Friday, January 12, 2018

Weekend Staycation: Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium Family Package

About 1 month ago we enjoyed a weekend family staycation at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium.

In a way, it was a nice holiday to get over our long Japan holiday hehe and a simple, relaxing time to bond with the family in the comfort of a luxurious 4 star hotel before we started hustling for the new year.

And since it's been a crazy 2 weeks settling into our new family schedules for 2018, let me just say that I'm truly glad we went for that staycation haha. 

What I like about the location of Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium is that it's outside the bustling Orchard Road that's mad crowded during the holiday season, yet close enough to go there, Chinatown, or even Marina Bay Sands if we want to.

It is also a mere 5 minutes walk from Robertson Quay {one of my fave areas in Singapore}, or Tiong Bahru, a charming neighbourhood home to an eclectic variety of beloved eateries and cafΓ©s, and local shops.

We've stayed at a few Holiday Inn hotels and resorts over the years {e.g. Holiday Inn Resort Batam, Holiday Inn Bali Benoa}, and they never fail to impress us with their special attention towards families and children not just with their staff service, but with their amenities and facilities too.

This time, we took advantage of Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium's current Famtastic Weekend Staycation package which includes,
  • Kids Welcome Pack
  • Family Movie by the Pool
  • Kids In-hotel Activity
  • Buffet breakfast for two adults and two kids 12 years and under 
  • 30 mins Kids Free Play at Waka Waka {5 mins walk away, giant indoor kids playground at Annex @ Furama}
  • Polaroid Memory Photo upon check-out
  • Complimentary Parking
  • 15% OFF Xin Cuisine Chinese Restaurant and 1-for-1 lunch / dinner buffet at Atrium Restaurant

Lil Pumpkin literally ran to our hotel room and was absolutely thrilled when she went in and saw her cute Kids Welcome Pack!!

It included her own pair of kids bathroom slipper, soft fleeced animal bathrobe {hotel use only, available for sale at $21.40 nett per piece}, tooth-brush, Milo sachet and a little game book pack to keep her entertained during our stay.

Not that she needed extra entertainment, really, as there was heaps of things to do at the hotel and honestly not enough time..

We were given a room on Level 22 with a double and single bed... and it also came with the usual amenities like TV, kettle, mini fridge, bath-tub, toothbrushes, shampoo, soap etc. Very comfy and spacious.

As soon as we settled in our room, I brought her down to the hotel pool at Level 6 for a splashing good time.

Gonna give myself props for actually remembering to bring our water guns for the staycation hehe..

Oh, if you need to, you can also borrow kids floats from the reception area.

Unfortunately, Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium does not have a Kids Club, but every Saturday and Sunday from 4pm - 5pm, Famtastic Weekend Staycation children guests get to enjoy a complimentary in-house activity such as finger-puppet making, cookie decorating, play-doh sculpting, or water-colour painting.

These activities are supervised by at least 2 hotel staff experienced in dealing with kids so parents can choose to leave their kids alone there if they are comfortable with it and go for a quick date hehe, or stay there and join in the experiences too.

For the younger ones not interested in those activities, there are also toys available for play. Would be nice if they had some family board games available too..

When we were there, Lil Pumpkin spent some time painting with her daddy and the hotel staff before she decided that she wanted to join us in the hotel gym for a workout before dinner..

Later that night, we were having an early Christmas dinner with my parents as Atrium Restaurant was having their annual Festive Delights buffet, which we ate at 2 years ago.

Had good memories of the restaurant and buffet so looked forward to eating there again... but also needed to make sure that we earned our extra calories for the feasting!!

The hotel gym is located next to the pool and is pretty well-equipped. Managed to get a decent whole body workout in before our meal.

There were some machines there which I've not seen before but found to be very versatile, and it's a good thing that they are open 24/7 as I needed to head back there after our buffet dinner for some extra cardio haha..

I'll share more details of this hotel gym later on as part of my gym reviews series.

Atrium Restaurant's Festive Delights buffet {click to read my review & see more pics} did not disappoint and especially with the 15% additional discount for hotel guests on top of the one-for-one promo, it made for a really satisfying, value-for-money deal.

Sumptous fresh seafood such as Snow Crab, Oysters, Crayfish, Sea Snails, Mussels, Prawns etc. is part of their mainstay but there is also Whole-baked Salmon, Fresh Sashimi, Signature Laksa, Chilli Crayfish {the boy's go-to dish for the night haha}, Lamb Stew, Kueh Pie Tee and so much more!

