Updated April 26, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Premier lifestyle destination Shangri-La Plaza recently announced its certification from the globally recognized ISO Quality Management System ISO 9001:2000 and the Environmental Management System ISO 14001:2004.
By passing the ISO, the Shangri-La Plaza has been certified as a company that complies and upholds the required standards for the quality management system.
This has firmly established the company’s adherence to the ISO quality standards, enhancing customer satisfaction in supplier-customer relationships.
The Environmental Management System certification, which gives the requirements for environmental management systems, confirms Shang’s commitment to operate in an environmentally sustainable manner.
By Dandi Galvez Updated April 19, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – The country’s summer capital has seen numerous drastic changes in the past few years. These include everything and anything from the proliferation of ukay-ukay stalls that sell surplus clothing, modern shops, franchise outlets, and shopping malls from uptown to downtown. The local hotel industry has got a boost, too, since the resurgence of Baguio City as the top summer destination in Northern Luzon.
At the center of it all is Hotel Veniz, a stone’s throw away from everything and anything.
Veniz sits right smack at the center of downtown Baguio, near the foot of Session Road. One can say it’s a simple hotel as one might expect, but most hotels this simple pack a punch. This fairly standard-class hotel is successful in dishing out the kind of world-class service you see from bigger chains. And with a location that many have envied, Hotel Veniz lets you in on the Baguio experience right at the get-go.
Nearly all of the hotel’s 104 rooms have air-conditioning — strange, considering you’re already at the highlands. But it’s an option for those who may not want to breathe in air from the street below. Common areas have free Wi-Fi, a necessity for today’s travelers from businessmen with their laptops, teens with their netbooks, and kids with their portable consoles. Once you get hungry, there’s a myriad of food options in the city. Or you can sample any of the many restaurants right there in the hotel.
For travelers, it’s a comfort to note that a grocery, Sunshine Supermart, can be found just outside the lobby. After you’re done shopping for toothbrush and toiletries, grab some breakfast, lunch or dinner at Veniz Grill or Café Veniz.
Located at the lower floors is the affordable Veniz Grill that has various all-you-can-eat promos and a wide range of a la carte menu items for the hungry tourist. Try the Mongolian barbecue where the ingredients that you choose are cooked right there. Enjoy the freshest vegetables at the salad bar; try asking for the strawberry dressing. An all-you-can-eat pasta bar rounds out the selections. When you get thirsty and need to push down all that food, take a sip of the various shake and juice specialties available.
Directly below the restaurant is Café Veniz, featuring many light drinks, desserts and snacks for people who may just want to sit down and chat about the day’s touring.
Speaking of, once you manage to get outside, there’s so much to see that’s nearby. Even going to other places is a snap with easily accessible taxi and jeepney stops. Hotel Veniz is fortunately near some of the best tourist spots and shopping malls in the city.
To experience Baguio is to walk her streets and breathe in the fresh air. It’s a good thing then that everything you need to see and experience is about a few minutes’ walk or drive. Right in front of the hotel is the historic People’s Park (or Malcolm Square) where open-air concerts (and demonstrations) usually occur. Crossing the pedestrian bridge brings you to the Maharlika Shopping Center where various retail stores are located. Right beside that is the famous Baguio City Market, where you can find all the vegetables as well as unique Baguio souvenirs and snack food. This area is also known as the birthplace of the ukay-ukay.
From there it’s easy enough to turn up to Session Road where most of the action is. Here you will find a bevy of restaurants, food chain outlets, art establishments, bars, watering holes and more. Go down Session Road and follow the street to Burnham Park (or simply cross the road in front of the hotel).
The great thing about Hotel Veniz is, it provides a perfect base for the Baguio tourist, as it is very near the city’s best places.
Many corporate groups and local governments have experienced the hotel’s many satisfying amenities. They have a choice of incredibly spacious rooms with cable TV, phones, and bathrooms with hot and cold water — a must when you’re in a city with a cool climate like Baguio. Eight function rooms can be used for wedding receptions, seminars or other special occasions, anywhere from 10 to 500 guests. There are 16 types of rooms in Hotel Veniz, which makes it perfect for any budget.
Put Hotel Veniz at the top of your list next time you plan to visit Baguio. It’s your hub to everything and anything in the City of Pines.
