If you’re ever in need of recommendations for a new city you’re visiting or cool spots to discover in town, Tan Min-Li is your girl. Over morning coffee at the opulent Atlas Bar, she consistently peppers our conversation with nuggets of information about her favourite restaurants, hotels and even little-known facts about popular places. Upon discovering that we both love visiting The Old Man Singapore, an innovative cocktail bar on buzzy Keong Saik Road that made it to the list of The World’s 50 Best Bars 2019 barely a year into its opening, Min-Li leans in excitedly and asks: “Did you know that if you go for drinks there around six or seven o’clock, you can order from the tapas menu at Olivia?”
I did not. Located right next door, Olivia Restaurant & Lounge – another place we’re both big fans of – serves fantastic Catalan cuisine but is almost impossible to get a dinner reservation at less than two weeks in advance. There is no information online about this valuable secret, but the staff at The Old Man corroborate.
Tan Min-Li shares that she discovered the bar, and thereafter this hack, through Sky Premium, the exclusive privileges club of which she is an ambassador and director. Members of the bespoke lifestyle brand have access to curated experiences, services and products across its Four Pillars of Good Living: Travel, Wine & Dine, Shopping and Wellness.
The Old Man is one of the company’s partner establishments and Sky Premium members who visit are welcomed with glasses of champagne for two on the house. The Wine & Dine perks vary depending on the establishment, from discounts to one-for-one benefits, and are frequently coupled with complimentary dessert or a welcome drink to make the dining experience that little bit more special.
“It’s all these little perks that make Sky Premium very attractive,” says Min-Li, who has a full-time career as a law firm partner. After working long hours, sometimes all she wants at the end of the day is to go out for a pleasant meal, but without the hassle of having to research and pick a place. “Rather than go online and choose from hundreds of F&B options, it’s more convenient to have a curated list – which is constantly being updated with new and interesting places – because I know that I will be assured of a nice evening.”
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While her work as a lawyer takes up most of her time, a quick browse through her Instagram (@min299) reveals there are other sides to Min-Li. Among many things the tastemaker loves her champagne, being by the beach and is a jet-setting fashionista. With her vast interests and rich social life, it makes us wonder how she does it all.
The way Min-Li sees it, everyone is busy with responsibilities and has a lot to juggle. “For me, it’s not really a balancing act because I feel that if there is something that you really want to do, you will find the time and a way to do it,” she says. “That’s how I prioritise the things I love doing.”
The good life
For a life as colourful as Min-Li’s, Sky Premium makes for a perfect accompaniment. Because most Sky Premium members like herself are high-flying executives who may not always have the luxury of time, a lot of her ideas and strategies for the company stem from her own experience. It is crucial to create a product that she herself would buy.
In spite of her busy schedule, Tan Min-Li leads a rather active lifestyle, which she bolsters with some of Sky Premium’s holistic wellness offerings that range from spas to hair treatments, high-intensity workouts and more. About two to three times a week for the last three years, she practises body combat, and also often goes on hikes and runs with her nine-year-old Belgian Shepherd, Milo.
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“I always try to maximise whatever time I have and spend it on really amazing experiences that I want to share with my family, good friends and loved ones,” she says. “And that’s what we can offer with Sky Premium; it’s about giving our members exclusive access and privileges that they would otherwise not be able to enjoy.”
One of these benefits is access to Sky Premium’s extensive network in Japan, such as the ability to purchase fresh, premium Japanese produce directly imported from the Toyosu Market in Tokyo. While Sky Premium’s e-store also boasts an array of fashion, accessories and more, Min-Li says the bulk of members join because of the food. Seasonal fruits and seafood like Kyoho grapes, peaches and Murasaki uni are available on demand at cost price, plus freight and taxes, and delivered straight to your doorstep.
“We don’t make a profit and all we charge is what it costs us to bring it to you. This is something unique that we want to accord our members. Our membership fee is $1,200 a year. In addition to all our other perks, if you are a great uni lover and order uni every week, it will more than pay for itself.”
Min-Li’s personal Toyosu Market favourites are the peaches and Mikan oranges she often buys as gifts for her friends and also herself.
“The Mikans are so different from our Mandarin oranges,” she gushes. “They’re always seedless and always very juicy – so good!”
As another perk and opportunity for members to network, Sky Premium holds monthly events – some of which showcase seasonal Toyosu Market produce. “Last year, we held an amazing sunset cruise out on a catamaran with a Japanese chef serving sashimi, sushi and uni to about 20 people. And there were fireworks,” recalls Min-Li. “It was so special and we will definitely have more of these experiences coming up.”
In an interview with Prestige Singapore in 2017, Min-Li expressed her desire to explore other more creative areas outside of law. And so she did, taking on various passion projects over the last few years, such as producing films and co-founding Whitelight Editions, a company that represents photographic archives of artists. Without any formal background in these fields, the journey was tough and pushed her in new ways, which she relished. “I often say that my favourite place is just outside my comfort zone because I want to continue stretching and learning all the time. It’s scary but I love the feeling of being on the precipice; you might fall, but you might fly.”
Min-Li did take a slight step back from her day job to spend more time travelling to places like the US, where she focused her energies on Whitelight Editions with her Los Angeles-based business partner Timothy White. “I love travelling because I love new experiences. Where I stay is very important because with the little time I have to spend away from home, I want to make sure it is really a ‘wow’ experience.”
Typically, her first point of reference when booking her travels is the Sky Premium app for its curated accommodation, as well as customisable packages with various options for add-ons such as bespoke dining experiences. Members also enjoy perks like complimentary champagne on arrival, yoga and spa experiences, private VIP airport transfers and room upgrades. “Sky Premium is a good place to start because you know the options have received our seal of approval,” she adds.
After allowing herself the time and freedom to travel, start new businesses and express her creativity, Min-Li is back in the thick of things and taking on more at the law firm. “I feel so lucky to have been able to go out there on that unfamiliar journey, but it is great to come back and see everything with fresh and more favourable eyes,” says Min-Li.
“I love law, and now I find myself wanting to do more in my profession because I’m so energised, enthusiastic and more passionate about it than I’ve been before. I’ve really enjoyed the process of returning to what I think has always been my calling. Life is a journey and I think I’m in a good place now.”
Fashion direction Johnny Khoo
Art direction Audrey Chan
Photography Cher Him
Fashion styling Jacquie Ang
Hair Sean Ang, using Kevin.Murphy
Makeup Wee Ming, using Dior Makeup
Photography assistance Yang Shihui
Fashion assistance Jessica Khor
Location Lloyd’s Inn