IMAGE courtesy of the author (left) and Marco Polo Ortigas
Let’s be honest: Going on an out-of-town trip with babies and toddlers in tow isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Between planning the logistics and allotting the budget, pre-vacation stress takes the fun out of a family getaway before it even starts.
Thankfully, a staycation serves as an awesome alternative. Now that I’m a mom to a 1-year old, these mini-breaks in the city have become even more enjoyable for me and my family. It’s a cinch to plan and pull off, is easier on the pocket, and allows you to have that intentional time of fun and relaxation for the entire family.
To discover the joys of a staycation, a hotel stay is your best bet: Guaranteed comfortable accommodations, indulgent food, exciting activities for the kids, pampering options for the grown-ups, and great service from its staff.
On a recent weekend off, our brood of three checked in to the Marco Polo Ortigas Manilafor an overnight stay. We highly recommend it to those looking for a family-friendly hideaway. In fact, we’re already planning our next booking!
We arrived at 2p.m. (peak check-in time!), but we didn’t have to wait long for our room reservation to be processed. We had refreshing welcome drinks served at the lobby, but shoutout to Ken, our bellman, who insisted on helping us bring our luggage -- we only had one and a baby carrier! -- to our room. His help allowed me and my husband to focus on our daughter, who needed comforting because she's really afraid of elevator rides!
We stayed in a Premier room, and the first thing we noticed was the space -- it was perfect for a toddler like to run around and explore her surroundings. It can comfortably accommodate a family of four (two adults and two kids under 12 years old) and has enough space to set up your pack ‘n play or for an extra mattress. It also had a king-sized bed, and the tub in the bathroom doubles as a pool for your toddlers! (If you have older kids, the Superior Room is a good choice—two king-sized beds provide enough space for everyone.)
So what can the kids do? Marco Polo has an indoor heated pool, for one. It’s open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., and a lifeguard is always on duty. Pro tip: The locker rooms adjacent to the pool have sauna rooms (squeeze in some me-time there).
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You can also bring your toddler to the Piccolo Kid’s Club. This play area on the ground level will keep the little ones entertained for hours, thanks to the mini ball pit and the collection of educational toys and books. (Insider tip: Socks are required here so don’t forget to pack pairs for you and the kids.)
Food tripping is an activity we highly recommend for grown-ups when you're staying at Marco Polo. You have a lot of options. There's the Connect Lounge on the 24th floor where you can try the tea with scones, open-faced sandwiches, and pastries.
Our booking had included a breakfast buffet at Cucina, and the impressive spread had something for everyone: from Filipino fare to Asian favorites; golden waffles and crispy bacon; sweet breads and savory noodles; yoghurt and cereals; fresh fruits and salads!
The kids though will probably love Café Pronto because of its selection of baked goods and gelato. They also have hefty sandwiches (go for the Ruben for a meaty, cheesy snack), and a must-try is the Earl Grape Iced tea and the Silk Road Iced Coffee.
But our favorite has to be Lung Hin, which was named as one of the best restaurants by the China Hotel Industry Golden Horse Awards. Lung Hin’s dimsum selection is a sure crowd-pleaser, while their contemporary take on classic faves will excite your taste buds. Our top picks? Steamed Shrimp Dumplings with Gold Leaf (plump, juicy shrimps wrapped in rice paper make for an irresistible hakaw!), Angus Beef Short Ribs in Barbecue Sauce (melt-in-your mouth meat is paired with a smoky-savory sauce that both adults and kids will like), and Chilled Avocado Sago (a yummy break from the usual mango version).
If you still have time for a nightcap, head to Vu’s Sky Bar and Lounge on the 45th floor where you can enjoy an unobstructed view of Metro Manila.
Staycations are meant to be relaxing and what better way to revel in the experience than to order room service or schedule an in-room massage or spa service. Many moms will tell also tell you this: Their toddlers’ most favorite part of a staycation is simply jumping on the beds!