Makati Avenue, Makati, Manila
Written by Karen Martin Illustration by Marion Vitus
As well as being the financial centre of the Philippines, Makati is known for its cosmopolitan way of life, and as a major cultural and entertainment hub in Metro Manila.
Not surprisingly, the city also boasts many of the country’s five-star hotels, and Makati Avenue – which runs through the heart of the city – has three of the most prestigious: Peninsula Manila; Shangri-La Hotel Makati; and Mandarin Oriental Manila.
May Luna, manager of the award-winning spa at Mandarin Oriental Manila, describes her perfect day on her favourite street: Makati Avenue.
“A short distance from the hotel, located behind the Philippine Stock Exchange, is Ayala Triangle Park – a great place to get away from the concrete of the city and walk amongst the trees,” says May. “On the corner of the Ayala Triangle is the Filipino Heritage Library, where you can learn about the historical culture of Manila and of the Philippines. If you want more history, we also have the Ayala Museum just walking distance from the library.” Set over four levels, it is considered one of the most important private institutions of Filipino art and culture. “The gift shop is also great for souvenirs,” adds May.
Ayala Triangle Park is surrounded by shops, restaurants, and cafés. A favourite eatery is Conti’s Pastry Shop and Restaurant. It has Filipino dishes but is also inspired by Continental cuisine. “The good thing about this restaurant is that they serve a different ‘soup of the day’,” says May. “The favourites in this restaurant are the buffalo wings, and the mango bravo; if you didn’t know, mango is the national fruit of the Philippines.”
Makati is also home to many first-class shopping malls. Greenbelt features some of the high-end shops such as Hermes, Louis Vuitton, and Hugo Boss, as well as entertainment and restaurants. “If you want to try authentic Filipino food at Greenbelt, try Fely J’s,” says May. The popular restaurant serves dishes such as ginataang gulay (squash, sitaw, other vegetables and shrimps in coconut milk).
“While you’re at Greenbelt, you should also check out the Filipino handicrafts,” says May. “If you’re staying over a weekend, on Saturday mornings you can visit the Salcedo Weekend Market at Salcedo Park from 7am to 2pm featuring authentic Filipino food and handicrafts.”
Makati Avenue is as alive at night as it is during the day with a plethora of bars on and around the street. “Some of the nightlife you can find in A. Venue at the top of Makati Avenue. There’s a bar downstairs and they’re famous for their functions, not to mention their A. Venue burger!” May enthuses.
“Of course, I would end the perfect day in Makati at the spa at Mandarin Oriental Manila on Makati Avenue,” says May. “The spa is located on the top floor and is like a small villa of calm and serenity at the top of the city. It only has four treatment rooms, giving a very cosy atmosphere. Enjoying one of the treatments and chilling out in the relaxation area is the perfect way to wind down after a hectic day.”
Relax in style
May recommends ending the perfect day in Manila with a Hilot Massage, a traditional Filipino massage and an ancient art of healing that has been in existence for thousands of years. “The 90-minute treatment uses banana leaves and virgin coconut oil. We heat the banana leaf over a candle and sweep it across the back. This shows up which areas need more attention and we can then target a specific area, balancing the body.”