Intercontinental Manila Presidential Suite — a continuation of “Cathay & British Airways First Class, Philippines and Macau, a Presidential Suite, and the Fat Duck Restaurant”

On arrival at the Intercontinental Manila we waited for the bomb sniffing dog at the entrance to give us the all clear. Not bringing any bombs into the hotel, so we were cleared to head to the checkin desk.

After a long overnight flight I didn’t want to think about, “where is the club?” to handle checkin there, a waiting staff member at the main desk in the lobby would do just fine.

Now, it was still a bit shy of noon. As a Royal Ambassdor I’m entitled to 8 a.m. checkin, one of the great unsung elite status benefits out there and one which no other chain matches.

However, I was told my room wasn’t ready yet. After all, there was only one of my room… the Presidential Suite.

I had actually wanted to stay at the Peninsula, but I just couldn’t justify it because the deal at the Intercontinental was just way too good, especially as a Royal Ambassador and with some of the publicly available discount rates that are out there.

Intercontinental’s Royal Ambassador upgrade program is a bit unique and even unpredictable unless you contact each hotel in advance or read the relevant thread on each property at Flyertalk. The chain has tried to standardize things a bit but each property remains a bit different.

Some hotels offer a single standard type of room as its upgrade for Royal Ambassadors, such as a junior suite with club access (or without). And they’ll give you that regardless of the room category you book.

But some properties have a clearly defined rubric of a one-category room upgrade for Ambassador members and a two category room upgrade for Royal Ambassadors. That’s especially typical in Asia. Now, some hotels cap the upgrade — they won’t offer anything about a specific room type as a benefit. And others, like the Intercontinental Manila, do not. The hotel even emailed me a chart of what upgrade would be given based on room type booked.

Please see below upgrades due to Royal Ambassadors:
If he/she books a: Upgrade will be:

DELUXE ROOM JUNIOR SUITE

EXECUTIVE ROOM PREMIER SUITE

JUNIOR SUITE EXECUTIVE SUITE

PREMIER SUITE** STATE SUITE

EXECUTIVE SUITE PRESIDENTIAL SUITE

I queried whether ‘all rates booked online’ would be eligible for these upgrades, and they replied in the affirmative. I also queried whether the Presidential Suite was available for my dates, it was. So I booked a prepaid Friends and Family rate — the 40% discount got me about a $170+tax rate for an Executive Suite. Once booked, I emailed the hotel again and they confirmed me into the Presidential Suite.

… but since the Presidential Suite wasn’t yet ready they assigned me to another room down the hall to use until I could be moved. I probably do know better, but still took a bit of a nap. I woke up and called down to the desk to see if my room was ready. They called me right back, it was, which is curious because they had promised to ring me just as soon as I could be moved. No matter, they sent someone right up to help with bags. But, tired as I was, I didn’t realize that we weren’t even turning a corner, just heading down the hall on the 12th floor.

And there it was.

Walkway to the room. On one side is a doorway into the kitchen, and on the other side another room

Entryway

Entryway turns right to the living room (and has a guest bathroom behind a hidden panel in the wall)

Baby grand piano, off the living room

Living room

Formal dining room, to the left of the entryway

Kitchen off the dining room

Bedroom

Desk in bedroom had the Royal Ambassador gift and welcome materials

Bedroom sitting area

Fruit was waiting for us in the sitting area

And a bottle of wine was there as well

Chocolates were provided at turndown

The bathroom had dual sinks, a soaking tub, and an exercise bike.

The bathroom also had a sauna

The shower had water coming from more places than I’ve ever seen, if I recall correctly water could be set to come from four different directions. And it also had a steam shower function as well. A great way to start any day!

Between the bedroom and bathroom was a dressing room, that I just used for luggage storage.

And of course I have to provide an obligatory look at the minibar:

I had already taken a few waters and juices out, but it wasn’t especially generous in any case.

There were also complimentary bottles of water by the television, as well as in the kitchen. And I picked up a few more when I visited the club lounge.

Evening canapés were fairly limited, and not especially good in my mind. But it’s a nice enough space and the staff are incredibly friendly. They have wonderful fruit juices on offer, and they can’t do enough to help you.

Unpictured, in the evening there were also cheeses.

