Singapore: The Sands.

Last week we were in Singapore for the Mr.’s conference. I traded my work-from-home view of Victoria Harbor for a view of the new Marina Sands Hotel. It’s a pretty cool looking building–it’s basically a battleship on top of three towers. The towers themselves are kind of like mini-tee-pees which is pretty awesome.

The sands also boasts a light show, complete with lasers, but it’s not as cool as Hong Kong’s. Last time we were in Singapore we headed up to the top where there are palm trees and a giant infinity pool. We also enjoyed the most expensive beers of our life: $24US for a Coors Light. Naturally we decided to dine elsewhere. Some other interesting facts about the Sands:

  • At close to $7 billion US, it is the most expensive casino ever built.
  • It looks like that investment is paying off, as the Casino made close to $2 billion US just this year alone.
  • Only a mere 3% of its square feet are devoted to gambling. The rest is a mall, hotel, a museum with serious rotation exhibits, a canal, and convention center.
  • It boasts the highest grossing Louis Vuitton in the world. At 20,000 square feet, it’s also the world’s largest LV.
  • The Sands and Resort Worlds Santosa were able to negotiate a 15 year exclusive meaning no other casinos can open in Singapore for the next 14 years.
  • Despite all the hub-hub about the Sands, one of the Mr.’s colleagues fears stepping foot there. He fears that because its a giant monument to capitalism and gambling right next to the largest populations of Muslims in the world, that it might soon be blown up. It’s proximity to the sea doesn’t help things.

To the right is the center of Singapore. The Fullerton Hotel, a former bank, is the short, pretty white building in front. Singapore’s claims to fame:

  • The world’s fourth leading financial centre.
  • The world’s second biggest casino gambling market, after Macau. Vegas is third.
  • With only two casinos, just 18 months after opening, Singapore is already larger than Las Vegas.
  • The world’s top three oil refining centers.
  • The port of Singapore is one of the five busiest ports in the world.
  • Singapore has a mandatory year of military services for all males aged 18. It also boasts the most technologically advanced military in Asia. We’ve heard anecdotally from Singapore ex-pats that a Singapore passport is just as good as an American one, but your sons do have to give up a year of their lives and there is no getting out of it.

Singapore is a true melting pot. There are four official languages: English, Chinese, Malay and Tamil. 33% are Buddhists, 18% Christian, 15% Islam, and 11% Taoist. While visiting, I checked out Singapore’s Chinatown which is very large, alive and bustling. As evidence I suppose of the Chinese influence, I leave you with this last picture: the conference goers receiving free foot / shoulder massages in antique Chinese chairs in the hotel lobby. These finance guys really don’t have it that tough!

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