REVIEW – Busuanga Bay Lodge : Palawan, Philippines (Part 2)October 14, 2016
REVIEW – PAGSS : Third Party Lounge , Manila T2October 14, 2016
- Location: Manila
- Loyalty Program: Fairmont President’s Club
- Loyalty Status During Stay: Premier
- Room Type: Gold Room
- Cost: 12,000 PHP per night inc tax.
Seeing as I used a trick (no longer available) to get Fairmont Premier status, I always try and figure Fairmonts into my travel plans, especially after my fantastic experience redeeming my suite award in Singapore. This time I used a guaranteed upgrade certificate to upgrade a deluxe room into a gold floor room with club lounge privileges.
The lobby of the Fairmont is not exactly grand, as the ceiling height is quite low, nonetheless there is an unmistakable air of quality to the place. The furniture looks elegant and thoughtfully arranged. They certainly didn’t cheap out on the floral display by the entrance either!
Check-in was a rapid affair, we were escorted to the room and shown all of the functions as well as being given the lowdown on the opening times of the various facilities.
The hallways were a little bland but I really liked the design of the foyers around the lifts, especially the chairs!
The Gold Room
The centrepiece of the room was a large black cabinet inlayed with huge quantities of mother of pearl.
Inside was the coffee machine and mini-bar. I love how solid and well crafted the doors felt. In fact these seems to be a theme at Fairmont hotels. The design is never over the top, instead the focus is on quality. This may sound weird, but when the craftsmanship is this good, it is satisfying to just open and close drawers or to move chairs around.
Not Nespresso but tastes pretty similar (and again seems better crafted).
I prefer having these suede lined drawers versus those little Nespresso branded capsule stands.
I can’t emphasise enough how good an idea this is.
Why don’t other hotel chains do this?!
The room was quite cosy, but size was really not an issue for a one night stay.
Like sleeping on a cloud. Kudos for hanging interesting paintings where other hotels would leave a blank wall.
A universal power socket next to the bed. Again, why don’t all hotels do this?!
My first stay, but I appreciate the sentiment.
The bathroom had a sleek and modern design whilst still incorporating loads of marble.
I love the presentation of the bathroom amenities. Fairmont uses Le Labo – Rose, which actually has a very rich and masculine smell. I prefer it to Park Hyatt’s Le Labo Bergamote.
You can contemplate Fibonacci whilst sitting on the toilet.
The ‘shower hallway’.
The Gold Lounge
After dropping our things off we headed to the Gold Lounge for happy hour. The first thing I noticed was how few people there were versus similar Hyatt and Conrad lounges.
Everywhere you looked, you could see money had been spent on getting the place looking as good as possible.
The service was excellent, we were always checked on as soon as drinks were finished. The food was also replenished regularly, even with only 10 minutes to go until the end of happy hour.
The quality of the food was excellent and again a notable notch higher than the usual Grand Hyatt, Conrad and JW Marriott offerings. Unfortunately I totally forgot to take pictures of the savoury foods but no problem, immediately after cocktail hour came cake time!
After a fantastic night’s sleep I got up early and headed back to the Gold Lounge to grab a quick bite to eat before checking out the gym.
At this time of the morning, there were even less people than at cocktail hour.
The view from the lounge: The pool is shared by the Fairmont and the adjoining Raffles hotel.
The pool isn’t huge but it is a very pleasantly designed space. Some eagle eyed readers may note that they have the same floating loungers as the Banyan Tree in Bali…
There is something deeply energising about seeing the sun reflecting off the windows of an East Asian city skyline.
I was surprised at how clean and well maintained everything looked. I know Makati is an upscale area but I didn’t expect everything to look so pristine, anywhere in Manila.
The breakfast spread was not enormous but certainly more extensive than 90% of club lounges I’ve ever visited.
The main thing that stood out to me, again, was the quality of both the produce and the presentation.
Some hot options.