Just for December, they also added Christmas delights such as Roast Tom Turkey with Chestnut Stuffing marinated with Fresh Herbs & Spices in Natural Turkey Jus & Baked Honey Glazed Gammon Ham with Orange Cinnamon Sauce over at the Carving Station but with the Chinese New Year season coming up, you might want to head down on 15-17 February 2017 for festive CNY treats to usher in the Year of the Dog.

I saw on their website that during those 3 nights {6.30pm - 10.30pm}, there will be a special Atrium Restaurant Yusheng Station to toss to prosperity and other highlights include Black Pepper Crab, Chinese Beef Steak, Drunken Prawns in Herbal Broth, Braised 10-headed abalone with vegetables, and Deep-fried Nian Gao etc.

And yes, the one-for-one promo applies during the CNY festive dates too.

As we were so busy feasting and chatting, we missed the special movie screening for Famtastic Weekend Staycation guests at the poolside about 8pm. It's a lovely move-under-the-stars treat as the guests get to relax on comfy beanbags at the pool deck while snacking on complimentary popcorn and water/soft drinks.

Might be too cold for a dip then but if you're up for it, the pool is still open then until 10pm as well hehe.

We all concussed out that night on our comfy beds and woke up about 9am to head down for breakfast. The boy went down to gym first {what's new?? heh} and met us at the Atrium Restaurant for a sumptuous international buffet breakfast.

The restaurant was sooooo packed!!! We had to wait a while for our table but everything was very systematic and just like last night, the service staff were very efficient and prompt in clearing empty dishes and getting your orders.

Lots of food choices again ranging from a variety of bread, cornflakes, salad, muesli to the usual Western dishes like sausages, bacon, pancakes etc.

There's also an Egg Station where the chefs will cook the eggs to your request and have them sent to your table. You don't even have to wait for them to be ready as all you have to do is to pass them a little card with your table number on it. 

Oh FYI, families dining at Atrium Restaurant can also ask to borrow a pack of Holiday Inn's exclusive Chatterbox Conversation Cards that encourage the family to chat and engage in meaningful conversation.

It's just a deck of cards of random questions to ask one another but it encourages you to talk to each other and find out things about one another you might not have known. Lil Pumpkin loved the game and I loved that we didn't keep looking at our phones throughout the meal...

The boy had to go back to work for a while so Lil Pumpkin and I had another dip in the pool while he was away... although he did come back to join us in the pool as Lil Pumpkin wanted to play with him there too #daddysgirl

The outdoor pool gets plenty of fresh air & sunlight, and has a clear view of its surroundings but I reckon I'd have liked it better if there were some waterplay features for the kids at the wading pool, or even some pool toys available for rental.

After that, it was time for check-out.. boohoo! The bad thing about weekend staycations is that they end wayyyyyyy too soon!!

Just before we left, the friendly staff took a Polaroid picture of our family for us to take home a little piece of our unforgettable weekend at Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium. So sweet of them..

There's 9 long weekends for 2018 so if you are thinking of going for a weekend staycation then, check out the Fam-tastic Weekend Staycation package that is available for booking every weekend from SGD 220++ per family.

The next one is for Chinese New Year in February so you could stay at the hotel for your staycation, and also take advantage of the value-for-money CNY buffet dinner at Atrium Restaurant that I mentioned earlier {15% discount for hotel guests + 1-for-1 deal} to host your CNY family gathering!! #winning #yourewelcome

Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium Fam-tastic Weekend Staycation
317 Outram Road
Tel: 6733 0188
Price: From S$220++ per room per night. Kids 12 years and under stay & dine free {T&C applies}

*Disclosure: This is a review for Holiday Inn Singapore Atrium. All opinions my own.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

My One Word for 2018 - RESTORATION

I'm sure you've heard of this alternative process for making new year resolutions whereby instead of making a list of changes or goals for the new year, you choose just one word to focus on and guide you in your actions to make your new year a better one.

There are a few groups like My One Word or One Word 365 that support this process {and even help you to choose the word to be your focus for the next 12 months!} but the main premise is the same - our list of resolutions overwhelm our ability to focus. Instead, we should pick one word that represents who we want to be or how we want to live {or if you're a Christian, who God is calling us to become} to focus on every day, for the whole year.

