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Even on an innocuous Saturday afternoon, EDSA, the Philippines’ busiest thoroughfare, is a mess of vehicles crawling through a metropolis made infamous for its rapidly worsening state of traffic. And because solutions to the crisis inevitably create a case of “it will get worse before it gets better,” a yearning for escape afflicts the common Metro-Manileño.
The big question is: where do we flee? My wife, Tabitha, and I think of heading to the beach—and trade the congested metro for sun, sand, surf, and positive vibrations. But while the idea sounds fascinating, the prospect of detaching from the familiarity of home, and all our family and friends, stirs a sense of unease.
Fortunately, there are more feasible options at the moment.
Just what the doctor ordered
Standing in the Holiday Inn & Suites Makati’s executive lounge, images of the city’s chaotic traffic gridlocks fade away at the sight of greenery that stretches into the distance. It’s just what the doctor ordered— time spent in the few lush areas of trees that remain in the expanding concrete jungle of Metro Manila.
A mere five-minute walk from my hotel room leads us to Glorietta mall, where my wife and I waste no time in catching up with my dad and brother. Afternoons like this, cracking jokes and exchanging anecdotes with family, are what I’d miss most if—or when—it’s time to leave.
Soon, the mall is roused by the sounds of the evening crowd trickling in, which is our cue to head back to the Holiday Inn & Suites Makati, where it’s steak night at the Flavors Restaurant.
We start dinner with a healthy dose of Japanese fare to stoke the appetite. An array of makis , and salmon and tuna sashimi, serve as a light but flavorful start to what would turn into a three-hour feast. We make sure to take our time in between servings, taking a moment to appreciate the options. Flavors doesn’t use quantity of offerings to elicit interest; this wouldn’t suit the room’s intimate setting. Instead, the assortment was bold and the quality of the preparation superb. The chef even made sure to include a touch of Bacolod in his presentation, in celebration of the City of Smile’s famous Masskara festival.
The fresh chuck roll proved a smart choice to begin the treat, followed by the short ribs, before capping the meal with turkey slices. It was a treat of sauces and fine meat. More importantly, I was enjoying it with my favorite human, strangely free from the grip of Makati’s very first commercial center.
The dessert section was particularly devilish, requiring another hour. It was difficult not to smile while scanning the array—Jeepney’s Samurai Crepes, banoffee pies, apple crumble, ice cream cookie sandwiches, and cakes— particularly since we’d recently decided to reduce our sugar consumption. But the resolve had to be put on hold, even as we marveled at how we still had room for more indulgence. It was safe to say that we’d never had such a filling buffet experience. The feeling of lethargy that ensued dampened Tabitha’s enthusiasm to join me for a nightcap in Oz, the hotel’s roof deck bar. Luckily, an old colleague was the DJ that night, so over Long Island Iced Tea, we strolled down memory lane. In many ways, it was the perfect end to an evening of extravagance.
The following morning, as we woke up from the deep, restful sleep that followed our indulgent yet productive evening, we had light breakfast at Flavors, quickly followed by a relaxing time by the pool. The heat of the sun was a welcome change, and the water a refreshing waker-upper.
A gentle reminder
Revitalized after a couple of hours, it was back to Flavors for lunch. And just as a feeling of familiarity was setting in, there was an explosion of dance in the room. Some of Holiday Inn and Suite Makati’s staff were performing a Masskara-inspired dance in full regalia, much to the surprise and amusement of everyone in the restaurant. It was a fitting send-off, a gentle reminder to keep a light and fun disposition as we prepared to reacclimatize to the aggravations of the metropolis.
It was also a fun way to remember that whenever the city gets overbearing, and the need to seek balance arises, waiting in the belly of the very beast we need to escape from is a gem—a delightful oasis filled with delicious treats and an exceedingly hospitable staff.
The Holiday Inn & Suites Makati is attached to Glorietta, in the heart of Makati’s massive Ayala center. It is a hop and a skip away from virtually every major office building in the city, making it an easy choice for travelers and guests engaged in business in the area. But aside from its convenient location, the three-yearold establishment strongly encourages families to travel together, as they provide free accommodation and food for children visiting with their parents.
On top of the hotel’s efforts to provide kids with their own specialized offerings, the abundance of activities within the vicinity ensures there is no shortage of entertainment for every member of the family.
And judging from their efforts in celebrating the recent Masskara festival, Christmas and New Year will certainly be joyful and festive occasions in the hotel. I still need to check this out but you can have a look at http://bit.ly/GrINNsJourney.