I’ve always had this image in my head. A single girl in a blue dress, a little bit bored, a little bit eager, an unplanned night out, a seductive city, an elegant car, out loud music through a glass door, a sensual room with red velvet couches, red lights, rich golden walls, art that makes your soul sing, dance like nobody’s watching, a tall dark stranger, an unforgettable look, a night with conversations and an old whiskey, smoke, and mirrors. And yeah, some troubles.
Two years ago, I’ve had a glimpse of this story when I saw some photos from The Vagabond, a boutique hotel in Singapore. Somehow, it was not the right moment. But I always follow my dreams and my crazy imagination.
Last month, I was laying in bed, doing what I do best: worrying about the future. And for just a second, I stopped and asked myself: “what do YOU really want?”
And in that moment, when I let go of planning my entire life, I remembered that feeling – an alluring date night in a faraway city. Hmmm, I could even feel that irresistible sweet taste.
In less than two hours, I’ve found that The Vagabond Club is now a part of the Marriott and Ritz-Carlton family (which – you know – I have a love affair with), I booked my plane tickets to Singapore, and I sank into this story, totally carried away, immersed in this strange feeling of knowing that something bigger than my imagination is in place.
For about two weeks, I kept this as a “secret pleasure & surprise”. It was my gift for Vlad’s birthday.
When you keep a secret like this for so long, and can’t talk about it with anyone, but you have these strong emotions and curiosity – you read everything you possibly can about the subject.
So, I’ve found out the hotel owners are an amazing Indian-born family, Harpreet Bedi & Satinder Garcha, who are famous art lovers, live in Singapore with their four kids, and were raised in the Sikh religion.
Mr. Garcha was a silicon valley entrepreneur, is an international polo player, a luxury real estate developer and boutique hotelier with a fabulous sense of style. He reinvents himself over and over again.
When their eldest girl asked them “what it meant to be Sikh”, the Garcha family began a 5-year journey around the world, and they made ‘Under The Turban’, a documentary that took the family from Canada to Italy to Singapore, meeting with Sikh communities and posing the very same question. You can see the film in your room at The Vagabond Club. ☺
I’ve started to study Sikhism and I’ve found out it’s the newest religion of the world and its principles are a perfect match with my core values. When I first listened to this Sikh meditation, I cried tears of happiness. Something deep inside of me was very moved. I still listen and dance every day on this masterpiece.
I told Vlad about Singapore 12 hours before the flight. At the moment we had to leave the house, I had some doubts and almost canceled the tickets. It was a complicated process, made another check-in and this was it.
We landed in Singapore at 12 AM, exactly on his birthday. But it was not that magical night I had in mind. Vlad left his phone on the plane, we were upset and out of control (haha, actually a very good thing). I wrote the phone’s story here.
I am a very careful planner of my travels. This time, nothing was in line with my plans, but surreal.
We didn’t have internet in the airport (so, no uber or grab), we had to stay in line for a casual taxi. In the middle of the night. In Singapore. The driver gave me more change than I expected, just because it was a short ride in a traditional neighborhood.
And when we stepped out of the car, I was stunned. The city was alive, all the restaurants opened, and on the terrace of The Vagabond, a loud disco music was playing. It was 2 AM, and we live in Bali. I think I had the right to be shocked.
A young man opened the glass door for us and the silence embraced us. Oh, the magic. I didn’t have the time to catch my breath because I saw the front office. It is a huge golden rhino. The elevator is sustained by two elephant heads with ropes. And everything is dark, red, sensual and scented.
When you are too tired and upset to sleep, you have only one choice: to look around and see what it’s all about. To be present.
Our space was not a usual hotel room. It was cozy, with walls full of pictures made by the owner in his adventures, with a futuristic art bathroom and a little garden with a direct view of Singapore’s starry sky.
Every little detail is a small piece of art, with a message. I felt like in a friends’ home, with their intimate things around, telling me their story, feeling safe, comfortable and loved.
At 8 AM next morning, we went down to take breakfast. There is a fascinating art video in the elevator (they have a very interesting “artists in residency program“).
At the Club Lounge, we had the best coffee we’ve tasted in Asia and a surprise. À la carte menu with Spanish omelet, fruits, salmon – all fresh and delicious. Small, elegant portions – just enough to satisfy your morning craves.
At 10 AM sharp I met Ms. Harpreet Bedi, and from that moment everything changed.
She spoke directly to my soul, seeing through me, into me. Two hours later, I was so immersed in the story that I could barely move.
Every painting and photography on the walls were there to whisper an emotion. I was obsessed by a pic with Protima Bedi, a free-spirited Indian woman, who danced into her immortality and taught others to dream big.
At one moment, the Sikh meditation I’ve told you about in the beginning, was somehow whispered on the hotel’s corridors.
In the evening we went to a little party with all the hotel’s employees, because they are a family. An amazing Romanian guy, a beautiful tall French woman, even some British clients joined us for drinks and stories from all over the world, about businesses, life, love, and feelings.
We learned about art and passion, about too much enthusiasm and running around the world, about core values, money, the art of business and, the most important – about being vulnerable and true to yourself. And yes, I will share with you some lessons I’ve learned at The Vagabond Club:
* believe in yourself and your gut, no matter what. Nobody knows better what you want and what you are standing for.
* there will always be problems and money won’t keep you safe. On the contrary – the money will amplify the energy you already have.
* listen. Be present. The story that will touch your heart can be right under your nose.
* those strangers you’ve met last night can really see you. And make you smile.
* diversity and big differences between people are a guaranteed recipe for understanding, fun, and expansion.
* when you keep yourself in control to not be surprised by “the worst”, you keep yourself in control to not be surprised by “the best” either.
* vulnerability is the answer for, well… everything. The artificial intelligence will definitely take its toll, and the only “job” left for us will be to pursue what is meaningful. Vulnerability, kindness, art, emotions, compassion.
I will never forget this in loop video. It was the most accurate expression of myself and my emotions. You can find it on The Vagabond’s bathroom wall and on their facebook page.
|Work by Michel Platnic|
After a night in this hotel, you will be different. Why? Because it will put a spell on you. It has a very powerful message – we are here to tumble those walls down, to set you free, to cherish you and to create a space of learning, hospitality, art and diversity that means one thing only – the future.
And with this experience, my prophecy came true. Beyond my imagination, I had some troubles at The Vagabond. I fell in love with a vision. That this is the world I love to live in.