Credit: Tan Quan Qi

During a staycation to celebrate their second anniversary as a couple, Mr Tan Quan Qi told his girlfriend: “I don’t think I can propose to you this year because your anniversary gift and this dinner cost me my arms and half my leg.”

It was a joke he had not planned for, but it lowered Ms Eunice Lau’s expectations and “set the perfect stage for me when I proposed to her”, says Mr Tan, 28, a consultant in an accounting firm.

Ms Lau, 27, is a consultant for a market research company.

The couple, who met through mutual friends, strengthened their relationship during the circuit breaker period by interacting on FaceTime and sending food and gift deliveries to each other, even working out together virtually.

Mr Tan had dreams of proposing in a villa in Bali, but with travel not being an option last year, he decided to do it on Sentosa instead.

“I felt the time was right,” he says, adding that “we were a bit jaded from this Covid-19 thing and I wanted something to spice up our lives again”.

In order not to raise his girlfriend’s suspicions, he used their anniversary last September as a cover and visited the W Singapore – Sentosa Cove several times to work with its team on the logistics and decorations.

These included setting up his Go-Pro camera to record the event, balloons and a “Marry Me” sign. The hotel switched on purple lights in the room for the occasion and scattered rose petals on the bed.

On Sept 19, the couple checked into their ground-floor suite with a plunge pool, but as the countdown began, Mr Tan grew increasingly nervous.

During an early dinner at the hotel’s Skirt restaurant, he recalls “sweating quite badly” under the heat of the setting sun, but could not take off his jacket as it held the engagement ring.

While they were dining, the W team got to work on the decorations. Mr Tan, who did not have much of an appetite, slipped away to the room mid-meal to switch on the camera.

The couple laugh as they relate the humorous events from that night.

Ms Lau mistook the rose petals and lights for anniversary decor as she did not see the Marry Me sign at first, and she had to prompt her fiance to put the ring on her finger – he had blanked out after she said yes.

“I was in shock for the next two hours,” she says. “Not that I would have said no, but I wasn’t expecting it to be so soon.”

They moved to a room on a higher floor the next day – which Mr Tan had earlier arranged – which afforded them a better view.

They say “many people” in their circle became engaged last year and hope to stay at the hotel again. Describing the team as “top notch”, Mr Tan singles out welcome coordinator Fazila Rafi for her exemplary service.

He says: “I want to go back to Skirt when I’m not wearing a tight pair of trousers, when I’m not in this nervous state and eat to my heart’s content. We want to go back to W soon, just to relive that moment.”

This article first appeared on StraitsTimes.com.