I used to underestimate staycations and its ability to facilitate rest, but not after a weekend at the Novotel on Stevens.
Taking a break from work means temporarily suspending all work-related activities in favour of rest or recreation. In theory it sounds like a good idea, but in an increasingly connected world, it is hard to resist that hit of dopamine from having completed one more thing on the “to-do” list. There have been so many occasions where I have told myself, “I can respond to this e-request and properly too, in less than one minute,” but before I knew it, seven minutes have past, I have segued onto the second e-request, already deep in my addiction of pushing tasks from the “to-do” to the “done” pile.
After all, my most recent break in Bali – a sea away from home – had been interrupted by international conference calls, so what good would a staycation do me?
The answer is: lots.
Novotel on Stevens is a brand new mid-priced hotel in the posh suburbs of the Orchard Road area ensconced in the sort of greenery you probably don’t get much of on other parts of the island. As it is somewhat isolated –— it would take five to 10 minutes to Orchard Road by Uber or Grab, depending on traffic — it must be self-sufficient. When I arrived, there were at least two or three restaurants operated by third-party vendors due to open, in addition to Food Exchange, the hotel’s buffet restaurant where I had dinner and breakfast.
Dinner and breakfast buffets showcased a wide enough variety that even in my restraint, it was hard not to overeat. In my limited travels I have learnt to distrust room service even in the more posh hotels, but I found room service here to be surprisingly satisfactory. When my husband, who likes a tipple before bed, asked for a double shot of something one night, he got more than a double, in fact enough to make him feel a little off-kilter the next morning.
My room had blackout curtains — this and my traveling blindfold are a must for a proper night’s sleep because my husband likes to read until the wee hours of morning. My only gripe — if you could call it a gripe — about my stay, was the see-through glass bathroom, which would be perfect for honeymooning couples (which my husband I sometimes are) but not quite suitable for co-workers or grown-up cousins, although I am sure that the hotel has other rooms suited for sharing between people who are in non-amorous relationships.
For working off the overeating, there is a tennis court, two swimming pools, and a well-equipped gym with proper full-service gym standard cardio, bench press machines and a free weights section that my gym bunny husband approves of. So, gym-going road warriors never have to worry about missing a workout at the Novotel on Stevens.
According to the PR manager Juliana Jauw, you could jog down to the Singapore Botanic Gardens in 10 minutes, weather permitting, but the December weather presented the perfect conditions for a stroll, not a jog, and on a longer, more scenic route. So off we went.
The most interesting find on this perambulation, was not a flash post-modern palace built to defy the very tenets of architecture, but a middle-aged uncle, the grinning owner of a good-sized plot of land on the premium Fernhill Road, stretched out on his faded plastic-string daybed in front of his provision shop which would not look out of place in 1950’s Singapore. It still makes me smile imagining him wearing the same Chesire Cat grin and showing the middle finger to property developers desperate for him to part with his land for a king’s ransom, in spite of its value rising each time they approach him.
Novotel on Stevens’ proximity to town was also what made us decide to hit The Century of Light and In Between Worlds impressionists’ exhibition at the National Gallery. We would have probably delayed the decision for days more had we spent the weekend at home. That my husband and I were allowed free entry on the pretext that we were academics — there was nothing academic about my spaghetti-strapped sundress — was the icing on the cake of an overall restful staycation.
Although my husband and I had taken our laptops to the staycation, hoping to get in a couple of hours’ of work, we had not actually done any substantial work at all.
Which brings me to conclude; whether your vacation can be fully realised, is all in your mind. And if you are ever pressed for money or time but desperately need a break, Novotel on Stevens might just be your answer.