Sunday, 21 April 2013

The worlds first sky butler dining, The Singapore flyer.

Marina bay centre with the Singapore flyer far right
I am a sucker for dining in unusual places, so when a friend recommended we try dining in the worlds tallest ferris wheel whilst in Singapore my ears where well and truly pricked.

I love drinking on rooftop terrace bars, so dining on the worlds largest ferris wheel with a 360 degree view of Singapore is right up my street.

The wheel was constructed between 2005 and 2008, with a total height of 165m (541 ft) 42 stories, making it the tallest ferris wheel in the world. Situated on the southeast tip of the Marina centre's reclaimed land, the wheel is 150m (492 ft) in diameter, built over a three-story terminal building which houses shops, bars and restaurants.

Checking their website an advertisement for the Singapore flyer read:

"Indulge in our premium Sky Dining experience which now comes with exclusive Gueridon service, a new 4-course menu, wine pairing options, personalised butler service, magnificent skyline views – all in the comfort of a spacious capsule, atop the world’s largest Giant Observation Wheel".

Dinner for Two Package Includes:
2 Rotations (approx 1 hour)
Exclusive check-in (Express Boarding)
In-flight Host
4-course Fine Dining Menu (Dinner) with Dessert, Coffee and Tea served in-capsule
Flyer Lounge access*

Sounded great so further research had me checking out some video footage on YouTube. One video in particular showed waiters bringing in plated up main courses on the second revolution from where I assumed had been prepared from a kitchen in the vicinity.
You can see the footage click here.

It looked fantastic, but sadly it wasn't we had no such service, the word Gueridon in the advertisement had gone unnoticed and if I'm honest I'd never heard that culinary term before.

A description of this I found meant :
Gueridon service is a form of food service provided by restaurants to their guests. This type of service encompasses preparing food (primarily salads, main dishes such as beef stroganoff, or desserts) in direct view of the guests, using a "gueridon". A gueridon typically consists of a trolley that is equipped to prepare, cook and serve food. There is a gas hob, chopping board, cutlery drawer, cold store (depending on the trolley type) and general working area.

However this was truly an amazing setting for a meal and offered without doubt the best views of Singapore, from the wheel you can see the whole Marina bay area, which houses the iconic Marina bay sands hotel, The Helix bridge, which has been brilliantly constructed to resemble DNA, the art and science museum and a fantastic floating stage which was a footbal pitch on our trip. You can also see beyond to about 45 km (28 mi), including the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan, as well as Johor, Malaysia.

Singapore flyer capsual
After being seated the first course of butternut squash soup was served up, this was nice and tasty but on the small side and served with what looked like a slice of bread cut off a baguette. Not great, how hard is it to serve up a nice roll ? but there was also something else missing ? wine ?  we asked our waiter if we could order some wine. "Sorry was the reply, you need to order that before you enter the capsule".

Stunned, we explained we had arrived about 15 minutes before our original reservation required us to do so. We presented ourselves at reception then taken to the flyer lounge and within two minutes of us being there we were led by a member off staff straight into the capsule of the flyer.

Not once where we offered a wine menu or asked if we would like to order drinks let alone inform us this is what we had to do!
We were gob smacked, the waiter was left in no doubt we thought this was unacceptable and he made a telephone call down to reception. Even that was a farce, we were told we could only be offered house red or white, and had no idea what it was, there was no question of choosing a cabernet or merlot, etc it was this or nothing!

Next up was a crab salad, nothing special just ok.

The not so special Crab salad

By now we had completed our first revolution, when the capsule reached the bottom in rushed the waiters with 4 glasses of wine and what looked like trays of airline food.

Evidence of our £79 meal being delivered to the capsual like airline food !

I was gob smacked again. The waiter began to plate up and by time it reached our table it was stone cold, no heat whatsoever to any of our meals. We sent our meals back. For some reason I thought he had the means to reheat them in the capsule but he began to plate up a second batch, again all stone cold ! By now we were not a happy bunch, we had paid in advance from England at a cost of £79 per person.

As the waiter retrieved our untouched plates he asked us if we'd like desert !
Words failed me at that point, it was a good job we had said "no" as within two minutes we had reached our second revolution and were all being ushered off without so much as a cup of coffee ! As the wheel doesn't stop we had to get off quickly.
Completely incensed all four off us asked to speak with the manager.

The stone cold main course

After raising our complaint for over 45 minutes with a manager we seemed to be getting nowhere, they have a non refund policy ! we were offered another evening with discount ! not great when we were homeward bound to England that evening. " come back in six months then" was his reply " we'll make sure you get a discount" Oh lordy this wasn't easy. "who in the right mind would travel all the way from England to Singapore to have a discounted meal?" was our reply.

Even more infuriating was the manager had to keep going off to speak to someone more senior than him on the phone. We ended up leaving with a promise of an e-mail response !
It was our last night, we had a flight to catch there was nothing else we could do !
we left bitterly disappointed and hungry and totally out of pocket.

Since then I have to say despite our grievance with the meal, we received an email within a day of our return with the offer of 50% refund which we think is fair as after all we did get to have two revolutions with a soup, salad and a glass of wine.  

Here are some pics of the fantastic view.

Marina bay area, Singapore

Gardens by the bay and giant greenhouses

The art and science museum






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