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A Disappointing Stay at EDSA Shangri-La's Horizon Club

For my trip back home, my family and I decided to spend some quality time together and opted for an in-city staycation. We chose EDSA Shangri-la because we wanted to have the option of walking to a nice mall nearby. EDSA Shangri-la opened August 1992 and is currently 24 years old, but it doesn't feel like it because there is no musky smell, the fixtures aren't scuffed and everything seems constantly renovated or well-taken care of.

When they declare themselves 5-star, I have no problem with it because it does seem like that. I would probably have more of an issue with Manila Hotel being called 5-star as, barring the pristine lobby, their room fixtures are shabby-unchic and the room furnitures are old. The towels are also kind of yucky. I have no bad words for the rooms in EDSA Shangri-La. Their towels actually seem clean and I don't get imaginary itchies when I lay on the bed. The rooms are also spacious, even the basic rooms.

So we were happy to find out about the Horizon Club in EDSA Shangri-La. We love lounging around and snacking at club floors altogether. We booked 2 twin rooms and 1 king, and registered 2 extra persons for September 10-12. In the end, I don't think the club fee (Php 1500 per head per night on top of room fees) was worth it.

We were off to a rocky start, as we had confirmed an early check in at 12 noon although we actually got there around 2.30pm because we had a baby in our group. Still, when we got there, the rooms were nowhere near ready. We lounged about in the club room for about 1 hour and it was only when my pregnant sister complained that it was almost 4pm that the setting up seemed to actually fast-forward.

I didn't mind this incident that much because they reasoned that there was a huge conference, which is an invalid reason for me but whatever. I was appeased because front desk did their best and threw in a suite for regular room price + 2500 per night, to compensate for the tie-up. We took the package and were happy to get adjoining rooms with the suite right next to them.

However, the club floor experience was horrible. This is the second-worst club I've experienced, topped only by the disgusting Marina Mandarin in Singapore.

The amenities weren't lacking. It wasn't mind-blowing but it wasn't lacking either. It's your standard club room fare with conference and office facilities, 24 hour drinks and snacks with special food services throughout the day.

What turned me off completely, was the food service.

They prepare your coffee or tea for you, and even arrange for special drink requests if you have any. My pregnant sister was craving mango shakes, and though they served only mango juices in the club floor, they took our special orders gladly. I could also see other members taking drinks other than what was offered in the mini bar.

However, that is where my good words end. It was a horrible experience because whenever we'd go for the food service on the dedicated times, there was little to no food out. Plain soft drinks and even bottled water doesn't get refilled in the night, this despite the 24 hour promise on site.

Chips, cookies and drinks are about Php 10 per serving. Club members pay Php 1500 per day per person to enter the lounge. I think if my sister asked for 3 stupid pieces of cookies WELL WITHIN service time (2.30pm), they should rush to serve her. Instead, the club concierge kept making excuses that cookies weren't part of petit fours or that she (the concierge) would have to request them from the ground floor. It was something obviously contrived as the bottom line was that she was making excuses not to refill the cookie jar, which was part of the 24-hour bar. It was only when my sister started complaining that not more than ten seconds later, cookies came out of the back room.

I can wait for the club room to fill up the plates and beverages, but I think it's a mark of horrible service if the club doesn't want to fill them up. I've been to several club floors and it was only here and Marina Mandarin, Singapore (so far) that they were stingy with food.

In my mind, if you create a club floor, you should never let your guests pick from leftovers 1 hour or even 30 mins before service ends. You should never let your guests pick from leftovers at all. Yet this is what happened to us whenever we'd drop by on service time, and seemingly what the club concierge wanted my sister to do.

My expectation of club floors is that if they post food service at 2-4pm, they keep filling that plate up until 4pm and take it away exactly at 4pm. I don't even feel bad if I don't get leftovers if I arrive at 4:05pm because it shows me that the club wants to preserve a good image of keeping only fresh food out. Conversely, I also hate club floors leaving plates empty 30 minutes before service ends. Don't tell me I should've come earlier if I come within service time. If food is limited, don't say it's a buffet and perform a bait and switch when you don't feel like feeding the guest. If you want to end service 30 minutes earlier, post a shorter service time.

We paid the proper fee and shouldn't be made to beg for the little crumbs promised to us in lieu of that fee. What's funny is that it is only when white foreigners step into the club room that the plates were constantly, magically filled. If it's my family and other Filipinos inside, the club room stops filling plates. I will never get nor tolerate this Filipino attitude of treating our own so poorly.

It's amusing because we're not those people who want to consume over Php 1500 worth of food just to feel like the club fee was worth it. I think it's not sustainable when customers want to 'win' over the club, such as by taking more than what they can consume. It's also unreasonable to come expecting full-board meals from a lounge, as some people do.

I think we're very reasonable guests, and we recognize that part of the fee is for excellent service. In the case of Horizon Club, the food wasn't bountiful and the service was stressful. It made us feel like unwelcome beggars, which is actually a cheap trick club floors use to turn people off from the service table. I also especially detest being treated poorly compared to white foreigners. We all paid the fee so there should be no preferential service. The preferential service should be to club members versus non-club members, regardless of race.

So if you wanted to turn me off, congratulations Horizon Club. There are better-run club floors than EDSA Shangri-La's Horizon. (Raffles, Makati is a good suggestion, though my favorite is still JW Marriott, Hong Kong.)

Horizon Club Rating:

Facilities: 3 / 5 - Nothing lacking but the club room felt a little bare, many chairs were stained. There were several conference rooms available for use up to 2 hours each, and an office space with printing services. The club floor was spacious.

Beverage service: 4 / 5 - Full bar during cocktail hour (5-7pm) with hard drinks and several wines, a selection of 8 teas and 8 coffees available 24 hours, special drink requests available. Sodas and waters aren't always available. Drinks are limited but the service is good.

Food service: 0 / 5 - Food was tasty though limited. There were barely any savoury petit fours, but the sweet ones were mostly delicious. Cocktail hour selections were more varied and enjoyable. Food were served on tiny plates and refilled slowly, or when caucasian guests came.

Final rating: Black listed. Will not come again due to food stinginess and perceived race-based service.

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