For a previous generation of Manilenos living near Tayuman and Felix Huertas streets, nobody could have imagined life without the San Lazaro Hippodrome—just as the younger generation currently living there wouldn’t believe that their favorite Mall and the towering residential buildings nearby used to be the venue of the premiere horseracing events in the Philippines.
Home of the the Manila Jockey Club–the first racing club in Southeast Asia, the San Lazaro Hippodrome was built in 1912 on the 400-hectare (990-acre) once former friar estate known during the Spanish colonial period as the Hacienda de Mayhaligue.
The racetrack became one of the most iconic landmarks of the city of Manila, just like Intramuros, the CCP Complex, the old Spanish churches and the Manila City Hall Clocktower until it was relocated in the early 2000’s to Carmona, Cavite.
The Manila Jockey Club has since redeveloped the area giving rise to SM City San Lazaro, the Celedron Park (townhouses) and Avida Towers (high-rise condominium apartments) and what I think will serve as a new icon of the area—the Winford Manila Resort and Casino.
Last Tuesday, I was invited to Winford Manila’s Sunset Cocktail Party and fortunately, they allowed me to share my room with my parents. I was actually planning on getting a separate room for them as an added treat for my dad who was celebrating his birthday.
My dad was born in Manila and he had spent his elementary days near Abad Santos before my grandparents moved the family to QC and I wanted to show him just how much the place has improved over the years.
He still knew the area quite well and would often reminisce about the time he and his younger sister had to walk home from school that one time, whenever we would pass by those streets.
I think he had been to SM San Lazaro once, but as we approached the driveway of Winford Hotel, he couldn’t hide his surprise. He said he couldn’t believe we were in San Lazaro because of the way Winford was able to isolate itself from the crowded residential area and wondered why somebody would even build such a nice looking hotel in Manila instead of Makati or Taguig.
I dropped them off at the lobby as I proceeded to the sixth floor parking to give them a chance to explore the reception area and take photos with the hotel’s initial Christmas decorations.
I met with them shortly after checking in at the VIP lounge and to my surprise they told me they had been to the casino area and had already played a few of the slot machines. They were sitting at the Hippodrome Bar, which in the afternoons also serve as a bingo hall.
After settling them into the room, to let them rest a bit, I joined the rest of the other media guests for a Hotel tour.
Winford Manila is the newest $8 billion, 5-star hospitality and entertainment hotel located at the heart of historical San Lazaro Tourism and Business Park in Manila.
Offering worId-class indulgences for the entire family– from the elegantly-appointed rooms, fine oriental cuisine, grand event halls, and world-class gaming and entertainment it serves as an oasis filled with leisure and luxury alternatives for everyone to enjoy.
The resort also features a well-equipped fitness center, wellness spa, and the first and only heated roof deck pool in the city.
We began our tour at the lobby where guests can wait comfortably for their check in/ check out on several large sofas and couches. Past the reception area is a souvenir store and the Copa De Manila one of Winford’s dining options where they serve ala carte meals as well as lunch and dinner buffet. It is also where guests can have their breakfast. The other restaurant is the famous HK Choi Garden which serves delicious oriental favorites. Don’t miss their hakaw and dimsum!
The second and third floor is where the gaming areas are located as well as the Hippodrome bar. For one Saturday every month, Winford Manila treats its guests to an evening of free entertainment from some of the country’s finest acts at the Hippodrome. Dulce, Joey G. Freestyle, and Comedy Manila are only some of the performers who have recently graced the stage and delighted the resort and casino’s gaming floor guests.
Next we got to see the different kinds of accommodations at Winford Manila Resort and Casino. They have 128 stunning rooms and suites each room boasts sleek décor that incorporates subtle colors and themes for an Asian-inspired touch.
You can choose between the well-appointed Deluxe Rooms or relish in the extravagant, up-market design of the Executive Suites. The Deluxe Double (smoking and non-smoking rooms available) and Deluxe King (smoking and non-smoking) depending on your bed preference has a size of 29 sqm. It has all the amenities you need from a 40” Flat Screen TV with cable, a Safety Deposit Box, Room telephone, Bathrobe and slippers, Minibar + fridge, Working desk, In-room Iron Board and Hair dryer.
The Executive Suite on the other hand varies from 49sqm to 58 sqm. It has all the same amenities of a Deluxe room except for a bigger TV but it also has a living room and powder room and bathtub.
But the highlight of our tour was going to the rooftop of the hotel—The 21st floor where the helipad is located. It was supposed to be the venue of our Sunset Cocktail Party, however, it had been raining earlier in the afternoon. Still we were able to enjoy a 360-degree view of the city and take photos of the awesome city sunset.
Our dinner was held at the grand ballroom where we were formally welcomed by Winford Manila’s President and COO Jeffrey Evora.
There were a variety of drinks all ready for the tasting as well as a sumptuous buffet feast prepared by Choi Garden that gave us a taste of all their specialties.
After dinner we decided to take a dip in the heated pool and ended the day with a relaxing massage at the SM Kenko Spa.
So how was our quick staycation?
They told us that they had the best beds, and they weren’t kidding. It was just the right firmness for me and it was easily one of the best beds I’ve slept in. The rooms are just the right size for 2 to 4 people. I liked the room lights and the spacious working table (where I was even able to shoot a couple of videos)
I also liked how the entire hotel smells “new” and just goes to show that they exert extra effort in maintain the cleanliness and quality of the rooms. Great job on housekeeping they can be easily contacted and you don’t have to wait for more than 5 minutes before someone takes your call.
My only complaint about the room is that the pillows are sooo soft. But that is just me. The bed sheets and covers all smell good and the towels are fluffy and very white. The bathroom is quite big but sadly there is no bidet.
The pool is also much bigger than other hotels so it doesn’t get too crowded anytime of the day. I also love that its heated so you can take a dip even at night—until 10pm. There’s also a poolside bar so you can have drinks as well.
It’s nice that residents in that area Manila don’t have to go all the way to Pasay, or QC or Pasig for a quick staycation. OFWs and Balikbayans who also have relatives in the area also have a better option when they take their vacations.
And those looking or a nice spacious venue for weddings, debuts or other gatherings should check out Winford Manila, because let’s admit it finding a venue is one thing but finding one with ample parking in Manila–now that’s a challenge.
Visit www.WinfordManila.com for more information or call the Winford Manila Resort and Casino reservations hotline at +632 528-3600.