Sometime in the last quarter of 2020, I was always browsing through hotel booking sites. I didn’t know how else to feed my frustration over my inability to travel because of the pandemic. I’ve already tried different coping techniques that many people have done such as having a plant, whipping out something in the kitchen, working out regularly at home, and online shopping. They worked for me for a time, but eventually lost their magic. So in December, using the “I deserve to treat myself” card, I finally booked a 2-night stay at Shangri-la The Fort.
Shangri-la The Fort Hotel Rates
I availed of the Welcome Home Staycation Package – Deluxe King, which includes the following benefits: breakfast for two, in-room dining, early check-in at 8:00 am, and late check-out at 6:00 pm, and use of their facilities such as the swimming pool and the gym. A week before my stay, I received an email from Shangri-la to settle the payment. I paid a total of 27,020.56. Check room rates.
See below for the breakdown.
2 nights, 1 room – Php 3,900
VAT, city tax, and property service charge – Php 3,120.55
Incidental fees – Php 10,000
Rapid antigen testing
On the 26th of December, I arrived in Shangri-la at around 10:00 am. Rapid antigen testing is required for all of their guests. You can either present a negative result taken within 24 hours or take their own antigen testing for Php 1,800; I went for the latter to avoid the hassle. Note that the antigen test is different from the RT-PCR test. An antigen test detects the presence or absence of an antigen.
After paying in a stall found on the main lobby, I went out and walked toward the room across the parking driveway. Inside the room, I found two women in a scrub suit who were conducting the test. I presented my proof of payment, they had me sit on a chair, sign a form, then proceeded to doing the test. A woman held a cotton swab with a long stem and told me that if I ever felt the urge to sneeze I could just go ahead and do so. She then slowly inserted the swab up in my nose. It was slightly uncomfortable but it wasn’t painful and thankfully I didn’t sneeze. It only took a few seconds, after which, she asked me to wait in the adjoining room. After 2 or 3 minutes, I received an email that showed the result of the test, it was negative.
I specifically requested for a room with two beds because my friend, Cai, was joining me. The room is equipped with a TV (which I never got to use because I was mostly on Netflix using my laptop), a small fridge, and an office table. On the side of the closet is a pull-up drawer that hid the iron and the iron board.
The bathroom is big, with a shower area and a bathtub. They use L’occitane products for the toiletries, which I loved as they smelled so good, especially the soap. The odd thing that I noticed in the bathroom is the lack of a bidet hose. I found it so weird because most if not all hotels in the Philippines have bidets in the bathrooms. I wonder if this is how all Shang hotels are designed, if yes, that’s a shame.
I think my most favorite part of the stay is the bathtub. Every time I’d shower, I’d soak in the bathtub first with Netflix on. I loved the feeling of warm water in my body, taking advantage of it as I don’t have a water heater at home.
Weeks prior to this staycation, I dyed my hair red and the dye bleeds whenever my hair is wet. Careful not to stain the towels and the pillow cases, I brought my own towel and pillow case, lol. Better safe than sorry. Also, the incidental fee is 10k and I had every intention to get that back.
Hotel facility and amenities
The breakfast buffet style at the main hall goes from 7:00 am to 11:00 am. The food was a bit of a letdown, to be honest, there weren’t many options and the taste was just okay. By the way, they don’t allow slippers in the breakfast hall. Cai and I were wearing the room slippers when we got there and they told us politely to change into shoes. As with the dress, I was in my pajamas but they didn’t seem to mind.
The spa is temporarily closed but the swimming pool and the gym are opened. However, you need to set an appointment using their own mobile site as they are trying to limit the number of people in these facilities as part of their COVID-safety regulations. The mobile site can be accessed via a QR code printed on a card that they provide during check-in. You can use it to browse their amenities, reserve a slot to use their facilities, as well as order food for in-room dining.
I brought my gym attire because I wanted to use the Kerry Sports Manila Gym. The place is huge and spacious and lots of sports machines to choose from. Cai went to the gym with me but he didn’t use it as he forgot to bring his rubber shoes. The first piece of equipment that I used was the Stairmaster as I haven’t tried that before. Admittedly, I wasn’t able to maximize my time in the gym as I only picked machines randomly and didn’t have a program to follow.
