By Michael Karlo Lim
THE Solaire Experience begins with the welcome. At their Sky Tower’s Sky Studio, lighting presets reveal 65 square meters of lavish sophistication upon docking the key card. A 55” flat LCD screen satellite television lights up with a personalized message. Another handwritten one accompanies the complimentary fruit plate and sweets. Automated drapery and blinds open to a floor-to-ceiling glass wall with the panorama of Manila Bay.
Next to that it is a plush L-shaped sofa arrangement and the alternative winged chaise and matching ottoman to lounge in and enjoy the view.
The entertainment console seamlessly extends into a workspace that also doubles as a lighted vanity at the flip of a panel. Appropriations for apparel are always our consideration with the abundance that we curate specifically for each itinerary. The walk-in closet had space and shelving for everything we brought in and anticipated our hangerables, too.
I hold bathroom time sacred, and theirs had more than ample space with a bathtub in the primary and separate glassed-in rain shower and toilet.
L’occitane and Imperial Leather toiletries go along with other premium in-house amenities plus a lot of elbow room at the his-and-hers sinks.
In-room refreshments were housed in an all-white, standalone cabinet with simply sleek brass hardware. Restraint opens up to botanical print in contrast orange, making the polished metals and glass of the coffee and tea facilities stand out. Drawers below reveal refrigeration and assorted bites. These and a room service menu makes one wonder what point there would be in even stepping outside. It’s no wonder why well-appointed rooms and suites at the Sky Tower garnered the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star rating for two consecutive years.
We thought the plants looked too good to be real until security politely asked us to steer clear of those when we got too close while taking photos.The Solaire experience is also very much in the resort’s public areas. The landscaping at their grand atrium holds numerous tropical varietals for the ultimate urban luxury of green space. A four-story waterfall at the far end completes the indoor garden surrounding their plush lobby café aptly called the Oasis. Here one could tuck away from the hustle and bustle of the resort and tuck into café classics and their signature items. Coffee and tea give way to cocktails and other drinks at night.
I’m not one for breakfast, but Fresh restaurant’s spread was difficult to pass up. I polished a plateful of crispy bacon and sampled every one of their multiple egg preparations before grazing through the cheese and cold cuts in a vain attempt to keep things keto. The Lime Meringue with Salted Egg from the dedicated gluten-free section caught my attention and I gave in to that and then some. Not only do they have considerations for their guests’ varied tastes but also to varied dietary requirements. I asked the waiter about a particularly familiar-looking, reddish item from their pastry selection. Perhaps a nod to the lowbrow trend among the well-heeled set or one for those who “started from the bottom (now we’re here!)”, further proof of inclusivity, was in his reply. “Pan De Regla, sir.”
Manila Bay is world-renowned for its beautiful sunsets, and the best spot to catch one on the property is at Finestra Italian Steakhouse. As the sun goes down, one can begin the weekend with free-flowing beverages and canapes or a 3-course menu in their Aperitivo Epico offering. I asked the bartender Cedric to surprise me, and he did with a Cold Brew Negroni. The addition of cold brew coffee to the citrusy gin, sweet vermouth, and bitter Campari of the classic Negroni adds caffeine and the coffee’s flavor without taking away from the base recipe’s balanced simplicity. The base flavors, in return, bring out the coffee’s richness. Of course, we didn’t stop there as we were plied with more of their signature cocktails through the night. There are their Australian Blackmore and US Snake River Farms Wagyu beef to go with modern Italian classics by Chef Alan Marchetti, but I was already going to town on the Fin De Claire oysters from the set.
The Waterside wows with South American Fusion cuisine. I’d typically avoid starches, but their complimentary, freshly-baked ciabatta looked and smelled too irresistible. Served with the house chimichurri, I’d have already been good with just that for dinner if not for the rest of the equally exciting menu items. We were dining pre-show for the Lion King when we dropped in and availed of the tied-in set menu. They weren’t kidding about that connection when the first course was a pass to their salad bar. The mains of Seafood Bowl and Peruvian chicken were also quite the lion’s share that we were already struggling to finish dessert. An extension by a separate occasion to the Waterside culinary experience was at Dinner In The Sky, the one of which I attended was also commandeered by their resident chef, Hylton Le Roux.
We sink blissfully into 350-thread count linens of the king-sized bed by days end. Smart lighting allows for preferred configurations including soft-glow, sleep underlighting. The cool, cavernous atmosphere only helped push us gently down the slippery slope of sleep. Fade to black.
The sun is in the center of the solar system. With exciting engagements, exceptional dining options and well-appointed suites around a genuinely remarkable whole hotel experience, Solaire Resort & Casino indeed is.