Magical Sentosa has the lot
The life-size Jewel of Muscat, a reconstruction of a 9th century dhow. Picture: Stephen Scourfield

It is contrived, constructed, concrete. Waterfalls cascade off man-made walls, there are fake caves and grottoes complete with stalactites.

But there's something rather brilliant about Resorts World Sentosa.

Covering 49ha, it cost $5.4 billion to build, partially opened to 15 million visitors in 2010 and was only fully completed earlier this year. It includes a Universal Studios theme park, the Maritime Experiential Museum, six hotels with more than 1500 rooms and a casino. The world's biggest oceanarium, Marine Life Park, opens soon.

Universal Studios

Attractions, shows, movie sets and a few thrills and spills. Whether it is the entertaining telling of the Madagascar movie story on a relatively gentle water ride into the hull of the ship where the animals are crated, or something a bit scarier in the fire and brimstone Revenge of the Mummy ride in the Egypt area, or the full-on Battlestar Galactica screamer, there are rides for all.

The big ones at the moment are Transformers: The Ride, and the Shrek 4-D Adventure inside the 40m-high Far Far Away castle. You can literally feel the action through your seat.

Universal Studios is divided into seven areas - Hollywood, New York, Sci-Fi City, Ancient Egypt, Lost World, Far Far Away and Madagascar - and their names are clues in themselves.

And it is scattered with movie characters to pose with for photographs and merry-go-round rides for the littlies.

It opens at 10am, closes at 7pm and one full day should enable visitors to do it all. Weekday tickets are from $S68 ($52) for an adult and from $S50 for a child. And I'd try to splash out and pay for an express pass to help bypass queues - surely worth $S30 per person on weekdays, $S50 on weekends.

The Maritime Experiential Museum

This covers South-East Asia's maritime trade history from the 9th to the 19th century. First an orientation presentation sets the scene, then visitors walk a street full of the goods that were carried by ships on the Maritime Silk Route from the Far East to the West, following in the footsteps of Admiral Zheng He, the greatest explorer in Chinese history, who sailed with fleets of up to 300 ships in the 15th century.

And then on to see the cut-away hold of his life-size Jewel of Muscat, a reconstruction of a 9th century dhow complete with giraffes and hippos in the hold.

And then into the 360-degree multi-sensory Typhoon Theatre for a fantastic voyage, complete with the moving deck and the full force of the ocean. But a voyage that is doomed.

General admission is $S5 for adults, $S2 for children, and the Typhoon Theatre is $S6 and $S4.

The big new show

Voyage de la Vie is a new and specially created theatrical circus spectacular which follows a young man's adventures. Pulsing music, amazing circus feats, fabulous costumes. (Think Cirque du Soleil.)

A couple of things to look out for - both free and in the evening - are the Crane Dance, a massive, automated multimedia show with light, laser, sound and fire, and Lake of Dreams with its lit and dancing fountains and a powerful soundtrack.

Where to eat

Malaysian Food Street has just opened, after months spent in Malaysia finding the right stallholders and asking them to come and set up at Resorts World Sentosa.

Then there are noodle bars, grills, toast shops and boulangeries among the 600 dining options.

At the top end of the scale, celebrity chefs have fine-dining restaurants.

They include the chef with the most Michelin stars in the world, Joel Robuchon, who has been awarded 26 over the years. Then there's four Michelin-star Kunio Tokuoka, Scott Webster, Susur Lee and Sam Leong.

Where to stay

Hard Rock Hotel, with its rock 'n' roll attitude and dark-and-neon lobby.

Hotel Michael, named for Resorts World Sentosa architect Michael Graves, with representations of his working drawings in the foyer.

Festive Hotel is recommended for families.


• Singapore Airlines flies three times a day from Perth to Singapore - and that will increase to four from October 28 until March 30. for flights.
• See travel agents for packages with Singapore Airlines flights and stays at Sentosa.
• Resorts World Sentosa:

The West Australian

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