26-Year-Old Singaporean Claims 2 Free Staycations At Sentosa Hotels
Remember the viral ‘Girl Math’ trend that took over the internet a few months ago, appearing in everything from TikTok commentaries to financial news sites?
The concept, which women jokingly used to justify extravagant purchases, received its fair share of criticism (no, your S$2,000 designer bag doesn’t become ‘free’ just because you carried it every day for two years), but there is a way you can score rewards for spending money.
Earlier this month, a Singaporean marketing executive got to enjoy a romantic New Year’s getaway with her boyfriend at two different hotels in Sentosa – and she didn’t have to pay a cent.
MS News speaks to her to find out how she did it. Who knows? You could be able to do it soon, too.
Claims 2 back-to-back Sentosa staycations with points
It all started when Sarah (not her real name) joined Far East Malls’ shopFarEast loyalty programme in end-2021.
Her colleagues introduced her to the app amid the group’s Christmas campaigns.
Before long, the 26-year-old was racking up points left and right just by shopping at Far East Malls, especially her two favourites, HillV2 (which is near her home) and Orchard Central (which is near her office).
In June 2023, she managed to accumulate enough shopFarEast points (SFE$) – 16,000 of them, to be exact – to redeem not one, but two staycations in Sentosa.
Now, S$16,000 (S$1 equals 1 SFE$) might sound like a lot, but keep on reading to see how Sarah managed to do it (spoiler alert: she did not actually spend S$16,000).
The first was a 2D1N Deluxe Room Stay at The Outpost Hotel worth S$610 and the second was a 2D1N Premier Room Stay at The Barracks Hotel worth S$910.
She enjoyed them two nights in a row with her boyfriend in early January.
Sarah admitted that she didn’t start out thinking she’d be able to redeem a staycation (let alone two) – she just uploaded receipts to the shopFarEast app faithfully and soon, the points began piling up.
She estimated that it took her around a year and a half – a lot faster than she expected – to save up enough SFE$ to afford the hotel stays.
“Actually, I was surprised that I earned enough to claim them, too!” she exclaimed during our interview at One Holland Village, the latest addition to Far East Malls’ arsenal of retail and dining havens.
She was initially aiming for The Barracks Hotel as she heard it was a lovely and luxurious place, but couldn’t bring herself to splurge on a room.
In the end, she got what she wished for and more just by shopping. If you ask us, that sounds like what Girl Math wishes it could be.
Racked up points by spending on dining & shopping
Impressively, Sarah did not have to make super expensive purchases to fatten up her SFE$ stash.
Most of her points came from dining out.
Last March, Sarah and a huge group went to TungLok Peking Duck at Orchard Central to celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday.
They took up two tables and, thanks to all the seafood they ordered, spent a total of S$1,050.60, earning Sarah more than 1,000 SFE$ in one fell swoop.
She clarified that she played no part in picking the restaurant, but it turned out to be a “happy coincidence”.
“It wasn’t my treat but I got the points,” she grinned.
Similarly, she ‘benefits’ when she goes out for meals with her family. One of their regular haunts is iO Italian Osteria at HillV2.
Even Sarah’s love for ice cream – she frequents Van Leeuwen in Orchard Central and Just Scooop at HillV2 – has contributed greatly to her enviable points collection.
Besides food, she regularly shops at Orchard Central’s Don Don Donki and Uniqlo outlets. She also recently started collecting Jellycat soft toys and bought a few from The Elly Store at One Holland Village.
Here’s the trick to multiplying points
Whether it’s S$10 (the minimum receipt amount that can be uploaded on the app) or S$100, all the points will add up over time.
However, like a video game, it’s the bonus multipliers that will really get you on the fast track to that free luxury hotel stay or whatever tantalising treat you’ve been eyeing in shopFarEast’s rewards catalogue.
That, Sarah shared, is essentially the ‘secret’ to how she managed to rack up so many points.
Here’s the part where we tell you to start taking notes.
“I’m always looking out for promotions on social media, Far East Malls newsletters, and push notifications on the app,” she explained.
