Who else to tell us if a lux holiday is any good than Ferrari enthusiast and property investor, Ryan Liew. Here our highlight reel of his adventures down south.
Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora
It’s a sprawling resort. A massive property of appointed hotels, beach villas and ocean suites, an award-winning spa, Michelin-starred eateries, both wet and dry theme parks, a billionaire’s shopping arcade, vibrant bars and a rollicking casino—That’s an impressive pamphlet. But when it comes to ambience with a side of dinner, you’ll be hard-pressed to beat the Ocean Restaurant by Cat Cora. Designed in collaboration with the first female iron chef, diners sit opposite one of the biggest oceanic aquariums in our region. It’s a mesmerising view, and in Ryan’s own words, “A wonderful place to have dinner, nothing beats the ambience here. But do prepare for Cat Cora’s quirky recipes. There are lots of garden fresh herbs and spices combined with fruits in imaginative ways. I like that they serve a host of mains, from steaks to ribs to seafood, so there’s something for everyone.”
The journey to RWS kicked off in Hartamas, with Ryan blasting his Ferrari 458 all the way down south. The thing with Italian supercars is that they’re designed for maximum driver involvement. That means you’re keyed in all the way throughout, making sure you’ll ever only relax when you’re at a pit stop. So our first order of business after a goodnight’s sleep was RWS crowning glory, the ESPA. This spectacular 10,000sqm oasis contains lavish treatment pavilions, private beach villas and garden suites immaculately designed for total relaxation. Signature facilities include Singapore’s first authentic Turkish Hammam, Vitality Pools, Forest Onsen-style Japanese Pools, Rock Saunas and Crystal Steam Rooms.
With retailers like Bulgari, Chopard, Dunhill, Jaeger-LeCoultre, Ralph Lauren, Richard Mille and Rolex setting up shop at RWS, your credit card doesn’t survive unmolested for long. It’s opulent, lavish, extravagant; just the sort of arcade rich folks appreciate. “Resorts World Sentosa Singapore is very posh, and everything they do is designed to make you feel like a million bucks. So I suppose, in a way, you really do get what you pay for,” comments Ryan.
This all-suite hotel is what topline luxury looks like at Resorts World Sentosa Singapore. With a dedicated butler standing by 24/7, guests were checked in on invitation only until recently. Here we shot Ryan at the hotel’s lobby. You’ll also note RWS ambassadors for 2016 Donnie Yen and his wife were also photographed in similar poses along this iconic corridor. But Ryan wasn’t always used to this kind of opulence.
“I followed my father into the steel construction business before I went into property. I had to learn everything from the ground up, and business wasn’t easy. There were many months both me and my dad had no salary because whatever cash we had was used to pay suppliers and workers. I remember my first project was building a steel staircase that cost RM15,000,” he says with a smile, before adding, “but from that same construction site, I managed to secure another two contracts worth RM600,000.”
While that sounds impressive, Ryan’s quick to point out a contractual value is very different from having real cash in your pocket. “Sometimes, we were forced to take a shop lot or two as a last-ditch contra deal. Otherwise our clients couldn’t promise when payment might be made.” At the Crockfords Tower, Ryan enjoyed breakfast in bed, his designer togs pressed to perfection, and a rather cool TV screen that doubled as a mirror when not in use. Bad debts or not, I’d say he’s got it pretty sweet right now.
At 29, Ryan’s got a wonderfully grounded perspective to property investment. “I look for places in high demand, I look for what the market needs, locations with strong potential growth. I don’t buy trophy products, only practical commercial spaces,” he says explanatorily. I like that. Beyond the Louboutins he wears exclusively, and discounting that gleaming Royal Oak Offshore, he doesn’t put on any airs. His self-confessed favourite pastime?
Nursing a cold one in like-minded company. So we took him and two of our other personalities, Jesson Lim and Agyness Lee (featured in this month’s Prestige Malaysia and PIN Prestige Malaysia magazines), to RWS Rock Bar, a pragmatic watering hole that features indoor and outdoor gazebo spaces. Only a short walk away from the Crockfords Tower where our guests were staying, it’s replete with specialised cocktails, spirits and beers when you want to knock back a few and take the edge off. “It’s a convenient place, nothing too fancy or elaborate, just a place to chill and have a drink with friends which is just what I like,” says Ryan.
Almost sacred to some chefs, the Michelin Guide has far surpassed its humble origins to help French motorists find lodging on the road. This tome now makes or breaks entire organisations and RWS has a clutch of them spread across the property. One of Ryan’s favourites was the one-starred Osia Steak and Seafood Grill, set up by Australian celebrity chef Scott Webster. He felt the food was both unpretentious and delicious. When it came to contemporary Asian dining, Forest 森, courtesy of local celebrity chef Sam Leong didn’t fail to impress. But the highlight would have to be CURATE, a showcase restaurant rotating only the very best Michelin chefs from around the world. Other highlights include the Joël Robuchon Restaurant, Syun for exquisite Japanese sushi, Tangerine for its East-meets-West gastronomy and TungLok Heen for traditional Chinese fare.
The Royal Albatross
One of the most recent attractions is the Royal Albatross, a luxury four-mast tall ship, that started life cruising the Great Lakes in Chicago. After approximately 360,000 man hours invested in redesigning and refitting the ship, she now proudly berths at RWS, ready to sail off into romantic sunsets. We gathered our three reviewers, Ryan, Agyness and Jesson for a quick fête before she set sail with some VIPs. “This is perfect for an evening party, and it’s so rare to find a tall ship in our part of the world,” says Ryan. Built to cut across the seas with 22 sails, she now comes updated with state-of-the-art navigation, communications and full audiovisual support while maintaining her historical and traditional elegance. “It really gives your guests something to remember and talk about long after the journey’s over. And service looks like it’s top notch too,” he adds.
Business as Usual
Ryan recalls a peculiar pattern that prompted his launch into property full time. “When you asked businesspeople how things were going, they’d always have something to complain about or there was some minor niggle that would cause unending headaches for them. But then you asked property investors about the current state of affairs, they’d tell you, ‘I should have bought more units, last year those prices were so good!’”
I ask what qualities he looks at when sieving for investment partners. “I look for people who have a keen sense of responsibility, not just to the business but to their families as well. I also consider if they have a consistent attitude and performance. Last of all I like to work with partners who are patient. If you only think about how much profit is to be made, the business cannot grow. You can tell family is a big deal for me. And that’s how I feel here at RWS. It’s a huge place, and there are thousands of staff. But somehow I feel like everyone here works as one big family. They make sure to leave some personal touch so guests remember the person that served them, not just the brand name. And that’s a big compliment from my view.”
Photography by Ian Wong @ Home Studio
Grooming by Eranthe Loo
Videography by Ibrahim Faiesall