Thursday, April 25, 2013

Solaire Resort & Casino: Blogger Comedy Night

I had been itching to take a peek inside Solaire Resort & Casino since it had officially opened in March and was lucky enough to warrant an invite from the good people at Solaire for a Blogger Comedy Night, which was as good an excuse as any to muck around the enormous hotel and casino!

The Blogger Night was quite the intimate event, with over 40 bloggers of different niches trickling in from all over Manila, curious to see what the evening held for them. As usual, I brought Jericho along to accompany me and take more marvelous photos as I seem to suck balls in that department.

Read more on Solaire Resort & Casino:
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: Creative Cocktail Frenzy at Eclipse Lounge
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: The Decadence of Dragon Bar
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: A Relaxing Weekend Staycation
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: Dinner Buffet at Fresh
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: Discover Solaire Rewards
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: Dim Sum Buffet at Red Lantern

Our night at Solaire started on a great note: They don't charge for parking for now, at least! We got a bit lost looking for the concierge and the event - the humongous casino seemed to have swallowed us up for a good 30 minutes or so. I can't help but compare Solaire to the Bellagio - the casino itself is huge, with over four signature restaurants, a buffet, a casual dining restaurant, and even a food court surrounding it. It seems they are really concerned that the guests don't tire of their meals!

After registering at the concierge, we were led to the sixth floor - which was the hotel part of Solaire - and led into one of their luxury suites where the event was to be held with a magnificent view of Manila Bay.

Looking out at the ocean through the full glass windows was just breathtaking. I could imagine myself curled up on the chaise lounge next to the window with a good book in one hand and a glass of wine in the other, taking in the view 'til my eyes would tire and I'd fall asleep. People pay for a hotel suite with the promise of a beautiful view in and around Manila bay, yet I think only Solaire has fully delivered on this promise. Sorry, hotel posers!

We met up with a growing gaggle of bloggers (Or is is a congregation? Or a flock? Or a congress?) already swapping stories and catching up with each other. The room was big enough to fit over 40 people, with waitstaff and carts of food and we were all still pretty comfortable - so that is really saying something. I love the detail that went into the design of the room, from what looks like a Phoenix-feathered carpet to the tufted white chairs, the design was well thought out and well executed making the room look absolutely luxurious without being too intimidating, yet casual enough for you to want to put your feet up.

The luxury suite is divided into the bedroom and receiving area. The receiving area consists of a sectional sofa on one side and a bar on the other. I felt like I was in the Filipino adaptation of The Hangover: Solaire Resort & Casino, all that was missing was Zach Galifianakis.

After chatting with one of the marketing folks later that night, I was surprised to find out that they actually do have a room similar to what we saw in the movie called 'The Chairman's Villa' - a 920 square foot room that comes with its own swimming pool, two master bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and your own personal valet. How totally sick is that?

What I really wanted to check out though, was the bathroom. Personally, I think the bathroom makes or breaks my whole hotel experience. The bed may be marshmallow-y soft and the pillows of the best goose down, but if the bathroom is crap, I won't be a happy camper. And when it came to the bathroom, Solaire didn't disappoint. It was huge! Although I wonder if the tub comes with epsom salts?

The bathroom counter was made with a white marble finish and the rest of the space is accented with wood containers to mimic the color of the warm marble. I like how most of the complimentary hotel products are hidden in a wooden box, so you just get what you need as you go along without the gaudy display of unopened boxes of shower caps and toothbrushes lining the sink - that's so 90's.

I especially liked the cute Aromatherapy products sitting neatly in the shower. The shower itself - along with the two shower heads - are big, luxurious and inviting, with a marble bench for you to just sit on to enjoy the warm water after a long day of playing roulette or working on your tan by the pool.

The comedy part of the night started shortly after. We were treated to lots of laughs from the ever-entertaining Jovie the Beauty and Alex Calleja. Jovie (shown above) helped everyone to get to know each other a little bit with a couple of games, and proved to be an rib-tickling host, at times poking a bit of fun at the Digital Marketing people - Myk and Steph - who had put the lovely event together.

Solaire is ahead of the social media curve in terms of its marketing, I think. Their Social Media Director, Jed, has over 10 years experience in the field, and at the rate their Facebook fans alone are growing as well as observing how they maximize the blogging community, just speaks volumes for they can clearly see the value of going heavy on these social media avenues where most brands do not know how to maximize its potential. Kudos to everyone on the team for a job well done!

We retired to a light dinner with an Italian theme while the event winded down. The lightly breaded Mozzarella was a hit with everyone - golden and crunchy on the outside yet soft and oozing on the inside. It came with a choice of a light tomato sauce or a salty sardine pesto - both were equally delicious.

The thick Focaccia bread was filled with slices of prosciutto, bacon, egg, cheese, avocado and tomato slices, and shredded lettuce - like an Italian club sandwich! It was way to thick for me to bite into, so I opted to attack it by layer instead. The combination of all the meats, cheese, and vegetables was pretty filling, and Jericho enjoyed this immensely.

The sandwich and antipasto was served with a summery salad, chock full of cherry tomatoes, diced cucumbers, and black olives in a light dressing. The tomatoes were sweet and juicy with the olives adding a bit of salt to the mix. I should have gone back for seconds. We were served of Fish 'n' Chips afterwards, but most of it was gone by the time Jericho and I got to it. I guess it was that good.

The highlight of my night was actually chatting with the waitstaff who attended us during the event. The staff had been trained for over two months even before the hotel opened and are very well taken care of by Solaire. As a result, they are well-versed in providing excellent customer service and are happy to do so.

I find the thought of having someone who is very happy with his job assisting me quite comforting - too often are people in the service industry treated like machines or specters, not paid any attention to and discarded after a few months of use. Congratulations to the training managers at Solaire - your trainees speak very highly of you.

So, if you find yourself mucking around Manila, looking for a hotel that could stand toe-to-toe with those on the Vegas Strip - with a casino, delicious food, excellent service, and happy people - this Blogger Night has shown me that Solaire Resort & Casino is your best bet.

Just mucking around Manila,
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Photos courtesy of Jericho San Miguel

Solaire Resort & Casino
+63 2 888-8888
1 Solaire Boulevard
Entertainment City
Metro Manila