The Marina Bay Sands

Marina Bay Sands is an integrated resort fronting Marina Bay in Singapore. Developed by Las Vegas Sands, it is billed as the world's most expensive standalone casino property at S$8 billion, including cost of the prime land.

With the casino complete, the resort features a 2,561-room hotel, a 1,300,000-square-foot (121,000 m2) convention-exhibition centre, the 800,000-square-foot (74,000 m2) The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, an iconic ArtScience museum, two large theatres, seven "celebrity chef" restaurants, two floating Crystal Pavilions, an ice skating rink, and the world's largest atrium casino with 500 tables and 1,600 slot machines. The complex is topped by a 340m-long SkyPark with a capacity of 3,900 people and a 150m infinity swimming pool, set on top of the world's largest public cantilevered platform, which overhangs the north tower by 67m. The 20-hectare resort was designed by Moshe Safdie Architects. The local architect of record was Aedas Singapore, and engineering was provided by Arup and Parsons Brinkerhoff (MEP). The main contractor was SsangYong Engineering and Construction.

Originally set to open in 2009, Las Vegas Sands faced delays caused by escalating costs of material and labour shortages from the onset. The severe global financial crisis also pressured the company to delay its projects elsewhere to complete the integrated resort. Although Marina Bay Sands has been compared on scale and development costs to MGM's CityCenter, the latter is a mixed-use development, with condominium properties - comprising three of the seven main structures, being sold off.

The resort was officially opened with a two-day celebration on 23 June 2010 at 3.18 pm, after a partial opening (which included the casino) on 27 April 2010. The SkyPark opened a day later on 24 June 2010. The theatres were completed in time for the first performance by Riverdance on 30 November 2010. The floating pavilions are still being built and are expected to be fully completed by 2011. The indoor skating rink, which uses artificial ice, opened to a performance by Michelle Kwan on 18 December 2010. The ArtScience Museum opened to the public and the debut of a 13-minute light, laser and water spectacle called Wonder Full on 19 February 2011 marked the full completion of the entire Integrated Resort.

The grand opening of Marina Bay Sands was held on 17 February 2011. It also marked the opening of the seven celebrity chef restaurants. The highly-anticipated Broadway musical The Lion King debuted on 3 March 2011.

Background

Marina Bay Sands is one of two winning proposals for Singapore's first Integrated Resorts, the other being the Resorts World Sentosa, which incorporates a family-friendly Universal Studios Theme Park. The two large-scale resorts were conceived to meet Singapore's economic and tourism objectives for the next decade and they will have 30-year casino licenses, exclusive for the first ten years.

Bidders were assessed based on four criteria:

  • tourism appeal and contribution
  • architectural concept and design
  • development investment
  • strength of the consortium and partners

On 27 May 2006, Las Vegas Sands (LVS) was declared winner of the Marina Bay site in the prime new business district of Marina South with its business-oriented resort. LVS highlighted its forte in Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions (MICE), of which its founder, Sheldon Adelson, is a pioneer in Las Vegas and the key to his early business success. In the Design Evaluation portion of the tender, a panel of local and international architects commended Sands' design as superior to other bids in terms of pedestrian circulation and layout, and it also fit in with the Marina Bay landscape best. They liked that the hotel towers was set back from the waterfront to open up expansive views of the city and the entire Marina Bay, making the skyline for Singapore's downtown more attractive and distinctive.

Singapore Tourism Board highlighted Sands' line-up of six celebrity chefs, such as Tetsuya Wakuda, Wolfgang Puck, Daniel Boulud and Mario Batali

LVS submitted its winning bid on its own. Its original partner City Developments Limited (CDL), with a proposed 15% equity stake, pulled out of the partnership in the second phase of the tender process. CDL's CEO, Kwek Leng Beng said his company's pullout was a combination of factors - such as difficulties in getting numerous companies he owns to comply in time, as well as reluctance of some parties to disclose certain private information in probity checks required by the Singapore government. However, Kwek was retained as an advisor for Sands' bid.

