Businessman vents spleen at 5-star Makati hotel

The Makati Shangri-La Hotel main lobby

The Makati Shangri-La Hotel main lobby

By Jun Ilagan

If you’re a businessman frequently traveling to the Philippines and staying nowhere else but at the 5-star Makati Shangri-La Hotel since it opened in the ’90s, how would you feel about being contacted by the hotel informing you that after you paid nearly Php600,000 in total hotel charges for your 12-day stay, you left behind an unpaid tab of Php875 for four canned sodas discovered missing from your suite’s mini bar?

How would you react after realizing that, at $1:Php40, Makati Shangri-La — the only hotel you have patronized the last 15 years — is telling you that the $15,000 you paid on check-out would only be treated, technically, as partial payment, unless and until you paid the $21.87 you still owe?

You’ll writhe in amusement, anger, and amazement all at the same time, as did a Bay Area-based Filipino American businessman who feels the belated charge practically amounts to Makati Shangri-La shoving his self-respect down his throat.

(He has requested anonymity, lest his friends tease him about shortchanging a top hotel for $21 bucks.)

Put another way, he thinks the hotel chain’s corporate culture mirrors an unwritten dictum that VIP hotel guests — never mind if they held their daily series of business meetings, luncheons and dinners at the hotel, and were pumping more than a thousand dollars into its coffers every single day during every stay — should not get away with taking four sodas from their suite’s mini bar, and leave without paying for them.

Make no mistake, Makati Shangri-La’s loss prevention system is fool-proof.

As big business would say, nothing personal, just strictly business. Even if servers in the hotel’s outlets knew this Pinoy as the nice guy from San Francisco who would often have his aides surprise the service staff with boxes and boxes of Shakey’s or CPK pizza.

There is another bombshell. The same businessman, in the course of that recent Philippine trip, actually checked out for two days from Makati Shangri-La and brought his colleagues on a weekend visit to Boracay. His party stayed at Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort and Spa — at the two-bedroom, $3,000-a-night Villa 8, no less — until Sunday, when the host checked back in again in Makati. His Boracay hotel bill: around Php200,000 ($5,000).

“Either I or my driver or aides must have picked up three cans of Sprite and a can of Coca-Cola from the fridge, I really don’t remember,” the FilAm, who founded a conglomerate of industry-leading firms in the United States, said to Fil-Am Star.

Had the front desk been more efficient in sending up a room boy, pronto, to do a final check on the mini bar while all the other tabs and charges were being processed, none of this contemptuously funny BS would have occurred, he added.

“Thinking back, I could have just asked my driver when I arrived from San Francisco to buy $21.87 worth of canned sodas and matching ‘Holland hopia,’ bring them up to my room, and later pay Shangri-La for rental of the refrigerator if need be,” he laughed.

According to the businessman, he was spending half a million pesos on average at Makati Shangri-La every time he visited Manila the last 15 years, at a minimum frequency of twice a year.

Jun Ilagan is the editor-in-chief of Fil-Am Star weekly in San Francisco.

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  1. […] According to the businessman, he was spending half a million pesos on average at Makati Shangri-La every time he visited Manila the last 15 years, at a minimum frequency of twice a year. – The FilAm […]

  2. […] According to a businessman, he was spending half a million pesos on normal during Makati Shangri-La each time he visited Manila a final 15 years, during a smallest magnitude of twice a year. – The FilAm […]

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