This process forces clarity and results in focus, and makes it much simpler to work towards being a better version of yourself in the new year. It will take intentionality and commitment, but if you let it, your one word will shape not only your year, but also you. It will become the compass that directs your decisions and guides your steps.

I mean, a lot of people make new year resolutions but many of them don't carry them through for various reasons. Maybe their goal is too ambiguous and they don't have a plan? Maybe they are impatient or maybe they don't have support?

As many reasons there are to fail, there are many ways to succeed too and if you haven't found one that works for you yet, this focus on "one word" for the new year might be your ticket to reaching your new year goals.

I've not made New Year resolutions in years, but the year-end season usually gets me in a reflective mood where I look back on the past year and see what I've achieved, and look forward to the new year to see what I'd like to do.

The end of 2017 was no different but over that last weekend, a word suddenly popped up to me - Restoration. I haven't been praying for it, but I believe that God was speaking out to me and telling me to focus on that for 2018.

He has seen how I was letting society's expectations, my expectations of myself and our hurried life take control of my emotions, well-being, relationships with others and with Him. All these burdens just left me feeling rather overwhelmed, snappy and tired... and most days I felt like I was just surviving in all aspects, rather than thriving despite having all the necessities in life to be happy - a comfortable home, happy family, good health, stable income, trustworthy friends etc. Kinda lost, really.. 

Restoration is "the act of restoring; renewal, revival, or reestablishment."

In thinking more about it, I believe that the word is very meaningful and there are certain areas that I want to work on using that as my compass.


RESTORATION at Relationships
Ashamedly, I act poorly when I am tired or stressed, and the first people to bear the brunt of this is usually my family and loved ones. I'm quick to anger and harsh in my words...

This year, I pray that I'd be able to be more like Jesus in my actions {WWJD - What Would Jesus Do?}, be kinder, more loving, considerate and helpful even in my most trying moments. 

RESTORATION at Well-being
Although I focus a lot more on my physical well-being by training regularly, eating better and making an effort to sleep better, I haven't really been taking care of my emotional, mental and spiritual well-being.

This year, I will make sure that I will learn to take things easy, focus on the good, people that matter and things which I have control over, and let go of past mistakes and negative energy. 

People close to me know that I do not really like my job. If I can be brutally honest, I'm just here for the money and if my boss wasn't that awesome and if I actually knew what I wanted to do as a career, I probably wouldn't still be here...? There really isn't much joy or satisfaction coming to work daily, which kills me in a way because how can you do something you don't really like that takes up almost half of your day??

I guess it's called "adulting" when you put other responsibilities above your own whims and just stick to what you have to do even when it is making you dead inside. Well, my boss is retiring soon and I don't see myself staying here after he leaves so I really have to make future plans for my worklife.

This year, I will take the time to discover my next career move and not be afraid to even go out of my comfort zone. Whatever it may be, I will make sure that the next job I take, it will spark joy in me and make me happy coming to work each day.

Since young, God has always been present in my life but He hasn't been central. I've not put him first in many of my life decisions so far and perhaps that's why I find myself failing in many ways.

This year, I pray that I will trust in His will more, to read my Bible more and to attend church more regularly. I will make more effort to make sure my family, especially Lil Pumpkin, grows closer to God too.


I don't have any concrete plans on how to achieve each of these goals {...yet?}, but if this is God's will, and I believe that it is, then I have faith that He will guide me to do all this and make my 2018 even better and brighter than before!

P.S. Sorry if this post sounds strange or out of character as I don't usually blog about my faith or life as a Christian, but I just feel very strongly about this and wanted to share about my plans for the year. If you've made any goals for yourself in 2018, feel free to comment and let me know and maybe I'd be able to support and encourage you for the year too!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Safari Zoo Run 2018, We're Coming! + Promo Code

Woahhhh! At the blink of an eye, Safari Zoo Run Singapore will be celebrating its 10th anniversary on 27 Jan 2018 and I'm thrilled that we'd be able to participate again and be part of this monumental milestone!!

It's our family's favourite fun run and one that we've been joining for a few years in 2013, 2014, 2017 and next year will be our family's 4th Safari Zoo Run!!

We love running through the Singapore Zoo as it shows a different side of the zoo that visitors would otherwise never see α••( ᐛ )α•—

Like Safari Zoo Run 2017, Safari Zoo Run is themed "Run for Wildlife" and features 4 animal icons for 2018 - Ah Meng the Orangutan, Chawang the Asian Elephant, Canola the Manatee and Sunny the Hornbill. However this year, it focuses on raising awareness for our native wildlife conservation. Each animal icon team supports an endangered animal species found in Singapore that Wildlife Reserves Singapore would like to raise awareness for.

