The Nobu Hotel Manila, the first in Asia, shows us that when it comes to luxury, less can be more.
It’s not all the time that a hotel’s grand opening garners much attention—the way Nobu Hotel Manila’s did last May. But that’s what happens when you bring big stars such as Nobu co-owner Robert de Niro in the Philippines. It’s all part of the brand’s standing as a hip celebrity hotspot.
Nobu is one of three hotels in City of Dreams Manila. Like the other two, it is divided into two towers. And upon entering the hotel, the way to the casino greets the guests. To the left is the reception, while to the right is the lobby lounge. Check-in time is at 3PM. But if you arrive earlier, the lobby lounge, which houses the Nobu Tea House that serves a selection of drinks and pastries, is a great place where you can unwind from your travel.
The deluxe room is Nobu’s standard room—but with that quintessential Nobu style. What’s noticeable, other than the luxurious king-sized bed and flat screen television set, was the tea and pecan tart. Nobu knows that the road to one’s heart is paved with complimentary food. And it was just the beginning of the culinary journey that my stay in the hotel afforded.
The interiors are Japanese-inspired and modern, with mainly black, white and wood motifs. The soft bedroom slippers in chic black and white are reminiscent of geta or traditional Japanese flip-flop clogs, while the toothbrushes are wooden. Last but not least is the TV, which offers more. It serves a wealth of information such as weather reports and maps of nearby areas. It even has the option of an express checkout with just the click of a button.
My favorite room function, though, are the blinds. As simple as they look, you’ll be amazed that come 7AM, there’s no trace of sunshine. Perfect for shunning sunlight, staying in and recharging.
The hotel houses the standard swimming pool, fitness center, spa and restaurant. But what’s noteworthy is the spa’s signature massage called Nobu Rakuen. It includes a footbath and a massage combining different techniques and the use of bamboo rollers.
Then, there’s the Nobu restaurant, which is the biggest branch in the world. Much like most of the hotel, the food choices were few but refined—limited offerings done excellently. The breakfast buffet offers favorites such as bacon and scrambled eggs, but treats to tickle the taste buds, such as the Bagel and Lox (smoked salmon with cream cheese on a bed of crispy rice) and the Eggs Matsuhisa (a Nobu take on the classic Eggs Benedict but with Bonito sauce, from a type of fish egg) are available too. My favorite was dessert: a thick slice of French toast with lots of whipped cream.
CITY OF DREAMS
One thing about staying in Nobu, or in any of the hotels within City of Dreams, is not running out of things to do. The integrated resort has a casino, an array of restaurants, high-end retail shops and entertainment centers both for kids and adults as well as two night clubs.
Of the dining choices in the establishment, Red Ginger is one of the two owned by City of Dreams. Serving Asian favorites such as Nasi Goreng (Indonesian fried rice), Beef Rendang (Indonesian spicy meat dish) and Char Kway Teow (strips of stir-fried rice cake), this restaurant pleasantly surprised me with its big servings, prices and amazing flavors.
After dinner, I headed to CenterPlay, an entertainment bar within the casino. And I was instantly fascinated with its menu of creative concoctions, such as the vodka and citrus-baseddrink called Sunshine that I had, and local and imported beers. Guests are also entertained with performances at the center of the bar, which last until 1AM on most nights and features local and international artists. It’s the perfect way to end a day at this entertainment central.
A stay at this chic boutique hotel is perfect for couples or solo travelers. Whether you’re up for staying out or just wanting to stay in, Nobu has all the amenities to suit your needs.
What was conceptualized as a place for casino-goers to drop off their children became a place for all ages to enjoy. Situated on the second floor of City of Dreams Manila—on the other end of the casinos and night clubs—is DreamPlay, an interactive and educational play space inspired by the animations of DreamWorks Studios which was founded by award-winning director Steven Spielberg.
DreamPlay is open to all ages, but under two conditions: children below 10 years old must be accompanied by an adult; and adults must be accompanied by a child 18 years old and below. It’s best to bring IDs.
The attractions have height requirements to make sure of the little ones’ safety, but don’t worry; only two out of the twelve attractions require a height of over 3.3 feet (100cm).
There are 12 attractions in DreamPlay, which are all interactive to get the kids moving and learning. When you accomplish an activity at the attractions, you tap your wristband—say, tap it on a sensor atop a wall climbing attraction when you’ve reached the top—and you will earn points which can be exchanged for prizes.
Kung Fu Panda
Thread of Enlightenment from the entrance, the first station you will come across is this obstacle course in the form of a more extreme jungle gym with ropes, hanging bridges and nets. Not to worry, this attraction requires the participants to wear harnesses. It is divided into two levels to safely challenge the skills of both the younger and older kids.
Wall of destiny
The regular climbing wall is divided into three difficulty levels. There is also a part where you climb up a ladder, walk onto the plank and jump off to hang on to a punching bag. Harnesses are used here, too.
Stairway to Heaven
This is for the brave ones who want to test just how high they can go. Step on top the long poles one at a time until you reach the highest one. Then, jump off—while attached to a harness, of course. This is a great activity that even adults will want to try. The station also offers climbing walls “with a twist” where the rocks are constantly rotating forcing you to climb faster.
The Furious Five Academy
Follow the moves of Po and the Furious Five— characters from the film Kung Fu Panda—and become a Kung-Fu master. This is a lot like playing Wii, and points are earned for following the moves.
How To Train Your Dragon
The How To Train Your Dragon themed attraction is sprawled across the middle of DreamPlay with hanging bridges. The objective here is to put together the dragon parts and build your own dragon that you will later set on a track high up and eventually launch.
Whatever Floats Your Boat participants get to build a boat and launch it along the stream but they have to make sure that the vessel makes it to the end. This game is perfect for young ones.
Kids can spend hours of free play in this two-level cushioned play area.
Shrek Cooking Class Today
This is probably the coolest attraction, at least for me! It’s a cooking class where you make your own gingerbread cookies.
This playground, where you can crawl up nets and run on bridges, is fun even for older kids.
Drive around or race LED balls around the tracks using an iPad as the controler.
Here, you can create your own animated movie with your favorite DreamWorks characters.
While resting your body from all the physical activity, give your brain a workout at the library.
This is a 4D theater where they play DreamWork’s short film, Almost Home. It’s a great attraction for adults who want to take a breather while their kids have fun watching the film.
At City of Dreams Manila, not only can you and the kids have fun, but the attractions are educational and interactive, giving everyone the chance to get physically and mentally active.