Melvin Lim has recently been appointed General Manager of Marina Mandarin Hotel after a period working with Far East Hospitality. Born and raised in Singapore, he has worked around the region including stints in Indonesia and Thailand. We caught up with him to find out about his new appointment and what he thinks about being back in Singapore.

GM

NS: Congratulations on your appointment, how are you enjoying working with the team at Marina Mandarin?
ML: I started work in the middle of May and it’s been great! The team is highly experienced, professional, and more importantly shows keenness in embracing my leadership style.

NS: What are the hotel’s main strengths and how do you hope to develop these factors further?
ML: Marina Mandarin Singapore is located in the heart of the city where our guests can enjoy breath-taking views of Marina Bay and the financial district. Our excellent location allows both leisure and business travellers alike to have convenient access to Marina Square Shopping Mall, Suntec Conventional and Exhibition Centre and Sands Expo and Convention Centre. I hope to see more collaborative efforts in aligning our brand with complementary businesses in the vicinity.

Atrium_day shot, Marina Mandarin

NS: What kind of accommodation experience can guests expect from a stay at Marina Mandarin?
ML: Being a home-grown Singapore brand, we are proud of our 40 years of experience in delivering a unique blend of luxury travel accommodation. Marina Mandarin Singapore has one of the largest open atriums in South East Asia, which rises through 21 storeys and is permeated by streams of natural light. Our 575 rooms, including 22 suites and the exclusive Meritus Club Floors, are blessed with views of the Singapore harbour and the city’s dynamic skyline. All rooms and suites are connected to wireless or broadband Internet access while the Meritus Club rooms and suites are equipped with a personal Nespresso coffee maker, six-jet power shower and a plush Simmons 13-inch pillow top mattress, ensuring a good night’s rest.

NS: What do you think are the main attractions of Singapore from a visitor’s point of view?
ML: The attractions nearby, namely Gardens by the Bay, Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay and Singapore River (Merlion), continue to be a magnet for travellers. However, the performing arts and cultural scene is also gaining traction, with the Esplanade, National Gallery Singapore and ArtScience Museum forming the cornerstone of Singapore’s vibrant art scene. Established attractions like the Singapore Zoo, the River Safari and the Jurong Bird Park, together with the various themed attractions on Sentosa, also continue to be very popular amongst visitors.

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NS: How has the city developed as a destination in the past five years?
ML: Singapore has managed to reinvent itself as a hotlist destination with its new exciting shopping malls, attractions and eateries. The vibe and energy of the city definitely surged with the introduction of the two Integrated Resorts. In the arts and cultural scene, the recent addition of The National Gallery, showcasing international collections as well as art from around South East Asia, has contributed to the buzz.

NS: Which areas of Singapore would you recommend visitors explore to get a more unique visitor experience?
ML: I’d definitely recommend visiting Gardens by the Bay and ArtScience Museum. The Singapore River, along with Chinatown and Little India, are also must visit attractions. Regular events, like the Singapore Night Festival, are also well worth a visit.

We went on one of the boats the next day. The river bank has a colelction of the old trading areas which have now been "cleaned up" and they are resaturants and market sotres.

NS: What would be your ideal ‘One day in Singapore’ itinerary?
ML: I’d try to pack in 50 years of Singapore’s heritage, beginning with a food trail from Marina Mandarin Singapore.

This starts in the hotel with local toast served with butter and kaya (sweet coconut egg spread) accompanied with soft-boiled eggs, wash it down with teh (tea) or kopi (coffee) local style.

Then guests should hop onto the Singapore River bum boat by crossing the Jubilee bridge (to commemorate SG50), take a snap of the Merlion on the way and take in the CBD skyscrapers with the Marina Bay backdrop. The cruise takes guests past historic sights like the former Supreme Court, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, offering the best of Singapore’s maritime history. Then head inland to Cross Street and start exploring Singapore’s most vibrant district – Chinatown. Here the old meets the new – contemporary coffee joints and chic bookstores stand alongside traditional tea houses and hawkers peddling their wares. Then head to Maxwell Road Food Centre for the best of Singapore’s street food like chicken rice, oyster cake, fried sweet potato buns and banana fritters (goreng pisang).

Singapore Night Festival

Then work off the calories with some retail therapy down Haji Lane, part of the historic Malay quarter, which is now the centre for young creativity. If you can fit in more food, Beach Road Prawn Mee Eating House is another stop or head back to Marina Mandarin for the ‘shiok’ laksa (spicy curry noodles) at Aquamarine. Then enjoy a matinee at Esplanade Theatres by the Bay or stroll to the Padang, where the newly opened National Gallery Singapore and St. Andrew’s Cathedral stand. Then take the MRT from City Hall to HarbourFront and continue your exploration at Sentosa’s Images of Singapore, where the humble beginnings of this fishing village comes alive through interactive and innovative story-telling. Don’t miss Madame Tussaud’s display of our Founding Father, First Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew and other royalty, politicians, and A-star celebrities. In the evening, return to the main island and head to Marina Bay to visit Marina Barrage and Satay By The Bay for more delicious street food before catching the daily Musical Rhapsody at the Supertrees Grove.

Finally, end the day with a unique wildlife adventure at Singapore’s Night Safari, one of the city’s best attractions.

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NS: Where do you relax on your days off?
ML: Gardens by the Bay is a beautiful place to take time off and enjoy nature. I like to visit the area during my off days and take a walk from Gardens by the Bay to Marina Barrage where you can watch people flying their kites.

NS: Do you have any insider tips for sampling the best local cuisine? What is your go-to Singaporean comfort food and who does it best?
ML: I think Singapore’s best local cuisine can be found at Old Airport Road Food Centre. The centre sells every conceivable local dish and my favourite stall for comfort food is Hua Kee Hougang Famous Wanton Mee. Trying chilli crab is also a must and I’m delighted that Peach Blossoms at Marina Mandarin has Chef Francis Chong who’s synonymous with excellent chilli crab – check it out!

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NS: Are you looking forward to the F1 night race? Who do you think will win it this year?
ML: Absolutely! The Singapore Grand Prix is the main event in our calendar and I love being trackside and inside the circuit. The night race is unique and really showcases Singapore as a modern, vibrant and fun city-state. I hope Nico Rosberg wins this year’s Singapore Grand Prix. I’ve been a fan since he drove for the Williams team in the mid-2000s.

NS: What promotions will Marina Mandarin be offering during the months of August and September?
ML: With Singapore celebrating its National Day in August, and the Grand Prix in September, we will certainly be offering various packages for these two busy months. Visitors should check out marinamandarin.com.sg for more details.

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