It’s where members can hear firsthand about events that allow them to supersize the points they earn.
For instance, the opening promo for One Holland Village last December allowed members to earn 10 times the usual points with their purchase. 10 times. That means your S$50 meal at Din Tai Fung could easily grant you 500 SFE$.
There’s also an annual Members’ Day in September or October that multiplies the points you earn by eight.
Sarah said she obtained the most points through this initiative – last year, she earned more than 2,000 SFE$ from less than S$300 worth of restaurant bills. Not bad.
On top of that, members get double the points on their first purchase during their birthday month – a shopFarEast member perk that Sarah also enjoyed, of course.
Other perks she gushed about are the member-exclusive promotions and ‘spin and win’ mechanics during certain campaigns (she won S$50 worth of e-vouchers from this – twice).
At the time of our interview, she revealed that she has around 4,300 SFE$.
“If possible, I’d like to save up for another staycation, this time at Oasia Hotel Downtown because it looks nice and I’ve never been there before,” she said.
With her track record, we wouldn’t be surprised if she reached her goal in no time.
Staycations a popular reward for members
Sarah certainly isn’t the only shopFarEast member who has scored staycations from the rewards programme.
Thanks to her children’s S$2,000-per-quarter enrichment classes in Greenwich V, a 41-year-old mother who wanted to be known as Vivian was able to accumulate enough SFE$ to claim two 2D1N stays at Village Hotel Katong.
She also earned points from grocery shopping and eating at restaurants in the mall, and of course, taking advantage of point multiplier deals.
Similarly, another member, 45-year-old Jane (not her real name), was able to redeem the same Deluxe Room Stay, except she fattened up her points stash with regular visits to Pure Organic Beauty Spa at West Coast Plaza.
Pampering yourself and getting rewarded for it? It doesn’t get any better than that.
More than 20 Far East Malls where you can earn points for Sentosa staycations & more
These stories pretty much prove that bagging a free staycay isn’t that far out of reach, especially if you play your shopping cards right.
Besides the hotels mentioned above, other establishments with staycays up for grabs are:
- Village Hotel Sentosa
- Orchard Rendezvous Hotel
- Oasia Resorts Sentosa
- AMOY Hotel
- Quincy Hotel
- The Clan Hotel
- Vibe Hotel Singapore Orchard
The power of the shopFarEast programme lies not just in quality but also in quantity.
With more than 20 Far East Malls across Singapore, finding one that’s convenient to visit will be a cinch.
The high points conversion rate – S$1 gets you 1 SFE$ unless it’s a supermarket receipt, where S$3 equals 1 SFE$ – and reasonably priced rewards mean you essentially get to enjoy attractive cashback rates.
Here’s an illustration: a night’s stay at The Outpost Hotel worth S$610 is available for 10,000 SFE$ in the shopFarEast rewards catalogue.
That’s the equivalent of a 6% ‘cashback’ – even more if you amass points with multipliers.
You don’t even have to wait until you have thousands of SFE$ to use them. There are also plenty of rewards to claim from 150 SFE$, such as bubble tea. More are coming this Valentine’s Day.
Be warned though, points are so easy to get and rewards so irresistible that they tend to be snapped up fast. May the odds be ever in your favour.
Additionally, some promos don’t cost any points at all, including one-for-one deals, discounts, and more – just be a shopFarEast member to qualify for them.
If all that still somehow isn’t enough to convince you to sign up, keying in the promo code <FEMCNY2024> from now till 29 Feb gets you a S$10 Far East Malls e-voucher.
For more information and to download the shopFarEast app, click here.
Get even more bang for your buck
We reckon even the staunchest Girl Math critics would be able to get behind a programme that rewards you for shopping or dining at your favourite restaurant.
You don’t even need to jump through hoops to justify your spending – just buy your stuff like you normally would, upload the receipts, and watch the points roll in.
Best of all, rewards programmes essentially combine two of Singaporeans’ favourite things: efficiency and free stuff. ‘Nuff said, right?
This post was brought to you in collaboration with Far East Malls.
Featured image by MS News. Photography by Ian Sim.
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