SINGAPORE – Work 0 and Vacation 1.
I am in a room with a view, in a hotel that is a national monument. Behind me is a balcony that opens up to a panorama of Marina Bay, albeit from the sixth floor, on this gently sunny weekday.
Highlights of European football matches are being shown on the giant flat-screen television on the wall – a perfect diving header bulges the net.
It is 11.30am, two hours after I checked into The Fullerton Hotel. I am seated at a round table, with my laptop and a cup of half-finished coffee, trying in vain to tick off even one task on my to-do list.
Actually, nobody is keeping score. Why don’t I nap? Soak in the bathtub? (Nah, sensitive skin.)
With many of us working from home as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the boundary between work and rest has dissolved. A workation threatens to mess things up further. Shelling out for a 12-hour workation package (say 7am to 7pm or 9.30am to 9.30pm) and trying to squeeze work and fun into said hours can be stressful in itself.
But I let go of worry – for a few minutes – as I pause to take in my bright and airy Marina Bay View Room, which has nice nostalgic touches, with paintings of scenes of colonial Singapore.
Work feels like an afterthought in this genteel room – it is mildly distressing when I can’t find power outlets near the table to plug in my laptop at first (outlets are concealed under a nearby panel). And the round table is not very boss-like, though the chair won’t look out of place in an office.
I pick up the Samsung tablet provided to see what to order for room service instead. The workation package gives me $50 in food and beverage credit. Half an hour later, the nasi goreng I ordered is pushed to my room by a man with the vomit-green SG Clean button affixed to his chest.
My efforts to ignore the call of the balcony chair, couch, bed and tub have depleted my energy – I wolf down the satay, fried chicken, fried rice and omelette.
It is 1pm. Time to hit the pool for a power lap or two. Oooh, the Fullerton bathrobe feels very soft. There is always a lift waiting for me during these safely distant times.
A few visitors are lying on deck chairs and one or two people are in the 25m outdoor infinity pool that looks out to the surrounding Asian Civilisations Museum, Victoria Concert Hall and Boat Quay.
But it is too hot to swim.
I head to the lobby. The brass door is busy revolving. Jade, the hotel’s quirky Cantonese restaurant, is full for its first few lunch sittings.
I am told that the hotel’s workation packages are taken up mainly by expatriates and local businessmen, in part due to its central location. The former General Post Office and stomping ground of ministers past seems an apt setting for power lunches, I think, as I walk past a senior diplomat.
In the afternoon, I watch BBC News, then Phoenix and CCTV News – it is considered work to keep abreast of world news.
Later, I take a call from a colleague to discuss her article. I arrange a video call on Google Meet with another to see if the room’s Wi-Fi is beyond reproach – it is.
You can get afternoon tea, evening cocktails and canapes and Moet Chandon breakfast for a top-up of $70++ (Sundays to Thursdays) and $130++ (Fridays, Saturdays and public holidays) a person a day. I indulge in scones and sandwiches at the tea served at The Straits Club lounge.
Back in my room, I try to keep my blood flowing by moving to the balcony and then the bed to work.
It lifts my spirits to hear the purring of the Nespresso machine as I make myself another complimentary coffee; it makes me smile to see the welcoming toilet bowl lift its lid automatically each time I go near.
After sending some e-mails, I call it a day at around 7pm. I have booked a slot at the hotel gym – time, finally, to attempt real work.
THE FULLERTON HOTEL SINGAPORE
WHERE: 1 Fullerton Square
INFO: Fullerton Hotel website
RATES: The Work From Fullerton package starts at $190 nett for a Premier Courtyard Room. Top up $100 for the Marina Bay View Room. The package comes with flexible check-in and check-out for 12-hour room use (between 7am and 11pm), food and beverage credit of $50 nett, high-speed Wi-Fi, in-room coffee and tea, parking, and access to the gym and swimming pool.
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