I’M Hotel : First Luxury Hotel Onsen Spa In The Philippines
Luxury Hotel Review
There is no better way to relax and find yourself in a spa hotel provided with great perks and expecting exceptional customer service to make you feel pleasant with a piece of mind. So I went ahead to get the experience with the whole nine yards. That’s where I chose the I’M Hotel which markets an “All About You” experience that delivers comfort and sophistication. I’ll also start off that they have received prestigious awards by Asia Spa of 2017. So with that alone, you could expect great things about this hotel. A tiny disclaimer that this content is not sponsored and my partner and I went in as mystery guests to promote an unbiased review as the 90% of its regular guests with no “special-treatment”. As I know very well that the marketing manager and team uses influencers to review and highly market the hotel.
Upon arriving at I’M Hotel, we were pointed towards the separate entrance with a security guard and his metal detector. At this first impression, you know you’ll “feel safe” at the thought of their efforts in making sure the vicinity was a secure place for its visitors and guests. I had a couple options in mind to choose which accommodation I wanted to visit for pampering and spoiling ourselves during my last few days in the Philippines and I’M Hotel was a great option for it’s location and it’s luxurious forefront.
FIRST ONSEN SPA IN THE PHILIPPINES
At I’M Hotel, you are bought in to the luxurious spaces and spa type hotel in it’s bustling streets and business districts of Makati. The property was recently built by a Singapore-based Architect who styles modern and minimalistic aesthetics throughout his works. With I’M Hotel, he’s created an urban sophistication with many inspirations from nature and it is brought throughout the interior spaces of the property from it’s commissioned arts by various local artists. The front facade of the hotel shows full focal points of the high ceiling reception and foyer space that makes it a grant entrance. It also gives viewers a striking view of the acrylic bottomed infinity pool. Materials used throughout the very wide and spacious hallways and corridors were a vinyl flooring that mimics the looks of a commercial carpet. I was most excited about the small detail of the flooring because seeing carpet stains and un-vacuumed halls are a no-no in the luxury hospitality inspection which is only one of the hundreds to reach its prestigious rating. Its building is as high as many of the high rises nearby. So it has a spectacular view of the Makati skyline from the rooftop which has popularity around many of the locals. The common spaces of the interior architecture throughout the hotel was aesthetically pleasing but not necessarily something to WOW about.
A Breakdown of what my partner and I experienced are listed below for a glimpse of what I will discuss in this review.
- Architectural and Interior Aesthetics
- Receptions Desk/Lobby
- Hotel Amenities
- Customer Courtesy
reviewer's FIRST IMPRESSIONS
Once you step into the lobby, you have this grand feel where the ceiling is high and the seating chairs were low which gives a relaxed space that’s not making the high ceilinged lobby very intimidating. As we approached the receptions desk, we were greeted by a friendly agent making a lot of effort to smile. Promptly, I stated my name for the reservation and credit card that I booked with which was an American Express Gold Rewards card. I kindly asked for the travel benefits I am eligible for from using my AMEX Gold as my reservation card and form of payment on the account. The lady kept a customer service smile on as she asked for my confirmation e-mail which was a little odd when clearly, I have my reservation on file and I just handed her my physical card and she must’ve already referenced everything I provided her. The reason for utilising my AMEX card was to receive the benefits I am eligible for, which is a $75 hotel credit on dining and other leisure facilities plus a room upgrade if it were available to us. At the time of check-in, I had a dead phone when asked for a confirmation email. My phone did not work to my advantage and unfortunately was not accommodated further with my request. I was totally turned off that I didn't care to return to provide what I thought was unnecessary as I even had the physical card to show for and agreed to pay the room with. Overall, the amount of time checking in lasted five to seven minutes during a slow time at the desk and no bellman to escort us.
The Onsen Spa were a definite plus that is available to all guests with no additional charge. They are open until 3am which is very convenient when you’re out late at night and want to relax before bed. I normally like to spend my time in a hot bath for relaxation. No joke, I carry with me bath salts and a bath bomb when I check-in during my stay-cations and other vacations. After giving your body some therapy, head over to the next floor above where you can lounge with your feet up on a reclining chair drinking hot tea of two choices in the tea room. The pools are one of the first things that I look for when booking in accommodations, from Hotels, Airbnb and even Hostels. At I’M, they have an acrylic bottomed pool but not technically an infinity pool, although, you can perceive it as such. It has a transparent acrylic wall close to six inches thick and quite high that you can’t really rest your arm on as a five footer, how infinity pools are best photographed. One thing that disappointed me was of how cold the water was. It’s understood that a cold plunge pool has great benefits especially after coming from the gym and hot spa but many of the guests were not coming from the the two amenities. And though Manila is very hot, the sun doesn't actually hit very much of the pool area. My advice is to hit the gym or the spa prior to dipping yourself in the pool. The gym is large enough with a few number of various machines and equipments. From the gym, you’ve got visibility of the pool, so you're not only looking at the building across, which is the City Garden Grand Hotel. Unfortunately, we didn’t take full advantage of all the features we had due to making tons of trips and errands around the city. So I definitely suggest when visiting spa hotels, to breathe and spend most of your time relaxing provided their amenities.
