Bursting the baby bubble
Two years ago I had my second child. Since he arrived I had been living in a bubble of baby and providing for him. My darling older son (now 8) patiently allowed me to provide and do all that was required to care for his brother. I am not sure if it was turning 40 earlier in the year or the fact that my little one required less and less of my time, but I assessed my relationship with my elder son and something was missing. Our connection was broken. All this time that I had asked him to delay something or even decline, we were no longer in sync. How to fix it? We needed some time together. Alone. I planned a trip!
As part of our adventure we spent four nights in Singapore. Flying from Australia it’s an easy stop over. We arrived in the ‘haze’. Nearby Indonesia were burning off their date palms and this creates a cloud of haze throughout South East Asia. Some outdoor sightseeing was changed to indoor adventures.
Blending adult time and kids activities
Regardless, I wanted to blend ‘mum’ interests with ‘son’ interests. I didn’t want to spend my entire time in theme parks. I planned a date. A date at Raffles. Night time bookings are too difficult to grab the attention of my son. I wanted an opportunity to dress up (after 10 days in the jungle I was a craving clean and fancy). I made the booking in my son’s name. We were going to Raffles for high tea. I gave him enough cash to settle the bill. He asked for the table as we arrived.
Raffles Hotel Singapore
Raffles Hotel Singapore was built as a beach house built in the early 1830s. It became a hotel in 1878, and within the first decade three more buildings were added and the hotel has continued adding and making improvements ever since. In 1989 it closed for two years for a $160 million makeover.
Raffles is one of the few remaining great 19th century hotels in the world. No visit to Singapore is complete without a stay at Raffles; tradition demands it. The colonial architecture is breathtaking and you are immediately taken back to it’s heyday of 1915. A time when Ava Gardner was a regular. Other famous personalities include Somerset Maugham, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, George Bush, Christian Louboutin and Karl Lagerfeld are recent guests. (Maybe they left some couture behind!)
I had to go. I started my working career in a heritage hotel and have had a great deal of affection for these beautiful buildings transformed to today’s world. Ambiance. It’s a very difficult thing for a hotel to create. Put a hotel in a restored old building and my view it’s very difficult to fail at creating ambiance.
From the moment you enter the main building of the hotel and the magnificence of the lobby, you feel like you have already had a glass of champagne. You are giddy with excitement. Not feeling special is impossible. You think you are a star. The marble colonnades surround an atrium that soars three floors up, creating dram without even trying. Putting the building aside, if you think (or as comes naturally to most people in this day and age… conduct a Google search) of the world’s most famous hotels. The Ritz in Paris, The Plaza, The Roosevelt, The Beverly Hills Hotel, The Savoy and many more. Raffles is very rarely left from the list.
This is a place that has survived for over a century. You have to marvel at it. The core business has not changed and through depression, Global Financial Crisis etc it has survived. This is a hotel abundant with stories about fun and celebrations and even a tiger being shot in the Billiard room! If only I could know what Hemingway chatted about whilst downing many a Singapore Sling at the bar. In my mind an interesting person to listen to, with a thousand stories true or not.
Photo Source: www.theaustralian.com.au
Making an occasion
We dressed up. I wore a wonderfully colourful Camilla and Archie in a dashing Scotch and Soda ensemble. Looking glamorous and smart was all part of the occasion. We caught a taxi from our hotel to avoid arriving hot and sweaty. From the moment we arrived my son took the lead. He told the liveried Sikh doorman he had a reservation and he was taking his mother to high tea. He informed the waiter that I would like champagne but he would prefer a hot chocolate if that was at all possible (amazingly developing the queen’s English from yesteryear as we walked into the hotel).
We chatted and we ate delights and we created a moment. You don’t need to have a lover to enjoy Raffles., although I’m sure enjoying a cocktail with an adult would be a lovely way to visit the hotel. Next time. A high tea date was perfect for me. I felt glamorous, spoilt and grateful for this time with my son in this amazing setting. Whilst I am not sure my two year old running through the lobby would be as welcomed, my eight year old was definitely the man for the hour in the oasis that is Raffles. Actually he was no longer a man, this experience was the making of a gentleman.
The staff at all good hotels should cater to all guests, but children can be an exception to that rule. The staff loved that he was leading the date. They presented him with the bill. They directed conversation at him. Of course they were far too professional to let on that this was a charming kid. I detected the slightest smirk so I am sure they did think so. I will hold the memory dear as the pivotal moment my son came back to me.