Changi Airport

Frivolous fountains as entertainment, attraction and investment

Those over the top fountains, waterfalls and other grand features found at hotels, malls and parks are quite snazzy – and expensive. But are they making natural attractions seem boring? Here’s our story that appeared first on CNBC.

If you visit Las Vegas and make your way to the Fountains of Bellagio, the Mirage volcano or any of the five curious and creative water features at City Center, you’ll see great examples of natural elements being used to create over-the-top entertainment.

Each experience is part of a portfolio of more than 200 unique installations around the world created by LA-based WET, a design firm that has been perfecting its techniques and pushing the boundaries of art, technology and attraction for more than 35 years.

Courtesy WET Design

“We do one-off features with new and unusual stuff that no one’s ever seen or done before,” said Jim Doyle, WET’s director of Design Technology. And like the cauldron it created for the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City and the showpiece it created for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia in 2014, many of WET’s project are big and boutique projects that people talk about, take pictures of and share on Instagram and Facebook, said Doyle.

Photo by Harriet Baskas

The 130-foot-tall Rain Vortex is the newest example of WET’s work. Now the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, the Rain Vortex serves as the centerpiece of the Jewel shopping, dining and entertainment complex designed by Moshe Safde’s architecture firm for Singapore’s Changi Airport.

For Jewel, WET figured out how to create and build a circular waterfall that drops seven stories from the roof of the building.  

“It’s the first time something like this has appeared in the middle of a building,” said Doyle, “There’s nothing in there that is standard.”

Impressive enough during the day, at night the rain vortex, plus some man-made fog, creates a canvas for a first-of-its kind, 360-degree projected light-and-sound-show.

WET’s water features aren’t just meant to be pretty, said Doyle, “They become works of art, but they are also serious investments put where they’ll capture attention. You’re not going to spend money on a water feature no one will see or that doesn’t have a reason for being there.”

Courtesy WET Design

In Dubai, where bigger is always better, WET created the Dubai Fountain, the world’s tallest choreographed fountain.

Located next to the Dubai Mall, one of the world’s largest malls, and Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest building, the $240 million fountain project has jets that launch water a record-setting 50 stories high, with more than 1,000 individually programmable elements.

“They needed something to give people a reason to come back to the building and to the shops and the restaurants in the mall time and time again,” said Doyle, “That required a very large performance feature we could continually update so that people could walk out of the building, watch a show or two, sit down for dinner, watch another show and then go back into the mall and spend more money.”

Do high-tech attractions with natural elements make “real” attractions seem boring?

While millions of travelers may flock to high-tech attractions such as the dancing light and water fountains in Dubai and Las Vegas, travel experts don’t seem to be worried that much-loved low-tech and natural attractions will seem boring by comparison and become overlooked.

“There is manmade and then there is manmade magnificent,” said Jean Newman Glock, managing director of Signature Travel Network, “The pyramids of Giza are and will always be a destination that Las Vegas could replicate but not replace. It’s the in-situ aspect – the desert that fills all your senses with the heat and arid sands of the nearby Sahara – that the Luxor [hotel] just can’t get quite right.”

Lynn Minnaert, a clinical associate professor with the Tisch Center of Hospitality at New York University who visited both Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon last year, agrees.

“A lot of things we treasure as tourists, like Rome’s Trevi Fountain, are low-tech and man-made,  said Minnaert, “And while sometimes people travel purely for entertainment, those technologically-enhanced features that may be spectacular and nice to look can sometimes turn people off because they’re easily duplicated.”

High-tech attractions can add flair and a sense of place to casinos, malls, hotels and spaces that weren’t built to be authentic, said Minnaert. But natural attractions, such as the Grand Canyon or Yellowstone National Park, don’t need anything added. Those places will never be boring, said Minnaert “And are beautiful as is.”

Watch: Light & sound show at Jewel Changi Airport

Greetings from Singapore

Jewel, the new over-the-top attraction at Changi Airport, hasn’t officially opened to the public. But thanks to ticketed previews for local residents and, of course, all the media reports, word has been getting around.

The venue is part mall, with 280 swank and unusual shops and restaurants, and part forest theme-park, with the world’s largest indoor waterfall right in the center.

The flow of the waterfall and the size of the droplets can be controlled. And somewhow each evening the water becomes a screen upon which two different 360-degree light & sound shows are projected each evening.

Take a look.

This video is courtesy of Changi Airport. I took a video too during one of the preview nights, but there were so many thousands of people and cameras in front of me that my version features the back of someone’s bald head.

First look at Jewel Changi Airport attraction in Singapore

With a butterfly garden, pool, free movie theaters and much, much more, Singapore’s Changi Airport is all about the wow.

With the opening of the Jewel Changi Airport attraction, this award-winning airport is even more wow.

Located right in front of Terminal 1, on space formerly occupied by a parking lot, the Jewel is a large dome-shaped structure with a lush “Forest Valley,” a Rain Vortex that’s now the tallest indoor waterfall in the world, a 130-cabin YotelAIR hotel and 280 shops and restaurants.

I was on-site today for the opening-day preview events. Here are some snaps from the day.

More details about the attraction to come.

World’s Best Airport Hotel: Crowne Plaza Changi Airport

Just like Singapore’s award-winning Changi Airport, there are plenty of reasons to love the award-winning Crowne Plaza Changi Airport.

For starters, it is attached to Changi Airport. That makes the hotel a convenient and very welcoming place to land after, or before, a very long flight.

Amenities such as superb service, deep soaking tubs, an outdoor pool and some rooms with bonus views overlooking the runways are truly delightful.

I’ve just checked in for my second stay at the property. The welcoming vibe after a 17-hour journey is another reason why it is easy to understand how the hotel snags the Skytrax Best Airport Hotel in the World year after year.

Even better, the hotel’s USB press kit comes in the shape of an airplane! That garners the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport another award: Stuck at the Airport’s occasional award for “USB Press Kit of the Week.”

The charming chairs of Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4

From the self-service check-in and bag drop stations to the centralized security zone, plethora of shopping and dining options, art and other amenities, there’s plenty to love about Singapore Changi Airport’s new Terminal 4, which opened to the public on October 31, 2017.

I’m putting together a full report on what is certain to be yet another award-winning feature of Changi Airport, but right now let’s just take a photo tour of the chairs.

Comfortable and eye-catching, these are certain to be the backdrop of countless passenger selfies.

Here a few more seating snaps from my tour of the terminal on opening day.

These seats are on the landside area of the terminal.

And these post-security chicks and pups are seating strong enough to hold adults.