kong to San Francisco

Singapore Airlines announced that it will reinstate two fifth freedom services to USA in November 2021, using the four-class Boeing 777-300ERs.

The two services will resume SIA’s pre-pandemic connection between Frankfurt and New York as well as Hong Kong and San Francisco. Both these services will originate from Singapore to Frankfurt and Hong Kong respectively, before carrying on to USA.

SIA last flew between Hong Kong and San Francisco in February 2020, and between Frankfurt and New York in March 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold.

Tapping on reopening markets

This is the continuation of SIA’s strategy in tapping on regions with progressively relaxed border measures in recent months. SIA has earlier in the year launched intra-Europe flights between Copenhagen and Rome, and also introduced a Taipei – Los Angeles service.

In this latest development, SIA is definitely counting on the latest development in USA, who will ease restrictions and accept fully vaccinated travellers from 33 countries once again beginning November. Singapore is on the list of countries.

New USA services: Schedules

The two new services commencing November are:

SQ25/26 – Frankfurt to New York
SQ7/8 – Hong Kong to San Francisco

The full schedule are as follow:

SQ7/8 – Singapore – Hong Kong – San Francisco
(beginning 2 Nov 2021)

Singapore – Hong Kong – San Francisco
RouteDay of OpsDepartArriveFlight TimeAircraft
Singapore – Hong KongTue, Thu, Sat082512254hB777-300ER
Hong Kong – San FranciscoTue, Thu, Sat1340094012hB777-300ER
San Francisco – Hong KongTue, Thu, Sat13001910(+1)15h 10mB777-300ER
Hong Kong – SingaporeWed, Fri, Sun20400040(+1)4hB777-300ER

SQ26/25 – Singapore – Frankfurt – New York JFK
(beginning 1 Nov 2021)

Singapore – Frankfurt – New York JFK
RouteDay of OpsDepartArriveFlight TimeAircraft
Singapore – FrankfurtDaily23550620(+1)13h 25mB777-300ER
Frankfurt – New York JFKDaily082012158h 55mB777-300ER
New York JFK – FrankfurtDaily21150950(+1)7h 35mB777-300ER
Frankfurt – SingaporeDaily11400650(+1)12h 10mB777-300ER

Unfortunately, SIA will not be mounting an Airbus A380 for SQ26/25. The double decker jumbos remain in storage, although part of the fleet will return to the skies soon. This also means those who are waiting to take a ride in the coveted Suites will just have to wait a while longer.

For Frankfurt, there are also three times weekly Singapore – Frankfurt – Singapore SQ326/325 flights (which operate as VTL services on the FRA-SIN leg).

Boeing 777-300ERs

Singapore Airlines will mounting its Boeing 777-300ERs for both USA services.

Singapore Airlines B777-300ER

The aircraft comprises 4 cabin classes, which can take 264 passengers. The number of seats available in each cabin are as follow:

CabinSeats
First4
Business48
Premium Economy28
Economy184

Final thoughts

With the resumption of these flights, SIA would have restored about two-thirds of its pre-Covid-19 roster of services to and from USA.

These developments are a natural follow up as countries start easing border restrictions. As USA opens up quarantine-free travel for vaccinated travellers from all of EU, the Frankfurt–New York leg is definitely geared at tapping travel between Europe and USA, which traditionally see strong demand pre Covid-19.

It would be fair to say that this will definitely not be the last of SIA’s fifth freedom ventures. The more interesting question is: where next?

Earn 4.4mpd with your UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard for online & mobile contactless spend

Get up to 4.4 mpd on mobile contactless and online transactions from now and 31 Dec 2021

If you are holding the UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard in Singapore, UOB is now offering 4.4 mpd for online or mobile contactless payments on select categories, capped at a maximum of S$4,000 spend from now until 31 Dec 2021.

Under this promotion, you will earn up to UNI$6,000 or 12,000 additional bonus miles.

To be eligible, you’ll need to register for the promo (see below on how) and also make sure you spend at least S$1,000 in the following categories during the three-month promotional period:

  • Dining
  • Food Delivery
  • Groceries
  • Pharmacies

To register for the promotion, SMS in the following format to 77862:

PM <space> Last 4 alphanumeric digits of your NRIC or Passport Number

Example: If your NRIC is S1234567A, you will need to send “PM 567A” to 77862

Unfortunately, this promotion is only applicable to the PRVI Miles Mastercard version, so those holding the Visa and Amex versions are out of luck.

UOB PRVI Miles Mastercard

Up to 4.4 mpd offer

To earn the higher 4.4 mpd, you will need to spend within the following qualifying categories either using online and mobile contactless payment modes from now until 31 Dec 2021:

Eligible MCCsCategory
5411Groceries (e.g. 7-Eleven, Fairprice, Sheng Siong)
5499Food Delivery (e.g. Deliveroo, GrabFood, foodpanda)
5310
5331
5399
5912
Misc. Stores (e.g. Muji, Japan Home)
Pharmacies
(e.g. Unity, GNC, Watsons)
5811 5812 5814Caterers, Restaurants (e.g. Brotzeit, Haidilao, Pizza Express)
Fast Food (e.g. Cedele, Delibowl, McDonalds)
5441Candy, Nut and Confectionery Stores (e.g. Candy Empire, Godiva, MyEureka)
5462Bakeries (e.g. Krispy Kreme, Paris Baguette)

Plus, you will need to ensure the spend is processed by the respective merchants in Singapore Dollars and is posted as either:

  • An online transaction via a payment gateway in Singapore, or
  • mobile contactless transaction via Apple Pay, Fitbit Pay, Google Pay and/or Samsung Pay

Note that contactless transactions made by tapping the physical card will not be eligible.