Morning breakfast though was much more bountiful, the coffee and juices were excellent, as were the options in the refrigerator. Everything was self-service but the staff wanted very badly to bring you things, carry things for you, or get you whatever you wished.

Perhaps because of my nap in the first standard room to which we were assigned, and because it was my first night in Asia coming from the States, I got up quite early, probably 3 a.m. I ordered room service, tapped into the internet (complimentary for Royal Ambassadors as a ‘limited time promotion’), and tried to watch a DVD.

Now, the televisions in the bedroom and in the living room are ancient, not even flat screen I don’t think let alone LCD. And the DVD player in the living room wouldn’t play a US-region DVD without an error.

So I plugged away online, while enjoying a snack. A pot of coffee costs about US$5 here delivered to the room, compared to the $15-$20 that I’m used to. My entrée was perhaps $10. At those prices I’ll order up food whenever I wake up in the middle of the night.

So what did I think of the Presidential Suite? In a lot of ways it reminded me of the Diplomatic Suite at the Intercontinental Bangkok, which I stayed in back in 2006. And that’s not the best room at that other hotel. The room was large and well stocked, but pretty well showing its age. Not only was the technology dated, but the room itself really needed a refresh. There were some scuff marks on walls in less obvious spots, like between the desk and wall in the bedroom. Similarly, carpet was pretty marked up in that area as well. And stylistically I much prefer a modern approach. This room was decidedly old school.

At the price I certainly couldn’t complain, the bathroom was fabulous and the steam shower really wonderful. But somehow the details didn’t quite come together, and the room was a bit less than the sum of its parts. The hotel has a card to hang on your door for newspaper selection. I put my card outside the door, but my preferred paper was never delivered. Little things like that, combined with the little maintenance issues in the room, and I just didn’t think the details got enough attention.

We’d be returning to the hotel in about a week, and I had confirmed the same room, I thought a good experiment would be to leave something behind in the room, hidden, to see whether it was still there. My wife didn’t want to know if it would be, so we decided against the science experiment.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. […] Many hotels declare that Ambassadors receive a one-category upgrade and Royal Ambassadors a two-category upgrade. Some properties cap the upgrade (the Intercontinental Bali says you cannot be upgraded above a duplex suite — although many in fact receive better upgrades at checkin) while others do not, hence booking two levels below the Presidential suite for ~ US$175 twice yielded me that top suite at the Intercontinental Manila. […]

Comments

  1. I visit Manila quite frequently and the Intercontinental in Makati is a bit worn, in my opinion (same goes for the Renaissance New World). The Shangri-La in Makati is outstanding in all respects and I’ve heard the Peninsula is also very nice. Of course, you are probably not going to get the equivalent of the Presidential Suite at Shangri-La Makati for $170, but for our corporate rate of around $200 they have always given me a very nice large room with no shortage of amenities. The only downside of Shangri-La is that their loyalty program doesn’t accrue points – it’s more along the lines of in-house priveleges – so that means it’s really worthless to me outside Asia and Middle East (since that is where their properties are concentrated). If Hilton added them to their brand portfolio then I’d be in heaven.

  2. When I read somewhere here last week
    that you were going to MNL,
    I was curious what THE “deal” was…..Now we kmow !

    I stayed there a few years back when RA,
    but it was on a Pointbreak, so I had
    to pay $50 for lounge access.
    I did like the nice “new” lounge on the top floor.

    I enjoyed exploring the nearby Greenbelt malls,
    as well as riding the connecting Skytrains
    to Intramuros, recommended cheap adventure.
    Not quite as swish as BKK, but respextable.

    However, a week or so after I checked out,
    a bomb went off in Greenbelt Mall, with fatalities,
    just across the square in front of IC.

    So take one of those bomb sniffing dogs along
    with you if you go shopping……

    A week adter I checked out

  3. Pretty much every hotel in Makati is worn and dated. I’ve been to the Shangri-La, and while it’s definitely the best hotel in Makati and feels the most modern, you’ll see signs of tiredness even there.

    Raffles is building a new hotel there. Hopefully it will be good.

  4. That bathroom looks a lot like the ones in the harbour view suites in the HK IC (regent) But the room overall there, sort of looks like a LARGE holiday inn? the furniture looks pretty darn dated indeed. But, as you said, 170$+tax for a night in the prez would work for most of us.

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