I love to travel and explore new places. I enjoy it a lot. But I also like to relax and do not much of anything worth writing about. Yes, I have been known to cram a lot into a trip when I set my mind to it (like my Croatia/Bosnia & Herzegovina/Montenegro chaser to my week in Rome a year ago). But the diversity of experiences is what draws me to travel and that does not just mean different geographies and cultures – that also means pace. While I am not much of a beach bum (a couple of hours and I am itching to do SOMETHING), I appreciate what people find in just laying about and letting the world go on.
In my short visit to Manila I was intending to see all I could about the city in 3 days. However, there was something liberating in knowing that I could not experience all that the city is in three days so that gave me the opportunity to take the pressure off myself to do all I could (and especially after day one when I realized this is a place I would want to come back to). But what really sealed the deal was my hotel. It says something when a hotel makes you want to stay in and, I imagine, many hotels aim for that. The Marriott Manila had that effect on me. Amazingly, I was not jet lagged and needing to rest. (Jet lag actually did not affect me with sleepiness or confused time zones, something confusing in and of itself.) I. Just. Wanted. To. Be. There.
The room was spacious and comfortable (without being a suite). All the offerings/amenities of the room worked without a hitch (yes, EVEN the wi-fi). There was actually great lighting in the room (read #4 in my top 5 hotel pet peeves). The shower/tub combination was quite unique as was the division between it and the main room – clever.
The Executive Lounge, unlike most U.S. Marriotts, was huge. At non-peak times, it is easy to find a spot and feel like you are on your own, which is nice if you have work to do.
The lounge faces the golf course which gives it a great view…
The lobby is a series of spaces designed to flow well and pull you in. The main seating area seamlessly integrates into the bar. You just want to hang there. And do people watching…
… or have a drink.
Finally, facing the golf course, there are nice outdoor areas for those times when you get cold indoors (the A/C really is PUMPING!) or want to jump in the pool.
On my first full night in Manila, after having done a walking city tour in the rain, I decided to eat in at the hotel. Since I had a slight sore throat, I asked for some chicken noodle soup. Boy, was that a chicken noodle soup! It was beautifully served and was delicious: with noodles, greens, diced up chicken, and carrots. I don’t think I have used the phrase “beautifully served” before but the solid ingredients were nicely set up in the main oblong bowl with the broth actually brought in a separate teapot-like container. I especially appreciated it because I wanted to shower before eating and the way they served it allowed me to not have to eat it as soon as it was brought to my room.
The next day, I had the choice of taking breakfast in the Executive Lounge, a hangout spot for a regular like me (the one in Santiago’s Marriott, I called my living room when I stayed there most of 2010!), or go to the Marriott Café. I opted for the latter to see what food they would offer in the buffet. It did not disappoint as it clearly had many local specialties some of which I tried and some that I did not want at breakfast (e.g., anchovies).
The Marriott Manila sits very close to the Manila airport in an area called Resorts World. I am not 100% clear on the plans for the area but there are other hotels, shopping center, etc. and a lot of development going on in the area; it looks like a small town is actually sprouting. While one half of the hotel looks over the domestic part of the airport, the other half overlooks a very nice and lush golf course with the Manila skyline in the distance. I am not sure how it is during regular weekday hours but my ride to the business center of Makati was pretty easy and fast on mid-day Saturday.
I have to admit that before I came, I assumed that given its location (near the airport and not far from the Makati business district), the Marriott would mainly appeal to business travelers. Once I stepped in it, I saw how off my assumption was. Lots of leisure travelers AND many locals coming for events at the hotel.
Service – leaving the best for last (but proverbial “not least”!)
I mentioned earlier my slight sore throat. I stopped at the front desk and asked when I came in from sightseeing to find out where I could get some lozenges or something to alleviate my discomfort. The informed me that connected to the hotel, right after the entrance to the mall was a medical clinic. I thought to myself how convenient that was. Not only convenient but free. With a doctor. On a Saturday evening. Yes, indeed. Imagine that ANYWHERE in the U.S.! They really are prepared to take care of guests! The doctor just recommended something to gargle which the hotel concierge went to get for me. It really says something about a hotel when they can handle not only the “normal” stay but when something like this arises.
Which leads me to my top takeaway from this stay… The amazing staff at the hotel. They are well prepared to make you comfortable and assist you. They smile and it actually feels genuine. No wonder I just wanted to stay in, right?!
I have stayed at many Marriotts in my work life and logged many “career stay nights”. As I have mentioned elsewhere, one of the things Marriotts do best is give the business traveler a consistent experience so that you feel you are somewhere familiar. But the Manila Marriott simply blew me away. Few hotels have made me feel so welcome, comfortable, and cared for. You can bet that if – no, when – I return to Manila, I will be making a stop here!
Thanks to the Manila Marriott for hosting part of my stay. Opinions are my own as always.