My little flourish grows all too quickly
If you’re one of the 11 people who religiously follow this blog, you’ll know by now that the Tan family is big on taking mini local hotel getaways (aka staycations). You can read about our first family staycation here.
After catching a glimpse of the Hard Rock Hotel pool while staycation-ing (is that a proper verb?) at Equarius Hotel last year, we knew that we had to try it at some point, Cadence being the water baby that she is.
Almost a full year later, my resourceful wife managed to wrangle a deal off Agoda which gave us a pair of complimentary tickets to Universal Studios Singapore + S.E.A. Aquarium + Marine Adventure Cove Water Park, along with two nights at the Hard Rock Hotel, at about S$350 per night.
Considering how overpriced many of the RWS hotels have become (I heard that since we visited, a regular room at Equarius now costs upwards of S$800 per night!), I’d say this deal was an absolute steal!
So here we go with the review proper. I think I’ll break it down into a few sections: Room, Service, Activities.
As its name suggests, the Hard Rock Hotel celebrates the musical greats. The lobby is generally a good way to tell what to expect in your room and it’s pretty consistent in the case of the Hard Rock Hotel. Dim stage lighting and kitschy guitar models everywhere.
I guess if you’re obsessed with a particular rock star, you might find it interesting… but it wasn’t really our thing.
The room was clean and functional. Nothing to complain or write home about.
I felt that the service we received was satisfactory, though there were some parts of the customer experience they could improve on.
For example, at the two timings we went down for breakfast (10am on day 1 and 9.15am on day 2), there was a pretty solid line going at the cafe. We had to wait about 10 – 20 minutes for a table and it was challenging with a 1.5 yr old toddler buzzing around and cranky.
In fairness, the staff looked like they were trying their best to turn tables as quickly as they could, but I just feel that when you’re on vacation, breakfast is the last thing you want to worry about.
One good service experience we received was from a really enthusiastic doorman, who, upon learning that we were waiting for the shuttle to bring us to W Hotel (we loved their steakhouse, Skirt, btw), offered to inform us when the shuttle arrived while we waited in the cool comfort of the lobby. It’s a small gesture but not one you often see, so good job!
Now for the Raison d’être for our stay at this hotel to begin with: the pool!
It was a little disconcerting at first, wading into the knee-high water, sand your feet and freshwater all around you. I half expected the water to taste salty, but it didn’t even taste chlorinated.
The pool is split into a few different sections, with the main area being the shallow, beachy lagoon. There’s also a water slide and playground for kids, while the adults have a pool bar and a lap pool for the “serious swimmers”.
Cadence really enjoyed herself wading everywhere and playing with her sand toys.
She had plenty of company too — the pool was packed with families with young children. I tried and wasn’t successful in locating a pool user who was not a child or accompanying one.
On the second day, we made our way to Universal Studios Singapore (USS). The last time we went to USS, Cadence was still learning to walk and didn’t really understand what was going on, so we were pretty excited to see how she would take to the theme park now that she was more aware of her surroundings.
The funniest thing happened. For some reason, Cadence was terrified of the rides we had her on! We thought they were pretty standard theme park fare — ferris wheels and carousels — but she clearly thought otherwise.
She only really warmed up when we brought her to see her favourite Sesame Street characters. She was very pleased to have taken pictures with Cookie Monster and Abby, her new favourite character when Elmo isn’t around.
We left USS after lunch and returned later that evening hoping to catch the Sesame Street christmas show, only to be thwarted by the weather.
Tip: The various shows put on at USS are subject to the weather, since the costumes can’t get wet. We waited 20 minutes for Elmo to come on but left disappointed… Such a rock star, that Elmo
The final attraction we visited was the Aquarium! We had planned to go during our previous stay at the Equarius but the combination of the weekend + school holidays + new attraction meant that there were just too many people.
Thankfully, there was no queue this time around.
The aquarium was not bad. Very similar in style to the one we visited in Siam Paragon in Bangkok, funnily enough.
I would say that the lovely kid-friendly pool and the proximity to attractions such as USS and the SEA Aquarium made the staycation worthwhile, and the rooms and service were okay. The only reason we would come back to the Hard Rock Hotel is the beach-pool. It would not be a decision between a Rock and a Hard place (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
Every time I visit RWS attractions and hotels, I can’t help but feel like everything has been built to justify the presence of the casino. Not that they aren’t good on their own, but they’re just not great. Okay apart from USS, which can be a fun way to spend half a day, and Joel Robouchon, which I have yet to try but have heard really great things about.
Now, which hotel should we try next? 🙂