Once registered, you will need to spend a minimum of S$1,000 in these bonus categories during the whole promotion period, in order to earn 11 UNI$ (3.5 UNI$ base rate + 7.5 UNI$ bonus, total equivalent to 4.4 mpd) per S$5 spent on eligible transactions charged to your card.

The maximum bonus you can earn during the promotion is capped at UNI$6,000 (equivalent to 12,000 miles, or S$4,000 spend). One other thing to note is that eligible transactions made by your supplementary cardholders will count towards the promotion.

For the full terms and conditions, click here.

SMART$ merchants

Note that SMART$ merchants are automatically excluded from this promotion, given that UOB doesn’t issue UNI$ for transactions made with these merchants.

These merchants include:

  • Cold Storage
  • Giant
  • Guardian
  • Jasons
  • Market Place

You will however earn UNI$ for online transactions (e.g. home delivery) at these merchants, since the SMART$ programme only applies to in-store purchases.

When do the bonus miles credit?

The regular 1.4 miles per S$1 spent will post according to your statement cycle, but the bonus miles will be credited to your account by 31st March 2022. While this seems like a three-month wait after the promotion ends, usually UOB posts them much earlier than that but you should expect it to come in only after the end of the promotion period (i.e. after 31 Dec 2021).

Final thoughts

For once UOB is doing something right – by not capping the number of registrations for a promotion!

Having said that, this is also a pretty generous promotion: 12,000 bonus miles is a lot, coupled with a wide range of merchant categories for online and mobile contactless spend.

Just remember to register for the promotion, clock the minimum required S$1,000 spend in the bonus categories, and earn away!

To register for the promotion, SMS in the following format to 77862:

PM <space> Last 4 alphanumeric digits of your NRIC or Passport Number

Example: If your NRIC is S1234567A, you will need to send “PM 567A” to 77862

Qantas sets sight to resume Singapore services from mid-December

Qantas is ready to resume overseas flights in mid-December 2021 based on the pace of Australian’s vaccination rollout, but…. will it actually happen?

In Qantas’ full year results announcement today, the Australian airline also outlined its plans for international services when Australia gradually reopen borders, which would be triggered when the Australian national vaccination rate surpasses its designated 80% threshold.

The airline said that its plan remains dependent on Government decisions in the coming months, “including future quarantine requirements.”

Qantas to first restart services to countries with high vaccination rates, including Singapore

When Qantas’ international flights take to the skies again, they will not restart the entire network, but instead choose a small group of destinations with high vaccination rates.

These destinations include US, UK and Singapore, among others.

Key markets like the UK, North America and parts of Asia “have high and increasing levels of vaccination”, the airline says.

“This makes them highly likely to be classed as low risk countries for vaccinated travellers to visit and return from under reduced quarantine requirements, pending decisions by the Australian Government and entry policies of other countries.”

Specific to Singapore, these are Qantas’ plans:

From mid-December 2021, flights would start from Australia to COVID-safe destinations, which are likely to include Singapore, the United States, Japan, United Kingdom and Canada using Boeing 787s, Airbus A330s, and 737s and A320s for services to Fiji.

From late 2022, five A380s will return to service and will resume its Sydney-London service via Singapore from November 2022.

Schedules

Qantas has loaded flights to Australia from 18 December onwards, and it seems like the full suite of flights are available for sale.

RouteFlight No.Days of opDepArrFlight TimeAircraft
Singapore – SydneyQF2Daily19150610(+1)7h 55mB787-9
QF82Daily20300730(+1)8hA330-300
Sydney – SingaporeQF1Daily170022058h 5mB787-9
QF81Daily112016458h 25mA330-300
Singapore – MelbourneQF36Daily19400600 / 06107h 20m /
7h 30m
A330-300
Melbourne – SingaporeQF35Daily121017057h 55mA330-300
Singapore – BrisbaneQF52Daily20100555 / 06007h 45m /
7h 50m
A330-300
Brisbane – SingaporeQF51Daily115017508hA330-300
Singapore – PerthQF72Daily19150030(+1)5h 15mA330-200
Perth – SingaporeQF71Daily122017455h 25mA330-200
Singapore – LondonQF1Daily2355061514h 20mB787-9
London- SingaporeQF2Daily20351745(+1)13h 10mB787-9

No first class across Qantas network until 2022, Premium Economy only to London and Sydney for now

With the schedules above, you will see that the QF1/2 service between Sydney and London via Singapore will be operated using a Boeing 787-9. This effectively means that there will be no first class service across the Qantas network at least until late 2022, as the cabin is only found exclusively on the A380s which is targeted to return to service only in November 2022 (not 2021!).

Based on currently published schedules, the Qantas Dreamliner Boeing 787-9s will only be available on services to and from Sydney and London, on flight numbers QF1 and QF2.

For those who are hoping to jump into the Qantas A380 first class suites, you will unfortunately have to wait until late 2022 to taste it – if everything goes well.

