The lobby of Midas Hotel is dominated by a fiber-optic chandelier. Photo: Handout
MANILA – Habitues of the old Hyatt Regency Manila won’t be able to recognize this hotel landmark hotel from the late-1960s anymore.
The Roxas Boulevard-based hotel, which was once the venue for society balls of Manila’s elite, has been rebranded as Midas Hotel and transformed into a boutique casino hotel. Billing itself as a “design-led lifestyle” property, the hotel, now a sister property of the acclaimed Misibis Bay resort, has been given an ultra-modern look by the interior design team of Cynthia and Ivy Almario.
The lobby, for instance, was brightened up with a fiber-optic chandelier and accented by luxurious Italian furniture from Philippe Starcke. Expensive designer bags are even encased in glass and displayed like artworks.
Philippe Starcke furniture at the lobby. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
But despite the contemporary look, the hotel has not forgotten its proud past. After all, the mid-rise hotel that was previously owned by the family of singer-songwriter Jose Mari Chan, was designed by no less than National Artist for Architecture Leandro V. Locsin.
As a tribute to the building’s heritage, the Almario sisters retained the adobe stone walls and pillars of the lobby, which are now part of the 2702 Lobby Lounge. These have been layered with chrome and crystals and serve as a backdrop for giant shelves, strikingly filled with orange boxes and glass.
2702 Lobby Lounge. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
The Hyatt tribute doesn’t end there. Erwin Dona III, the hotel’s associate PR and brand director, announced plans for an ultimate throwback.
“We’re spreading the word that we are going to open the Calesa Bar soon,” he announced at a recent lunch for a select group of food writers.
Music lovers would remember Calesa Bar as the live entertainment venue that launched the careers of many singers and bands, notably Side A. This early, the hotel is starting to feature singers who have at one point performed at the Hyatt.
The Yanagi weekend lunch buffet. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
But in the meantime, Hyatt regulars can look forward to another flashback treat as Midas revived the well-loved buffet of the old hotel’s well-loved outlet Tempura Misono at its modern Japanese restaurant Yanagi, located at the mezzanine level.
Dubbed “Misono Days,” the weekend buffet lunch for P1,088 net per person features traditional Japanese favorites like sushi, sashimi, tempura, soba and sukiyaki. But the highlight of the buffet is the teppan station where chefs grill various meats on the spot for diners.
The teppan station at Yanagi’s weekend lunch buffet. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
Dona revealed that they are also looking to bring back the fortune-telling sessions that were also popular at Tempura Misono.
But Yanagi isn’t just resting on the laurels of its predecessor. After all, Dona noted that the Japanese restaurant has been chosen by Tatler magazine as one of the best restaurants in the Philippines for two consecutive years.
Aburi Sushi. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
The distinction is well earned, at least based on three original dishes created by executive chef Kimito Katagiri, who used to work at Inagiku of the Shangri-La group. Showing off his creativity, the veteran Japanese chef presented his Aburi Sushi platter, which consists of five kinds of sushi – slightly burnt hamachi, eel, salmon, tuna and lapu-lapu.
But more than an eye for presentation, this dish showed Katagiri’s knowledge of the Filipino diner, having worked in the Philippines for 25 years now. He knows that many Filipinos are still not that keen on eating raw food, which was why he made the sushi like that. At the same time, there were nice contrasts going on in the sushi to impress long-time fans of Japanese food.
Tempura Maki. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
This was the same mindset behind his two other creations: the Tempura Maki melds two favorites, the prawn tempura and the maki, and then deep-fried for added crunch and additional texture.
Kaki Papaya Yaki. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
But the crowd favorite during the lunch was the Kaki Papaya Yaki, which is a ripe papaya boat topped with boiled Japanese oyster and caramelized miso mayo sauce. I’m not a big fan of sweet fruits used in hot dishes but this one worked so well, its tropical refreshing quality of the papaya and the succulent goodness of the oyster is a perfect summer treat that brings up feelings of the beach.
Apart from Yanagi, Midas Hotel also has the all-day outlet Midas Café, which is another triumph in design for the Almarios as they succeeded in creating a relaxing garden setting through creative use of resort furniture, wallpaper, mirrors and natural light for an airy, clean ambience.
Midas Café has a garden feel indoors. Photo by Vladimir Bunoan, ABS-CBNnews.com
With nods to the past and contemporary touches that are so now, guests can certainly expect more from Midas Hotel in the future.