New Manila 5 star Hotels

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  • cwoodward

    Over the past couple of months I have needed to visit Manila several times and for various reasons have used several h)otels.

    Only a few years back Manila was a desert as far as real 5 star property’s were concerned with the outstanding Granddame Peninsula and Makati Shangri-La being the exceptions.

    Over the past couple of years there has been a veritable explosion of high end 5 star openings. Including: Fairmont Grand Hyatt Conrad Nubu Raffles New World Sofitel Hilton plus an extremely good new Shangri-La (the Makati ‘shang’ has closed) and a Mandarin Oriental that is opening in early 2023. There are also a couple of large new casino resort type hotels.

    The entire city has been transformed in the past 5 years with a new large commercial and office area built (Bonifacio Global City) just op the road from Makati, and almost completed and home to many of the new hotels, apartments and shopping centres.
    New elevated express way have been built with several still underway. Now Makati to the airport about 5 minutes. The large new underground rail system (I believe being managed by HKs MTR is under way as are new above ground lines to outlying suburbs and down to Clark,the secondary Manila airport.

    I had the opportunity to stay at the new ‘Shang” Grand Hyatt and the Penn. The new Shangri-La was outstanding in every way as was the ‘Penn’. The new Hyatt seemed to have been transplanted from a secondary Texas city and was not at all my cup of tea. Ultra Hi-tec rooms (mine had 64 switches days and over 5 days I never mastered lighting system) There was no ‘real’
    food and the only way to access the room service menu was via your own smart phone – a ridicules and pretentious nonsense. It is a large property with very good staff. Some may like it but its defiantly not for me.

    When time allows I will write a short revue of “The Shagari-la at The Fort” as it is indeed a very good hotel

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    I had a very successful business in Asia which required me to be in Manila 3-4 times a year for 25 years so, unlike most business travellers who can’t see the joy in a few days in Manila, I’ve always loved it. I was a regular customer at the Manila Intercontinental for 20 years where the same GM presided for all that time. I loved The Boulvardier
    live music venue and spent many late nights there and I also enjoyed The Jeepney coffee shop all through the EDSA revolution years 1986 ?

    However MNL airport is what really let’s the place down. T1 was always for me the worst capital city airport in any country in Asia, even Vietnam was better. It’s still awful today, disorganised on arrival, ridiculous unnecessary checking of luggage at the airport doors causing long queues of passengers outside in the heat on departure.

    Love the Philippines, love the people but hate the unreliable scruffy and disorganised airport.

    I’m sorry to see the Makati Shangri La close permanently as it became my go to hotel when the Intercon closed for good.

    What will happen to the Makati Shangri La building ? Depends on who owns it but is it likely to open under another brand ?
    Intercontinental maybe ?.

    1 user thanked author for this post.


    Ah Manila…what a place!!

    The Intercontinental in the early 1990’s must surely have been the place to stay. I did a few times, but when I took my mother there after a trip to Boracay, they simply excelled themselves both on the service they gave her and the apparent fuss they made of me. She was duly impressed!

    I lived in the Shan-gri-la for around 6 weeks in 1993 and it was fabulous.

    There was also a restaurant where the waiters sang Opera and it was exceptional.

    I have sadly not been able to get back to Manila since 1993 but one memory of my time there was the band that played at every BA flight departure. BA served the city 2 or 3 times a week with a 747-400 and they made boarding a real occasion. The staff were lovely and leaving on a jet plane was the accompaniment to boarding. Those were fun times!!

    With all the new developments it sounds like a return visit needs to planned very soon.


    Re Kopite’s question re the Makati Shangri-La – it appears that the building is being demolished.
    As regards the airport -it is defiantly not one of the worlds best but it has vastly improved over the past few years. Gone is the endemic corruption and chaos that blighted the place for years also the horrible outdoor meet and great area and the chaotic parking and taxi stands which have now been effectively sorted and policed. The newest and excellent terminal -3 which was closed for many years immediately after being built by a German contractor due to a contractual dispute opened finally opened about 6 years ago is home now to Cathay Qantas Turkish Singapore and the sandpit airlines. Its spacious efferent has some decent shopping and the above mentioned all have good lounges accessed by lifts airside immediately adjacent to the immigration area.
    There is a fast-track lane for those over sixty’s and with the new elevated road system I can be at a Makati hotel 40 minutes after landing on a good day and by using a hotel car.
    It is perhaps worth mentioning that the large horribly run down suburb in front of the airport has been cleared and totally redeveloped. There are now at least 5 new airport hotels of 3,4, and 5 stars, shopping centres and a vast number of mid rise apartment blocks.
    The new underground rail system now underway will also go to the airport.

    Soon there will be a second airport meaningfully serving Manila with the vast old USAF airbase Clark which is only 45 minutes via the new expressway from some areas of the city being redeveloped and also connected by the new rail systems.
    Already the existing small international terminal is being greatly enlarged and is already a destination to several long haul airlines. Cathay had already flying one flight a day there pre to the pandemic which was proving very popular.

    I realise that this is a rather up-beat post re the Philippines but the country really is on the move and with the excellent air and plentiful connections provided by the 2 good domestic airline to the dozens of beautiful beach destinations and the many new 5 star boutique resorts the Philippines I would suggest is will worth considering as a long haul holiday destination – and its cheap by world standards.

    BTW Cathay has at least 12 flights a day ex HK to various destinations around the country with five or six daily to Manila.

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