Qantas First Class suite

Final thoughts

Qantas has been trying its best to put out good news with respect to international travel since last year, but mostly to no avail as the Australian government continues to battle Covid-19 within its own borders. The country has also taken a very conservative border control approach, including limiting number of arrivals daily – even for its own citizens.

This is undoubtedly yet another try in putting out some semblance of ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’, but I would caution on over-optimism until the Australian government makes their own announcement on relaxation of border controls.

Qantas Group CEO Alan Joyce has this to say: “It’s obviously up to government exactly how and when our international borders re-open, but with Australia on track to meet the 80 per cent trigger agreed by National Cabinet by the end of the year, we need to plan ahead for what is a complex restart process,

“There’s a lot of work that needs to happen, including training for our people and carefully bringing aircraft back into service. We’re also working to integrate the IATA travel pass into our systems to help our customers prove their vaccine status and cross borders.

“We can adjust our plans if the circumstances change, which we’ve already had to do several times during this pandemic. Some people might say we’re being too optimistic, but based on the pace of the vaccine rollout, this is within reach and we want to make sure we’re ready,” added Mr Joyce.

Qantas has earlier in January said that it was targeting to resume flights from 1 July, which didn’t happen as the Delta variant saw a larger wave of infections across the world. Most of Australia persisted in extended lockdowns, and domestic travel was also mostly curtailed.

REVIEW: Shangri-La Singapore, Valley Wing Deluxe Room

Top-notch offering, luxurious experience (with some misses), but time for a refresh.

The holy grail of staycations in the midst of pandemic, the Valley Wing of Shangri-La Singapore is probably the most hyped-about staycation experience after Covid-19 pretty much closed off cross border travels for Singaporeans.

All day champagne, decadent breakfast spread, luxurious room and lobby, excellent service — this is effectively the all-business class version of a hotel. Of course, I had to go and see for myself what’s the allure behind this much talked-about luxurious experience.

Before we jump right into this review, note that the stay was made in May 2021, right before Phase 2 (Heightened Alert), so the experience may differ slightly.

In this post:
About the hotel
Booking
Location
Check-in
Car parking
Deluxe Room
Lobby Lounge – Afternoon tea, Evening cocktails
Summit Room – Breakfast
Facilities
Final thoughts

The hotel

Shangri-La Singapore marks the beginning of the Shangri-La Hotel Group. Founded by Malaysian businessman Robert Kuok, the hotel was set on Orange Grove Road, envisioned to be an oasis in the vicinity of Orchard Road, then set to be Singapore’s golden shopping district.

The sprawling luxury property, covering some 15 acres, was built in stages: The Tower Wing was the first to be completed in 1971, followed by the Garden Wing in 1978. Consequently the Valley Wing was added in 1985, bringing the total room count to over 1,000.

Shangri-La Singapore is on a different level of exclusiveness: it also has the reputation for hosting several high level government-to-government meetings, with countless foreign delegates and dignitaries staying at the hotel through the decades.

The property has hosted countless foreign dignitaries, international conferences, and high society weddings. One iconic G2G meeting – the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue, Asia’s defence summit – also took its name from the hotel, signifying the importance of the hotel to international relations. 

One hotel, three wings

Built over more than a decade, Shangri-La Singapore comprises three key wings: Tower Wing, Garden Wing and Valley Wing.

View of Tower and Garden Wings

The Garden Wing is more often than not referred to as the entry-level wing, even though it was not the first to be built of the three. Completed in 1978, the wing added an open-air garden atrium and cascading waterfall, giving the property its resort feel. A much shorter building with only five stories, all rooms have balconies which overlook the abundant greenery or the swimming pool. 

Tower Wing is the main high-rise block of the hotel, stretching some 24 storeys. The Tower Wing is the original building that opened with the hotel in 1971, but it’s also the most up-to-date, having completed a major renovation in 2017. It also hosts the hotel’s Horizon Club lounge, as well as the five themed family suites (pick from: castle, outer space, safari, treetop and underwater). The wing is currently closed to bookings, as it’s used for SHN accommodation.

The Valley Wing was finished in 1985, and is practically a hotel within a hotel. It boasts a private driveway and entrance, a lounge that serves all-day champagne, and the most opulent breakfast in the house at the Summit Room. Guests receive special Valley Wing monogrammed bathrobes and amenities, and should you venture out to mix with the hoi polloi at the hotel’s shared facilities, you’ll even find special reserved seating at the pool. 

Shangri-La Singapore Valley Wing

Booking

Citi Prestige came out with a unbeatable deal for cardholders earlier in the year. At S$250++ per night, this was significantly cheaper – at almost half price – of the best available deals in 2020.

Given the good deal, of course the limited number of room nights were snapped up pretty quickly. I didn’t manage to get my hands on one of these deals, but the hotel was quickly to counter-offer with other deals they had available, including the 28-hour Weekday Indulgence package.

Priced at $488++ for two people or $588++ for three people, essentially you get a Valley Wing Deluxe Room with a standard check-in time at 3pm, but with a super late check-out time the following day at 7pm. Effectively, you will get double dips at the afternoon tea and evening cocktails for this package.