Investment

Las Vegas Sands initially committed to invest S$3.85 billion in the project, not including the fixed S$1.2 billion cost of the 6,000,000 square feet (560,000 m2) site itself. With the escalating costs of materials, such as sand and steel, and labour shortages owing to other major infrastructure and property development in the country, Sheldon Adelson placed the total cost of the development at S$8.0 billion as of July 2009.

Las Vegas Sands declared the undertaking as "one of the world's most challenging construction projects and certainly the most expensive stand-alone integrated resort property ever built". It expects the casino to generate at least $1 billion in annual profit. Two months after the initial phased opening, the casino attracts around 25,000 visitors daily, about a third being Singaporeans and permanent residents who pay a $100 daily entry levy or $2,000 for annual unlimited access. Half a million gamblers passed through the casino in June 2010.

For the economy, Marina Bay Sands is projected to stimulate an addition of $2.7 billion or 0.8% to Singapore's Gross Domestic Product by 2015, employing 10,000 people directly and 20,000 jobs being created in other industries.

Design

The resort is designed by Moshe Safdie, who says it was initially inspired by card decks. In addition to the casino, other key components of the plan are three hotel towers with 2,500 rooms and suites, a 200,000-square-foot (19,000 m2) ArtScience Museum and a convention centre with 1,200,000 square feet (111,000 m2) of space, capable of accommodating up to 45,000 people. The resort's architecture and major design changes along the way were also approved by its feng shui consultants, the late Master Chong Swan Lek and Master Louisa Ong-Lee.

The Engineering for the project was headed by Arup and Parsons Brinkerhoff (MEP/ELV). Arup had originally worked on such prestigious projects such as the Beijing National Aquatics Centre and the Sydney Opera House. In spite of their experience, they described the integration of the varied and advanced technologies as the 'most difficult to carry out in the whole world'.

The extensive background music system was installed by Singapore based contractor Electronics & Engineering Pte Ltd.

Opening

Marina Bay Sands was originally planned to be completed in a single phase in 2009, but rising construction costs and the financial crisis forced the company to open it in phases. The first phase's preview opening was further delayed until 27 April 2010, and the official opening was pushed back to 23 June 2010. The rest of the complex remained under construction and was opened after a grand opening on 17 February 2011.

On 27 April 2010, Marina Bay Sands had the first of a planned 3 to 4 phase openings. The casino, parts of the conference hall, a segment of the Shoppes, 963 hotel rooms and the event plaza were opened at the auspicious time of 3:18 p.m as part of the "preview opening".

The Inter-Pacific Bar Association (IPBA) held the first conference at Marina Bay Sands Convention Centre on 2–5 May 2010, but the event was marred by uncompleted facilities and power failure during a speech. IPBA withheld payment of S$300,000 and was consequently sued by Marina Bay Sands. In June IPBA counter-sued, describing the venue as a "complete disaster" and that its earlier payments had been imposed by "duress, fear and force". An "amicable settlement" with undisclosed terms was announced in August.

On 23 June 2010, the resort had its official opening with a "2-day celebration"; this includes the Sands SkyPark, the Event Plaza along Marina Bay, more shops, additional dining options and nightlife offerings, and the rest of the hotel rooms. First day events included - a "World Championship Climb" on the glass facade of the building to the SkyPark, with 7 teams of 21 top rock climbers from around the world competing, and an evening concert for 4,000 invited guests and customers, featuring Diana Ross, Kelly Rowland, JJ Lin among others. The SkyPark was opened on the second day at 2 pm, with about 2,000 adult tickets costing S$20 each sold.

The two Sands theatres were completed in time for the first performance by Riverdance on November 30, 2010. The ArtScience Museum opened its doors to the public at 10 am on February 19, 2011. The highly anticipated permanent musical The Lion King made its debut on March 3, 2011.

Attractions

Marina Bay Sands features three 55-story hotel towers which were topped out in July 2009. The three towers are connected by a 1 hectare sky terrace on the roof, named Sands SkyPark.

