I’ve had the opportunity to stay in some beautiful luxury hotels for work and as part of media tours. This includes grand five-star properties in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau. But nothing prepared me for Okada Manila. The moment I stepped inside the lobby, I was completely overwhelmed by the extravagance of the place. It’s hard to believe that a place like this exists in Metro Manila.
Okada Manila is among the largest ultra-luxury integrated hotel-resorts in Asia. It aims to compete with casinos in Macau and position Metro Manila as a regional and international destination.
Okada Manila is a casino resort and hotel complex in New Seaside Drive in Bay City, a reclamation area along Manila Bay in Metro Manila, Philippines. It lies at the western side of Roxas Boulevard and and south of SM Central Business Park (SM Mall of Asia), in Parananaque, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Okada Manila occupies 45 hectares of Entertainment City, a massive gaming and entertainment area under development by PAGCOR with a number of Las Vegas-style casinos. Other properties in the area include Solaire Resort & Casino and City of Dreams. Resorts World Bayshore and Westside City are currently being constructed as well.
While most five-star hotels exude classic elegance and sophistication, Okada Manila has a more bold approach. Everything about the place is meant to convey a sense of privilege and wealth. From the opulent purple, pink and gold color scheme to the elaborate chandeliers and vibrant carpets, there’s nothing subtle about the place.
The resort and casino complex is massive. You’ll be walking a lot just to get from one point to another. Seriously, the scale of this place is just mind-boggling! At 85% completion, Okada Manila employs 19,000 staff working on several shifts working 24/7. I mean, just look at those hallways!
Okada Manila offers 993 luxury suites and villas in two Y-shaped hotel wings. Each room is lavishly furnished with world-class amenities, state-of-the-art technology, and offers spectacular views of the Manila Bay or The Fountain.
The rooms in Okada Manila are over-the-top luxe. We were booked in a Deluxe Room on the 16th floor, a 60 to 74 sqm. space which came with furnishings done in the theme “la vie en rose” which is very different from the usual cream, brown and earth tones of hotel rooms. I personally find it too pink and fancy, but if I were a lifestyle influencer or Instagrammer who brought a suitcase of clothes, I’d probably be over the moon with the interiors. I’m just glad I managed to stash a dress in my backpack because wearing jeans while sitting on that bed just doesn’t look right.
The Deluxe Rooms come with either a king-size or twin beds with Sealy mattress. And that’s just their most basic room. You can imagine what the Grand Deluxe, Junior Suite and Executive Suite rooms look like, which come with separate living room quarters.
What I like most about the room is that it comes with a private jacuzzi with a stunning view. The bathroom is also equipped with a rain shower, wide dresser and vanity with two sinks and loads of designer amenities. And by designer I mean the small bottles of shampoo, soap, shower gel are from the brand of high-end Italian fashion designer Roberto Cavalli. The toilets are Japanese-style, which includes many advanced technological features. The seats automatically open when you enter the bathroom and there’s a remote panel on the side with all the controls. Plus the bathrobes and bedroom slippers in the room felt like the softest kitten fur.
As I was just staring around in amazement, the doorbell rang and the room service attendant welcomed me with a plate of handmade truffles and pralines which I didn’t want to touch because it looked so artistic. Except for the leaf, everything on the plate including the 2018 sign, is edible. A box of 6 assorted chocolates costs almost 700 pesos if you buy it in the lobby.
You can control everything in the room like the TV, lights and air-conditioning with a tablet that was on the bedside table. You can dim the lights or turn them off completely, change channels, adjust the temperature controls and order room service all on the tablet. I wasn’t sure if I should catch the fountain show from the ground floor at night, but the view from the top was pretty spectacular as well.
The room also comes with a walk-in closet leading to a small mini-bar area with tea and coffee making facilities. The mini-bar is filled with a few staples and premium items. There’s a sign above the refrigerator warning guests that if you touch anything inside for more than 60 seconds, it will be automatically charged to your account.
Seriously, they can detect it. I didn’t see that warning sign until later that night, and of course I had to check what the beers in the ref were (I didn’t drink any though). When we got back, there was a can and a candy bar missing from the ref. So someone really swoops in and gets it from the room when you step out of the room. If you’re traveling with kids and want to avoid accidents like that, you might want to request for a locked mini-bar.
The media dinner and breakfast were held in Medley Buffet, the all-day dining restaurant that features an innovative open kitchen design showcasing the creations of seasoned Filipino Chef Guillermo Aspera and expert chefs.
Medley Buffet prides itself on using only the freshest and finest ingredients, with seven buffet stations that highlight staples and specialties from around the world. There was a good selection of healthy salads, cheese, appetizers, and a generous selection of fresh seafood and shellfish..
The selection of local and international cuisine ranged from Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean and Italian fare. There’s also an action stall coming straight from the restaurant’s own rotisserie and grill where they serve premium cuts of roast beef, turkey and other meats.
