Monday, June 17, 2013

Solaire Resort & Casino: A Relaxing Weekend Staycation

What's got my brother grinning from ear to ear, like the cat who swallowed the canary? Well, aside from the obvious, this would probably also be because this was the first time he's ever set foot inside Solaire Resort & Casino, and because I had him tag along for the ultimate weekend staycation! Who am I kidding? Yes, it's because he got his picture taken with a flock of Solaire Stunners.

Just a bit of a back story: I was lucky enough to have won an overnight stay for two at Solaire during an event, and decided to have it on a weekend so I could spend some quality time with my brother and just stay in for most of the day, watch the telly, order room service or something, and take a long, hot soak in the tub.

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: Dim Sum Buffet at Red Lantern
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: Dinner Buffet at Fresh
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: Discover Solaire Rewards
★ Solaire Resort & Casino: Blogger Comedy Night

We parked at the casino side of Solaire (which is still free, by the way) and walked over to the concierge, passing by the Rewards counter, people busy playing the slot machines, and the Solaire Stunners (the women in really high heels that greet you when you come in). I've never been to Solaire on a weekend, and it was pretty packed for a Saturday. There were grandmothers hobbling around on canes, an assortment of people at the roulette tables, groups of Koreans playing blackjack, and surprisingly, families wandering around the casino area with their kids, checking the place out (or trying to find their grandmas who had managed to hobble away to a slot machine).

I was supposed to check in at 2 in the afternoon, but got to Solaire a little after 3 o'clock. There was no real rush. I was booked for a Deluxe King City View Suite (Best Available Rate - P8,000/ night) that came with complimentary cocktails at Dragon Bar, use of the gym (their spa and pool aren't open yet), and complimentary buffet breakfast for two at Fresh.

If you plan on staying a night and want to get a cheaper rate, try booking 14 days in advance to be eligible for the Advance Purchase Rate of P7,200 for the same room. They will probably be increasing their rates soon, so make the most of hotel lean times this June and July!

After filling out all the necessary paperwork for my stay, I was asked to make a deposit of an extra P3,000 that would go towards anything that would be taken our of the mini bar, room service, et cetera. It was either that or they would have to lock up the mini bar and any orders I would make would have to be paid in cash as opposed to the convenience of just charging everything to the room.

The hotel elevators can be a bit hard to spot, nestled away in a nook opposite the front desk. We headed up to the suite we'd be calling home for the night, taking in the spacious, 43 square meter room. The suite was decorated in all shades of welcoming orangse - from the orange bed covers, to the suede orange armchair and ottoman, the flecks of red and orange design of the carpet, and even the beautiful bouquet of orchids by the table.

The king-sized beds at Solaire are covered with luxurious 350-thread count linens, as well as goose down pillows that make like marshmallows once you lay down on them. We spent most of the day in our own little worlds: My brother indulged in his guilty pleasure - watching old Disney cartoons on the 46" LCD Satellite television, Jericho put his feet up and curled into the deliciously warm covers, and I made straight for the bathtub, looking forward to a long, relaxing soak.

My brother's favorite spot in the room was the plush, burnt orange suede armchair. You sit down and gently sink into its fuzzy, warm embrace while you enjoy a book, browse (or in our case, downloaded movies and shows) on your laptop, or chill out to tunes on the iPod dock right. They have a really fast wi-fi connection (for this country, anyway)! Since the suite they gave us was a city view, there wasn't much to look out onto - rooftops and building under construction mostly.

The bathroom was almost as big as the bedroom, with a big sink and counter, and a pull out drawer filled with things you may be needing for your stay - toothbrushes, mouthwash, q-tips, cotton pads, a shower cap, etc. They also have a shaving kit, but the razor seemed to do a better job of shaving my legs than cleaning up facial stubble. Jericho was complaining about how painful it was. Ouch,

The bathroom comes with a tub as well as a separate rain shower, but what I really excited for was the tub! There was a bar of Imperial Leather soap by the tub, but it smelled of old man. Something to be expected with a brand called 'Imperial Leather'. It was a good thing I bought myself some bath salts from Lush and treated myself to an hour (I think more) of me time, just sitting there, enjoying the peace and quiet, closing my eyes and letting the therapeutic sound of ripples in the hot water relax me even further.

