Whatever you do, don’t mistake the Marriott Manila for an airport hotel. Yes, the property is located a short distance from one of Manila’s main hubs - a big bonus - but the Marriott goes way beyond the scope of an airport hotel - and even other properties.
I arrive with my partner and young daughter in tow, after a quick and comfy ride - hardly a given in the Philippine capital - on the hotel’s free airport shuttle.
A gush of cool air hits us as we enter reception - a big, bright and beautiful space dominated by the Greatroom lobby lounge and bar.
As immaculately groomed staff whisk our bags to our room, we’re taken to the new West Wing of the property, where an exclusive check-in, and the affable and attentive Christoph, await.
Here, where luxury is taken up a notch, it almost feels like a different hotel, like boutique accommodation.
But there’s nothing intimate about our Executive Room, whose size is matched only by its style.
At its centre, around which my three-year-old is immediately doing laps, a large bed lies on timber floorboards, framed by contemporary furnishings. Among the room’s features are a sofa, small dining/work space, large TV, awesome audio system, and Nespresso coffee machine.
In the huge, marbled bathroom, it’s all mirrors and glass, as a large tub peers through a floor-to-ceiling window into the bedroom; and for those who don’t like to watch television from their bath, there’s of course an automated privacy screen.
For those with access, the exclusive (and enormous) Executive Lounge is brimming with snacks, hot and cold, along with beverages of almost every variety. Come at the right time, and you can take advantage of the complimentary cocktails, all in comfortable surroundings overlooking the verdant Villamor golf course.
As you would expect in the Philippines, the focus on food is full-on. We’re able to drag ourselves away from the Lounge (no easy feat) for breakfast at the Marriott, which serves up a buffet boasting the best of Filipino, Chinese, Japanese, Indian and western fare.
Big eaters can delight in roast meats, fish, noodles, and sweets of seemingly any kind, while on the lighter side, there’s copious fresh fruit and water straight out of the coconut (not as available at hotels around here as you might think). Another highlight is the ‘taho’, a tasty and traditional Filipino breakfast food/drink comprising silken tofu and sago in a brown, sugary syrup.
If you miss breakfast, or if that’s somehow not enough, the Cafe also hosts a buffet lunch and dinner, the former of which is highlighted by the cold seafood and famous Filipino ‘Kilawin’ - a raw fish dish similar to ceviche.
On the dessert front, there’s the local classic ‘halo-halo’, a mix of shaved ice, evaporated milk and all kinds of sweet beans, fruits and jellies, and a chocolate fountain that brings out the smile in my girl (and her mother).
For dinner, there’s the CRU Steakhouse, Mian modern Asian eatery and noodle bar or our recommendation, the excellent Man Ho chinese restaurant. Here, we find no shortage of vegetarian options like the sweet and sour eggplant and the best salt and pepper tofu we’ve ever tried (and we’ve tried a lot).
But there’s also a special spicy Szechuan menu featuring crispy duck with dried pepper and Szechuan style sliced Angus beef. On the beverage front, the standout is the extensive list of teas, which are kept warm on a small stovetop on your table. All the while, the whole meal and its drinks are served on gorgeous crockery and glasses befitting the stunning setting. And none of this is to mention the superb service.
After eating, the property has no shortage of leisure facilities to enjoy, including two kid-friendly pools - the main pool and the 15th-floor rooftop Deck, which affords incredible views over the Golf Course and city skyline - two fitness centres and the Quan Spa.
The hotel also boasts the largest hotel convention facility in the the Philippines, which explains why we see a number of weddings taking place during the course of our short stay. Clearly, this hotel is also a stand-out among those in the know: locals.
As well as its location close to Manila airport’s T3, the hotel is conveniently situated next door to Resorts World, a large but not overwhelming mall and casino. Even without hitting its carpets, RW makes for a lovely way to while away a few hours in its numerous outlets and eateries.
And there isn’t a plane to be seen or heard anywhere on the property. Like we said, this is no airport hotel.
For a fact sheet on the hotel, click here.
The writer was a guest of Manila Marriott Hotel.
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