Art and I found ourselves on a serial hotel field trip, which ended at a stay in one of Manila's most well-known hotel properties, equally famous for their service and amenities: the Makati Shangri-la Hotel. (MSH)
(Courtesy of philippinesheartofasia.ph)
A chronological listing of the details of a superb experience we had will follow, in relation to what we have experienced in other hotels of a similar class rating.(the cons will also be written about here.)
(1) Nobody likes the security measures encountered in Manila malls, hotels and government places, but given the latest crime news, it seems an absolute necessity to have them. MSH tries to make it a little bearable: They have a designated driveway (a snakelike one) that can accommodate more cars than the usual hotel driveways, a dedicated roofed area for both vehicle and security personnel, and more than ample parking spaces for the cars to park (prompting Art to liken the area as a mall parking lot).
(2) At least 5 counters waiting to serve you in the reception area, fully manned. Or should I say, wo-manned, as all the receptionists are female. A welcome change since some hotels have only two or three counters, not always fully staffed, and given a high volume of stress to deal with (owing to having only 2 counters to handle guests) end up with a not so pleasant experience.
(3) Opulent and grand displays, fixtures and designs abound throughout the hotel lobby, in contrast to other places that greet you with a reception desk, a small seating area then the elevators for a lobby. A particular scent also permeated throughout, something we forgot to ask about. It was pleasant and not too thick or cloying.
(Courtesy of shangri-la.com)
(4) 7 elevators to whisk you to your rooms. (In other hotels, you have to contend with just 3 elevators across more than 30 floors.)
(5) The room we got was not terribly big, and in fact, it was smaller than what we were used to, given the rates for this hotel. But the fine details, luxurious feel and something else (coming in number 7) more than made up for the seeming lack of real estate space.
(6) The things to do in the hotel are myriad - swimming, having a steam bath, working out, playing tennis - and always with great facilities and amenities (although Art wasn't too impressed with the pool area). We actually spent most of Saturday lounging around the pool - well, I did, Art really utilized the pool fully, and we met some friends there as well - until it was almost about to close. The amount of people in the pool area really made it clear that people were on vacation mode (Black Saturday), but as dinner time came along, it became much better for my slight case of agoraphobia.
(7) The sleep quality is the number one draw card for MSH. After the deep slumber I was able to achieve and waking up late (by my standards) on Easter Sunday, I was thoroughly convinced that those pillows must have been made by angels or extra-terrestrials. It was the best sleep experience I have ever had in any hotel, bar none. The many pillows and the rich linens completed this slumber success, along with temperature control and the sound deadening quality of the walls.
(8) Nothing too significant about the bathroom, I've actually stayed in other places with grander looking and more spacious bathrooms (and at a fraction of the cost), but I hear that those staying in the Club floor get a different experience in this department, so this could be an issue of economics.
(9) The Easter Sunday breakfast buffet at Circles needs no explaining, as anyone familiar with Manila's dining scene has most certainly heard of this place for excessive gastronomic adventures. We both decided to have lighter fare, and feel much better seeing the frenzy that people were engaged in scouring for their next food find in Circles. I found walnuts and happily munched away at them with ripened mangoes (well, some were a little sour) for my dessert.
(Courtesy of agoda.com)
(10) Late check out until 3PM. Another reason that needs no explaining.
I fear my experience at other hotels will now feel intrinsically lacking from this point forward, knowing what it means to have hospitality perfection and exceptional service personified by the staff of Makati Shangri-la Hotel. It is rather difficult to attain this sought-after position in a country that can rival Thailand for their moniker of "Land of Smiles" and where we are considered a generally happy people, but Makati Shangri-la proves that when the service is great and the facilities and amenities are topnotch, there is very little to improve upon on the way to hotel perfection.