Well, well, from one Shangri-La, the 1991-vintage Island Shangri-La, Hong Kong, to another, namely the benjamin in this group of fabulous luxury hotels, Shangri-La at The Fort, Manila, which is not actually completely open. Eventually, says the gal, this 21st century hotel on the site of the former Fort William McKinley in Bonifacio Grand City, Manila, will have 576 bedrooms, plus 95 residences (apartments, to be let to guests wanting to stay more than a week) and, also, 92 private homes, the smallest 1,600 sq ft. This is a part of town that is growing, fast, and full of IT, and lots of greenery, as shown above. So up to date, it even has bicycles made more or less completely of bamboo.
This is just what the young at heart need for getting around new-look-Manila, also known as Bonfacio Global City, a complex that houses hundreds of IT start-ups, and lots of apartments, and restaurants. This is the area’s top hotel. Inside the entire building, designed by New York architects Handel, main interiors are HBA, who have brought in amazing Lasvit chandeliers, from the Czech Republic, and lots of art. Behind front desk, for instance, there are fabric collages formed of crumpled bits of jewel-like damask designed, if that is the right word, by a handbag specialist, Bea Valdes. Elsewhere are flowing shapes on walls, cutouts of steel and brass in the shapes of leaves of chestnut, mango and narra, all local trees. The club lounge is outstanding – see the video, below
The bedrooms are really light and bright (the smallest is 460 sq ft), with some clever ideas. I like the way that safes are eye height, and the pull-down cover flap becomes a shelf. Next to the safe is a tall, vertical pull-out with big handle. Pull it, as you might a storage cupboard in your kitchen back home, and there are the iron and board. But there are clever ideas throughout the hotel. One of the restaurants is Raging Bull, an AvrOko-designed US-style steakhouse on a par with Butcher&Still in Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Maryah Island, same authenticity, same fabulous ambience and food: here, in Manila, the Wagyu is Ms5+, grass-reared and grain-finished, from Darling Downs in Queensland, part of the Australian Agricultural Company portfolio.
Another big plus is that this luxury hotel is integral with one of the best sports clubs in the whole of Asia. Kerry Sports, open 24/7, is a two-floor structure with basketball court, squash and tennis, banks and banks of machines, and an eight-room ESPA spa – with a fabulous café corner. Already, says hotel GM John Rice, there are over a thousand outside members, and the number is growing. What a plus this hotel is. He knows, incidentally, that Bonifacio Global City, when finished, will be largely pedestrianized – plus bamboo bikes – and, with such startups as MetroDeal and Smart Communications, there will be thousands of under-40s living around. He is therefore partnering with Philippine Tatler magazine which, to counteract an ageing-fashionista following, has coined the term Gen T(atler). Other partners in Gen T are Hublot, Hennessy and Moët. Yes, I learn a new term every day – I certainly like ‘Gen T’ better than Gen X, Y or Z or the ghastly M-word. NOW SEE A VIDEO OF THE LOVELY CLUB LOUNGE