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Fresh beginnings at Makati Shangri-La:

Hi-tech thrills, new menus, sustainable comforts, an herb garden, robots and unique coffee cups

By MILLET M. MANANQUIL, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 06, 2023 5:00 am

Would you like to see robots clearing your dinner table, 10 plates at a time? Or drink from a coffee cup so unique it’s not found anywhere else? Or relish herbs in your drink or food, taken from a hotel’s patio garden? Or charge your electric car at the basement while you wine and dine?

That’s going fast-forward in our story on fresh beginnings at the Makati Shangri-La, the beloved hotel that reopens its doors on Tuesday, an auspicious 8-8 date, after two-and-a-half years of pandemic closure.

Upon entering the lobby, fresh air comes from true trees inside, aside from the scenic plants outside of the Lobby Lounge.

But the freshest air comes from Makati Shang’s hotel manager, Udo Wittich, who talks about the hotel’s fresh beginnings with an open mind and heart.

“Change comes every day. In the hospitality industry, every day is different, every customer is different. You must listen to the market,” Wittich says. “Makati Shangri-La is an iconic landmark that has long been woven into the rich history of Makati. For the past three decades, the hotel has provided a tranquil sanctuary within the city’s business district.”

The Makati Shangri-La at dusk.

Wittich proudly says that the hotel is bringing nature inside through more greenery at the Lobby Lounge. 

“You must listen to the community,” he says, as he talks about the hotel’s transitioning towards sustainability and caring for the environment. Makati Shang is forgoing single-use toiletries and shifting to wooden key cards to reduce single-use plastic usage. Adopting the garden-to-table approach to dining, an herb and vegetable garden at their patio is in the works.

The elegant Shang Palace has eight new dishes on its Cantonese menu.

“We are doing our share to make the world a better place,” notes Wittich. “Like most restaurants all over the world, our Chinese restaurant no longer carries shark’s fin on the menu. Shang Palace will introduce eight new dishes on its 100-percent-Cantonese menu. We have new chefs, young and old. We are adding a bit of modern music to the restaurant’s traditional repertoire of classical Chinese music.”

Yes, fresh beginnings—their current catchphrase—will be seen in the restaurants. Sage, the hotel’s grill place, will be hot once more with its updated look and the creation of Sage Spirits, such as the Sage Martini using the hotel’s handcrafted vermouth and sherry infused with sage. 

The Sage Grill is even hotter with its renovated look.

“Sage will have grilled meat as well as plant-based food,” adds Wittich. “We will have a famous Argentine specialty chef.”

Opening in the upcoming months are the much-awaited Circles Event Cafe and the well-loved Inagiku Japanese restaurant. But the hotel is so ready to serve banquets, as reservations have come in for weddings and events this year and the next, says marketing communications manager Annie Ick-Gatchalian. Restaurant bookings have poured in for today and the next weeks, according to sales and marketing director Liezl Andraneda.

Now grilling are Sage’s famous Tomahawk, Vietnamese prawns, plus new plant-based foods

Keeping its place as one of Makati’s leading corporate business hotels, it introduces the first of its kind Horizon Club Business Room. “Each room will have an Omnidesk adjustable table paired with an ergonomic chair and hi-tech features such as dual-screen 4K monitors, speaker phone, mobile stands and fast-charging cable adaptors. We have facilities in our basement parking for charging electric cars,” says Wittich.

The Health Club, with its state-of-the-art weight training and cardiovascular training systems, Jacuzzi and cold plunge, as well as the outdoor pool, children’s pool and tennis courts, is ready. 

Another fresh beginning for the hotel is giving the opportunity to students from schools like the University of Makati to apprentice in hospitality management.

The familiar comforts of a Horizon bedroom are more welcoming with hi-tech features, and so are the swimming pools for adults and kids, and the Health Club.

Now being tested is the use of robots for housekeeping and banquet events, during which they can carry as much as 10 plates at a time to the dishwashing area. “We have to consider if robots are usable in carpeted areas, for instance.”

Also being tested now are special coffee cups, the first of its kind in the country, says Wittich. “Everybody will want to order coffee when they see these cups.”

Chinese executive chef Chan Po Sang and executive chef Edwin Lo of Shang Palace

Fresh beginnings, indeed, for the 30-year-old Makati Shangri-La, as it embraces the modern future. So, unlike the fictional haven in the 1933 novel, it will have AI robots. But the old comforts of a familiar haven—soft, warm beddings and all—will still be there.