This post is part of a series of features and reviews on Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. I was invited to a staycation in their hotel but all opinions stated are my own.
My surprise staycation at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila couldn’t have come at a better time. See, it’s been a long while since I’ve stepped away from the world of work and taken a breather. In fact, it had started to become a bit stifling to be in the same environment everyday. What I needed was a change in scenery; a chance to reset and relax. So when the opportunity to do just that presented itself in this most unexpected way, I was instantly onboard.
I’ve had the pleasure of living in Marco Polo Hotels abroad before, and after so many years I still remember having good experiences. I learned at an early age to attach the Marco Polo name to luxury and class. Needless to say, I was expecting much the same from Marco Polo Ortigas Manila.
Marco Polo Ortigas Manila is one of three Marco Polo Hotels in the Philippines and the only one in Metro Manila. (The other two are located in Cebu and Davao.) It is relatively new having opened in 2014, but its charm as a “sky hotel” seems to be drawing quite a lot of patrons. As a “sky hotel”, the lobby of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila is found on the 24th floor of the building, with the highest floor being the 45th. Quite an interesting set-up, isn’t it?
On the 24th floor, you will also find the famous Cucina restaurant and the Connect Lounge, but we will talk more about them a little later.
Getting to Marco Polo Ortigas Manila was quite a journey for me and my brother considering how far we live from Ortigas, but when we arrived, I realized that the hotel was indeed in a really good location. It’s nestled within the busy Ortigas Commercial Business District, but also accessible to other CBD areas of Makati, Bonifacio Global City, and Eastwood City. Just a short walk away are major malls like SM Megamall, Shangri-la Plaza Mall, and Robinson’s Galleria.
For those staying here from abroad, the location of the hotel makes it a lot easier to mix business with pleasure. But for me, this staycation was going to be all about pleasure. And food. That’s very important.
After staying here, it comes as no shock to me that Marco Polo Ortigas Manila won the coveted Five-Star Rating from the Forbes Travel Guide this 2017. Yes, we’re talking about that Forbes Magazine, which uses over 500 criteria in their stringent rating process before doling out the stars. It is one of just two winners from the Philippines in the 59-year history of this award, so I must congratulate Marco Polo Ortigas Manila for this wonderful achievement!
But that plaque on the wall is not the only thing that sets this hotel apart from the others, and based on my own experience, I’m here to share with you many other reasons why I think a staycation at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila will be more than worth your while.
1. You get a sweet welcoming committee.
The smiles start the moment you arrive on the 24th floor lobby of the Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. Because of the welcoming aura of the people at the Front Desk, checking in feels like a breeze. If you take a moment to look around, you can appreciate the interior design of the lobby, featuring floor to ceiling windows that provide a great view of the Ortigas area and beyond.
But what I didn’t expect was the more literal sweet surprise that actually awaited in our room. In actuality, when we first checked in at a little past 2PM, these gourmet chocolates were not in there yet. But somewhere between our exploring the hotel and having dinner, these confections were brought into our room, much to our delight.
I know that some people would say that this seems like such a small trivial thing to fuss over, but the truth is, not all hotels will give this extra little push to make you smile. I’m a big believer of how small things can make lasting impacts, and this is one great example of that.
And the best part about this plate of sweets is how delectable they were. The macarons weren’t too sweet and instead had a delightful lemon tartness to it that went nicely with the buttercream and the gelee at the center. The strawberry in the chocolate tuxedo looks most impressive but it was in fact not my favorite, simply because I couldn’t get over how yummy the other two filled chocolates were! They sure know how to win my chocolate-loving heart.
2. Spending time inside your room can be the best thing ever.
Why is it that when we stay in hotels, it becomes so hard to get up in the mornings? It’s almost as if those comforters don’t want to release you from their cool comforting hugs! Marco Polo Ortigas Manila has 316 guest rooms spread across 19 floors. When we checked in, we were given a lovely Superior Twin Room on the 39th floor.
The muted color scheme of the room makes it feel quite cozy, and the touch of gold and bronze add a bit of glamor. My brother and I really loved that little sitting area by the window. The twin beds are wide enough for two people to sleep in, so needless to say we were extremely comfortable having one bed each to ourselves. All accommodations include an executive desk, high speed Internet connection, in-room safe, flat screen TV, a well-stocked mini bar, and other things I welcome you all to discover.
The bathroom has a marble bathtub and a rain shower. It’s also very clean, with some basic toiletries provided for the guests. However there was one thing I noticed the bathroom did not have, and that was a bidet. It seems rather commonplace to have one now even in a basic room, and I think a lot of guests would miss its convenience.
