A Journey from Shanghai to Singapore
The American Club recently had a chat with Members Juan Ignacio and Deborah to get to know them and their family better. Juan Ignacio works for a Spanish multinational company developing and operating wind and solar farms in the Asia-Pacific region, while Deborah is a founding partner of an American merchant bank. Learn about their journey from Shanghai to Singapore and how The American Club has helped them create a home away from home.
Tell us a bit about your family and your journey to Singapore.
Juan Ignacio: We are a family of four – myself, Deborah, Juan Ignacio Jr (aged 10) and Lauren (aged 7). We have been in Singapore for almost a year now, having relocated from Shanghai, where we lived for 12 years. My wife, Deborah, is Chinese-American, while I am Spanish. We now live in Grange Residences, just across from Tanglin Mall.
How different was your experience in Shanghai compared to Singapore?
Juan Ignacio: Firstly, it’s amazing to be in a place that is Summer here all year round – it gives a whole new meaning to outdoor life! More seriously, what we have found amazing about Singapore is that it is a true melting pot of nationalities and religions – and that diversity gives a wonderful vibe to the city. Moreover, there is an energy here that anything is possible – perhaps it is the opening up post COVID-19, perhaps it is just because Singapore lies at the epicenter of a blossoming region. Whatever the reason – we are quite excited to be a part of it all. We lived in Shanghai during a 15-year period where the city transformed and became one of the most advanced cities in the world. We loved being a part of that journey, and hopefully in our small way, contributed towards it. Looking at the two places – we feel very fortunate to have been welcomed by both.
What were the adjustments that you and your family had to make?
Deborah: Thankfully, we did not feel any big adjustments. Singapore is a pretty easy and welcoming city. And The American Club has been wonderful to us helping us get used to our new lives in Singapore – a place where we have many friends and made some new ones, a source of many lessons for our kids (and ourselves!), a library, great food, lovely staff… the list goes on.
Why did you decide to join a social club in Singapore?
Juan Ignacio: There were three driving forces behind selecting The American Club – and it was really more about The American Club specifically, than a social club more broadly. Firstly, most people we met with when we arrived all raved about how their kids had grown up at The American Club. Secondly, we learned the Singapore American School, where our kids had been admitted, has an after-school drop off at the Club – which is convenient and spoke to what would be the after-school social lives of our kids. Finally, Deborah had been a Member of The American Club Hong Kong for many years and had great memories.
How long have you been Members?
Juan Ignacio: We have been Members for nearly a year. Joining The American Club was one of the first things we did when moving to Singapore from Shanghai – before even having a permanent place to live!
What are your favorite things about the Club?
Deborah: In no particular order, these are our favorites (starting with the food!):
- The Gourmet Pantry – We buy our wines and alcohol here, love the shrimp chips, and will sometimes buy the seasonal items!
- The 2nd Floor – We love the Chinese food there.
- Central – We buy snacks here for our kids, including the fruit bars and veggie chips – it makes us feel like we are giving them healthy school snack options.
- Essentials – This is a great place to get a copy of the Financial Times Weekend, mini bagels, frozen raspberries and sometimes the less healthy snacks our kids like before heading home.
- Tennis Courts – We all take lessons.
- Swimming Pool – We swim here, our kids take lessons here, and when we organize an afternoon playdate, this is our venue of choice.
- Library – Peace and quiet… peace…
- Business Center – We have held many a meeting there!
What activities do you and your family participate in?
Juan Ignacio: Deborah and I take Wednesday morning tennis lessons with Azhar and we love it. Our kids take Saturday morning tennis lessons with Jack, and Tuesday afternoon swim lessons with Daniel. We have joined a few of the holiday events and even had our Christmas card photo taken at the Club.
What is a typical day at the Club like for you and your family?
Deborah: Saturdays are our morning time at the Club – our kids have 8:00 a.m. tennis class so it’s usually a mad dash to make it on time. Once the kids are dropped off, Juan and I head downstairs to buy the Financial Times and The Straits Times from Essentials, then we leisurely enjoy our macchiatos on the couches at Central. Occasionally, we will run into other families we know – though this is usually a nice quiet time for the two of us.
Probably a half hour into that, we return to the tennis viewing area and watch our kids play in their group tennis class. After a quick shower, we visit Tradewinds for a full-on American breakfast – our favorites are the breakfast burrito, the American breakfast and the chicken char siew bao.
Tuesdays are our afternoons and dinners at the Club – the kids are dropped off by the school bus at 5:00 p.m. and then rush to change for swim class that has probably already started. The first few minutes are always a bit of a struggle as our daughter has napped on the bus ride and is not exactly thrilled to jump into the water. That said, it only takes five minutes and they are both happy in the pool and improving their swimming! Dinner is again at Tradewinds. We know many of the waitstaff – and they remember us too! Our dinner order – pepperoni pizza – is very predictable, as well as the fact that we like to sit at the banquettes. One of the waitstaff likes to speak in Mandarin to our kids – something we think he must find amusing as they are a mishmash of nationalities.
Smattered in there are Juan’s and my weekly tennis classes, his NBA and Super Bowl visits, business meetings or lunches and then library time for us to read the papers or the kids to find new books.
Tell us about your most memorable experience at the Club.
Deborah: Hands down when our son photobombed a snapshot of the Marines with Santa Claus at Christmas this past year!