Category: Singapore

An exciting step

It’s rare, but every now and then a significant and far-reaching moment occurs in travel.

One such event happened with the opening of a new Asia-Europe air corridor, thanks to Singapore-based carrier, Scoot Airlines.

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Already a prominent player in Asia and reportedly planning to tackle the giant US market, Scoot has started a new service between Singapore and Athens, Greece.

By linking with Scoot’s existing large network, the new service opened up another channel between Europe and centres in Australia and across Asia.

For us, this development was exciting on several counts:

  • Scoot’s status as a low-cost carrier means that flights between Asia and Europe entered a whole new era of affordability.
  • The flights showcase the game-changing nature of the fuel-efficient and wide-bodied Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
  • More attention is now focused on Singapore’s strategic position as a key airline hub and vibrant Asian destination.
  • The new corridor can also only enhance recent marketing of Athens as an international tourism destination.

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At more than 10,000 kilometres, the Singapore-Athens flights dramatically boosted Scoot’s reputation as a medium-haul carrier. In fact, Scoot says the flight is the longest operated by any low-cost airline.

Affordable service catches attention

The new Singapore-Athens link particularly caught our attention, as Australians are accustomed to paying hefty airfares to and from Europe.

Even with low-cost carrier fees added, the new flights are still particularly reasonable and open up the possibility of a European visit to more of the Australian population.

Aussies of all ages, including senior travellers, who may have only dreamed of seeing the ruins of Ancient Greece and Europe beyond, will now have an opportunity – thanks to Scoot.

The Dreamliner factor

It’s no coincidence that the new Asia-Europe link followed Scoot’s world-first conversion to an all-Boeing Dreamliner fleet.

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The quieter, roomier, lighter jet with the amazing range, striking cabin lights and elegant looks has changed the industry markedly, opening up areas that were once the domain of big four-engine giants.

We are yet to fly on a Dreamliner, but can’t wait to give a first hand review of this plane that is widely said to have redefined the travel experience.

The vibrant Singapore hub

Scoot’s Asia-Europe flights  also highlight the further development of Singapore as a central air travel hub of the Asia-Pacific region.

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Fresh from marking its 50th anniversary of statehood, Singapore, its airlines and its Changi Airport continue to grow in stature.

At the other end of the new service, Athens is also boosting its presence in the international tourism market as a lot more than just a stopover on the way to the Greek Islands.

Flights from Singapore to Athens, initially, are  every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday – departing at 2am – while flights back from Athens are the same days, departing at 12pm.

Our reviews

Scoot Airlines has kindly invited ‘Memorable Destination’ to review the new service in September-October.

Join us in counting down to this memorable experience;  watch for more previews; and then check here and on social media for our first hand reviews of this development in the travel industry.

 

See Singapore’s wings of colour

A remarkable multi-sensory attraction known as the ‘Wings of Time’ remains at the forefront of Singapore’s growing reputation as a state of colourful lights.

Set in an open sea village or Kampung off the island of Sentosa, ‘Wings of Time’ combines water jets, lasers, flame bursts, fireworks and a live cast.

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We watched from the beachside open-air gallery, which can hold up to 2,500 people and provides a perfect view.

The open ocean setting creates an extraordinary backdrop to showcase the show in all its colour and glory.

‘Wings of Time’ show is one of the many highlights of Sentosa Island, which is located about half a kilometre south of Singapore’s main population centre.

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Sentosa is said to host about 20 million visitors a year, most of whom visit attractions such as Imbiah Lookout; two golf courses; 14 hotels; the restored World War II guns at Fort Siloso; two casinos; the world’s biggest oceanarium; and the theme park, Universal Studios Singapore.

The island also has extensive areas of secondary rainforest and more than three kilometres of white sand beach.

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Some of the best views on the island can be found from the 37-metre Sentose Merlion, which boasts two viewing galleries.

Sentosa Island and the ‘Wings of Time’ show can be reached along a short causeway or by using a monorail or the Singapore cable car that runs from Mount Faber across Keppel Harbour to Imbiah Lookout.

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When it was opened in 1974, the cable car was the first aerial ropeway system in the world to span a harbour.

A convenient way of catching the cable car to Sentosa Island is to board as it passes through the central area of Singapore known as Harbourfront.

Famous Singapore hotel part of international deal

The legendary Raffles Hotel in Singapore, has been acquired by Accor, as part of a deal worth A$4billion.

The acquisition – of the Fairmont, Raffles and Swissôtel brands – will also give Accor  other high profile luxury hotels such as the Savoy in London, the Plaza in New York City and Shanghai’s Fairmont Peace Hotel.

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In all, the mega-merger will add an additional 115 hotels – of which 40 are under development – and more than 56,000 rooms to the Accor network.

Accor says the integration of Raffles, Fairmont and Swissôtel will enable it to “optimize its luxury and upscale brands in order to adapt its offering to the expectations of an increasingly demanding clientele”.

Raffles Hotel is a colonial-style luxury hotel in Singapore, established in 1887.

The hotel was named after British statesman Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore.

It’s said that during the Japanese occupation of Singapore in the Second World War, the hotel’s famous silverware was buried in the courtyard.

Singapore gets better with every passing day

With its Golden Jubilee behind it, Singapore continues to emerge as a bold and vibrant player on the world stage, with an impressive list of charms, achievements and potential.
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The island city is also continuing to cement itself as one of the world’s most popular visitor destinations.

According to the World Tourism Organisation, Singapore is now the fifth most visited city on the globe for international tourists.

The growth of tourism to the island city in recent years has gone hand in hand with a building boom and the opening of many new attractions.

However, it’s largely the blending of the new with Singapore’s past – obviously a deliberate strategy – that caught our eye.

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The backdrop of building work on projects such as Sentosa Cove and ‘Gardens by the Bay’, the new seaside botanical gardens in the CBD, in no way overshadow the wonderful heritage buildings that are the Singapore of old.

Sue and I visited the city’s traditional Chinatown; Kampong Glam; and Little India, while equally enjoying Sentosa and the clean, green and vibrant cosmopolitan heart of the island city.

This blend of old customs and new urban lifestyles is on show everywhere you look. Chinese, Malay, Indian and Eurasian cultures seem to exist harmoniously side by side in a city that goes out of its way to be as business-friendly and visitor-friendly as possible.

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For example, Changi Airport is an ultra-modern hub, which claims to provide connections with more than 100 airlines flying to more than 200 cities.

And, or course, the airport is becoming well known for its free day tours that cater for the booming trend in long flight layovers. The free wi-fi is great and I’m told there are even free foot massages in the airport precinct for weary travellers.

We were well aware of Singapore’s fast-growing reputation as a foodies paradise, but the number and variety of restaurants and food stalls catering for all budgets, is still surprising. This is an island city for serious diners.

We developed a taste for Singapore’s traditional Chinese food, although I must admit to steering clear of the “Pigs Organ Soup’.

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There’s certainly plenty to see and do at Singapore.

As well as evergreen attractions like the city’s zoo and Raffles Hotel, the Botanic Gardens with its remarkable trees of light, Changi Museum, the Marina Bay casino, Skylark resort, Universal Studios on Sentosa and giant ferris wheel at Marina Bay all attract big crowds.

And, of course, Singapore’s Orchard Road still retains its reputation for shopping.