“P is for penguins, poinsettia and look Mom…. A giant polar bear!” My daughter’s eyes lit up as she took in the festive decors of the Manila Hotel. I brought both my children to the annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony of the historic Grande Dame and both had big smiles on their faces as a multitude of lights turned on simultaneously at exactly 6:00 pm to herald the start of the night’s festivities.
Minutes before, the sight of a lifesize gingerbread house greeted us as we entered the Grand lobby. Seated on a plush red armchair was the jolly old man himself. A line of children from the House of Refuge , the hotel’s chosen beneficiary, made their way one by one to Santa’s lap as each asked for a special Yuletide wish. I saw my little one’s furtive glances to the man in the red suit as she decided silently if she too wanted to make her own wish. “Sweetie, why don’t we see what’s on the other side of the room and then come back when the line is shorter? I’m sure Santa Claus will be waiting for you,” I told her reassuringly.
The Las Piñas Boys Choir, San Sebastian Chamber and Harmonia Pilipinas provided the evening’s entertainment. Christmas carols filled the air as three hundred guests milled around and took photos by the twenty foot Christmas tree as well as with “Willy the Polar Bear.” The host told us that his year’s huge Christmas mascot was actually named after the hotel’s landscape architect William Parsons. “Do polar bears and penguins live in the same place,” I heard R asking her older brother. “Polar bears live in Antartica and most penguins can be found in the Arctic region,” M replied . Hmmm… ok now both of us know.
Soon it was time to partake of the sumptuous spread prepared by the famed chefs of the Grande Dame. Shrimp dumplings, turkey croquettes, chinese noodles and trays of dedadent pastries were all part of the menu. Of course, a Filipino Christmas celebration would not be complete without lechon. People lined up until the last morsel of the delicious crispy lechon truffle was served. I particularly enjoyed the puto bumbomg and bibingka which were served for dessert.
“We pride ourselves in giving unforgettable memories to our guests. This year is no different. Both the kids and the kids at heart will surely enjoy the holiday marvels that we have prepared this season,” said Nian Rigor AVP for PR and Corporate Communcations. “We invite everyone to visit and experience the Manila Hotel Christmas with our holiday promotions and exciting surprises. Make the Grande Dame your ultimate Yuletide destination and I assure you that it will be one you’ll remember,” added Dr. Enrique Yap, EVP of Manila Hotel.
Seasonal specialty hampers which include wines, authentic french macarons, christmas cookies and pralines are available at the Christmas village. Family room packages for the entre month of December start at P7,999 NET per room. In addition, you may also avail special set dinners at the different hotel restaurants . For more inquiries please call 527-0011.
As the night ended, we made our final stop at the pastry counter. We are massive fans of Chef Jerome Benda’s French macarons and ube ensyamadas. With those packed in the hotel’s eponymous yuletide packages, the kids and I said our momentary adieu to our favorite hotel destination. Christmas has indeed come to the great halls of the Grande Dame.
With a pocketful of glitter,