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A gem by the bay

I have always been impressed with the Diamond Hotel Manila.  Its 25-year-old granite façade and art deco architecture evokes elegance, style and sophistication, making it a standout among the buildings along the boulevard.  This 27-story structure, with its 500 rooms, always merits a second look every time I pass by it.  

However, being very close to my Roxas Boulevard residence, I never had the opportunity to try the hotel’s accommodations because, when I decide to go on “staycations,” I choose hotels that are far from where I live, to give me that feeling of being “away from it all.”

Since I’ve stayed at almost all the hotels in the metro, I decided to spend Christmas Eve at Diamond Hotel Manila this time.  As my car drove up towards the main entrance, I thought something had happened because the queue of cars I was in, which extended all the way to the boulevard, was at a standstill for almost 30 minutes.  The Security Guard assured me, though, that nothing was wrong and that there were just too many motorists wanting for their vehicles to be parked by a Valet. 

Inside the hotel, the crowd waiting to be checked in was crisscrossing a large part of the lobby, giving me an indication that the hotel must be that good, for families to choose it as their “home” for Christmas Eve.  I was excited.  

Roxas Boulevard, highlighted by the famous Manila Bay sunset, as seen from my 24th floor suite

After another 30 min utes in line, I saw the first trademark of a good hotel: the complement of Front Desk staff serving the throng of guests checking in were still all smiles and in a cheerful mood, in spite of what they were faced with.  

Having been served by such a pleasant and efficient Team, I’m not surprised that one of the hotel’s Guest Services Officers, Jeric Sayno, was recently proclaimed winner of the prestigious Mabuhay Awards’ Rank and File, Front of the House Category.   

He bested other competent finalists from the other hotels and restaurants in the country, and bagged the award for his role as Guest Services Officer and Butler for such illustrious dignitaries as President Ollanta Humala of Peru, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc of Vietnam and Vietnam Foreign Minister Phạm Bình Minh, to name a few.  

When I opened the door to my 24th floor accommodation, I was even more convinced that I made the right choice.  My spacious Executive Suite had a breathtaking panoramic view of Manila Bay, which I always consider as the ultimate stress reliever.   The 88-square-meter corner suite has a separate bedroom, a living room with an ample study area, and two bathrooms.  My sons and I were charmed by such spacious luxury.  

After the Anticipated Christmas Mass at the hotel’s Ballroom, we wanted to have our Noche Buena at any of the in-house restaurants.  However, I made the mistake of not making reservations early enough.  Corniche, the all-day dining venue known for its delectable cuisine, was already fully booked, and my barrage of charm didn’t work on the gracious receptionist who apologized profusely for not being able to accommodate my sons and I.

Yurakuen, the hotel’s award-winning Japanese restaurant, was already closed after the Mass.  Looking for another venue, we were willing to settle for the a la carte specialties at the popular Lobby Lounge, but even that was already closed after the Mass.  So, what did we do for our Media Noche?

My sons and I decided to order for Room Service and enjoy the feast of delectable culinary specialties in the comfort of our suite, with the colorful Roxas Boulevard 24 floors below us, as background.  It was a unique Media Noche for us, all in our pajamas, yet enjoying the superb cuisine churned out by a de luxe and efficient kitchen.

Our pleasurable experience with the hotel made me ask myself a question.  Why does everything work in this hotel?  I could only attribute it to its efficient and multi-awarded General Manager, Vanessa Suatengco, who was recently appointed by Tourism Secretary Wanda Tulfo-Teo as Director of the Tourism Promotions Board, representing the Accommodations Industry. 

Suatengco is the first Filipina to have been appointed as General Manager of a 5-star hotel in the country.  She knows the Industry like the palm of her hand, having held various positions such as Resident Manager, Regional Human Resources Director and Personnel Manager. 

She was also a Certified Auditor of the Department of Tourism Accreditation Standards, a Board Trustee for Tourism Congress of the Philippines, a member of the Board of Directors for the Hotel and Restaurant Association of the Philippines, and President of Personnel Managers Association.  It’s not a surprise then that she was bestowed the 2009 Mabuhay Gold Award by the Association of Human Resources Managers in the Hospitality Industry.

So, now when I drive by Diamond Hotel Manila, I look at it even with more admiration for its being able to live up to its name.  What’s even more gratifying is that this “gem by the bay” is within easy reach from where I live.

For feedback, I’m at 

bobzozobrado@gmail.com

Topics: Diamond Hotel , Manila , 25-year-old , granite façade , art deco architecture , Roxas Boulevard , residence , staycations
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