* * *
Hotel Veniz is located at One Abanao st., Baguio City. For inquiries or reservations, call (074) 446-0700 to 03, call or fax at (074) 446-0704, e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or log on to www.hotelveniz.com.
Text & photos By Liana Garcia Joyce Updated April 19, 2009 12:00 AM
My mom, Pynky Gomez-Magsino, was always a big advocate for travel. I was fresh from university and the first thing she did was send me packing for Europe, where I ended up living for almost seven years — soaking up the culture, touring the continent every chance I got and eventually marrying an Englishman.
I recently returned home and my sister Aischa and I, along with mom, decided that PNKY Café, however charming and quaint it already was, needed a facelift. We conceptualized something a bit more modern but still cozy that would also showcase our family’s strong passion for globe-trotting — a travel-themed café!
The new PNKY Travel Café is littered with mementos from our holidays — photos, postcards, tickets and suitcases! Everything you see printed on the menu, hung on the walls and on display are souvenirs from trips we’ve taken. The suitcases belonged to my grandparents and the antique glass bottles were collected by mom from flea markets all over the world. We also feature a strong lomography vibe as my husband and I are analogue photographers.
The café now features a lovely new menu (trust me, even that alone is worth the visit) serving dishes from breakfast to dinner and all meals in between. The menu depicts famous cities, places, sites and museums. Must-haves for main course is our famous chicken spinach Riviera, beef a la Seine, Le Louvre and Lake Como catch. If you’re not in the mood for something heavy, we also serve hearty, homemade soups (La Tomatina), organic salads (El Secreto), tasty sandwiches (Croque Monsieur), pastas (Ciao Bella Carbonara), and nibbles (Dam Square) just to name a few. For those with a sweet tooth, there’s a yummy array of desserts (In Bruges), and for coffee connoisseurs, there is always a cup waiting for you! There are also an assortment of fresh fruit shakes, frappes and smoothies, slush and teas. There is a selection of bottled wines and a lovely red house wine sold by the glass or carafe.
The café prides itself on having almost everything you need, including a place to stay when visiting the City of Pines PNKY Home Bed & Breakfast, a live-in showroom of PNKY Collection, so everything you sleep on, eat, and sit on is for sale!
* * *
PNKY Travel Café is located at 13 Leonard Wood Rd., Baguio City. Call 074-442-5965, 074-445-5418, log on to www.pnkyhome.com (we now accept direct online booking), www.flickr.com/groups/PNKY, on Facebook it’s PNKYtravelcafe.
Updated April 17, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Vacationers heading to Cebu — this summer’s destination of choice — now have even more reasons to visit the island.
Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa, Cebu offers guests who book a minimum of two nights an automatic complimentary overnight stay for two persons on their next stay.
The “Cebu Summer Getaway” package room rates start for as low as P7,500++ per night.
The package, available until June 30, includes the following:
• Accommodation for two adults and two children under 12;
• Daily buffet breakfast at Acqua or Tides;
• Unlimited use of non-motorized water sports facilities for adults;
• Free shopping pass;
• Access to the Health Club and use of the whirlpool, steam, sauna and gym facilities;
• Free broadband Internet access; and
• Free local city calls.
All these perks plus a complimentary gift certificate for two valid from July 1 to Aug. 31 await those booking a minimum of two nights.
All room accommodations are subject to space availability. The promotional offer is valid for Philippine residents only. Proof of residency is required for expatriates upon check-in.
For reservations or more information, call Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort & Spa at (6332) 231-0288 or toll-free 1800 8388 8388 or e-mail at email@example.com.
The Hong Kong-based Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts currently owns and/or manages 62 hotels under the Shangri-La and Traders brands with a room inventory of over 28,000.
Shangri-La hotels are five-star deluxe properties featuring extensive luxury facilities and services.
Shangri-La hotels are located in Australia, mainland China, Fiji, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Sultanate of Oman, Taiwan, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates.
The group has over 40 projects under development in Austria, Canada, mainland China, France, India, Macau, Maldives, the Philippines, Qatar, Seychelles, Thailand, United Kingdom and the United States.
Updated April 19, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – We love going to Bangkok for three main reasons: shopping, shopping and more shopping. Of course we can name two more reasons: eating and relaxing.