We entered our room on the eighteenth floor with the view of the Makati skyline. Which I was happy with, than facing the neighbouring building that I believe has the balcony in the Bedroom Suites.The room is very spacious at about 40sqm (430sqf) that included a large chaise and a lot of room to walk around in. I was ready to settle in as the first thing I usually do during a room inspection is find their slippers and a bathrobe. Slippers, check. Bathrobe was not in sight and you would come to think as a luxury 5 star hotel, it’s equipped with the necessities in all rooms. A small complimentary snack tray was included with every room and extra water in the fridge. They provide Crabtree & Evelyn La Source toiletry which I thought was impressive not only because I love the brand and line but it is definitely quality brand. The washroom didn't have a bath tub for me to soak in nor a rain shower in replace or it would've had both options which was not the case at this luxury hotel. They allocated their budget on the rain showers in the spa and didn't include in the rooms. Being a luxury 5 star hotel, they set themselves apart from 4 star hotels and that highly translate to the comfort of the rooms where most of the guests’ time are spent; mattress, linens and pillows. In my utmost honest opinion, I have slept on heavenly white clouds before and it was not at this one. It definitely was your typical 4 star hotel bed. What baffled me the most was how cheap and low quality the bath towels were with no embroideries.
I usually wouldn't let housekeeping fix up the bed and tidy up in the room on a first night when it’s not necessary. Our second night got messy from our day trips out in the city bringing back a few items and i’m usually neat with my things but the mess totally accumulated from being busy running in and out. So we turned on our housekeeping light switch so we can return back to our room all refreshed from our mess. Housekeeping was right at our door at the time and we thanked him in advance for the service he was about to provide and apologised for the little mess so I specifically only asked for a quick tidy. Disappointed, after arriving back with the mess on the table and toiletries not all been replaced. I’m pretty sure the only thing he did was make the bed and take out the trash. At the start of my room inspection, I did notice dust at the bar that is usually the first things I see with my eagle eyes (that some colleagues call me). A little of the details in hospitality goes a long way.
The lasting impression on anyone is how they’ve been treated. That goes for all relationships — business or personal. I have been with companies that have always thrived due to their priority on customer care and support. Some have a fake-it-till-you-make-it service (trust me, it gets obvious) and some have the I-genuinely-care-about-serving-you approach. We can all debate on “the customer is always right” forever, but truth be told, business is business, you pick your own battles — take however you want with that. Customer courtesy at I’M was above average. They approached with a smile, provided information on your eligibility with your reservation and took the extra time to accommodate you during your stay. At our time there, a concierge knocked on our door if there was anything he could help us with which is one the great gestures to provide guests. Grateful enough, we asked for a few things in mind at the time and to our surprise, he returned within five to ten minutes from the time of our request. Then I made a phone call to the front desk of information on how to reach the spa after midnight because there were separate “off hour” ways to find it and I knew they didn't close the spa until 3 am. After three rings of the call, an agent introduced himself and gave a phone greeting but did not address my name which I know can make a great touch in hospitality service to show importance to guests. To my frustration, the direction given to us were right but missed a few important detailed ones for us to reach it. We probably spent four times going up and down the elevator and it turns out there was a secret elevator to use during off hours; you have to pass through the dining room in one of their restaurants which we did not want to intrude at the time. Something that really struck me was where my partner and I got back to the hotel past midnight after hitting a nearby club with friends; one concierge stopped us and asked to show our room key and number which we did. But he continued to want more verification that we were hotel guests. We then proceeded to a lady at the desk where she said we didn't need to show anything and to just state our room number, so it left us confused as to what we should do and I tried to contain my annoyance on the situation and composure. I understand that it was in the wee hour of the morning but I found it quite over extreme with the security. But there’s a first for everything to experience!
Overall, our stay was considerable good but it wasn't anything spectacular. There are certainly many room for improvement to dub I’M Hotel as a 5 star hotel in the Philippines and potentially competing internationally with other hotel brands. So for now, as the newest luxury hotel in Makati, I would rate it a 4 star in terms of my overall experience this past year.
I booked through American Express Travel with their Hotel Collection here because of their rates and benefits, and that’s how I managed to stumble upon I’M Hotel Makati. If you don’t have AMEX, I suggest you book directly through I’M Hotel as i’m aware they have benefits of their own for doing so.
Share with me if you had a great experience with I’M Hotel or otherwise. Or if this review has helped you with choosing your stay with them.