Business and leisure by the bay
Cheeko B. Ruiz (The Philippine Star) - August 20, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Living up to its commitment of providing the best and most unique recreational facilities to its guests, Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila continues to come up with ideas that cement and strengthen its status as an ideal “staycation” hotel in the bustling metropolis.

“We always do a lot of packaging for the local market. We want them to have a quick, full getaway at a very affordable price,” says Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila general manager Adam Laker.

New developments in the hotel include the Nail Artisan, where guests can be pampered with manicure and pedicure treatments and colorful expressions of nail art. This complements the Philippe Tordjman Le Salon that showcases a team of highly trained hair and make up specialists who bring with them the latest in hair care techniques.

For a gastronomic adventure, apart from Spiral, the hotel’s iconic flagship restaurant, there is now La Veranda, a glass-enclosed lounge leading to an outdoor terrace overlooking the scenic gardens and iconic lagoon-shaped pool.

“It’s comfortable indoor dining with a view,” says Yasmine Hidalgo, public relations officer of the hotel.

For live entertainment, there is Le Bar where guests can find a fine selection of wines and spirits and sumptuous culinary offers akin to French bistros in a lavish lounge setting. Le Bar is an ideal venue for afternoon tea, intimate meals with family and friends or cocktails. It features plush dark wood interiors, artwork reminiscent of an Art Deco 1940s Parisian-style bar and floor-to-ceiling glass panels overlooking Manila Bay.

For beauty and wellness concerns, the hotel has Vietura Aesthetic Lifestyle which offers services ranging from weight management tools, anti-aging procedures, facial contouring and body sculpting.

Nutritionist-dietician Agnes Tumaneng, a member of Vietura’s team of experts, says they aim to help guests achieve real beauty inside and out.





The sports-inclined, on the other hand, flock to So Fit, which features modern fitness equipment from Life Fitness, free weights and the revolutionary strength training machine called Kinesis. Free yoga and zumba sessions are also held outdoors.

Kids are not left out with the La Villa des Enfants, where they can enjoy a selection of activities, arts and crafts. There is also an outdoor playground complete with slides, swing riders, seesaws, swing sets, climbing wall and spider web where the little ones are guaranteed to have a good time.

Sofitel has also partnered with Gymboree, which offers interactive programs for children aged 10 months to four year from modules prepared by a dedicated team of experts on early childhood development at a nominal fee.

Setting for milestones

But Sofitel not only means leisure but business as well. Last November, the new Grand Plaza Ballroom, first opened in 1976, was unveiled after an extensive $5-million refurbishment. The hall has 3,302 square meters of functional space, which includes the main ballroom comprised of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao areas, and nine meeting rooms – Mindoro, Romblon, Sulu, Cebu, Samar, Leyte, Palawan, Negros and Panay.

“We have prepared for upcoming important events like the APEC

(Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Summit this year,” says Laker, citing the expected influx of visitors. “We are constantly transforming the hotel to maintain that expected level of luxury throughout the property, and now we are focused on the enhancement of event facilities for our inspired meetings.”

Hidalgo adds that the ballroom refurbishment weaved elements of Philippine culture and world-renowned French elegance and luxury.

“We would like to continue to develop the preferred luxury setting to be able to connect with people as they create new memories – be it weddings, birthdays, debuts or graduations,” Laker says.

The Sofitel is also known as the preferred destination of heads of state, dignitaries and celebrities. Laker says, “Maybe it’s because they can trust us with their security” as he admits often receiving such guests but, not surprisingly, declines to mention names.

There were reports that among their most recent visitors were French President Francois Hollande and Oscar-winning actress Marion Cotillard, who came here last February to promote the fight against climate change.

Also reported to have stayed at Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila’s Imperial Residence was US President Barack Obama during his state visit to the Philippines in April last year. It is also rumoured that he will again make the hotel his residence during his attendance at the APEC Leaders’ Summit in November.

But mum’s the word from the hotel staff, who all say they are prepared to pamper every guest who stays at the hotel.

More to come

Meanwhile, Sofitel’s operator, Accor S.A. of France, is expanding its operations in the Philippines, according to Laker, who is also Accor’s general manager here.

Apart from Sofitel, other Accor brands are Pullman, MGallery, Grand Mercure, Novotel, Mercure, Ibis, Ibis Styles, Ibis budget and Formule 1 which range from luxury to economy accommodations.

The Novotel, a mid-scale brand, will open its doors to the public at the Araneta Center in Quezon City by the fourth quarter. Also slated for opening this year is Mercure Ortigas.

Next year, Accor will start operating Mercure Dumaguete and Mercure Ermita and in 2017, the Admiral Suite MGallery Hotel and Novotel in Azure Urban Resort Residences in Bicutan.

Laker explains, “We try to reach all the market segments and give guests a wide variety to choose from. That’s why we keep on finding the next key destination. Where is the next Cebu? Where is the next Boracay?”

Wherever it is, Accor intends to bring its distinct brand of hospitality.

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