BACKGROUND The debut of Raffles Makati and Fairmont Makati on December 3, 2012 – both housed in a 30-storey tower – marked the arrival of international-branded properties in the area for the first time in a decade. The openings have dovetailed nicely with the Philippines’ improving economic image, which has been attracting a growing number of business and leisure travellers in recent months.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? Both hotels, conceived by well-known design firm Arquitectonica with interiors by Bent Severin International, share some facilities but feature separate driveways. After going through stringent security (where the extremely polite staff will request you or your driver to open up the car boot), you head straight for the Raffles entrance (those bound for the Fairmont should turn right).
The Raffles lobby exudes a classic feel that is, at the same time, not stuffy. The arrangement of framed mirrors behind the reception desks adds a quirky touch. Internet access is free in the Writers Bar and Long Bar and the rest of the public areas, but the password has first to be secured from the staff.
WHERE IS IT? Despite the hotel’s location in the bustling Ayala Center, the designers have managed to create a quiet enclave for it. All the retail and dining action found in the Glorietta Mall and Greenbelt complex is just minutes away by foot.
ROOM FACILITIES At 120 sqm, my junior suite was partitioned into a sleeping area with a king bed, a pristine white bathroom and walk-in closet, the tiny den and, lastly, the narrow sitting section which can entertain at least two guests.
The den area was conducive to work in, except that the universal outlets were not at desk level but under the table, an inconvenient throwback to those days when you had to get on your knees to plug in a laptop. I had two butlers – one for the day shift and another for the night shift – assigned to handle my needs. They differed in experience, one brimming with self-confidence while the other was visibly nervous when I asked questions about where to purchase a local SIM card in the mall nearby.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS Guests familiar with the Raffles offerings will find the famous Writers Bar – serving English high tea (merienda in Pilipino) – and Long Bar in place. The Makati version of the Long Bar, however, seemed a bit antiseptic compared with the original Long Bar in Singapore, which is usually littered with peanut shells (a clever counterpoint to the city’s strict littering rules). The waiting staff and guests alike seemed hesitant about shoving the debris onto the floor.
Spectrum, the all-day dining restaurant for both Raffles and Fairmont customers, serves a filling breakfast spread, including raw honey and Vigan sausages from the northern Philippines. (Breakfast is complimentary for Raffles suite occupants). Its lunch buffet, meanwhile, has a sushi corner that had us coming back for seconds and thirds for tuna belly that just melted in the mouth.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Again, these facilities are shared between Raffles and Fairmont: the ballroom accommodates up to 720 guests, while Namayan takes in 40 guests, Buenavista 30 guests and Sampiro also 30 guests. Thanks to free wifi, smaller discussions can take place in any of the F&B outlets, such as our favourite, the Long Bar, especially in the afternoons when the drinking crowd has not yet streamed in.
LEISURE FACILITIES Located on the fourth floor are the gym and swimming pool for both Raffles and Fairmont guests, as well as the Fairmont’s trademark Willow Spa. Raffles’ patrons get an extra treat, a pool on the ninth floor just for them. Lap exercises, however, are easier in the fourth-level pool due to its design.
VERDICT The work put into the hardware is excellent, and the tasty lunch buffet in Spectrum is highly recommended. The staff, though warm and friendly – Filipinos never fail in this department – need a few more months’ experience to be at ease when delivering their service spiel.
Margie T Logarta
HOW MANY ROOMS?
There are 32 suites, divided into 23 Raffles Junior Suites, eight Raffles Executive Suites and one Raffles Presidential Suite. In the same building are 120 Raffles Residences for short and long-term stays, and 127 for private ownership.
Wifi access was swift and the room was airy and light-filled.
1 Raffles Drive, Makati Avenue, Makati 1224, Manila; tel +63 2 555 9777; www.raffles.com/makati