3. Your mid-day breaks will always be in style at Cafe Pronto.
Located on the ground floor of the hotel, right beside the main entrance, is a small but lovely coffee shop called Cafe Pronto. It specializes in coffee, desserts, and pastries, but for those who don’t have much of a sweet tooth, there are sandwiches and teas as well.
I really love the casual and slightly old-school vibe of this place. It feels friendly, but at the same time you know it isn’t just some random coffee spot. For such a small place the menu is pretty extensive, and I’m not just talking about the coffee and tea offerings. It’s impossible not to get carried away looking through the mouthwatering cakes and pastries displayed.
If only I wasn’t so full at the time we dropped by here I would’ve ordered so many pastries, including their ensaymadas, which look really good! Instead, my brother and I decided to have an early light lunch since we had another appointment to go to.
As I looked at the menu, the Grilled Pork Adobo Sandwich caught my eye. It was on our table a short while later, and I was surprised to see how huge it was. Perfect for sharing between two non-hungry or light-eating folks.
Eaten alone, the pork itself was rather salty, so you really have to eat it with the bread and veggies to balance it out. The atsara on the side helps to reel in the salty taste with its sweet-sour profile.
For dessert, we decided on a signature cake called Chocolate Haven. We bought only the mini version, and I wish I remembered to take a photo of what the inside looks like, but I guess I got too carried away with eating it.
This is layer upon layer of chocolate goodness, including Grand Cru Chocolate mousse, coffee-chocolate crème brûlée, and moist chocolate sponge cake. The final layer is a shiny coating of dark chocolate glaze. Every bite is just heavenly indeed, with different textures playing in your mouth– a party of creamy chocolate and bits of crunch that remind me of Ferrero Rocher. I enjoyed this so much I took another one home!
4. It can get your heart racing more ways than one.
Apart from the excitement of staycation-ing in a five-star hotel (and that Chocolate Haven I mentioned above), Marco Polo Ortigas Manila also offers more physical ways to set your heart racing. A favorite among regulars is the indoor Infinity Pool.
I find this pool area to be a quiet place to do laps and get your blood pumping, but I saw families enjoying their bonding time here as well. At the corner is a jacuzzi for those who prefer to laze around in the water. All I can say is, I highly regret leaving my swimwear at home.
And so I decided to hit the gym instead. Something you guys might not know about me: I can be a bit of a gym rat. I will find a way to exercise even if I am on vacation, so the 24-hour Flow Fitness Center here at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila was perfect for me.
It may not be a large gym, but it is well-equipped. There’s a space in the center for those who would prefer getting the services of the in-house trainer instead of hitting the machines. I didn’t want to do anything heavy for the day so I just sneaked in a 5-kilometer run and felt extra rejuvenated after.
They actually provide you with a bottle of water when you sign in to the gym, but if you want some refreshments, you can ask for some in the locker area. Better yet, get yourself a Flow Smoothie. It’s packed with various fruits and vegetables for a healthy boost!
5. You’ll feel posh as you take your Afternoon Tea.
This was a completely new experience for me, and now I can say for certain that I have fallen in love with Afternoon Tea! I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to it than the one I had at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila. The Connect Lounge is where they serve this fabulous set, and it is located on the 24th floor of the hotel, right across the lobby.
I loved all the elegantly arranged bits and pieces of food on this three-tier stand. I also savored every second I spent finishing the food from top to bottom, going head over heels for that Lemon Cheesecake dessert by the end. (Marco Polo Ortigas Manila makes some really great desserts.) Oh and I have to mention they have some really good coffee too!
I’ve written about this more extensively on another blog post, so just check that one out to read my Afternoon Tea experience in its entirety. Spoiler alert: I highly recommend it!
6. An hour at the Flow Spa can refresh your soul.
What staycation is complete without a relaxing massage? Here at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, they have The Flow Spa to aid you in releasing all your stresses and tensions. This spa is operated by Asmara Spa, which is a known pioneer in the spa industry. Services offered here range from full-body massages to foot reflexology, all geared towards the goal of helping you unwind.
Under the care of the expert hands of the therapists, you can expect that every rub will be like magic that clears your mind from all your worries. I know that life in the city can be fast-paced and overwhelming, but stepping into The Flow Spa can feel a bit like slowing down time. And they’ve got some very relaxing ambient music to boot.
7. There’s an Aperitivo with VU’s.
Using a wordplay on “views”, VU’s Sky Bar & Lounge at the 45th floor of Marco Polo Manila is the perfect place to indulge in drinks and good food while looking at the twinkling lights of Ortigas.