In front of the three towers include a Theatre Block, a Convention and Exhibition Facilities Block, as well as the Casino Block, which have up to 1000 gaming tables and 1400 slot machines. The ArtScience Museum is constructed next to the three blocks and has the shape of a lotus. Its roof will be retractable, providing a waterfall through the roof of collected rainwater when closed in the day and with laser shows when opened at night. In front of the Event Plaza is the Wonder Full show, a light and water spectacular that is the largest in Southeast Asia. The ArtScience Museum and Wonder Full show opened on 17 February 2011.

The SkyPark is home to the world's longest elevated swimming pool, with a 146-metre (478 ft) vanishing edge, perched 191 metres above the ground. The pools are made up of 422,000 pounds of stainless steel and can hold 376,500 gallons (1424 cubic metres) of water. The SkyPark also boasts rooftop restaurants such as The Sky on 57 (by Justin Quek), nightclubs such as KU DÉ TA, lush gardens, hundreds of trees and plants, and a public observatory deck on the cantilever with 360-degree views of the Singapore skyline.

There are four movement joints beneath the main pools, designed to help them withstand the natural motion of the towers, and each joint has a unique range of motion. The total range of motion is 500 millimetres (19.68 inches). In addition to wind, the hotel towers are also subject to settlement in the earth over time, so engineers built and installed custom jack legs to allow for future adjustment at more than 500 points beneath the pool system. This jacking system is important primarily to ensure the infinity edge of the pool continues to function properly.

The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands also boasts close to 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of retail space with over 300 stores and F&B outlets, including numerous luxury duplexes for boutiques such as Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Cartier and Prada. Other luxury stores include Gucci, Hermès, Emporio Armani, Chopard, Burberry, REDValentino, Dior, Dunhill, Vertu, Miu Miu, Yves Saint Laurent, Salvatore Ferragamo, Montblanc, Blancpain, an Hermès Watch Boutique, and Herve Leger.

A canal runs through the length of the Shoppes, in the same style as the Venetian in Las Vegas. Sampan rides on the canal are available for guests and shoppers at the shopping mall, similar to the gondola rides available in the Venetian. Also housed within the Shoppes are the six of the seven Celebrity Chef Restaurants - Cut (by Wolfgang Puck), Waku Ghin (by Tetsuya Wakuda), Pizzeria and Osteria Mozza (by Mario Batali), Guy Savoy (by Guy Savoy), DB Bistro Moderne (by Daniel Boulud), and Santi (by Santi Santamaria).

Two notable attractions of the resort are the two Crystal Pavilions. Despite a brief legal dispute in June 2011, it has been decided that one of the Pavilions will house two internationally-renowned nightclubs - Avalon and Pangaea. In addition, the second Pavilion will house the world's largest Louis Vuitton boutique, in addition to being on a floating island, at 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2), which will be connected to the portion of the boutique in the Shoppes via an underwater tunnel.

The Sands Theatre and Grand Theatre seat over 1900 people and 2200 people respectively, with The Lion King showing at the former, and international acts, such as Cirque Éloize and A. R. Rahman's Jai Ho, located in the latter during their world tours. Set next to the theatres is an skating rink (plastic surface instead of ice) measuring 6,500 square feet (600 m2), rivaling that at the Rockefeller Center in New York.

Moshe Safdie designed an Art Path within the resort, incorporating seven installations by five artists including Zheng Chongbin, Antony Gormley, and Sol LeWitt. The pieces are meant to play on environmental influences including light, water and wind, integrating art with architecture.

Transportation

By Mass Rapid Transit (MRT):

  • 4 mins walk from the Marina Bay MRT Station
  • 10 mins walk from Promenade MRT Station on the Circle Line
  • Bayfront Station on the Downtown Line Phase 1 (operational in 2013) and Circle Line (operational in 2012)

By Public bus: The following bus services stops along Bayfront Avenue:

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