Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hotel Review: Shangri-La at The Fort (Why It Deserves More Than An Overnight Stay)

The Horizon Club deluxe room
Sometime last week, my husband had an important meeting early in the morning in BGC. Rush hour traffic from Quezon City where we live is unpredictable so he asked me to book a room for him near his meeting venue. I decided to make a staycation of it for me and Jia.

I got us a deluxe room at Shangri-La at The Fort but, upon check-in, I was offered Horizon Club access for just an additional Php3,500. I accepted. We checked in at 5 p.m., which was just in time for cocktails. Although I don’t drink, I was famished.

Nespresso coffee machines are always an indulgent feature
We were given a Horizon Deluxe room on the 40th floor, which is also where the Horizon Club Lounge is located. It was 47 sqm., not a lot of space for the amount we were paying but the bed was supersized, which was perfect for us and our toddler who loves rolling and walking on the bed.

L'occitane toiletries
Complimentary packets of banana chips and coconut chips were waiting for us in the room, and shortly after our luggage were delivered, a staff came in to set up our welcome amenities, which included a basket of fruits (orange, mango, and apples) and three chocolate balls on a stick (delicious).

Welcome setup

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Kids are not allowed at the club lounge during cocktails so I had my afternoon merienda alone (my husband was still at work). Then a staff approached me and asked if I’d like to be with my baby at the lounge. I said yes, of course. She transferred me to an empty meeting room at the lounge, away from all the drinking guests, so I was able to bring in Jia and the nurse.


Cold canapes


A whole leg of Jamon Iberico

When we had our fill, I took Jia to Adventure Zone on the 5th floor. Access to stay-in guests is Php600. They require kids to be dressed in long sleeved tops and long pants. Everyone including adult companions must wear socks. The jungle gyms and slides are ideal for older kids but Jia enjoyed playing with the toys.

Salimpusa at Adventure Zone

Kerry Sports Gym has a basketball court!

The pool area at the 8th floor
I met up with my friend Clang at Samba restaurant at the 8th floor for dinner. This is also where the pool area is located. The pool looked inviting but I wasn’t able to take Jia for a dip because she was just recovering from a cold.

Samba’s cuisine is Peruvian, which is growing in popularity in the metro, but they also infuse local flavors in select offerings such as their Peruvian adobo. Their arroz con mariscos, a traditional Peruvian seafood rice, was bursting with flavor. I wish I got to try more of their offerings but I was still too full from my cocktail-hour nibbles.

Arroz con Mariscos
The next morning, after my husband left for his meeting, I went down to the lobby to have breakfast at High Street Café. The buffet selection was ample—not as overwhelming as Spiral’s but thoughtfully curated. Even their bacon is better, grilled over hot coals instead of pan-fried.


Salad station

Gelato station

My favorite -- bread station

My husband's preferred sweets - kakanin!

Filipino breakfast

Eggs station

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There's also a Grab and Go station at the entrance for those in a hurry
Horizon Club guests have the option of having their breakfast either at the lounge or at High Street Café. The latter is certainly a better option as the selection is far more extensive. I thought the lounge offering was lackluster and in dire need of more hot dishes, although you can request the staff for congee, noodles, and the like, which I did for my daughter. Jia loves sleeping in hotel rooms! She slept through the night and woke up at 10:28 a.m. I took her straight to breakfast at the lounge. Thankfully, the staff still accommodated my food requests for her.

There's so much to do at Shangri-La at The Fort that it deserves more than a single visit or an overnight stay. The husband wants to play on their basketball court and try out their gym. I want to dine in all their restaurants, visit their spa, and maybe book a haircut with Alex Carbonell at Studio Fix located at the adjacent mall. I'd also love to enrol Jia in one of the classes at Adventure Zone and take her to The Mind Museum nearby.

Shangri-La at the Fort is in the same price category as Raffles Makati so it’s hard not to compare. For a romantic weekend, I'd pick Raffles. I'd go with Shangri-La for a family affair.

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Hotel Review: Ascott BGC (Why It’s Tripadvisor’s No. 1 Hotel in Taguig City)

At the lobby
By now, you probably know how much I love staycations, mostly to celebrate a special occasion. I recently booked a stay at Ascott BGC for no particular reason other than to explore new places in BGC. Since one of my nieces, Julia, was celebrating her 12th birthday that weekend, I also invited her to join us.

The living room. My camera couldn't capture the entire living area.

I always consult Tripadvisor prior to making a booking. I pore over all the reviews good and bad before making a decision. It was a no-brainer to opt for Ascott because it was ranked number one on the review site.

I wanted a serviced apartment as opposed to a hotel because I needed enough space for Jia and her entourage (her day nurse and her evening nurse), my husband and I, and my niece. I got us a two-bedroom executive suite.

When I came in to the apartment, I was floored by the amount space! It looked even bigger than I expected, maybe because the ceiling was high. My daughter seemed to approve because she started walking all over the place.

The master's bedroom
The master's bathroom
L'Occitane toiletries are always a good idea
The guest's bedroom
The guest's bathroom
I wished we were staying longer so we could use all the room appliances including the electric stove, oven, washer, and dryer.

First order of business after setting up Jia’s crib (it’s a playpen that we also use as a crib because she has outgrown her previous one) was food. Since I follow Gaita Fores on IG, I knew that Ascott BGC’s restaurant and room service were run by her. In short, there was no need to go out to eat well. Besides, it was pouring outside and I had a cold and a bad cough.

We ate apples oranges from the welcome basket while waiting

I ordered the mushroom and spinach pappardelle while my husband had the pulled pork sandwich. Even Jia gave the pasta her approval. A basket of apples and oranges were waiting for us when we went in so I also gave my daughter some. She loved the orange even if it was on the sour side.

Like Ascott Makati where we stayed a few months ago, Ascott BGC has a kids activity room. It was at the 7th floor where the gym and pool also are located. It was small but with enough entertainment for a 14-month old, mostly books and rocking toys.

It was pouring the whole day but when the rain let up for an hour or two, my husband stepped out to buy a cake for Julia from Slice. We welcomed her birthday with cake blowing and nursery rhymes from Jia who woke up before midnight in high spirits.

Breakfast was at Alta on the 2nd floor of the building.

The breakfast spread was uninspired and rather limited. I think next time a better option would be to book without the breakfast option then either order room service or go to the Wildflour branch at the corner (Wildflour never fails to satisfy me). What caught my attention at the breakfast buffet is this.

The Ascott BGC is great for a family staycation because you're getting more value than if you booked two hotel rooms of the same class. The apartments are comfortable, even luxurious, spacious, and are fully equipped. The location is perfect for exploring the shops and restaurants in the BGC area. And Gaita Fores's food for room service? It's hard to beat that.

Happy birthday, Julia!


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