It’s over thirty degrees Celsius. There’s 95 percent humidity in the air. My arms are laden with shopping bags, my legs worn out, and I’m dripping with sweat.
By the time I arrive at the Makati Shangri-la, Philippines, I’m utterly exhausted and in desperate need of a little luxury. What I get from the ‘Shang’ is a lot.
The hotel’s doors open to a gust of welcome air-conditioning, welcoming smiles, and a seriously impressive lobby. It’s an elegant space, with winding staircases rising out of huge marbled floors and ornate chandeliers dangling from equally elaborate ceilings.
Adding to the ambience, live classical music, courtesy of a 14-piece orchestra, billows from the orchid-filled Lobby Lounge, whose massive floor to ceiling glass windows allow for plenty of natural light.
A young lady, clad in a uniform designed by Rajo Laurel – a big shot in the Filipino fashion world – ushers me to the front desk, where I’m greeted by more grins.
Given my weariness, I would have been happy with any one of the property’s 696 rooms and suites. A cold San Miguel may have also sufficed. But on this occasion I’ve booked a room in the exclusive Horizon Club, which occupies floors 22 to 25 of the property.
Following a personal welcome by one of the hotel’s executive staff – a privilege reserved for Club guests – I’m whisked away to my corner room, which is oversized by any standard.
With views overlooking the aptly named Ayala Triangle Park, it features two double beds with ‘300-count’ cotton linen, a cozy sofa, large LCD television, DVD player, big desk (with fax) and free wi-fi. A well-lit, curved mini bar is just that as well, and not just a fridge full of booze.
The luxurious – and spacious – bathroom has a separate shower, and is stocked full of L’Occitane goodies along with gorgeous glycerin soap.
But before settling in for what looks like will be a very comfy stay, I decide to check out the hotel’s recreational facilities.
Alongside the sun-drenched main pool (with dedicated swimmers’ lane) is a smaller pool for the kiddies, while nearby, the Pool Bar awaits those looking for something a little stronger than water. On a warm day like today, it’s a pretty popular place.
I forgo the adjacent (24-hour) gym, and with no one with whom to play, skip the well-groomed tennis courts. But I simply can’t go past the hotel’s spa, where I while away 45 minutes in the sauna, steam room and plunge pool, before partaking in a massage utilizing a traditional Filipino technique called Hilot.
By now relaxed, I make my way to the Horizon Club private lounge, which besides serving a daily breakfast and all-day beverages, each evening offers up a great mix of complimentary cocktails and canapés. With wi-fi, a wide range of literature and views of the Makati skyline, the lounge is the perfect place to watch the red-tinged sun set over Manila, and beyond.
And once said sun goes down, dining options at the hotel are aplenty. From the chic Cantonese-inspired Shang Palace, to the sushi bar and teppanyaki counters of Inagiku restaurant; from the fine dining Red to the Circles Event Café, where eastern and western buffets meet for breakfast and dinner, I find more than enough within the Shangri-la to warrant eating in.
Afterwards, I slip into the hotel bar, Conway’s, for a quick drink, before slipping out to sample some of the best nightlife Manila has to offer, much of which lies within a stone’s throw of the hotel.
The following day, my wake up call arrives just as a hot cup of coffee lands on my doorstep – another service offered by the Horizon Club.
But with an in-room, private check-out not until 4pm, I take my time, and enjoy the view.
The writer was a guest of the Makati Shangri-la.
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