Bangkok is the place for great finds at amazingly low prices. Good buys include fashion creations by local Thai designers and modern accessories for the home. It is also a food lover’s paradise. Oh-so-delicious Thai food is oh-so-affordable and consistent in taste everywhere you dine — be it a fastfood stand or a five-star restaurant.As for relaxing, Bangkok is one big spa, where good massage services are just around the corner — whether from a shopping mall or a ritzy resort.
One hotel that makes shopping, eating and relaxing so easily within reach is the five-star Amari Watergate Hotel which is centrally located adjacent to Bangkok’s bustling shopping and business district in Pratunam, with easy access to two Airport Expressways.
Just across Amari is Platinum Fashion Mall, a shopaholic’s paradise where you pay the wholesale price when you purchase three items from a shop. Also within walking distance are other malls: Isetan, Central World Plaza, Pratunam Centre and Pratunam Market. The Siam Paragon, Siam Shopping Center, Siam Square Shopping Mall and Mar Boon Krong Shopping Center are just around the corner. The famous Jatujak weekend market is just 20 minutes via one train ride.
For food tripping, Amari offers nine restaurants/ bars and an excellent 24-hour room service menu — Promenade, Heichinrou, Thai on 4, Grappino, Henry J. Bean’s Bar & Grill, Headlines Lobby Bar, Pool Bar, Amari Bakery, and the Executive Lounge.
Relaxation begins in 569 well-appointed rooms and suites featuring broadband Internet access and Wi-fi. There is a Clark Hatch fitness center, a swimming pool with jacuzzi and sundeck, the Sivara Spa and Sivara Salon, and a shopping arcade.
Amari general manager Pierre-Andre Pelletier proudly offers business travellers three executive floors with a private reception, 24-hour butler service and an executive lounge. Amari is also a favorite choice for banquets and conventions, with its well-equipped business center, offices for rent, parking for up to 700 cars and its facilities for an international convention for over 1,000 people.
Amari Watergate Hotel is located at 847 Petchburi Road, Bangkok 10400 with telephone +66(0)2653-9000 and telefax +66(0)2653-9045. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit its website www.amari.com. — Raya M. Mananquil
Updated April 17, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines – Take a break and “super-size” your summer at Diamond Hotel Philippines.
Check in with the whole family for only P5,000 net for a superior room and chill by the pool to enjoy jampacked activities.
For a day of pure relaxation, guests can luxuriate at the poolside to soak up the warm sunshine, take a dip in the pool or enjoy an outdoor massage. Every Saturday afternoon, kids can immerse themselves in fun water games, creative art activities, origami making and chef’s demos, and try their hand in beverage mixing.
The accommodation also includes buffet breakfast for two, complimentary mini bar, free Internet access in the rooms and lobby, waived charges for local city calls, and complimentary use of the swimming pool for two adults and two kids.
Stay for another night or get another room for a discounted rate of P4,000 net, exclusive of breakfast.
To beat the scorching heat, avail yourself of the hotel’s super summer coolers at the Poolside Bar, featuring the yummy Halo Halo Fiesta Grande, Ice Cream Paradise with multiple scoops of ice cream, refreshing Fruit Smoothies, cool Summer Mocktails, and fresh fruit shakes.
The “Super Sized Room” promo is valid until June 15. Rooms are subject to availability and advance reservation is advised.
Rates may not be combined with other promotional programs and packages or used for corporate or group bookings.
Diamond Hotel Philippines is located at Roxas Boulevard corner Dr. J Quintos st., Manila.
MANILA, Philippines — I beg you to send me a list of your recommended dining places in Metro Manila. If you could, I hope you could specify which ones serve good Japanese Wagyu steaks. I would also like to know if you have your own restaurant. Thank you very much.
Your friend and admirer,
Miriam Defensor- Santiago
It is a privilege to be read by you, Madame Senator.
I no longer have a restaurant. The last was at Shangri-La many moons ago, where, I recall, you were once our guest.
On places to enjoy Wagyu (a term referring to all Japanese beef/cattle, from “Wa,” meaning “Japanese/Japanese-style,” and “Gyu,” meaning “cattle”), I indulge myself only in two places. I haven’t done the Wagyu rounds since I’m extremely satisfied with these two places.
It is a matter of whether I’m loaded or broke; I remain a purist on the subject. If I cannot have the real deal, I will settle for an excellent US prime steak which is no less delicious or satisfying.