Here’s the low-down of the full inclusions:

  • 28-hour weekday staycation valid from Sunday to Thursday (check-in time from 3pm and check out time at 7pm)
  • Daily breakfast for 2 adults and 2 children below 12 years old at The Summit Room
  • Unlimited wine, champagne, juice, coffee and tea from 11am to 10.30pm, at the Valley Wing Lounge
  • Afternoon tea, from 2pm to 5pm, at the Valley Wing Lounge
  • Evening canapés and cocktails, from 5pm to 7pm, at the Champagne Bar
  • Playtime at buds by Shangri-La, one complimentary session per night
  • Playtime at Splash, one complimentary session per night
  • Extra bed for 1 child below 12 years old (subject to hotel availability)
  • One complimentary parking per stay with unlimited entries
  • High-speed, unrestricted Wi-Fi and broadband Internet access

Location

The remote nature of Shangri-La Singapore also means that it is definitely not the most conveniently located hotel. While it’s quite near Orchard Road, the hotel is a 20-minute hike from Orchard MRT, with a uphill terrain thrown in for good measure.

The main lobby – where Garden Wing and Tower Wing guests will arrive at – is located along Orange Grove Road, which can be entered from either Orchard Road or Stevens Road. This is also where the main car park is located at, including the underground car park in front of the hotel.

On the other hand, the exclusive Valley Wing gets its own driveway along Anderson Road. To access it, you will need to enter Anderson Road from Stevens Road, and keep a close lookout for the uphill driveway on the right side. If you miss that and arrive at Orange Grove Road, unfortunately you will need to make a large loop to go again.

Don’t miss the entrance on the right (image: Google Maps)

A note about parking

Guests staying at the Valley Wing will be invited to park along at the private car park outside of the Valley Wing. Parking space is very limited, even with cars lined up along the driveway, so I would imagine you will be redirected to the main car park if the area is full.

Note that your stay should come with unlimited in/out privileges. If you are parking at the main car park, be sure to ask for a complimentary parking coupon from the concierge before you exit.

Check-in

I arrived at about 2pm, an hour ahead of the stipulated check-in time of 3pm. With many other hotels in Singapore this usually isn’t a problem, and a room would normally have been available by 2pm.

After being instructed to park my car along the driveway as all the lots have been taken up, I was ushered into the lobby, which definitely a grand first impression. 

Shangri La Singapore, Valley Wing lobby

Think high ceilings, old school charm: the Valley Wing lobby was cosy, yet grand in its welcome. The first thing that will definitely catch your eye is the 8.6-metre tall painting. Produced by renowned Hong Kong artist Lam Chung, the artwork is a visual depiction of what James Hilton wrote in his 1933 novel, of a fictional idyllic settlement high in the mountains of the Tibet which Hilton called ‘Shangri-La’.

After you take your eyes off the painting, you will be escorted to one of the two check-in desks. Unfortunately, my room wasn’t available even at 2pm, so my party was instead directed to enjoy the afternoon tea at the lobby lounge.

Valley Wing, Lobby Lounge

In the mean time, the very friendly agent helped me with the check-in procedures and briefed me on my entitlements, before showing us a table at the lobby lounge.

The roomDeluxe Room

Valley Wing comprises 150 rooms and suites across 5 room types. The entry level room is the Deluxe Room where most guests will be staying, but once you move above that, you get a range of suites from the 1-bedroom suite to the sprawling Shangri-La Suite.

RoomRoomsSize
Deluxe10557m2
1 Bedroom Suite1179m2
Deluxe Suite12110m2
Singapore Suite2238m2
Shangri-La Suite1348m2

The package comes with the entry level Deluxe Room. Running at 57 square metre, this is probably one of (if not) the largest hotel room in Singapore you may find for an entry-level room, even though there’s nothing entry-level about the Valley Wing.

The Valley Wing was built in 1985, and it’s unclear if it was ever renovated after that. If you are an ardent fan of local staycations, you will quickly realise that the rooms are a throwback to rooms of yesteryears, with well worn wall sockets and an analog thermostat. One step in, you feel like you have taken a time warp back to the 1990s.

Deluxe Room

An elegant room with an oversized bed in the middle of the room, a sofa right in front of the window that overlooks Anderson Road, adorned with a coffee table big enough for high tea; yet another arm chair that looks like it belonged to the Buckingham Palace; an oak study table on the left of the TV console, and a dressing table on the right side… one could go on and on about the furnishing in the room. It was old-fashioned lux, and somewhat a mash up of British and oriental charm.

Deluxe Room
Deluxe Room

The room comes with a full-sized couch just in front of the window ledge, which would have been perfect for those in-room afternoon teas and evening drinks even during Singapore’s famed Phase 2 Heightened Alert. We were pretty glad we didn’t have to resort to that, though.

Deluxe Room

There is also a work desk if you need it, with plenty of space for all your devices and wires. The chair belonged to the Elizabethan era, where the idea of back support was virtually non-existent.

Work desk & TV

Next to the desk was the TV console, and probably one of the smallest TV I’ve seen in a hotel room in a very long time. Not only is the screen pathetically small for a luxury hotel, it does not support any of the modern offerings, so you will have to bring along your own casting devices (Chromecast, Apple TV, anything) and cables if you need that.

