One thing I wouldn’t do

I don’t think I have a list of things that I wouldn’t do, but if I had, I’d put “never go swimming in the pool of Marina Bay Sands resort that just opened in Singapore” somewhere high up that list.  As high up, in fact, as this pool.

I’m too afraid of heights, even if it said that the pool is perfectly safe.

But swimming to the edge won’t be quite as risky as it looks. While the water in the infinity pool seems to end in a sheer drop, it actually spills into a catchment area where it is pumped back into the main pool. At three times the length of an Olympic pool and 650ft up, it is the largest outdoor pool in the world at that height.

Update (July 29th, 2010): more pictures of this resort are available here.

Movenpick Hotel, Amsterdam

While in Amsterdam, I stayed in Movenpick Hotel.  This hotel is one of 62 hotels in Movenpick network.  There are some nice pictures and amazing numbers on the Movenpick hotel network web site.

My experience with the hotel was simply outstanding.  First of all, it was very easy to find.  I took a train from the airport to Amsterdam Central, and from their I walked to the hotel.  I could also easily avoid the walking part, since there is a free shuttle service between the hotel and Amsterdam Central every half an hour.  But I don’t mind, it was nice to walk anyway.

The inside and outside of the hotel is very stylish.  It is obvious that a lot of money were spent on internals and externals, but, at the same time, the hotel does not feel like a pompous place for very rich people.  It feels more like a very good family oriented hotel.

All the staff in the hotel is well trained, welcoming, and very helpful.  And, what is also nice to see, there is just enough staff to handle the operations.  It doesn’t feel neither lonely or crowded.  There is always someone around to help you out, but it’s easy to relax and disconnect from the world even in the reception hall.

Movenpick hotel. The room.

The room was large.  There was plenty of space for me, which came as no surprise since the same room can be used for by up to three people – there are two beds and a sofa.  The room also had a table with space for the computer and enough power outlets nearby.

My room was on the 19th floor, and it had an excellent view on the city and the canal.  From that height I could see for miles and miles away, and it is from that window that I made quite a few pictures.  Also, the room featured enough lights to keep the room lit in the evenings.

As to other conveniences, I had all the regular stuff – flat screen TV, air condition, mini-bar, safe box large enough to fit a laptop with a few other valuable items, a full bath in the bathroom, and warmed up floors.  I also had a tea pot in the room, with some cups, and a selection of teas and coffees.

There were two choices for Internet connectivity.  WiFi – claimed slow and unstable, but free and available all over the hotel, and a wired (Ethernet) connection in the room.  Ethernet connection was priced at 6 EUR/hour, but I didn’t have any need for it what so ever, since “slow” WiFi connection was pretty stable and giving me 5 mbps up and 5 mbps down (tested with against a server in London).

There are quite a few bars and restaurants in the hotel with some really great food.  Breakfasts were amazing.  A full selection of breakfast meals were offered, plus there was this nice touch for fried eggs.  They weren’t fried in large numbers and kept warmed for the duration of the breakfast, like they are doing in most of Cyprus hotels.  No.  There was a dedicated person who used those small puns to fry eggs just for you.  And while at that, people had a choice of additional stuff they’d want in their fried eggs – ham, cheese, mushrooms, onions, etc.  It was so good, if it wasn’t for the conference early start, I’d be spending half a day at breakfast.

Dinner times were as good.  The place is known for it’s open grill cooking and a selection of ice cream based desserts. I tried beef, which was great, and I did my pick of ice cream selections – that was pretty good too.  The prices, although higher than in the city, are very reasonable for the hotel and for the quality of food and service (we are talking 20-30 EUR per person, with drinks).

One last thing about the hotel that I wanted to mention is the smoking policy.  Smoking is strictly prohibited on the hotel’s grounds.  There are no designated areas or dedicated places.  If you want to smoke, you have to go outside the hotel. Period.  There is a fine of 150 EUR for offenders.  Also, despite some drugs being legalized or tolerated in Amsterdam, the use of any drugs is prohibited in Movenpick hotel.

As I said, overall, I am more than satisfied with the hotel.  It helped to create the nice experience that I got out of this trip.