The Peninsula Manila – a tranquil oasis in the heart of Makati CBD

When most people think of vacations, they usually imagine far-flung places where they can laze in the sun and be waited on hand and foot. Unfortunately, traveling to said far-flung place means time spent on the road and if you’ve only got the weekend to spare, that’s time you can’t afford to lose. The popularity of the “staycation” has increased over the years and there’s no better place to retreat to than The Peninsula Manila in Makati.

Opened in 1976 to coincide with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Conference in Manila, the Peninsula Manila is the first Peninsula hotel outside of Chinese territory. It’s located on the corner of Ayala and Makati Avenues in the heart of the Makati Central Business District, just across the street from the Glorietta and Greenbelt malls. This makes it perfect for both business and leisure travelers, as well as Manila residents looking for a quick and convenient escape. There are 497 rooms and suites in the two towers – the Ayala and Makati towers, respectively – including the 372 sq m Peninsula Suite (it’s bigger than my house!). The Peninsula Manila is home to five restaurants and two bars, including their iconic lobby area simply called The Lobby.

When your lobby is this grand, there’s no need to think of a separate name for it. The Lobby says it all.

I entered the Pen’s lobby after a 15-minute walk from the bus stop across Glorietta. It was raining and my fold-up umbrella could only protect me for so long. Confession time: this was only my second time to visit the Pen, the first being years ago during my grandparents’ 50th anniversary reception in one of the function rooms. It was nerve-wracking to go inside knowing that I was only a couple of steps above “bedraggled”. The nervousness disappeared once I got a good look around the Pen’s famed lobby. The place really does deserve to be called The Lobby as no other hotel lobby I’ve been in so far can compare to it. I found the Front Desk quickly enough, where I met the friendly Rowi who escorted me to the elevators and took me up to the room. Nothing if not efficient!

The Deluxe Rooms are the room category above the Superior Rooms, measuring 41 sq m and with a view of the park. The king-sized bed and the heavy yet soft pillows are the perfect place to rest while watching movies on the 40″ LCD TV with cable TV. Just lying on the bed made me want to fall asleep right there and then, cuddling the pillows. I marveled at the bedside panel used to control practically everything in the room: the lights, air-conditioning, TV, radio, plus the “Do Not Disturb” on the door. You can also use it to call the Front Desk and Room Service! (Yes, I’m a newbie when it comes to stuff like this.) There’s also free wired and wireless Internet access (a must!) and a kick-ass executive work desk. There’s also a coffee and tea-making unit in the room. Then there’s the matter of the bathroom. It is possible to fall in love with a bathroom? A tub, separate toilet and shower stalls, a huge mirror, and large, white, and fluffy towels and bathrobes? I’m sold! The standard room amenities include a daily fruit platter and newspaper.

I wouldn’t mind waking up in a bed like this day after day. And the executive work desk is boss.

Have I mentioned how divine the food at the Peninsula is? Escolta is home to their delectable buffet breakfast (included in the standard room rate). I consider breakfast the most important meal of the day and Escolta’s spread did not disappoint. From miso soup, dumplings, and mini siopao to eggs, sausages, bacon, and waffles, to pastries, cereal, and fruit, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. The food was so yummy that I filled up two plates. Not my finest moment to be sure, but I can’t the regret savoring those bites of blueberry danish as they melted in my mouth. One tip from me: leave room for their ice cream!

The entrance to Escolta
My second breakfast plate. I regret nothing.

Walking around and exploring the pool area was a must after eating such a heavy breakfast. It was warm and humid – practically how yesterday was except that it wasn’t raining. Part of me envied the people lounging on their chairs and soaking up the sun but another part welcomed being in the shade. My bid to start digesting breakfast failed when the pool bar staff offered fresh fruit skewers. Curse the fruits for looking so good!

I left the Peninsula counting the days until I come back. There were so may other places to explore: Old Manila for modern European food, Spices for Asian cuisine, and The Peninsula Spa to reward myself after long days at work. Now I know where I’ll be spending my birthday!

Many, many thanks to Meet Manila and The Peninsula Manila for making this experience possible. As one of Meet Manila’s Empowered Travelers, The Peninsula Manila sponsored my Peninsula experience, including the room and breakfast buffet at Escolta. Please note that while my experience was sponsored, The Peninsula Manila had no editorial control over the content of this post. I raved because I was impressed by everything they had to offer, including excellent rooms, good service, and mouth-watering food.

Manila from the air

Dear Metro Manila,

I have a love/hate relationship with you.

Well, that was a quick 10 days. Haha. Quick but full of activities. Strangely enough, I don’t get to actually rest on my days off. I spend each day running around doing errands, going out with friends, working on my thesis (really now?), and basically trying to fit in as much fun as I can in the few days that I’m home.

