There are those days when you wish you were just somewhere else, yet you also wish you could afford to just get lazy and do nothing all day long without missing anything. Traveling may be the ultimate cure for boredom, but sometimes you’d just like to stay in a place that looks and feels different, yet not have to walk, commute or spend time on long queues at airports. Spending money to book a good hotel that’s only several kilometers away from home may sound crazy, but think about this – lying around in a room insulated from all the hustle and bustle of the city; wide, comfy beds; plush, cushy pillows; top-class linens; rain-shower and a tub; air conditioning all day long; no one to bother you while you watch all the TV you want – it’s the ultimate weekend therapy!
Oakwood – known as one of the top providers of serviced apartments and corporate housing – has been in the Philippines for quite some time. They were famous for the serviced apartments they used to have atop Glorietta at the Ayala Center in Makati, before that property was sold to Ascott, one of its competitors. After a few years of absence in the country, they re-established their presence, though in a new location.
The new Oakwood Premier in Manila is now located at the “other business district”, at Ortigas in Pasig City. Unlike their previous apartments in Makati, which was literally right on top of a large mall, the new Ortigas property is a little bit more “discreet”. Housed within the Joy-Nostalg center, right in front of the Asian Development Bank’s headquarters, it is a bit farther from the main commercial centers, but still just a walking distance away. The convenience of simply going down the elevators to go shopping may be gone, but I find the new location a bit more “relaxed”.
Though I have spent time on apartments hosted by Oakwood during my previous work assignments abroad, the Oakwood in Ortigas was my first taste of their “Premier” brand. Oakwood Premier is the name carried by their most upscale serviced apartments, which feature amenities commonly found only in 5-star hotels’ suites.
Me, my wife and our little toddler had something to celebrate that weekend, but we decided not to go too far. Christmas was drawing very near and we’re sure the bandwagon of people dispersing from the city was already starting. That, and an incidental discount rate that we found for Oakwood meant that our vacation would be spent very close to home.
The Oakwood Premier’s lobby is somewhat “humble”, if you compare it to the lavishness of full-fledged five-star hotels like the Sofitel or the Shangri-la. It is nicely decorated, tasteful and modern, though small and not really “grand” by any standard.
The fun, and the feeling of being a high net worth individual – at least for a day – starts when you go up the suite though. Our one-bedroom suite opened-up to a well equiped kitchen that could pass for a venue of one of the Travel and Living Channel’s cooking shows. It came complete with a built-in, ceramic topped electric stove; a large refrigerator; an oven; a coffee-maker; and a complete set of pots, pans and utensils to allow you to cook anything you could find in a cookbook.
Next to the kitchen comes a humble dining area, and the spacious living room. The dining area has a modest, round dining table fit for four people, but the living room boasts of a large and comfy sofa and lounging chair, a large wall-mounted LCD TV, an artistic looking wall at the back equiped with mood lighting and a painting, plus an entire glass wall on one side featuring an unobstructed view of the world outside.
Accessed through a door on one side is the bedroom. It comes with a queen-sized bed, a multitude of lamps so you could control the lighting whichever way you want, another large TV with a DVD player, and again an entire glass wall on one side. It’s the kind of room that invites you to forget about the rest of the world outside and just sleep, lie down, watch TV and get fat.
Within the bedroom is the toilet and bath, and one of the big surprises is that it too, has its own TV set, so you can watch your favorite channel while soaking in the tub. If that isn’t pampering, then I don’t know what is. It also comes with a separate tub and shower closet, and two separate sinks (his & hers).
Want more water than what’s in a tub? No problem. Downstairs is the first ever indoor pool that I have seen (I know, poor me). It comes with a long pool where you can do laps, and a lukewarm jacuzzi to soothe tired bodies. All this can be enjoyed at any weather, and while viewing the skyline of the Ortigas business district.
They also serve buffet breakfast to guests and residents, with a selection that wouldn’t fall far behind that of high-end hotels. You can put together breakfast to your own liking; be it light continental breakfasts with breads, pastries, fruits and dairy; or heavy ones with meats, eggs, rice and noodles.
Oakwood Premier in Manila is situated within the Ortigas Central Business district, once considered to be the “new Makati”, in reference to the country’s original CBD. Like in the rest of Manila, the Ortigas CBD continues to grow and there’s ongoing construction in parts of it, although it has been quite overshadowed by other business centers that grew more rapidly, like the BGC, Eastwood and the bayside area across the Mall of Asia. Still, the Ortigas CBD can boast of a large number for corporate occupants, including the HQs of large Philippine conglomerates like San Miguel and Jollibee Foods, plus a good array of commercial space and accomodations. It has a number of top class hotels, including the second Shangri-la in the metropolis, and number of malls, including one of the country’s largest, the SM Megamall. It’s also got direct MRT access – something Eastwood and the bayside area don’t have.
*Photos of Oakwood taken with Olympus E-420 and Zuiko 15-54mm f2.8-3.5/Zuiko 50mm f2.0. Photos of The Podium and Ortigas CBD taken with Panasonic LX5. All photos taken December, 2011.