Bathroom

The bathroom comes with a separate dressing area separated from the bedroom area by a partition, where the wardrobe is as well. Having said that, the bathroom is probably the best sign of its aristocratic factor: double vanity sinks, a bathtub large enough for two people to sit in, a separate shower cubicle with a marble seat, and a toilet with an old-fashion bidet.

Toilet with bidet

The Valley Wing rooms come with L’occitane Jasmin & Bergamote amenities, which are pretty much top of the range even within the L’occitane mainbrand. A quick tip: if you didn’t bring your bubble bath or bath bombs, simply empty an entire bottle of the amenity into the bathtub when you run the bath, and the bubbles will naturally come as you fill it with water.

Jasmin & Bergamote L’occitane amenities

If baths aren’t your thing (how terrible!), there’s a standing rainshower stall, feel free to step in and have your standing showers.

There are also an assortment of disposable bathroom amenities at the washbasins, including a very thoughtful hair rubber band for ladies to use. The housekeeping staff religiously tops up whenever anything on this shelf is being used, but if you do need extra, just give housekeeping a ring and they will promptly bring them up for you.

Bathroom amenities

There is a small dressing area outside of the bathroom, with a wooden folding gate to separate it from the bedroom area. You will be able to find most of the wardrobe amenities there, including bathroom slippers, ironing and board, and more in that area. You could even change into a wedding gown there with no lack of space.

Minibar

In-room refreshments wise, the room comes with a mini-fridge (empty, of course), Nespresso machine with complimentary coffee pods, as well as their famed in-house assorted teabags.

There is also a generous fruit platter atop a small drawer where you can find a small set of cutlery for your personal use.

Shangri-La teabags

Legend has it that the hotel used to stock its minibar which was complimentary for all Valley Wing guests, but this perk has since been removed. The hotel touts it as a safety measure in the face of Covid-19, but obviously past guests and reviewers called it a cost-cutting measure.

Lobby Lounge

The first thought of a ‘lobby lounge’ brings to mind a dedicated room located at the lobby, similar to club lounges in many other hotels. But here at Shangri La Valley Wing, the entire lobby is a lounge, which is probably a rather foreign concept for many.

This is probably the space you will be spending plenty of time in throughout your stay, to justify the price tag at which the room comes at.

Lobby Lounge

The lobby lounge is also where you will find the Champagne Bar, which as the name suggests, serves all-day champagne, available from 11am to 10pm daily.

Despite its nomenclature, the bar only serves Veuve Clicquot as its choice of bubblies. But of course, apart from champagnes, they will be happy to serve other wines and cocktails too.

Champagne Bar

The drinks menu is a pretty formidable one. Apart from Veuve Clicquot that Shangri-La Singapore serves as the housepour champagne, you may also opt for the Italian Berlucchi 61 Rose as the sparkling rose of choice.

You can also find a carefully tailored selection of gins from around the world in a special gin trolley located at the Champagne Bar. Choose your own gin and tonic pairing, along with your preferred garnish, from a wide range of premium gin options including Singapore’s very own Brass Lion Gin. Spoilt for choice? leave it in the hands of the bartenders to recommend the perfect combination.

Champagne

On top of that, you have a selection of nine other wines to choose from, as well as 10 different cocktails including three champagne cocktails to indulge to your heart’s (and liver’s) delight.

A copy of the full menu can be found here.

If you are not too full from drinking the entire day, there’s also some food available during the afternoon tea (2pm to 5pm), and evening canapes (5pm to 7pm) daily. For those with extended check-out times, you are also able to double dip and enjoy another round of drinks and food until your check out time.

The afternoon tea is certainly decent by any club lounge standards. Served on a two-tier stand, the meal comes with an assortment of sandwiches, as well as a plate of sweets including cakes and kuih-kuihs. There’s also a side of scones – both plain and raisins – served separately, with clotted cream and jam on the side.

Afternoon tea

Of course, you can order a complimentary coffee, tea or even something alcoholic to go with your afternoon delights.

Evening cocktails

If you are enjoying drinks through the day, you will kind of feel that the food from afternoon tea simply flows over to evening canapes. The evening canape spread is also served on a (pretty much the same) two-tier stand, but filled with different items.

For the first day, we got a mish-mash of sushi, soba, puff pastries, more kuih-kuihs and some fried items. The second day’s items were a little better, with chicken wings and steamed siew-mais. While it’s heartening to see that the menu does rotate daily, it really isn’t anything to write home about, but simply an accompaniment to your evening drinks if you so choose to.

The Summit Room

One of the key selling point for Valley Wing guests is breakfast at the Summit Room. In the shape of a round room topped with an opulent chandelier, the room is also decked out with intricate artwork on the curved walls, gorgeous carpets and some of the most beautiful furnishing you can find.

Summit Room

Breakfast hours at the Valley Wing are 7am to 10.30am on Mondays to Saturdays, and ending slightly later at 11am on Sundays and Public Holidays.

Note that Valley Wing guests are given a choice of breakfast at the Summit Room or The Line, but you will want to just settle your breakfast at the Summit Room. 

Unlike many other hotels, Valley Wing guests do not have to make an advance booking for breakfast. As such, we (a party of three) made our way down at about 9.30am for breakfast.

This is where the service – or lack thereof – became a sore point in my stay. Despite it being a mid-week stay, the Summit Room was unfortunately full save for one single round table right by the door. I asked if we could take that round table, but was politely declined as they had to keep the table in case a group of five people turned up for breakfast.

