Shangri-la Makati is a hotel that I’ve known ever since I was a kid. In a couple of ways, it’s been host to many memorable events. I’ve been here several times for dinners with friends, colleagues and family in Circles, birthdays, weddings and other parties in their ballrooms. Many friends and relatives had their wedding reception here. I remember being awed the first time I witnessed the grand lobby more than a decade back, with the imposing staircase on either side and the center piece that changes every few days. If there’s one trademark about Shangri-la aside from their impeccable service and long buffets, it’s their grand lobby which they’ve replicated in properties all over the world.
the grand lobby of shangri-la makati… not airbrushed, it really looks like that
During one of my recent trips back home to Manila, I had the pleasure of once more being hosted by Shangri-la, this time in the Makati property. Built during the Asian boom in the early 90s, the hotel is now in its 20th year. It has always been known as a premier venue not just for lodging in Manila but also for events and conferences. This time around though, the hotel has been facing competition from new offerings that’s cropped up in the most recent economic boom. There’s now a Fairmont next door, and elsewhere in Manila there is a Marriott, a Hyatt Regency, a Pan Pacific and some other hotels that are due to open in the next coming years. It was only as recent as a decade back when Shangri-la seemed to be one of the very few truly 5-star hotels in the city.
the lobby lounge…patterned after shangri-la singapore’s lobby lounge
For this stay, I was most curious to find out whether Shangri-la Makati still had it. It didn’t take long to find out…
Similar to Shangri-la properties elsewhere, the arrival and check-in process is impressive. The staff by the entrance give warm welcomes, open doors and help with the bags. Upon entering the hotel, there is then a welcoming crew to lead guests to the check-in counters. Hotels take note, this is the way to make a first impression.
first glance at the room
I presented my personal details at the check-in counter and upon looking thru the system, the front desk officer promptly escorted us to the 28th floor with the check-in formalities to be done in-room.
The room itself is spacious and modern which I thought was quite impressive for a 20-year old hotel. Unlike most room setups, the bed is set on a slightly diagonal angle from the door, and is tilted bit to the window. By the desk was a personalized greeting from the hotel manager, a warm touch given that many hotels don’t take the time to personalize like this. By the sofa were some lifestyle magazines and a basket with a copious amount of fruits.
The bathroom was equally spacious. The floor and walls were done in marbled tiles and there was a separate shower area aside from the bath. Toiletries offered were the standard Shangri-la branded ones.
Beyond all these, what really impressed me about the room was how well-maintained it was given the age of the hotel. Nothing looked old or tired. The staff had mentioned to me that only minimal refurbishments have been done so far, with the overall look staying consistent all these years.
the bar at the horizon club lounge
I was also invited to the Horizon Club Lounge during my stay where they have afternoon tea from 3 to 5pm and cocktails in the evening. I was surprised to find the club lounge quite packed but nonetheless there was ample seating. The staff members were very attentive without being obtrusive, asking us promptly what we wanted to drink. The buffet was well-stocked and filled with all sorts of delicious canapes and pastries. There was also a wide selection of alcoholic drinks. In all, I found it to be a suitable substitute for dinner. It was a perfect setting for that rainy night, just relaxing inside the horizon lounge.
When we came back to the room after cocktails, I found someone had already done the turndown service in the room, leaving behind a bookmark containing excerpts from the book “The Lost Horizon.” I thought it was a nice touch and fitting end to the night.
There were a couple more small touches during my second night. The staff had left behind a small local snack (i.e. dried mangoes) on the desk as a parting gift as I was checking out the next morning. It was a reminder that my 2-nights stay was coming to an end but again I am a firm believer of small touches and I thought this really had set it apart from other hotels. I’ve certainly never received a goodbye gift from a hotel before.
Breakfast at Circles in Makati Shangri-la
how do you want your eggs?
I’ve been to Circles quite a few times throughout the years, but it was always to have dinner buffet. It can perhaps be said that this hotel all-day dining establishment was one of the pioneers of hotel buffets in Manila with its notoriously long buffet spread. I had never tried the breakfast before but had received quite good feedback about it from friends. I also had the chance to experience it myself with the Shangri-la in Singapore so I thought it’d be interesting to compare the two.
the local spread – bibingka!
In terms of variety, Circle’s breakfast doesn’t disappoint. The spread is just as wide for breakfast as it is for dinner, with sections dedicated to Chinese, Western, Japanese, Indian and Filipino food. They had all the breakfast standards such as bacon and sausages so I won’t go into that. I was particularly impressed that they had options between normal and organic eggs which can be cooked in various ways, a juice station featuring not just fresh juices but also smoothies with different fruit/vegetable blends. a Filipino section featuring traditional items such as bibingka and puto while the Japanese station served sashimi, even for breakfast! Moreover, their fruits section is one of the most comprehensive I’ve seen, and they even had mangosteen. The only other hotel (in a tropical country) where I saw this was in Ritz Carlton Singapore, and even then these were provided sparingly.
lots of different smoothies to choose from
All in all, I was totally blown away with the breakfast selection in Circles which in my opinion beats even those of most five-star hotels elsewhere in the region.
view of makati from my room
To revisit the question I made about whether Shangri-la still has it despite all these years, my answer is a resounding yes! I am aware of the need to distinguish the nuances of a comp stay and an actual paying guest so I wouldn’t say it’s in any way tricky for me to give this verdict. I would say that aside from the fantastic service I received at the check-in counter, most of my other experiences are consistent with what a regular guest in Shangri-la Makati would go through. In that respect, guests are really treated like VIP here. And I haven’t even gone on to talk about the lift ushers who bow at guests each time they enter the elevators. Rooms are fantastic as well and well-furnished, with Shangri-la offering one of the largest rooms for a hotel in Makati. With this being said, the highlight for me are the food offerings. Shangri-la always gets this right, whether it be in Makati or in Singapore. There’s a reason why this hotel chain is also renowned for their dining throughout their global footprints. All in all a most enjoyable stay!
This is my share for the PTB Blog Carnival this October, with the theme My Favorite Room, hosted by Eileen Campos of The Super Tourists. Click the official PTB logo for a list of previous carnival themes and hosts.