Shopping in Manila
Learn more about Fairmont Makati or make a booking.
June 21, 2015
Straight after exploring the best shopping spots in Beijing and Shanghai, I made my way to the outstanding Fairmont Makati in Manila, Philippines, where you absolutely need to 'Stay, Shop, Repeat'! As they say, when in Manila, go shopping.
I love an excellent location and truly, upscale shops and luxurious boutiques are just a stone’s throw away from the hotel. Fairmont Makati is renowned for its prestigious address in the central business district of Manila, within walking distance to the Ayala Museum, Philippine Stock Exchange and Greenbelt – Makati City’s most stylish shopping area.
Glimmering in a corner of the most esteemed shopping and business district in Manila, Fairmont Makati is an all-glass establishment that resembles an austere office block on first impression. Once you've stepped inside its doors, however, there's no mistaking this property for anything but a luxury hotel – and done very well too, in fact.
With the Philippines’ commercial core on its doorstep, the Fairmont is an excellent option for corporate travellers, whilst for the tourist, the hotel makes for a superb base from which to explore the city's countless attractions.
As always, the service is impeccably first-class and second to none, right from the attentive doormen to the exceptional check-in staff. Smiles, directions and conversations aplenty. It’s all worth it.
Fairmont Makati offers 280 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites with unparalleled views of the stunning Makati skyline. Each accommodation is wonderfully spacious complete with premium amenities that are essential to both business and leisure travellers, including the Fairmont Gold – the hotel's exclusive lifestyle experience.
Unique privileges presented as a Fairmont Gold guest include a warmly escorted private check-in and an assisted express checkout, as well as personalized wake-up calls, high speed Internet access, complimentary pressing of a suit or dress, and access to the luxuriously designed Fairmont Gold Lounge.
And for the constantly hungry, like me, a wide array of flavours await. Fairmont Makati offers sumptuous international cuisines, featuring the all-day dining restaurant Spectrum where guests can feast and enjoy their meals with five 'Culinary Theatres' surrounding them. In addition to that, the sophisticated Café Macaron is the perfect place to enjoy their signature dessert selection of exquisite macarons, featuring the unique local flavors of mango, ube, queso de bola, and pandan. And now a huge favourite of mine, the must-try Pork Rinds (chicarons) at the lush Long Bar – pure pork bliss.
But as much as the locals take their food seriously, they take their malling even more. It's also easy for English-speaking tourists to shop in Manila because the language is widely spoken.
Access to Greenbelt from Fairmont Makati has never been easier with a private underground walkway that provides guests with direct entry. This is undoubtedly the high end of the Ayala Centre, with scores of splendid cafes and restaurants around a central park area. What is truly unique about this mall is that each section (Greenbelt 1, 2, 3, 4, 5) has its own style of architecture and features. Greenbelt 1 concentrates mainly on electronics and home appliances, Greenbelt 2 on fine dining restaurants, Greenbelt 3 and 4 on high-end retail shops like the only exclusive Hermès and Louis Vuitton in the city, and Greenbelt 5 on the top-caliber Filipino designers.
The Glorietta complex is a union of 4 shopping malls interconnected through a central atrium, often featuring a show, performance or sale. Here you will find less ritzy boutiques and affordable stores, and plenty of fast food. Notably, the mall is also home to Hardrock Cafe and Tower Records.
For the real shopaholics, a must-do is the chain of SM malls that punctuate the city, such as Megamall. You can find them anywhere and everywhere, and they really are the full-day destinations. In particular, the SM Mall of Asia facing Manila Bay is the third-largest mall in the world as ranked by Forbes. That's enough of a reason to visit.
In the Quezon City neighbourhood of metro Manila lies a sprawling shopping complex, Trinoma. It famously rivals the SM Malls, and is anchored by the Landmark department store that has slightly lower prices and a wider selection. Here you will also find both casual dining and fast food, and the mall boasts a mini garden with man-made fountains and a river for all your alfresco dining needs.
This gleaming space is not exactly a mall, but one worth stopping by regardless. The Ayala Museum is located on the ground level of Greenbelt 5, and I certainly delighted in the superbly curated exhibits on Filipino culture, art and history. For one, I never would've thought that the Filipinos had such sophisticated knowledge of gold-smithing. I'll say this: if you only have time to visit one museum here in Manila, go for this – and take up a guided tour.
Close to where Manila Bay is, you will find Robinson's Mall. Expats and tourists highly frequent this area, so there are more stores and restaurants. The other Robinson's Galleria is slightly smaller and can be found in Ortigas along Edsa, where it offers an in-between experience for shoppers with its numerous affordable and exclusive stores, as well as a handful of movie theatres.
Although not as accessible and vast as the above mentioned malls, the Rockwell Powerplant still serves as a great place for shopping and dining. The stores are really just regular shops you will find at Greenbelt for example, but since it's not as crowded, it makes for an excellent place to hang out after a tedious day.
GREENHILLS SHOPPING CENTER
For bargains and bazaar items, make your way to the indoor-outdoor themed Greenhills located in Ortigas. Here you will find it all, from shirts to footwear to electronics and pearls – and don't forget to haggle. The place is as down to earth as you can be, but without sacrificing too much quality. There is also an enormous supermarket, plenty of restaurants, and a couple of specialty hobby and hardware shops. Just a heads up: the place can get swarmed during holidays and weekends.
DIVISORIA & 168
Head to Divisoria and the 168 shopping area for a more local, flea-market shopping experience. Stores cater to the folks who want to pinch pennies, so it's not difficult to find items priced at a dollar. Here you can find anything from fabrics and clothes, to kitchen items and underwear, but be prepared to wrestle crowds and keep a close lookout for pickpockets.
Manila can be a shopping lover's retreat, but don't forget to step back and indulge in Fairmont Makati's Willow Stream Spa that is a space of unmatched serenity. Every element of its spa experience is luxurious – from the spacious eucalyptus steam room to the well-appointed spa suites, to the refreshing mineral pool and the first-rate hair salon and full-service nail studio. I took up a 3 hour Relaxation Massage, and it's safe to conclude that their treatments are uniformly marvellous, and especially hard to fault.
What really makes Fairmont Makati special, however, is the service and friendliness of the staff. They are courteous, professional and immaculately well-dressed at each moment in between, and went above and beyond at every interaction. Very impressive, to say the least.
And please, please, please try their incredible Luxe Sunday Brunch buffet at Spectrum. A little sushi party never killed nobody.
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This post is the 3rd of a 4-part #FairmontInStyle Travel Series brought to you by Willabelle Ong, www.paledivision.com
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