My accomplishments:

  • finishing the photo book for my Australia trip last 2010 with Rima (it looks so pretty!)
  • taught my parents and sister how to use the photo book software so that they could organize their own photos (yay!)
  • attended Meet Manila’s Tertulia Night
  • attended iBlog 8 and learned a lot of fun stuff
  • joined Geekfight’s comics night and contributed nothing unique to the team (curses!)
  • did the preliminary statistics work for my thesis (yay!) and met up with my adviser

And now, I am back in El Nido. Maybe I’ll post more of those photos that everybody likes to see ๐Ÿ˜› I leave you with the new trailer for “The Bourne Legacy”, featuring some of the scenes they shot in Manila. I’m still waiting to see the scenes they shot here in El Nido ๐Ÿ™‚ A shirtless Jeremy Renner, oh yeah!

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cdtUdEoE-Q4]

Meet Manila’s launch: a tertulia under the stars

Despite the power outage and the slight drizzle, Meet Manila’s launch party entitled “A Tertulia Night” held last May 23 in Adarna Food and Culture Restaurant was a success and definitely something that I was glad to attend.

What is Meet Manila? From their website:

It is a non-profit informational site whose core focus is to promote Philippine tourism through social media, encouraging the creativity of the Filipinos in sharing Filipino culture and Philippine tourism expressed through blogs, photos, tweets, and Facebook posts.

Meet Manila aims to cultivate online community participation and interaction through shared content, in promotion of Philippine tourism. Serving as a response to the surge of travel interest by social media users, the portal will provide a centralized portal featuring the best of Philippine travel through aggregated user reviews. In effect, this will propagate a culture of thoughtful and responsible tourism that encourages pure appreciation of the Philippinesโ€™ authenticity in culture and natural resources.

“A Tertulia Night” served to officially launch Meet Manila and to introduce their Heroes for #ThoughtfulTourism.

I arrived slightly late due to wanting to finish my latest book review before leaving the house. When I got to Adarna, I found out that there was no power because of a blown transformer just outside the restaurant. Dinner would be by candlelight instead. The blackout wasn’t so bad once I spotted Tita Susan Arcega (who was there as Lito Perez’ publicist) and she invited me to sit at their table. Within the 15 minutes, I’d gotten acquainted with Eric from Boracay Mandarin, Nix and Nikki from Save Philippine Seas, and food blogger Apple.

The event kicked off with dinner by Chef Giney Villar of Adarna Food and Culture, a restaurant specializing in Filipino cuisine. We were treated to caldereta, adobo, and chicken relyeno. I couldn’t see how pretty the food looked because of the dim light but it sure was delicious.

Ivan Henares during his talk

Once our bellies were full and we’d made new friends with out table-mates, a bugtungan (riddle game) emceed by Vince of Mellow 94.7 and Ysobel of Meet Manila served to break the remaining ice. Tita Susan answered one and was recruited to read another. Unfortunately, I’ve never been good with riddle games so I just watched and cheered from the sidelines.

After the bugtungan came the short introduction to Meet Manila and the featured speaker, Ivan Henares. He spoke on preserving heritage houses. I had to move closer to the staging area to hear him but I didn’t mind. He focused on the troubles facing historical houses around the country – neglect, vandalism, and demolition – and what we can do to preserve them. After all, people come from all over to visit Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral and Thailand’s temples. Aside from preserving our cultural heritage, our historical houses could become another draw for both domestic and international tourists. Case study for success: Vigan.

After Mr. Henares were the talks from the Heroes for #ThoughtfulTourism. They are:

  • Carlos Celdran of Walk This Way
  • Chairell Winston Almendras of Batang Yagit
  • Loren Legarda of Luntiang Pilipinas
  • Melissa and Francesa Villa-Mateo of Project Pearls
  • Jay Jaboneta of Yellow Boats Foundation
  • Antonio Ingles of Aral Pinoy
  • Anna Oposa of Save Philippine Seas
  • Niccolo Cosme of Project Headshot Philippines
  • Elizabeth Angsioco of Democratic Socialist Women of the Philippines
  • Jayvee Fernandez for Diving in the Philippines
  • Lynn Pinugu of Mano Amiga Pilipinas
  • Froilan Grate of Mother Earth Foundation
  • Imee Marcos of Ilocos Norte
  • Lito Perez for Filipino Heritage and Fashion
Lito Perez while talking about his work with heritage houses

While they all deserved their moment in the spotlight for their contributions to Thoughtful Tourism, my own personal biases towards environmental efforts and because I’ve stayed in Villa Tortuga, one of the places that Lito Perez has restored, led me to pay just a little more attention to Anna Oposa, Lito Perez, and Jayvee Fernandez.  I appreciated hearing their thoughts on how the online community and social media could be used to promote advocacies and build connections. Unfortunately, Carlo Celdran arrived much later because he got stuck in traffic.

The night ended with the awarding of the Empowered Travelers: travelers selected by Meet Manila and the sponsors to become ambassadors for Thoughtful Tourism. Congratulations to the three folks who were awarded that night!

(My nice surprise a few days later: I was chosen to be an Empowered Traveler too, along with Manyel! Apparently, they wanted to call all the Empowered Travelers to the front but with the power outage, they couldn’t round us all up in the dark. Haha. Thank you Meet Manila for this opportunity!)