Participants can choose an animal icon team to support and raise awareness for them during the run, and a lucky winner from the winning team will stand a chance to win an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience in our Singapore wildlife parks!

Just like last year, I'm joining Team Ah Meng again.

Team Ah Meng will be supporting the conservation of the Raffles' Banded Langur. A really rare primate, it is found only in Singapore and Johor and unfortunately due to urbanisation, there are now less than 60 of these shy species left in the wild in Singapore which makes them critically endangered! (。•́︿•̀。)

I read from the Nature Society (Singapore) website that this monkey is mostly black in colour, with white bands on the inner thighs and down its chest. It is roughly twice as big as a long-tailed macaque. Shy and elusive, the Raffles’ Banded Langur rarely descends to the ground, and is highly dependent on continuous forests. In order to conserve them, we have to ensure that remaining habitats continue to be protected, and that forest fragments are reconnected.

One of only three non-human primates to be found locally, the Raffles’ Banded Langur was first discovered by Sir Stamford Raffles 194 years ago according to an article from NParks. Up to the 1920s, they were still reported to be common in Singapore across Changi, Tampines, Bukit Timah, Pandan and Tuas. Deforestation for urban development led to the shrinking of their habitat such that the Raffles’ Banded Langurs were confined to only the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve {BTNR} and Central Catchment Nature Reserve {CCNR} in the 1980s. In 1987, the last member of a troop living in BTNR was reportedly mauled to death by a pack of dogs. By 2010, it was estimated that there were only 40-60 Raffles’ Banded Langurs left in CCNR.

The Wildlife Reserves Singapore Conservation Fund {WRSCF - make a donation here} supports the Raffles' Banded Langur Working Group to get a better understanding of the urband ecology of this species and help protect them within their fragile habitat. It was formed in 2016 and is led by Ms Andie Ang, who has studied the langurs since 2008, and is a member of IUCN SSC Primate Specialist Group.

Join me in Team Ah Meng for Safari Zoo Run 2018 to support this cause and make sure that a primate does not go extinct under Singapore's watch! You can find out more about all the animal icons teams here.

These are the different categories and fees for Safari Zoo Run 2018. 

As with past years, the runner's race pack is pretty awesome and makes the registration fee pretty good value-for-money, especially when you use my promo code {SZR18SAKURA} for the additional 10% discount haha:
  • Safari Zoo Run 2018 Race Apparel
  • Safari Zoo Run 2018 10th Anniversary Finisher’s Medal
  • Free admission to Singapore Zoo worth $33 {on 27 Jan 2018 only}
  • Free admission to River Safari worth $30 {on 27 Jan 2018 only}
  • 50% discount voucher to Jurong Bird Park that saves you $14.50 {till 31 Mar 2018}
  • 50% discount voucher to Night Safari that saves you $22.50 {till 31 Mar 2018}
  • Exclusive Retail offers {on 27 Jan 2018 only}

There's a Christmas promo going on now for 12 days of Christmas! Use "12OFF" to register for 12% discount off any race ticket and you will a 80ml Lemongrass Body mist worth S$25 from Twinkle Singapore - the one-stop shop for all babies and mothers. They sell 100% natural & organic products for skin and hair care which can also be personalised with your name! Valid until 5 Jan 2018 only.


Promo: Quote SZR18SAKURA for 10% OFF current rates. Valid until Sun 14 Jan 2018.

If you're going to join the run, holler out to me!! Hope to see you there! ✧◝(⁰▿⁰)◜✧ Check out the rest of our Bub & Me activities or list of kid-friendly places in Singapore too.

Safari Zoo Run 2018
Date: Sat 27 Jan 2018
Time: From 6am
Venue: Singapore Zoo, 80 Mandai Lake Road


Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year 2018!! ζ–°εΉ΄ζ˜Žγ‘γΎγ—γ¦γŠγ‚γ§γ¨γ†γ”γ–γ„γΎγ™! ♥

Thank you for your support, love and encouragement this past year. 
I hope you'll stick around with us and join us on our family adventures in 2018 too.
Many exciting dreams and plans made.. we shall see how it all turns out!


Happy New Year from my family to yours!