The complimentary shampoo, conditioner, and shower gel was also way too masculine for my taste, but my hair looked silkier and felt softer after using it, so I guess this stuff works.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the cabinet by the workstation hid the mini bar as well as the in-room coffee and tea making facility. The mini bar also comes with this tray of temptation: boxes of potato chips, salted caramel chocolates, cookies, eggrolls, dried mangoes, pistachios, chocolate covered almonds, jellybeans and some kind of assorted  bar snack. This is heaven for the kids or kids-at-heart, but a box of salted caramel chocolate would set you back around P400. Ouch. My brother swiped a can of Sprite from the fridge and that set me back P200. For a can of soda. I know.

What they priced for their mini bar, they made up for with their complimentary tea selection. Using the international brand, Harney & Sons, with selections like Organic Peppermint, Pomegranate Oolong, Earl Grey, Japanese Sencha, and Jasmine Fragrant Green Tea.

We were meeting up with Jericho's family for dinner at Yabu at the nearby Mall of Asia, and we passed the time at the Dragon bar while we waited for everyone to get there, using our card to get our complimentary drinks.

You can choose from local beers (San Miguel Pale Pilsen or Light), sodas (Coke, Coke Zero, Sprite, Royal), fresh juices (Calamansi, Lemonade, Mango, Orange, Pineapple, Watermelon), chilled juices (apple, cranberry, prune, tomato), vodka, gin, rum, tequila, bourbon, whisky, brandy, cognac, red or white wine, and standard cocktails. I got myself a Margarita while my brother opted for a beer. Did you know you can get free beers on the casino floor, too?

We passed by the Solaire Stunners on our way to the Solaire shuttle service to the MOA, so of course my sweet brother had to get a few pictures taken with the girls. The shuttle to MOA leaves Solaire every 30 minutes 'til 11:30 in the evening, so if you get bored of hanging around your room and the casino, you can always catch a movie and grab a bite to eat there. At least until the swimming pool and spa opens, then I'll probably be spending my free time there.

We headed back after our very late dinner and found that our sheets had been turned down, complete with precious turn down truffles - a dark chocolate ganache and a hazelnut praline - were left in a cute box for us to find. Naturally, I had at them. They were perfection, with the hard shell of the dark chocolate breaking open to reveal the rich ganache inside, and the delicate hazelnut just melts in your tongue.

We were up 'til the wee hours of the morning, having a blast at Eclipse Lounge and celebrating Jericho's dad winning at one of the tables. Come morning, Jericho and I headed down to Fresh for breakfast while my brother contented himself with the leftovers from Yabu the night before. There was a pretty big spread, but we were so hungry, Jericho only managed to take a few pictures.

I loved their pastry section! My sweet tooth will probably be the death of me, but who can resist these pillow-y soft donuts?

I went straight for the pastries - chocolate croissants, strawberry danish, and peach danish. A resounding "Yes!" to pastry, cheese, and strong coffee in the morning! Everything was perfect! with an army of chefs making everything from scratch, the danish and croissants were soft, buttery, and  made a delicate crunching noise every time I'd take a bite.

There carving station held such treasures as honey roasted ham, spirals of thick, meaty sausages, and stuffed chicken breasts.

There were also these colorful breakfast items I couldn't identify. Is this a Korean or Japanese breakfast item?

There was also your usual pancake and waffle station, cheese station, a raw fish section that had everything from gravalax to sashimi, a grill/omelette station where you could request to have your strips of bacon and turkey sausages thrown on the grill for that lovely smokey flavor, as well as request for my poached eggs, and a yogurt and muesli station. There were also stations for Filipino, Korean, French, and Chinese breakfast items - everything form kimchi to congee. My favorite station was hands down the smoothie station, with the rich, velvety chocolate smoothie glass waited for me. Jericho went back twice for two helpings of strawberry smoothies.

Overall, we had such a wonderful stay at Solaire! Everyone - from the friendly lady at the front desk, to the very helpful bellhop, everyone was just so attentive,top notch customer service, they really know how to make you feel special, and everyone just looked really happy doing their job.

So when you find mucking around Manila becoming a bit too much to handle, recharge your batteries at the Solaire Resort & Casino. You have a beautiful suite to look forward to, exceptional food, and exemplary service.

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Images taken by Jericho San Miguel

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