There is no doubt that VU’s is the hotel’s “party place”. It’s got disco lights, a dance floor, and a stage full of musical instruments for live shows. The al fresco area is where you can enjoy your drinks with a view, although if you’re not a fan of inhaling second-hand smoke you should just keep the party indoors.
Every 5 to 8 PM on Thursdays to Saturdays, VU’s has a buffet promo called Aperitivo which allows you to enjoy a drink and a light meal to warm you up for dinner. Aperitivo is basically an Italian pre-meal ritual for whetting the appetite, and you can have it at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila for Php 899 per person. The drink included in the Aperitivo buffet is the house Red or White Wine. You can choose only one but have unlimited refills.
If that’s not your thing, you can choose from a vast selection of cocktails, wines, and other spirits. Either way, you get to pair it with a well-curated line-up of dishes that lean towards the salty side, because that’s what pairs well with alcoholic beverages. The food in the buffet is a mix of Filipino, Spanish, Asian, and Mediterranean favorites.
Personally, I don’t have that huge of a stomach space to fit in a pre-dinner meal and then the actual dinner, but I couldn’t resist the idea of Aperitivo. The buffet offerings for Aperitivo, although limited, were of great quality. I especially enjoyed the cheeses, cold cuts, and the roasted eggplant, which served as a light but tasty pairing with my red wine. Yum!
Whether it’s a gathering among friends or a romantic night out with someone special, VU’s can certainly make the experience unique! Just make sure to come on a nice clear day instead of a rainy one so you can make the most out of the view.
8. An amazing feast at Lung Hin awaits.
The highly acclaimed Lung Hin is Marco Polo Ortigas Manila’s pride. It’s located just a floor below VU’s (44th floor), and it is a prime example of how high-class Cantonese dining should be done. I don’t know how this place manages to be both classic and contemporary at the same time. In short, I really loved the ambiance at Lung Hin.
Lung Hin serves up authentic Cantonese dishes created by master chefs from Hong Kong, but with a slightly modern twist. One of the highlight of our dinner was the Three Flavored Prawns, known to be a signature dish here at Lung Hin. My favorite of the night was the Sauteed Diced Beef with Goose Liver. I wasn’t a fan of the goose liver but the beef was so juicy and flavorful I could not stop eating.
And while you can get the signature Earl Grape Iced Tea in all the restaurants in Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, I feel that Lung Hin is the most appropriate setting to try it. This iced tea is the perfect palate cleanser for when you’re eating flavorful Cantonese food. I have previously written a more detailed post about Lung Hin, which you can read from the link below.
9. You’ll feel like a champion with breakfast at Cucina.
Usually when you stay in a hotel, the breakfast is the last thing you have before you check out. For me, it’s really important for hotels to give a lasting impression through their breakfast buffet, and Cucina is one of those restaurants that easily hits it out of the park!
It has honestly been a while since I’ve enjoyed a hotel breakfast this much. I loved everything from the interior design of Cucina, down to the way its offerings are arranged inside the restaurant.
For a breakfast spread, there is a whopping number of food at the buffet area. You can take your pick of food from different parts of the world, and generally I found that everything was of topnotch quality. I did find the noodle soup to be too salty for my taste, but other than that everything else was fantastic.
There’s a little nook at the center of the restaurant hiding all the pastries. These baked goodies make perfect companions for the delicious coffee they serve here. I had two cups.
I can’t comment on what kind of food Cucina offers for lunch and dinner since I haven’t tried them yet, but this breakfast feels like a preview of that. And if I already enjoyed it this much, I can’t imagine how much more I would enjoy their lunch and dinner buffet! I’m putting that on my to-try list.
10. You go home with a five-star feeling.
They say all good things must come to an end, and although I felt sad as I was checking out of Marco Polo Ortigas Manila, I couldn’t help but maintain a smile on my face remembering the whole experience of my staycation here.
Considering how tired I felt before I came here, there was a world of difference once I left. I felt recharged. I could feel that spring in my step again. To make a long story short, I felt good! Sometimes you really have to remember to treat yourself to places like these, because for all the hard work you’ve been doing, you deserve a little reward too every once in a while. Thank you so much to Ms. Judith and everyone at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila for making this stay a memorable one!
I really wanted to write about my great experience at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila at this point because I know that there are a bunch of long holidays coming up, and maybe a staycation at a lovely place like this would be something to consider doing. And if you can’t take my word for it, I’m sure all the great reviews at TripAdvisor will prove to you just how amazing staying at this hotel can be.
Oh, and here’s a short video I made on the highlights of my stay at Marco Polo Ortigas Manila!