The dinner buffet was excellent. Though there may not be as many stations compared to some other buffets, it’s really the quality that matters. I mostly went for the smoked & cured salmon, charcuterie, assorted cheese, nuts & dried fruits, sashimi and lobster.
Of course, I couldn’t pass up a chance to try slow-cooked roasted turkey with cranberry sauce, steak and baked oysters.
There was even a buffet section focusing on the expensive and controversial delicacy Foie gras prepared in different ways.
The dessert selection was pretty wide, with lots of sweets, chocolates, homemade pastries and cakes, plus chilled treats. There’s also a whole section devoted to native Filipino delicacies and rice cakes and desserts from Laguna, Pampanga and Batangas.
The breakfast at Medley Buffet the next day was much tamer than dinner, but had staples like bacon, eggs, and a lot of viands. I noticed the cheese selection was more limited during breakfast, and the Japanese/seafood selection was replaced with fruits and healthier options and cereals were on display instead of chocolates for desserts, but overall, everything was really good.
Aside from Medley Buffet, there are many other dining upscale options around the property, some of which are helmed by chefs who have worked in Michelin-starred restaurants around the world. La Piazza Ristorante Italiano serves Italian cuisine in an upscale fine dining setting. Enbu is a traditional Japanese grill with striking interiors. The 2,160 red chochin lanterns suspended in multiple rows from the ceiling are reminiscent of festivals and streets in Japan.
Goryeo Korean Dining restaurant offers guests an upscale Korean barbecue experience. Red Spice offers regional Chinese cuisine highlighting traditional Cantonese recipes. Meanwhile Kiapo, near the casino, pays homage to Quiapo’s bustling streets with their home-cooked Filipino dishes, filling meals and rice bowls. This is one of the most popular restaurants for patrons because you can dine here for free when you play and earn points at the casino.
The whole resort complex of Okada Manila is not 100% finished. During our New Year’s Eve stay, some parts of the hotel including the spa, swimming pool and fitness center were still under construction. But since you have a Jacuzzi in your room, you don’t really need a pool, right?
But there’s still a lot to see and enjoy in the place just by walking around the resort complex including the casino. The casino floor is set in a 26,000 sqm area, with over 500 table games and 3,000 electronic gaming machines. Taking photographs inside the casino is not allowed.
But aside from the casino, the whole place feels like a mall. There are a few exclusive retail stores, mostly from Japanese brands, toy stores and boutiques that are already open in the Crystal Corridor, the enclosed glass hallway surrounding the fountain which feels like a theme park on its own. The 720-m long Crystal Corridor will be a shopper’s haven filled with shops and restaurants with an extraordinary view of the fountain. Fast-food chain restaurants will be opening up in the area soon, giving customers more affordable dining options.
Just walking around the hallways and corridors, you come across a lot of interesting backdrops for photos and selfies.
One of the highlights of our media visit was the tour of the Cove Indoor beach and night club where the New Year’s Eve Countdown was held. This massive complex housed under a climate-controlled glass dome is poised to be the premier entertainment venue for concerts, parties and special events.
But the main draw for the general public is The Fountain, currently the biggest multi-colored dancing fountain in the world. This fountain is so grand in scale that it rivals other spectacular fountains in Dubai and Las Vegas. Fountain shows, which run every hour are free for the public to watch. The Fountain is open from Monday to Sunday from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Every 8 p.m. from Friday to Sunday, the World of Wonders will be performed on the floating stage.
Guests are allowed to take photos and videos of the fountain show using personal gadgets. However, professional video cameras and drones are strictly prohibited.
WHO SHOULD CHECK IN:
Okada Manila is for people who want to enjoy the finest and most luxurious things in life and don’t mind spending big bucks on it. The hotel is suited for high-rollers, expats, business travelers, socialites and balikbayans. It’s definitely not cheap, but it might appeal to couples or families looking for a new and ultra-glamorous luxury family staycation in the city for special occasions like birthdays, anniversaries or honeymoons.
It’s easy enough to get to Okada Manila by private vehicle. From MOA, just follow Macapagal Road going to Solaire and turn right on New Seaside Drive. Okada Manila is just 3.5 km from the domestic and international airport via a newly built link. Parking is currently free of charge to all guests depending on availability. They offer valet parking for cars only, but I suggest you park the cars yourself if you’re not in a hurry.
Groups of corporate visitors or those travelling with their family can also get around using the complimentary shuttle services (Hop and Drop buses) from SM Mall of Asia and other locations in Manila including SM Aura, SM Megamall, SM BF Paranaque and Binondo. The area has a taxi bay, but it may take a while for you to get a cab during peak hours. If you’re not driving, the easiest way to get in and out of here would be to use Uber or Grab.
DISCLOSURE: We were media guests of Okada Manila. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights. For room availability, rates and inquiries, please contact the hotel directly.
Okada Manila. New Seaside Drive, Entertainment City, Parañaque, 1701 Metro Manila.