With an active beachfront and a lush tropical backdrop, Sentosa has been a hot spot for outdoor activities since its redevelopment started in the early 1970s. Resorts World Sentosa’s aquatic-themed West Zone encompasses the latest attractions on the island and the final phase of the Resorts World Sentosa integrated resort which, spanning 49 hectares, boasts a range of hotels, entertainment and recreation developments including Universal Studios Singapore, a gaming facility, MICE spaces, and a plethora of retail and F&B outlets.
A design principle shared throughout the entire development is the concept that the visitor should always be aware of the natural environment of Sentosa. This results in large, naturally ventilated plazas and boulevards which are shaded to ensure thermal comfort, while all vehicular traffic is moved to the basement levels to create a truly pedestrian-friendly environment.
West Zone is designed to blend with its natural surroundings while acting as a complementary programme to the existing resort. It joins Universal Studios Singapore to the east and Central Zone with a host of accommodation and entertainment facilities. West Zone’s unique take on leisure is to create a wholly aquatic-themed experience. It presents both wet and dry leisure facilities, including the Marine Life Park which comprises a waterpark and the world’s largest aquarium, and is connected to the Maritime Experiential Museum and two distinctive hotels.
Meandering walks divide West Zone, extending from the open spaces of Central Zone and ending where the Beach Villas and ESPA at Resorts World Sentosa are located. One of the planning strategies is to condense the more public entertainment activities towards the more accessible areas of the site; this is why Maritime Experiential Museum is located just off the shoreline and adjacent to The Bull Ring in Central Zone. Beach Villas and ESPA are carefully situated on the western end, being the most private tip of the site to ensure that the tranquility of the retreat would not be affected by the influx of visitors from the other attractions. The second strategy is to incorporate a number of sandy beaches on the site. The beaches create a series of soft boundaries that allow people to pass through freely while reinforcing the natural assets of the island. In this way, the planning allows for a multiplicity of activities instead of restricting them, and encourages spontaneous and intuitive exploration.
Marine Life Park offers two key attractions at its ‘wet experience’ and ‘dry experience’. The former is Adventure Cove Waterpark which is both an educational and leisure attraction. The Adventure River lets visitors float down a meandering river through fourteen different settings including a tropical garden, a mysterious grotto and an underwater tunnel. This 620m-long river is one of the longest man-made adventure rivers. Besides a wave pool and water slides, including Riptide Rocket which is the region’s first hydromagnetic coaster, the waterpark also incorporates several attractions for viewing and interacting with sea animals, such as Rainbow Reef where guests can snorkel with coral fishes, and immersive programmes at the Ray Bay where guests can feed more than a hundred rays, as well as get up-close with sharks at Shark Encounter. For visitors in search of entertainment, variety is essential. Maritime Experiential Museum provides a variety of experiences with a multi-sensory theatre for interactive learning. It presents Asia’s rich maritime history and tells the story of the ancient Maritime Silk Route. One of the key exhibits chronicles the journey of one of the great Chinese explorers, Admiral Zheng He. The exhibit includes a full-sized replica of the bow of his treasure ship.
It also recreates the sounds and scents of the bustling bazaars of the Maritime Silk Route where Zheng He traded. Responding to the site’s close proximity to water, an ellipse creates the museum’s footprint and evokes the symbol of a boat. At a maximum span of 65m and a height of 20m, the building form itself is highly unique and resembles a hull with visible ribs painted red. Indirect daylight elevates modest materials of steel, aluminium and glass.
The large, open-span area inside the hull is a collection of different spaces – theatre, gallery, open exhibits, shopping areas, museum café and souk – and highly developed as a community space. The different exhibits and gallery open to a common concourse to ensure a smooth flow. At night, the interior glows like a lantern through the hull form and acts as a beacon to the adjacent shoreline. The museum is connected to the water by way of a 10m-wide waterfront promenade which provides visitors a view of the ocean. This promenade also serves as a passage from the Festive Walk in Central Zone to West Zone. Attached to Maritime Experiential Museum, the underwater journey of S.E.A. Aquarium follows the oceans and seas along the Maritime Silk Route. S.E.A. Aquarium serves as the largest showcase for ocean creatures in the world. It is officially the world’s largest aquarium with more than 800 species of marine animals and aims to educate and enrich the understanding of the oceans.
Apart from the numerous attractions, West Zone also offers unique hospitality amenities. The Equarius Hotel has 172 guestrooms that overlook Marine Life Park to the north and Sentosa’s natural tropical forest to the south. One of the key attractions of the hotel is the restaurant Forest 森 which boasts a canopy of intertwined branches and leaves supported by four columns at the centre of the room. They mimic massive trees influenced by the abundant rainforests of Sentosa.
The Beach Villas hotel comprises 11 unique Ocean Suites that take advantage of their adjacency to the Open Ocean habitat of the S.E.A. Aquarium. The upper level of these double-storey suites consists of an open-plan living area which opens to an outdoor patio, while the lower level offers one of the most unique design features of the entire resort – guests are afforded a private, underwater view into the massive habitat and its 50,000 marine animals.
Another unique hospitality offering is the TreeTop Lofts. Nestled in a canopy of heritage trees, two exclusive loft suites are perched on top of four thick columns, standing at a height of seven and twelve metres above the ground. The lofts disappear into the surrounding foliage and offer a truly unique experience of being fully immersed in nature while having the luxurious comforts of a top resort. The lofts feature large terraced decks with views of Mount Faber to the north and a backdrop of dense trees to the south.
Along the site’s western coastline, ESPA is a wellness sanctuary in a private corner away from the bustle of the main resort. The existing landscape with lush trees inspired the architect to create a modern tropical design that suits Singapore’s climate. Discreetly planned around a man-made ‘eco-pond’, the relaxation lounge of the villas, spas and café sit directly at the water’s edge to create a true oasis for rest and calming rejuvenation. All treatment rooms offer views of the pond or the heritage forest adjacent to the site. Internal garden courts with filtered natural light represent the semi-private areas for this village-like complex. The sloping roof, the reflecting pool and the verandahs reflect the tropical style. Natural materials such as wood, clay tiles and stone; warm colours; and subtle patterns and textures complement the landscape setting. Local materials such as bamboo, grasscloth, driftwood and shells are employed to reinforce the sense of place.
The glass facades combined with the timber verandahs give the impression that the entire structure is floating on water with a serene, minimalist aesthetic. Bamboo is used in its natural form in flooring and ceiling coves in the treatment rooms. Nature-inspired artefacts such as twisted roots are installed in a display niche in the treatment rooms celebrating its natural beauty. A relaxing environment of reflecting pools and dense tropical greenery create a contrast to the excitement of the attractions which are conveniently near, but sufficiently separated to ensure exclusivity and privacy.
As the final stage of the Resorts World Sentosa development, West Zone offers an amplification of what makes the integrated resort so exciting – a wide range of family-friendly leisure and entertainment options that are truly unique in Singapore. While the existing Central Zone and Universal Studios Singapore bring world-class amenities and attractions, West Zone’s aquatic theme brings a combination of edu-tainment, leisure, hospitality and resort-style amenities to what is already one of Singapore’s most exciting and diverse attractions.Location: Sentosa West Zone, Singapore Architect: DP Architects Pte Ltd and Michael Graves & Associates
Project name: Resorts World Sentosa West Zone-An Aquatic-themed Destination