We were instead offered an outdoor table at at the patio, which we reluctantly accepted. The only table left on the patio was not acceptable either; the dining table was of a proper height, but the chairs were lounge chairs, so when you are seated, the table was at your shoulder height. Not the most ideal seat for breakfast.

Outdoor patio seating

I immediately provided feedback on the table and asked if there’s any other table available. I then asked again if we could take the round table, but was once again declined. We were instead offered to head out to the lobby lounge for our breakfast.

This time round, I pressed the front of house and asked why we couldn’t take that table, given that there’s no other parties waiting to be seated and it was close to the end of breakfast hour. The reply given to me once again was that they could only seat a party of five at that table, and we only had three people. For context, there are only two round tables that can fit a party of five, and the other table was occupied with four diners.

Eventually, we settled for a table at the lobby lounge, which again wasn’t the most ideal as all the tables at the lobby are rather small and not meant for dining.

I reasoned that it was almost close to the end of breakfast service, and that the other table was close to finishing up anyway, but was still denied the table. True enough, for the remainder of the breakfast service, the said round table was left empty (no other guests in fact came for breakfast after us), and the hotel could have three more happy guests if they had exercised better discretion and situational decision making in this instance.

The level of inflexibility bewildered me, especially at a luxury property, in a premier wing no less. While I understand that some properties do not empower its staff to make decisions outside of protocol, a simple check with the manager on duty could have easily solved the issue (more on this later).

The hotel could also benefit from doing a reservation system for its guests – not so much as to limit them to a particular time, but to better manage its table allocation especially for larger parties.

The Real Breakfast Review

Apart from the little brouhaha surrounding sitting, Shangri-La Singapore Valley Wing offers a pretty impressive breakfast spread.

Each guest is entitled to two choices of main courses from a wide menu of over a dozen items, including local and western fare. Based on online reviews, guests used to be able to order unlimited portions but this has since been reduced to just a choice of two.

Breakfast menu

The menu has been pared down compared to past reviews, including this one by Milelion. For instance, the hotel no longer serves its famed Bikini Sandwich, nor offer a Japanese breakfast on its menu. The tale of cost reductions.

On top of that, there is also a mini continental breakfast items spread available within the Summit Room, with bread, pastries, charcuterie, fruit, yoghurt, cereal and cheeses for one to pick and choose from. If hot food is not your thing, this would have been more than enough to fill you up

Summit Room breakfast semi-buffet
Summit Room breakfast semi-buffet

Since there were three of us, we took advantage to order a variety of dishes to sample. Given that the steak and eggs were immensely popular, we decided to order one for each of us, and a different second course.

As a form of service recovery for denying us a table in the Summit Room, the manager relented to make an exception to allow us to order one additional main, so we ended up with 7 mains for three of us.

Breakfast – Steak & Eggs

The steak and eggs is cooked to order; you are asked for the doneness you’ll like for your steak. The steak came pretty on point, even though the photo didn’t do justice to it. After all, who doesn’t like a good cut of tenderloin for breakfast? What I thought could have been better was if the steak could come with a simple sauce, or perhaps even some greens on the side, instead of just a single vine tomato.

Breakfast – Nasi Lemak

The nasi lemak was probably my next most favourite dish. While the portion is not big, the flavour is pretty authentic and packs a punch.

Breakfast – French Toast

The french toast was rather excellent as well. It came pretty crispy, while retaining the soft and moist nature when you slice it up.

Breakfast – Valley Wing Half-Boiled Eggs with Caviar and Toast Soldiers

The Valley Wing Half-Boiled eggs is supposedly another famed Shangri-La offering, and my guess is that this is because of the caviar. I’m personally not a fan of caviar, but I do get how this combo of bread, eggs and roe works.

Breakfast – Roti Jala

Roti jala is not so commonly found in Singapore, so this is a pleasant surprise. The winner of this dish is the curry, which warrants additional servings of the roti.

Overall, Valley Wing breakfast is prided on quality instead of quantity. Individual dishes are excellent, but the portions are puny especially if you are big eaters (like us).

Unfortunately, the limit of two mains per guest also means that you will hardly be filled even if you maxed out your quota (as we have found), and you will have to make do with the continental breakfast buffet to get a hearty breakfast.

Facilities

Shangri-La Singapore was built to be an oasis in a city centre, so obviously it was going to be self-contained as far as possible. That means, you get a galore of facilities fit for royalty without having to step out of the compounds at all.

FacilityOperating Hours
Swimming pool6am to 8pm
Fitness centre6am to 10pm
Tennis courtsBy reservation
The Chi Spa10am to 7pm
Kid’s club8am to 7.30pm
Business centre24 hours

Swimming pool

Shangri-La has a large free-form swimming pool, located in the centre of the three wings, open for all guests’ use from 6am to 8pm daily. This is a massive pool – probably one of the biggest among hotels in Singapore – measuring in at 912 m3. The pool is also decently deep, ranging between 1.2 to 2.5 metres deep, but the deep end is cordoned off while we were there.

Swimming pool

Due to the pandemic, you will have to enter and exit the pool via a single point of entry near The Line, with the necessary check-ins (and outs) done via TraceTogether.

There is also a separate kids-only Splash Zone, where only kids can use (adults can’t enter if you don’t have a under-12 with you).

