Fairmont, as a luxury hotel group, has made two corporate partnerships that really reflect the gal’s lifestyle, and, probably, those of thousands of other well-travelling businesswomen in all corners of our marvellous world. One is with BMW, for bikes to be available for hotel guests (remember the story of careering at breakneck speed around Fairmont Mayakoba during last month’s ITLM Americas). The other partnership is with Reebok. This means that if you are a member of the free President’s Club – and membership is free – you not only get free WiFi but you can have workout gear waiting.
At the splendid six months’ old Fairmont Makati, in Manila, the presentation was way above par. I got a brand new pair of Reeboks, right size, favourite colour. As if a fashion package, the socks had the same colour pink edging, and they and top and bottom were neatly wrapped in tissue paper, gold sealed, and put in a leather box. An ipod completed the equipment. I head down from my seventh floor room to the fourth floor fitness complex, to find a massive gym, really good equipment and Reebok workout mats. The gym is open 24 hours, and through ceiling-high windows you can look out at the trees around the pool.
You need to do a lot of working out in Manila as the food is, well, not exactly lettuce leaves and half a radish, and yet you are surrounded at all times by chic-chic fashionistas, 80% in skin-tight, poured-in jeans, the others possibly in the shortest and tightest skirts you have ever see. On the food side, head for the famous Sunday brunch in the hotel’s Spectrum restaurant and you can drink Veuve Clicquot for as long as you like (the same is poured, for free, in the hotel’s admirable seventh floor Lounge). Anything to do with pig is hot on the Filipino culinary list, and a whole roasted baby suckling pig looks somehow resigned to his fate. He might just feed one of the tables at the brunch. Filipinos eat at big communal tables – 18 at one table is not unsual.
The buffet also enthralled because of the bees, yes, right in there, in Spectrum restaurant, in their glass box – hope it is secure. There are also proper hives on an upper floor terrace. Honey is used in the restaurants, and in the spa. I had an absolutely sensational honey scrub. I have had a coffee scrub in the past where coffee grounds got into my skin and stayed there for days. This honey scrub unfortunately washed off straightaway but it was a lovely experience. The spa, like the gym and the fourth floor pool, and all the restaurants, are shared with Fairmont Makati’s conjoined sibling. In what is a 30-floor glass building, the 280-room Fairmont occupies floors three to eight. A 32 all-suite Raffles, with its own entrance, is on floors nine and ten, and above are over 200 residences that again have their own entrance.
They share facilities but each unit, hotel, hotel and residences, has its own lobby, own colouring. The Fairmont’s lobby is a warm salmon marble. From here, walk across Raffles Makati’s pale grey marble lobby, and you come to The Long Bar, which is lots of fun. Charlie Chaplin plays nonstop on old videos behind the main bar counter, and six nights a week there is live singing, with a DJ as compensation on Saturdays. Fans flutter overhead, and, in true Long Bar fashion, you are supposed to snack on peanuts, dropping the mess on the floor. The result, methinks, looks rather like bees, beyond their glass ceiling.
I am coming to the conclusion that you can tell a true luxury hotel by its corridors. The block that houses the Fairmont, Raffles and so on is 110 metres long, which makes for very long corridors. The Fairmont’s have 2.4-metre high ceilings, and sandy carpets. It is all very welcoming and friendly, which is actually one of the essences of this brand.