An hour later, Cai went to the swimming pool while I chose to remain in the room to prepare myself for our dinner. He reported that he didn’t enjoy it that much because it was raining and the pool water was cold.
Prior to our stay, they sent me an email asking for some information in preparation for my arrival. One of the questions they asked is whether I was celebrating anything special. I mentioned that my friend, Cai, celebrated his birthday in December, to which they replied that they’d prepare something special for him. True enough, they delivered a very delicious chocolate cake in our room for Cai. I suddenly remembered when I stayed at another hotel in Makati a few years back to celebrate my birthday. I wondered then if they prepare something for guests who are celebrating special occasions, the answer is, they don’t. That made a little bit sad because I was there on the exact day of my birthday. So yeah, kudos to Shangri-la.
By the way, Cai had an incident when he tried to use the blow dry and got electrocuted. I just heard him scream and when he came out of the bathroom, he looked shocked. Good thing, nothing serious happened to him, but we called up the reception to ask someone to check on him. They sent up their in-house nurse who treated Cai’s hand with an ointment.
There are in-house restaurants at Shangri-la The Fort as well, but we were only able to try the Bakeshop cafe. The coffee there is amazing, but the lemon cake although it looks pretty didn’t particularly stand out.
I think the most remarkable thing about this hotel more than the luxurious amenities is the staff. Their customer service definitely exceeded my expectations. Not once did they make me wait whenever I called them up to request something. With other hotels, I had to call a few times to follow up on my request, but with Shang, one call is enough and they attended to my needs right away.
While having a staycation doesn’t give me the same thrill that I get from traveling, I still think it’s a good enough alternative for taking that much needed rest. I think I even appreciate it more so now that my home has become my workplace due to the quarantine. I don’t usually indulge in accommodation even in my travels so this is something new for me. But I loved it, I think Shangri-la The Fort is worth every penny.
By the way, I thought I should share the following the information that I got from them when I emailed my inquiries.
Am I allowed to come in early and leave late or is this option only available to those who booked on your website?
As a benefit of the rate you have booked, you may avail of early check-in by 8AM or late check-out by 6PM which is prioritized by availability.
Do I have to show a rapid test result even when I didn’t travel anywhere?
Please be informed that the requirement of a negative test result from a rapid antigen test (conducted within 24 hours of check-in) applies to all guests including children whether they have recently traveled or not.
Kindly note the applicable regulations by the Department of Tourism under Administrative order 2020-006-C on staycation guidelines:
Staycation guests shall be required to present a negative result from a Rapid Antigen Test (note this is different from the Rapid Antibody Test) within 24 hours of check-in or the RT-PCR Test within 72 hours of check-in.
Residents of the National Capital Region (NCR) and Calabarzon undertaking point-to-point travel to NCR (ie. no side trips to other tourism destinations) may engage in leisure staycation. A government-issued ID with residence address will be required upon check-in.
Individuals of all ages except those with comorbidity or are currently pregnant are permitted to go on staycation in DOT-Accredited Accommodation Establishments.
*The above information may be subject to change without prior notice guided by the implemented quarantine protocols of the Philippine government.
For leisure staycations and its related requirements, the hotel has an Onsite Rapid Antigen Test Facility open daily from 8am to 4pm. The test is available at Php1,800 nett per person with prior reservations required.
Can I use the spa, swimming pool, and gym facilities? Are they open already?
In accordance with government guidelines, Horizon Club Lounge, Adventure Zone, Spa by Kerry Sports Manila, Jacuzzi, sauna, and select hotel restaurants are closed except for below:
Our In-Room Dining Services will be available from 7:00 am until 10:30 pm.
The Bake House is open from 7:00am until 8:00pm, Raging Bull Burgers from 11:00am until 10:30pm, Samba from 11:00am until 10:00pm, while Raging Bull Chophouse & Bar is open from Tuesdays to Saturdays from 5:00pm until 11:00pm, and Canton Road from Wednesdays to Sundays from 11:00am until 9:00 pm.
You may choose to contact our Guest Service Center to place your orders.
Swimming pool operating hours is from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm, by appointment.
Kerry Sports Gym is open from 6:00am to 10:00 pm by appointment.