Apple Marina Bay opens on Sept 10 — here's what it's like inside the world's first floating Apple Store

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

In the early days of Marina Bay Sands when folks were still awestruck about the brand new luxury hotel that popped up along the Singapore River, there was a swanky superclub called Avalon. And it shut down for good in 2013 after just two years in operation. 

These days, something entirely new has taken up residence on the river — and I don’t think it’s going away that soon, even in this economy

It is, as you can tell already, Apple’s newest retail store in Singapore; its third one after setting up base in Orchard Road and Jewel Changi Airport. And it’ll be officially open come Thursday (Sept 10). 

It is also, as the marketing spiel has abundantly made clear, the world’s first floating Apple Store. Honestly, though, it’s not a giant orb that’s actually staying afloat on water — can’t imagine that’s a good plan to keep all the precious gizmos within secured in place and its employees free of seasickness. Apple Marina Bay Sands is still very much a tethered, stable structure so there's no need to pop saltines when you drop by the store. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

But what the marketing speak does get right is the store’s unforgettable space because it really is spectacular when you enter the massive spherical building.

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

How customers will access it is through the main entrance located at level B2 of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, next to where a new Haidilao outlet (yes, another one) will be opening. The long, narrow hallway will be where customers can check out Apple products and its various accessories, or receive personal tech support from staff Geniuses. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

Once you head up into the main section via an escalator, the effect is absolutely dramatic. Rising into the centre of the all-glass dome structure immediately gives you a 360-degree panoramic view of the surrounding waters and the familiar city skyline — albeit one with iPhones and MacBooks in the foreground. One can’t help but look up at the top of the dome, where a circular window lets light in. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

Steve Jobs loved the idea of huge pieces of glass, and that design is reflected in the Apple Park headquarters in Cupertino as well as the many Apple Stores around the world. It’s the same thing here for Apple Marina Bay Sands, but times a hundred. The building is made of 114 pieces of glass that fit together to form a curved structure, supported by a steel endoskeleton.

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

The uninterrupted view of the scenery outside is enhanced due to the minimalist design of the store’s interiors with wide-open spaces and low height furniture. The indoor trees and even more Apple stuff on display are things we’ve all seen before, so the big highlight is the colossal video wall that will serve as a stage for Today at Apple sessions. Apple made sure that glare (or heatstroke) won’t be an issue due to special panels that counter sun angles. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

Meanwhile, private meetings, briefings and training are done discretely in the Boardroom, which is apparently underwater. Entry to the room is by an invite-only basis, accessible by a ruthlessly shiny circular elevator. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

It’s easy to imagine that people will be dropping by the store just to take pictures, turning Apple Marina Bay into a tourist destination in itself. Unfortunately, expectations of fanboys, Instagrammers and the curious in general will have to be dampened for now due to obvious reasons

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn
PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

Though the store will open to the public come 10am on Thursday, visits will have to arranged by reservation only — appointments are to be the Apple Marina Bay Sands portal. Walk-ins are allowed from Friday (Sept 11) onwards, and even so, Apple is putting safety first by limiting the number of people inside the store. The view from within the sphere is indeed awesome, people, but not worth catching a virus for. 

PHOTO: AsiaOne / Ilyas Sholihyn

ilyas@asiaone.com