Part One: Introduction
Part Two: TPA-DFW-YYZ on American, and a fun afternoon in Toronto
Part Three: YYZ-HKG on Cathay Pacific and “The Arrival” in HKG
Part Four: Stay at the InterContinental Grand Stanford
Part Five: Visit to “The Wing” and HKG-MNL on Cathay Pacific
Part Six: Stay at the Crowne Plaza Manila
Part Seven: Stay at the InterContinental Manila
Part Eight: MNL-HKG on Cathay Pacific
Part Nine: Stay at the Marriott SkyCity Hong Kong
Part Ten: HKG-NRT on Cathay Pacific and NRT-JFK on JAL
Part Eleven: Stay at Holiday Inn Express JFK and JFK-MIA-TPA on American
We arrived at the hotel at around 9PM, after a two hour drive from the airport. The drive was bumper-to-bumper the whole way, and combined with the scorching hot weather it was no fun.
By the time I got to the front desk I was just in a grumpy mood. After sitting in a cab for two hours, coming into the hot lobby, and being dead tired, I was in no mood to be smile, although I did my best.
As we pulled up to the hotel in the taxi our trunk was searched and we were waved in. There were also metal detectors in the lobby, which kind of surprised me. Does anyone know whether this is a new security measure since the Mumbai attacks, or whether this was in place before? Either way, it was painless enough, although seemed awfully superficial to me.
We proceeded to check-in, where we were expecting a club level suite. While we had booked a basic room, our room type showed online as a suite, which typically comes with club access. Furthermore, the reviews I’ve read on FlyerTalk of the property indicate that Platinum members typically get suite upgrades with club access.
While we were offered a suite at check-in, they asked whether we wanted to pay a supplement for lounge access. Being in a bad mood and not wanting to totally explode I did my best to politely explain to the guy that we should receive club access for free, but without showing him the confirmation I wasn’t getting anywhere.
At that point I was annoyed and figured I wouldn’t accomplish anything else at the front desk, so we agreed to pay the supplement of about $40USD per night, given that club rooms come with free internet (which would cost about $20/night otherwise), along with free breakfast and evening snacks.
We got to the room where we first turned the air conditioning to the coldest possible setting. The room itself was quite nice and spacious, with a large living room, bedroom, and bathroom.
There was a fruit plate along with a welcome card on the table.
While my dad went up to the executive lounge, I logged onto the internet and pulled up my reservation online and took a screenshot of it. Out of curiosity I also looked at the rate difference between a club room and a non-club room and I noticed that the difference is substantially less than $40! That really ticked me off, since the club supplement offered at check-in is typically cheaper than the actual cost of purchasing a club room to begin with.
I went down to speak with the duty manager and explained the situation, and also expressed my disappointment at the buy-up cost being higher than the published rate. He agreed with me and asked me to email him the confirmation I had, which I did. He said he’d get back in touch with me. Stay tuned for that.
I went to bed almost immediately for a good night of sleep, which I desperately needed after an almost sleepless three days.
The next morning we had breakfast in the club lounge. The spread was fantastic, with anything you could possibly want.
After breakfast we explored the hotel for a while, and found out that it’s actually connected to the Holiday Inn. As a result they share many of the same facilities, including the pool.
We went to the concierge for suggestions about what to do, and eventually decided on going to Intramuros, a 16th century district of Manila with Spanish influence, which also houses Fort Santiago. It was nice to walk around for a while, although it was HOT.
After a few hours we went back to the hotel to relax until the afternoon. One thing we began to notice about the Crowne Plaza is that there’s nothing in the immediate area worth seeing, and the traffic in Manila is horrible, so getting anywhere takes an hour, even if it’s only 5km away. Fortunately Manila cabs are cheap. Even an hour cab ride is only $3-4USD.
In the afternoon we went to Roxas Boulevard, which is lined with palm trees and has a nice view of the water. We made the stupid decision of returning to the hotel in the middle of rush hour, which took over two hours. Getting pulled over by the police because our cab driver was driving in the bus lane only added to the experience.
We got back to the hotel just in time for the evening spread in the club lounge, which was quite good. One of the benefits of club lounges is the substantial savings in food/drinks, since we ate nothing but lounge food throughout our stay.
The following day we went to a variety of shopping malls, from luxury malls to cheap markets. Overall I’ve seen much better in cities like Hong Kong, but it wasn’t bad either. I was surprised to see that basically every building in Manila had metal detectors and bag searches. We went somewhere else that afternoon, but I forgot where to be honest.
I was also a bit disappointed to have not heard back from the duty manager regarding my issue with the club lounge rate, so I phoned the front desk and asked to speak with him. As it turned out he wasn’t working, but the manager on duty looked into my case and said he’d call me back. Within ten minutes I got a call saying our charge for club access would be waived. That was an impressive response, although I was a bit peeved that the other guy didn’t get back in touch with me to resolve the issue.
We had intentionally split our stay in Manila between the Crowne Plaza and the InterContinental, both to try out the different hotels and also to experience different parts of Manila. Our hope was that the InterContinental would be in a more lively area, which it was.
Overall the Crowne Plaza is an ok hotel, but given the small price difference between it and the InterContinental, I would definitely go with the InterContinental in the future. The staff members were friendly for the most part (as is typical in the Philippines), although the concierge was clueless and my experience with one of the duty managers was less than stellar.