As an area of interest and rich history, Balestier might have well been overlooked in recent times, but now it has much to offer. The Ramada by Wyndham is a great base for many explorations into a neighbourhood with historic character or for the business traveller. The 17-storey Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park, recipient for the fourth time the Best Mid-Range Hotel by travel professionals in Asia Pacific at the 25th, 26th, 28th and 29th Annual TTG Travel Awards (2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018). Once checked in, it becomes obvious why.
Frequent travellers to Singapore may be familiar with other districts, while this heritage-rich community may not be on people’s radar. Coming from Malaysia, one can arrive at Seletar airport. If you take a taxi, the ride from Selatar to the Ramada by Wyndham will be almost half of what it would cost to get from Changi to a hotel downtown. And it is faster too.
Checking into the hotel is made easy and the overall flair of the lobby is that of an uncomplicated, highly efficient place. Sometimes I like to throw challenges at the staff, but in the case of the Ramada by Wyndham, I think they have either been trained for any situation or they have seen it all. My tests were handled with a superior confidence that simply let one know that this is the right place to get things done and done right. The Heritage Lounge and the business centre on the same floor make it an ideal place to conduct meetings or to get work done in a conducive setting.
The Ramada by Wyndham is set up opposite its sister property and some of the facilities are either shared or complimentary. Instead of having to pack everything into one place, the two properties are offering the full range which guests can mix and match. For instance, the Days Hotel by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park houses a Halal certified restaurant. Muslim guests that seek enhanced facilities may stay in the Ramada but nip across the park between the two hotels for their meals.
I liked the view from my room, looking north-west up the island. A lot of green in sight puts one in the right mood. Rooms are functional and thought through with design elements harking back to the surroundings and the heritage of the suburb.
There is always a first time for everything, and this time it was the unparalleled care for my experience. Just as I got settled in, I received a call to see if everything was in order and if I need anything. Then, a real surprise to me was to find a hand-written note on my second day. It was asking me how the experience had been so far. It could have been that this was just for me as I was in the hotel on a mission to write this article, but I found out that the staff would leave the same note, handwritten, for every guest.
Breakfast is the most important meal of my day and Ramada by Wyndham gets it right. The variety of food is good and the quality is better. However, it was learned that it is really the lunch and dinner that lets the in-house restaurant shine as they bring in the freshest catches. Originated from Pulau Ubin, New Ubin Seafood has retained its rustic roots and ‘kampong' essence through the years, while constantly discovering innovative dishes to suit the local taste buds. Expect signature dishes like USDA Black Angus "Choice" Rib Eye with Heart Attack Fried Rice, Live Seafood such as Mud Crabs, Tiger Prawns and Fishes prepared to your preferred cooking method, amidst other new creations that will only be available at the New Ubin Zhongshan Park.
In addition, this particular stretch of Balestier Road is lined with famous food stalls that sell chicken and duck rice, Bak Kut Teh and other traditional dishes. Many would claim this to be a food heaven for those that want authentic, no frills with lots of taste, food. There is also a wet market within walking distance of the hotel.
A lot of travellers maintain that it is crucial to keep up a training regime when away from home. Many hotels offer recreational facilities for that reason. A gym and pool are usually standard. However, in places like Singapore, where space is expensive, a pool can sometimes be small to the point that it can measured in multiples of 2-breaststrokes. Not so here. This pool is a joy to dip into. Equally, the gym is roomy and offers a solid range of machines that ensure a good workout can be had, even for experienced and the more athletic guests.
The Ramada by Wyndham connects directly into a mall, one that is a charming little congregation of local brands, experiences and conveniences. It may not be the biggest or most up-market mall, but it blends perfectly into the neighbourhood and its heritage with the offerings on hand.
Ramada by Wyndham is nestled within the Zhongshan Park. The project by DP Architects adopts modern interpretations of Chinese architecture and garden landscape designs, in consideration of the surrounding Balestier context. Integrating the adjacent Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall within the project, an area covering 4,624sqm, has been dedicated as a public park, called “Zhongshan Park”, in honour of Dr Sun Yat Sen (the founding father of the Republic of China). The hotel offers maps with trails around the neighbourhood, showcasing the historic landmarks and highlighting its rich culture.
Ramada by Wyndham Singapore at Zhongshan Park
16 Ah Hood Rd
T: 6808 6888