More hot options, the carb table and even fridges with ice cold drinks and chilled glasses.
Fitness and Spa Facilities
Whilst in the lounge, I requested the complimentary Reebok workout clothes hire (which included free socks and headphones to keep!). These arrived in a beautiful basket, just as I was finishing my food.
After so many days without an extensive gym facility (although Busuanga Bay Lodge did have a small room with one of those all-in-one machines), it was good to be able to get a decent workout in.
On the way into the gym, I had enquired about getting a massage at the spa (I had two President’s club $25 vouchers which were about to expire). I was told that the spa doesn’t usually open so early but they would arrange for somebody to start early, so that they could fit me in. I love how Fairmont employees always seem to go the extra mile.
The massage was great, especially when you factor in the $50 discount. I thanked the masseuse profusely and tipped her accordingly, I was really surprised at the fact that she had so willingly begun work early just to please a customer.
I didn’t take extensive pics in the spa (obviously) but here is a pic of their awesome lighting.
After my gym session and massage I went to the room to wake K and take her to the main buffet breakfast. We were warmly greeted and given a tour of the various stations before being shown to our seats.
Some Western options.
The noodle and dim sum areas.
The Hungarian sausage incursion into the noodle station.
Spare ribs for breakfast!
The hotpot station.
More high quality produce.
Parfaits, muesli and granola.
Deli section for freshly sliced meats and cheeses.
As you can see, the buffet was very extensive (albeit not quite as large as some of the more OTT offerings in Asia). More importantly though, the atmosphere was tranquil, the service was prompt and polite and the food was all of exceptional quality.
I was very impressed.
The above comment on the breakfast could easily be applied to the stay as a whole. My two Fairmont stays have left me with a longing to return and a deep wish for their footprint to be larger in the parts of the world which I tend to travel to.
I am very interested to see how the brand develops now that it has been bought by Accor. Given the phenomenal service I received at the Accor owned Sofitel So in Bangkok, I’m hoping that things will get even better.
The best comparison I can make is to Singapore Air. The Fairmont product is absolutely fantastic and very service orientated plus the hardware oozes understated quality. I am also now very keen to try a Raffles hotel to see if it is the Singapore Suites to Fairmont’s ‘Business Class’.
- Part 1:
- BA CityFlyer : Economy – London City to Zurich
- Part 2:
- Hilton Zurich Airport, Switzerland
- Part 3:
- Swiss Senator Lounge (A Gates) – Zurich Kloten Airport
- Part 4:
- Singapore Airlines : First Class Suites – Zurich to Singapore
- Part 5:
- Singapore Airlines : The Private Room – Singapore Changi Airport T3
- Part 6:
- Singapore Airlines : First Class Lounge – Singapore Changi Airport T2
- Part 7:
- Singapore Airlines : First Class – Singapore to Manila
- Part 8.1:
- Busuanga Bay Lodge : Palawan, Philippines – Part 1
- Part 8.2:
- Busuanga Bay Lodge : Palawan, Philippines – Part 2
- Part 9:
- Fairmont Manila : Gold Room – Manila, Philippines
- Part 10:
- PAGSS Lounge – Manila Airport T1
- Part 11:
- Thai Airways : Business Class – Manila to Bangkok
- Part 12:
- Bangkok Airways Economy Lounge – Bangkok Airport
- Part 13:
- Bangkok Airways : Economy Class – Bangkok to Koh Samui
- Part 14.1:
- Conrad Koh Samui, Thailand – Part 1
- Part 14.2:
- Conrad Koh Samui, Thailand – Part 2
- Part 15:
- Bangkok Airways Blue Ribbon Lounge (Business Class) – Koh Samui Airport (International)
- Part 16:
- Thai Airways : Economy Class – Koh Samui to Bangkok
- Part 17:
- Thai Airways Royal Orchid Lounge (First Class) – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Part 18:
- Thai Airways : First Class – Bangkok to London Heathrow