Fitness Centre / Gym

The fitness centre, or Health Club as termed by the hotel, is open daily from 6am to 10pm. No reservations are required, but given the latest regulations you may wish to check with the hotel if you need to be vaccinated to use the gym.

Fitness Centre (photo: Shangri-La Singapore)

The gym is humongous even for a hotel of this size. The space also has plenty of natural light, with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout most of the gym to give guests a view of the lush gardens outside. 

There is also a sauna, steam room and in-door whirlpool within the changing rooms, but unfortunately these facilities are closed during this period of time.

Given the size of the fitness centre, the hotel also sells annual memberships at S$3,000 a year to use the gym, swimming pool and other health club facilities.

Shangri-La also has three tennis courts available for guests to rent at S$10.40 per hour, which I understand to be very reasonable. I don’t have photos of the courts but Milelion does have some very reasonable ones.

The Chi Spa

We didn’t visit The Chi Spa, but for those who are interested, the spa is located in the Garden Wing (open daily, 10am to 7pm). Pricing is pretty standard hotel spa prices: S$85++ for a 30 minute foot massage, or S$165++ for a 60 minutes treatment. The full menu and price list can be found here.

Buds by Shangri-La – Kid’s Club

We also didn’t review this (given there weren’t any kids on this stay), so you will find a more meaningful review by GirlEatWorld here (scroll to near the bottom for the section on Buds) and one by Women’s Weekly here.

Final thoughts

Valley Wing

Shangri-La Singapore definitely delivered on the luxe experience — only if you prefer the old-school luxury back in the 1990s. I enjoyed my stay there, only because it was a marked departure from the experience accorded by other properties with their modern conveniences, so this is kind of a novelty, time-warp style.

The clear upside to the Valley Wing experience was definitely the bottomless, all-day champagne and seemingly endless food service. The rooms were on the other end of the spectrum: while its generally roomy and clean, the rooms are in a desperate need of an upgrade since about a decade ago.

The service was also generally excellent. Room requests were promptly met, check-in was smooth and pleasant, and staff were generally helpful and attentive throughout our entire stay. While service was great for most of our stay, it was marred by the breakfast seating episode. Normally I wouldn’t fuss over an incident like this, but in a top-notch property such as Shangri-La, there is certainly no room for any unpleasant encounters.

Having said all of the above, I can imagine how the Valley Wing is probably a great option for select groups of guests: those don’t intend to leave the hotel the entire time and enjoy day-long drinking sessions, or if you are a family with young kids and need plenty of space for them to run out their energy.

Singapore to commence quarantine-free travel lanes from Germany and Brunei from 8 September

Singapore residents can now visit Germany and back without any form of isolation or quarantine requirements.

The Singapore government yesterday (19 Aug 2021) announced that it will waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers from Brunei and Germany from 8 Sep 2021, subject to several conditions, including frequent testing.

The arrangement, called Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), will allow a set number of fully vaccinated visitors or returning residents to come into Singapore from these two countries without the need for any Stay-Home Notice.

While this new VTL covers both Brunei and Germany for a start, many travellers will most likely be interested in Germany as a leisure destination, after being starved of travel for more than a year.

Let’s cover how the VTL will work in detail.

Overview of the mechanics

To be clear, the VTL mechanism is only applicable for the inbound journey to Singapore. For Singapore-based residents, the outbound journey and its requirements is dependent on the country you are visiting (more on this later).

For your VTL journey to Singapore from Germany, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), has outlined the following requirements:

Vaccination RequirementBe fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with shots taken either in Singapore or Germany
Stay requirementMust remain fully in Germany and/or Singapore for the preceding 21 days before travel to Singapore
Purpose of visitNo restrictions
Take VTL-designated flightYou may only travel on a VTL-designated flight to Singapore (more details below).
Note that if you don’t travel on VTL-designated flights, you may be denied entry or the usual SHN rules apply.
Testing requirementsTake the following PCR tests:
1. Pre-departure test within 48 hours of departure
2. Upon arrival at Changi Airport
3. Day 3 after arrival
4. Day 7 after arrival
Insurance requirements (for short-term visitors)Short term visitors will need COVID-19 travel insurance with a minimum coverage of S$30,000 for COCIVD-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs.

The overview of the travel process to Singapore is detailed as follow:

Apply for Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP)Important: VTP is not required for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents
Short term visitors and long-term pass holders must apply for a VTP between 7 and 30 days before their intended arrival in Singapore.
Pre-departure testTake a pre-departure PCR test in Germany within 48 hours of their scheduled flight departure time
Take VTL-designated flightTravel on a VTL-designated flight to Singapore
On-arrival testTake a PCR test upon arrival at Changi Airport. Proceed directly to your place of residence/home, and self-isolate until results are out
Post-arrival testsTake another test on Day 3 and Day 7 in Singapore at a designated clinic. These tests must be pre-booked and paid.
Travel flow for Singapore citizens & PRs planning to go Germany for holidays

The number of VTL travellers will be limited by available flights dedicated to the scheme, which are all non-stop services from Germany (Frankfurt or Munich) to Singapore at the moment.

You may transit en-route to Germany on your outbound journey, however you won’t be eligible to use the VTL on your way home unless you remain in Germany for 21+ days.

