By Cathy Rose A. Garcia, Associate Editor
THE Makati central business district is probably not on most people’s lists of places to have a weekend staycation. But when you think about it, the CBD is the perfect place to get away from the crowds. The CBD is nearly empty during weekends, there’s no traffic, parking is plentiful, coffee shops are actually quiet, and it’s easy to get a table at many restaurants.
I discovered this for myself when I was invited by Hospitality Innovators, Inc. (HII) to stay a night at the The Sphere Serviced Residences along Valero St. in Salcedo Village.
Owned by Six Stratos and managed by HII, the 120-room hotel occupies 21st to 26th floors of The Stratosphere Building (which also has residential condominium units).
Alec Yatco, operations manager of The Sphere, said the hotel has seen a steady stream of corporate travelers and weekend staycationers since it officially opened on Jan. 11 this year.
“Being centrally located in the Makati, surrounded by large corporations, The Sphere’s main target market would be corporate travelers, but at the same time, with facilities such as a swimming pool and fitness center, while being surrounded by numerous restaurants and several points of interest, we are able to attract leisure travelers and weekend staycationers as well,” he told BusinessWorld.
Mr. Yatco noted many of the companies in the area have booked rooms at The Sphere for their overseas or out-of-town guests.
The Sphere’s rooms range from studio (25-32 square meters) to one-bedroom suite (70-88 sq.m.). It comes with a fully equipped kitchen, refrigerator, smart cable TV, mini-bar and free Wifi.
These generously-sized rooms are what attracts business travelers, as well as long-staying guests who want a place that doesn’t feel as cramped as a usual hotel room.
“The Sphere, being a serviced residence, is able to set itself apart from Airbnbs and hotels in the Makati area because each guest is able to experience the best of both worlds. A serviced residence is basically an apartment with a kitchenette that can be rented both for short-term and long-term, while providing services and amenities you would typically find in a hotel, such as daily housekeeping, room service, bathroom amenities, fully stocked minibar, etc. All of these perks paired with flexible pricing, most specially for longer stay periods, will certainly attract many guests,” Mr. Yatco said.
The one-bedroom suite also had a spacious living area, dining area and kitchen. The wide glass windows provided ample natural light, making it feel more like a residential condo than a hotel room.
Unlike hotels that give complimentary mineral water bottles to guests, HII is committed to sustainability and provides purified drinking water in a sealed glass bottle under the brand Hiidrate.
“Our goal is to reduce the carbon footprint of various hotels and establishments by providing clean drinking water in sustainable glass bottles,” the company said.
The Sphere also removed the tiny bottles of shampoo, body wash and conditioner, replacing them with larger, pump-topped bottles. The Mooi & Co. branded products are free of parabens, sulfates and phthalates.
While it still has a few toiletries like a toothbrush kit and shower cap, the packaging indicates that it is made from stone paper, printed on soy ink, 100% recyclable, 100% tree-free and 100% photo-biodegradable.
The Sphere’s amenities include a swimming pool, business center, fitness center and function rooms on the 9th and 10th floors.
While the hotel does not have its own restaurant, The Sphere partnered with Little Flour, located on the ground floor. Hotel guests can have their free breakfast at Little Flour, with a selection of breakfast favorites served with coffee. Guests can also order room service from Little Flour.
If you need a caffeine fix or afternoon snack, there’s also a Starbucks Reserve, Datong Ice House and Tea 18.
Take a walk around Salcedo Village and you can find numerous restaurants and cafes such as Mendokoro, Juju Eats, The Wholesome Table, Ooma Sushi Bar, New Bombay, Smith Butcher & Grill Room, Tim Horton’s and Toby’s Estate.
On Saturdays, there’s the Salcedo market at the Jaime C. Velasquez park a short walk away.
Mr. Yatco said the hotel is working to have more partnerships with restaurants in the area. For instance, the hotel helped me book a table at Apartment 1B, which is just around the corner.
Aside from The Sphere, HII also manages over 20 properties such as The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences (Makati City), Y2 Residence (Makati City), The Serviced Residences at Kasa Luntian (Tagaytay), Hue Hotel (Puerto Princesa and Boracay), and Upper Story (Quezon City). It also manages residential condominiums, condormitels, and co-working space.
The Sphere is the first investment of Six Stratos, a 100% foreign-owned investment fund based in Singapore, in the Philippines.