But since you want a range of options, I asked my colleagues for a well-sorted list of restaurants that serve Wagyu.
My thanks to chefs James Antolin, Sau del Rosario, J. Gamboa, and Ed Quimson for their inputs.
Tsukiji’s Wagyu Ohmi Beef
It is unanimous! Tsukiji is the place for honest-to-goodness Ohmi Wagyu.
Ohmi is the official beef of the Japanese Imperial household. Whether as shabu-shabu or yakiniku, either way, it’s delicious! I would go for the sirloin over the rib eye for true heart-clogging, mouth-watering satisfaction. (Call 843-4285/812-2913.)
Tokujyou-Karubi at Urameshiya
Urameshiya is another personal favorite for Wagyu. My pocket loves it and so do my taste buds. This is a sulit Wagyu experience. I suggest you call and reserve. They run out of Tokujyou-Karubi sometimes. (Call 813-2210.)
Umu at Dusit offers an array of Wagyu in different grades, cooked in a multitude of ways. Gyu no Tataki-Wagyu Carpaccio Japanese-style (A3 level from Tochigi, Japan), Teppanyaki: Kuroge Wagyu (A3 level from Tochigi, Japan) and Kuroge Wagyu Beef (A4 level from Ibaragi, Japan). From the Robata Section, there’s Gyuniku Kushiyaki, skewered Wagyu Beef (A3 level from Tochigi, Japan). (Call 867-3333.)
Other places and ways to enjoy Wagyu:
145 Degrees Fahrenheit serves Wagyu from US corn-fed herd, 300 g of premium chuck steak, grade 7-8, pan-seared to medium with roasted beef bone marrow served with haricot vert and a choice of mashed potato or creamed corn. (Call 703-2725/332-1955.)
Wagyu Ox Tongue
Restaurant Ciçou offers Wagyu Ox Tongue braised in court bouillon and seared with butter with confit baby potatoes and sauce ravigote. (Call 889-6728.)
Tivoli at Mandarin
Order grilled or char-grilled Australian 9A-grade Wagyu rib eye, 700 g good for two to three persons, served with Caesar Salad, sauces and garnishes (spinach puree, mushroom fricassee, pommes pont neuf with garlic caramel, bone marrow sauce) for P12,880. (Call 750-8888.)
Carpaccio Ristorante Italiano
To open Mother’s Day, they will serve Wagyu Carpaccio. Order one day in advance. (Call 843-7286 and 867-3764.)
I’m Angus Steakhouse
They grill US Wagyu Rib eye upon request with your choice of sidings and sauces. Their Baby Back Ribs are good and rather reasonably priced, and so are their US Chilled Angus Prime Steaks. Their bread is delicious! (Call 893-1573.)
Pinoy Wagyu Burgers at Malcolm’s
For those who crave for hearty burgers, there’s Malcolm’s Deli and Malcolm’s Place. These burgers are from Wagyu raised right at the foothills of Mt. Kitanglad, Bukidnon. (Call 844-0000.)
They offer Wagyu Rib eye, Rib eye and Prawns, 24-ounce Cowboy Cut, Tenderloin, Striploin, 18-ounce T-Bone and 24-ounce Porterhouse, served with your choice of sauce. I’ve had friends who’ve tried Melo’s Wagyu and were quite pleased. (Call 899-2456, 924-9194 and 7712288.)
Should you want Wagyu at home, here are the numbers to call:
Mr. Tanaka—0917-2011716, by order and bulk sales only. (Thanks Maritess for sharing your source.)
American Wagyu Snake River Farms—Call Anna, 0922-8151750.
Philippine Wagyu, Umalag Farms—Call Allan Cueva, 0920-9192911 and 0920-9043410.
Wagyu Miyasakei Beef, Sakura—815-1274
My new class schedules are out, my Gourmet Cocinera Series for beginners and household cooks is ongoing, and a new series on the hows and whys of cooking for beginners is about to start. Dr. Francis Dimalanta and I are doing “The Well-nourished Child Series: A Behavioral and Nutritional Approach to Battling Childhood Food Issues.”
On May 23, I am conducting a “Food and History Trip Back in Time” in Taal, the grand lady of Batangas, with heritage preservation advocate Dindo Montenegro.
For inquiries, call 928-9296/927-3008. Look for Jane or Jhem at 647-4744/0908-2372346.