For leisure travellers visiting Singapore, they will be required to download and keep the TraceTogether app activated on their mobile devices at all times while in Singapore. Upon request by the Singapore Ministry of Health, a visitor must provide all data in the TraceTogether app should he/she test positive for COVID-19 while in Singapore or in the first 21 days after leaving Singapore.

A note about the stay requirements

The wordings of the stay requirement has tripped some people up, thinking that they need to stay in Germany for at least three weeks before they qualify. This is not the case. To be eligible for VTL, your preceding 21 days be be spent in either Singapore or Germany. That means, if you are vaccinated and have been in Singapore for 16 days, took a direct flight to Munich, spent five days there, you will still be eligible for VTL-travel back to Singapore (16 days in Singapore, 5 days in Germany).

Fully vaccinated status

An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after one received the full regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna or any vaccine in the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing, such as Sinovac or AstraZeneca.

Travellers must have been fully vaccinated in Singapore or in their country of departure (in the cases of the VTL, this refers to Germany or Brunei). Vaccination taken anywhere else in the world but recognised here are not eligible for the time being. This means that if you have taken your shots somewhere else before coming to Singapore, and want to take advantage of the VTL to visit Germany, you are out of luck.

Testing requirements

Under the VTL arrangements, travellers will be required to take 4 PCR tests before travelling and upon arrival in Singapore. When to take the tests, and how much they cost, are outlined in the table below:

WhenType of testEstimated cost
At most 48 hours before departure timePCR test~S$110
Upon arrival in Singapore (Day 1) PCR test S$160
Day 3 upon arrival in Singapore PCR test S$94.16
Day 7 upon arrival in Singapore PCR test S$94.16
Total~S$460

As you can see, the total cost of tests adds up to over S$460, which can be a significant sum on top of the travel expenses. This excludes the other related expenses, including time and effort to travel to and from the test sites.

For short-term travellers coming to Singapore, they may be able to avoid the Day 3 and/or Day 7 tests, provided their outbound flights are before 3pm (1500H) on the day of the test. For instance, if a traveller arrives in Singapore on 1 Oct 2021 and departs on 3 Oct 2021 12pm, they will not be required to take the Day 3 (and of course the Day 7) test. However, if the flight is departing 3 Oct 2021 6pm, the traveller will still be required to take the PCR test before departing, even though the results may only be available after departure.

VTL-Designated flights

Travellers using the VTL will have to use a designated flights by Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa when travelling to Singapore.

The first flight will take off on 7 Sep 2021, and only one flight a day from Germany is VTL-designated. For a start, Singapore Airlines will operate 5 VTL-designated flights a week (3 from Frankfurt and 2 from Munich), while Lufthansa will operate two flights a week, both from Frankfurt.

AirlineFlightRouteDepArrAircraftDays of Ops
Singapore AirlinesSQ325FRA-SIN22001625(+1)B777-300ERTue, Fri, Sun
Singapore Airlines SQ331MUC-SIN13150705(+1)A350-900Mon, Wed
LufthansaLH778FRA-SIN21551645(+1)A340-300Thu, Sat

Booking and redemption is now now available through to the end of October 2021. If you are hoping to redeem your miles for a cushy seat up in the pointy end, you can expect to pay Advantage rates for redemptions on VTL flights.

Award rates for KrisFlyer members flying on Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa between Singapore and Germany are as follows:

KrisFlyer Redemption
Singapore  ↔  Germany
CabinSaver
(on SQ)
Advantage
on (SQ)
Star Alliance Award
(on LH)
Economy38,00070,000 45,000
Premium Economy64,500n/a n/a
Business92,000120,000 92,000
First / Suites125,000220,000 140,500

Note that for Singapore residents, there are currently no isolation requirements for arrivals into Germany as long as you are either fully vaccinated, or have lived in Singapore for the past six months. For unvaccinated travellers, a pre-departure PCR or ART test will be required for entry into Germany. Hence, It doesn’t matter which flight you travel on from Singapore to Germany.

However, note that transits (e.g. Singapore – Dubai – Frankfurt) will add another country to your 21-day stay history, so you will have to stay a minimum of 21 days solely in Germany before using the VTL for your return trip.

For more details on the VTL and FAQs, ICA has done up a pretty thorough list here.

Final thoughts

Finally the light is clearly visible at this end of this tunnel: the VTL with Germany is officially the first realistic opportunity for leisure travel out of Singapore, without hefty quarantine on either end.

The VTL is a good compromise in lieu of lengthy quarantine periods, which is clearly the deterrent for leisure travel at the moment. The frequent PCR tests are however a strong barrier to consider, given that a total of four tests adds up to over $400, clearly not a small sum of money.

Even without the VTL, Singapore’s newly-defined classification of countries now places Germany into Category 2, which shortens SHN to only 7 days, and can be done either in a hotel of choice or at home. The irony of this classification is that only two PCR tests are required for non-VTL travel from Category 2 countries: upon arrival in Singapore, and at the end of the SHN period.

Having said that, with how Singapore does its risk profiling of countries almost on a daily basis, I will hold my breath until the flight actually takes off. Taking a leaf out of what happened with the Hong Kong travel bubble last year, I will be mentally prepared for contingencies even before the first flight takes off.

Let’s now pray that nothing happens before popping the champagne!