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Saturday, January 7, 2012

One Christmas At Oakwood: Finale

(Last of three parts.)

It was around 15 minutes from my phone call before the manager on duty came up to our room.

He introduced himself and apologized profusely for everything that has happened. (He was already briefed about the initial "events" and the expression on my face must have tipped him off on how to respond.) I told him, "You know, I might have let it slide if this was a three star, maybe on a four star establishment...but, Oakwood is supposed to be a five star place, yes?"

"That's right."

"Then everything that has happened so far seems to be a manual on how not to run a five star serviced apartment. That's where I'm coming from. One infraction is memorable for the wrong reasons, but one after the other...I'm already expecting the entire stay to be a disaster."

"Please allow us to make it up to you. As we speak, I am currently having a room on the 23rd floor tidied up so that if you choose, you can move up to the higher floor, which is what you requested with our reservations agent."

"That's the other thing. If your people cannot make it happen, they should not say things like "I'm on top of it" and "I'll see to it personally". It just sets up for a forgettable experience, and I'm sure I don't have to tell you, in the hospitality industry, it's all about how one feels from start to finish."

"I completely agree, Mr. Ramirez. Please allow me to personally ensure that everything will be smooth sailing from here on out. I will head down to make sure that the room on the 23rd is ready, then I will call again to ask if you would like to transfer."

"Please understand that I don't want something more than what I requested. As _______ explained to me, since this is a Deal Grocer coupon stay, the highest floor allowed would only be the 18th floor. It would have been nice if he could have managed it from his end to begin with."

Art then hollers from the bedroom: "Just take the offer."

The manager left, and promptly called back in about 10 minutes, and asked if we would like to transfer. I said yes, and a porter appeared soon at our door to fetch our bags. (Which we didn't need anyway, as we had only one bag each.) The manager was also there to personally bring us to our new accommodations on the 23rd floor.

Here's the thing: The room looked exactly identical, in terms of furniture, placement, space usage. In fact, we noticed because the room on the 23rd floor was broken in a different way to accommodate a better view, the room seemed a little smaller. Art and I looked at each other, and we said almost simultaneously, "I think we'll just go back to the original room." (So, Deal Grocer buyers were not really missing that much - or at all - by being assigned the lower floors.)

The feature I think I liked best was this:

A TV in front of a bathtub. Best idea for total relaxation - and a recipe for pruned skin.

The dark hues of the furniture conveyed a strange mix of warmth and formality at the same time. I personally adored the way the room was designed: Neatly laid out into 4 blocks - the kitchen area when you entered, the living room and work area after that, then inside the bedroom, which lead into the bathroom with the bathtub, your own steam bath as well, and a closet. (We never did get to use the in-room steam bath, as the control instructions weren't too clear, and we might end up setting something ablaze.)

Art really lightened up with the kitchen, as there was a dishwasher and a touchscreen stove. (And he really does like cooking - like being an understatement.) We also discovered that even the most powerful dishwashers won't clean up every square inch of your plates and utensils, sadly. (Nothing beats manual, hard labor.)

Beddings and linens provided were very comfortable, although the assortment of pillows (I think there were 6) is not something I fancy, but that's really more a matter of personal taste. And the bed was of the  Goldilocks variety - just right on the hardness-softness scale.

Someone from Guest Services also called, apologizing for the train wrecks we experienced along the way and also sent up a platter of fruits and champagne as peace offerings. (As I mentioned to the duty manager, on the strength of their amenities and actual accommodations, I would be the first to recommend it to anyone. On a physical basis, you'd be hard pressed to find something to complain about. And the room we had was almost twice the size of other 5 star hotel rooms.)

We went to the Oakroom in the morning for breakfast, which was included in the price we paid. An odd choice for a breakfast menu was the sausage, beef and liver skewer, which would probably be best paired with beer. (And not to mention, I don't take liver.)

I missed out on the risotto - another unusual breakfast item - as they only served it for one round in the buffet, and once it was finished, they replaced it with noodles or some other rice dish. I was happily munching away on the salmon (personal favorite) and a potato dish halfway between a croquette and mashed potato. (That was good.) Juices were overflowing, and the caffeine addicts will love the selection: You could have latte, Amerciano, espresso and a whole lot of other options, instead of just "Cream and Sugar or Black?" which I've come to expect from hotel chains.

Art wanted to go to the pool and I wanted to really maximize my relaxation time (read: stay motionless) so I stayed by one of the poolbeds, while he swam.

(Photo courtesy of

One of the best looking pool areas I've ever seen in Manila. It was a peach to just laze around by the poolside. The pool itself is not very deep nor big, but you can do laps so it serves its purpose.

We requested for a late check out time (Art wanted to make full use of the other facilities like the sauna) and this time we were granted the request, until 1PM. (Normal check out time was at 12NN.) I had dozed off because of where I was (the pool had the words CALM AND SERENE written all over it) and before I knew it, it was already 12:40PM. When I got up to the room, it was back to service reality: I was locked out of the room. I had to go to the lobby in my bathrobe to have the card key "fixed". Either someone didn't figure telling the front desk about our late check out time, or they never bothered adjusting the time my key would be valid.

I think Oakwood still needs to work on their communication with people who take the calls of their guests and the people who are expected to deliver their guests' requests. They are not really a "hotel" per se (as mentioned, they identify themselves as a serviced apartment) but when you slap on the label of "five star", expectations are at their highest. (I'm not counting the 7 star luxury hotel in the Middle East...speaking of which, is there a "6 star" hotel, then?) On the basis of the place's physical attributes alone, I would gladly spread the word myself that they have that area covered in spades.

But service counts more, especially in a service intensive trade like the hospitality industry.

It spells the difference between  a magical moment to be relived at the soonest time possible, or a bad cocktail party story.

Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center Manila
17 ADB Avenue, Oritgas Center,
Pasig, Metro Manila

1 comment:

  1. In fairness, I had the same experience checking in at a 5star hotel in the area same time you did. I think its just the deluge of guests checking in. Don't get me wrong, I had some of my fuses blown but as there are just these other guests that makes it twice difficult as the situation is by being plain rude or just mindlesss and indifferent to other guests waiting in line which rattles the staff even worse. The guy ahead of me had made all bookings well it seems and he just wanted to change rooms or package just becasue his friend "know" better and created a ruckus making me wait for another 35minutes or so! But it seems you had a good time with Oakwood itself, which I wanted to try when I found out from my friend from Scotland that Ms Scotland of the recent Ms Earth pageant (a friend of hers), had a great time. Its just that I pre-booked already mid-year last year. The thing is, it seems you have gotten a great deal as for an "old" room from this 5star hotel, I paid nearly 6,000pesos a night! And it doesn't even include breakfast! I just didn't have a pleasant time period as nothing was smooth, except when I was sleeping. Anyway, I can relate with your experience but in fairness, you seem to have it better considering you were given attention by the manager (becasue I didn't get any reaction at all) and had champagne (I didn't even get a free beer).