FBEYE International styles Westin's signature brand of wellness into a nature-inspired, but also city-chic experience in a high-rise, heart-of-the-action setting. Yvonne Xu writes.
World-class luxury. Impeccable concierge services. Postcard (or Instagram?) perfect views. What else could be desired by business and leisure travellers who are checked into a five-star, sky-high retreat in the middle of Singapore’s Marina Bay financial district?
For upscale hotel brand Westin, they believe it is their focus on wellness that would set them apart.
After more than a decade since it exited the island city, The Westin Singapore has found its place back in Singapore atop one of its highest skyscrapers downtown, occupying the 32nd to 46th levels of Asia Square Tower. Interior design firm FBEYE International, founded by Warren Foster-Brown, was responsible for styling the guest experience as a city-chic, but also relaxed and nature-inspired retreat.
With a brand as established as the Westin, and particularly for one that has been absent from the city for a while, Foster-Brown says that the design had to convey how much the brand had grown over the past decade. Inspired by Westin’s focus on wellness – not least by it having established a ‘Well-being Movement’ consisting of six concepts of ‘Sleep Well, Eat Well, Move Well, Feel Well, Work Well and Play Well’ – ideas of nature and relaxation guided the design and styling of the property. Foster-Brown explains:
“The brand elements of wellness and balance connote a subtle, relaxed and natural approach to the whole Westin experience. The experience speaks of refined refreshment and rejuvenation. For me, nothing reflects this better than nature. We always go back to nature as a way to return to comfort and simplicity, and to clear our mind and body of proverbial clutter, and the nature-inspired design was borne from that.”
He further shares that while “many contemporary hotels tend to veer towards the minimal and sleek, they tend to lack warmth and the human element in their design. The Westin avoids this by incorporating a comforting mix of natural elements to welcome guests with a sense of tranquillity, while using design elements to pay homage to its location and to give a unique sense of place.”
The arrival experience starts at the ground floor lift lobby, where a vertical garden of greenery, mosses and stones set the tone to serene. The lift entryway is framed with blond chequered timber panelling, with lift buttons incorporated into handcrafted Chinese cabinets. This, together with Peranakan ceramics, work as unique cultural references to set an identity for the hotel.
The elevator ride transports guests up to the sky lobby on the 32nd floor where panoramic views of the city await. Foster-Brown pointed out that, as opposed to having a traditional reception desk, in this lobby are three circular reception ‘pods’ carved in natural white stone. These are not only more naturalistic, they allow guests to approach from all angles and create opportunities for interaction and flow.
Throughout the hotel, light, open spaces are layered with textural interpretations of landscape imagery, earthy colour palettes and natural elements like timber, stone, and greenery. Synthesising nature and urban chic are design features like the cantilevered pendant lights and decorative screens in The Daily Treats Restaurant, as well as the intricate mirror detailing under giant chandeliers in the ballroom and function areas that form beautiful canopy-like settings.
While this Westin is designed to reflect the brand’s updated values and standards, Foster-Brown shares that there was also a desire to retain “the warm and cosy residential feel of the past moving into the present.” In the property’s 305 guest rooms and suites, custom-made timber furnishings, coupled with the generous amount of natural light flooding in from floor-to-ceiling windows, create a warm sense of home. The beds are also set to customed headrests featuring watercolour artworks of the local cityscape.