Inside Singapore’s Shiny New Jewel

At long last, after four years of construction and a whole lot of hype, Singapore has finally unveiled its long-awaited airport project, Jewel Changi Airport. Otherwise simply known as Jewel.
Tuesday 23 April 2019
As if the world’s best airport couldn’t possibly get any better. Photo: Jewel Changi Airport

In the months leading to Jewel’s official launch, media coverage was an abundance, resulting in sky-high expectations. Furthermore, it was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, the same man who was responsible for designing another Singapore icon, Marina Bay Sands. Hence, Jewel is expected to meet standards worthy of Changi Airport’s “world’s best airport” title, a top spot it has been dominating for the past seven years.

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So what’s the verdict?

Built on the former site of Changi Airport’s open-air car park of Terminal 1 (T1), Jewel sits on a total gross floor area of 135,700 square meters, has 10 stories (five above ground and five in the basement), and boasts a large indoor garden, recreation space, airport facilities, the 130-cabin YOTELAIR Singapore Changi Airport hotel, and over 280 retail and F&B outlets. To say that it’s a sprawling development would be an understatement.

The mammoth US$1.26 billion complex is a doughnut-shaped exterior framed in steel and special glass materials, giving it a gem-like appearance from the outside. The inside is ginormous enough to house its pride and joy, the 40-meter-tall HSBC Rain Vortex which cascades down seven floors to B2 through a huge oculus in the middle of Jewel.

“It’s a dramatic site that’s usually heard before it’s seen as passengers exit the retail and dining zones that wrap around Jewel’s outer sections and head toward the centre, where they’re met with the thunderous sounds of a waterfall that appears to fall from the sky,” CNN Travel reported.

Inspired by frequent rains in the tropical island-city state, the HSBC Rain Vortex is currently the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. By day, harvested rainwater streams through the oculus but by night, it transforms into a light and sound show that lasts around five minutes.

​With more than 280 retail and F&B outlets, there are lots to sample and shop for. From laksa-flavoured cookies at Cookie Museum to burgers and milkshakes at Shake Shack, to Tokyu Hands and the Pokemon Center Singapore, the first official overseas store in Asia outside of Japan, you’d be wishing your transit was longer.

Travellers will love its other outstanding offerings such as free WiFi and power bank loans (free for 12 hours) as well as early check-in services and baggage storage facilities. Convenience or lack thereof will be the least of their worries.

Long layovers will go by in the blink of an eye because Jewel has been kitted out with plenty of diversions such as a four-storey garden filled with walking trails, perfect for stretching legs stiff from hours of flying; an 11-cinema IMAX theatre for movie buffs who’ve had enough of watching a blockbuster on a small in-flight entertainment system; and a score of Instagrammable themed gardens.

But it doesn’t end there as Jewel was designed to connect three of Changi Airport’s four terminals (passengers heading to and from T4 need to take a shuttle bus) so most travellers will be able to access the complex. And because Jewel isn’t an airport terminal, just about anyone can visit without a boarding pass. It’s safe to say that the world’s best airport just got a whole lot better.

Sources: CNN Travel, Business Traveller

Related: This Airport Won Best in the World for the Seventh Time