If you just want your fortune told, try your luck in another hotel because Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila doesn’t have a diviner for the Chinese New Year.
But if what you want is to relish dishes prepared with auspicious ingredients corresponding to your Chinese zodiac, and perhaps with that enjoy a rare bottle of Château Lafite Rothschild from 2005, then you can thank your lucky stars.
While it’s not aiming to fill the void vacated by a departed Makati landmark for the annual Chinese New Year celebrations, Sofitel has prepared a Shengxiao zodiac menu to welcome the Year of the Sheep. To go with your meal, it has a multimillion-peso selection of the world’s finest wines to pick from.
“We don’t have a geomancer, if that’s what you mean,” said Yasmine Hidalgo, the hotel’s director for PR, referring to a popular feature in the festivities welcoming the Lunar New Year, which falls this year on Feb. 19. “We’re a French brand, but we have a lot of Chinese guests also, so we have prepared a special menu for them.”
On top of that, the hotel has invited modern-boho fashion designer Patis Pamintuan Tesoro to showcase 40 looks from her Rustan’s line on a Feb. 17 dinner show dubbed “Chinoiserie a Sofitel Manila: La Collection Rouge” at Spiral, where guests get to enjoy Chinese zodiac-inspired dishes prepared by executive sous chef Mok Chee Wah. It will be a free show for Spiral diners.
There will also be dragon and lion dance performances on Feb. 18 and 19. (Call 8326988 and 5155555 local 2988, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Indeed, Sofitel is staying true to its heritage as a French luxury hotel brand by showcasing the best of Gallic hospitality through its food and beverage (F&B) offerings in the upcoming back-to-back February events, including Valentine’s Day.
First, it refreshes its culinary setting by naming Denis Vecchiato, an Italian married to a Filipina and sometime Cebu resident, as executive chef. Having worked in several luxury properties in the region, including a luxury resort in Cebu, the European chef is well familiar with Asian and Filipino tastes, including what he jokingly described as “pizza that tastes like pancit canton,” the latter being his favorite Filipino dish.
The hotel’s F&B managers are also confident in attracting new wine connoisseurs among Filipinos, as evidenced by a sale of 10 bottles from its P15-million selection of premier wines in just a month, including a 2005 Château Margaux worth P231,700.
“I think that’s proof that this market is ready,” said Matthieu Chapuis, one of the assistant F&B managers.
If guests are curious, Chapuis and his colleague, Tanguy Gras, the only two who have keys to the prized wine chiller in Spiral’s cheese room, are more than happy to show them the 200-bottle collection that includes Château Cheval Blancs, Château Latours and Château Haut-Brions, as well as prestigious First Growths of Bordeaux, and Premier and Grand Crus from Burgundy, priced from P13,000 (Domaine Henri Perrot-Minot 2001) to P848,200 (Petrus 1989).
For Valentine’s, chef Bettina Arguelles prepared a menu that centers on so-called aphrodisiacs—fig, oyster, pomegranate, truffle, caviar, foie gras, honey—to be served under the stars in
only five specially decorated canopies for couples by the Sunset Bar, on Feb. 13, 14 and 15. Guests can choose from a four-course dinner for two (from P10,000) or a six-course meal (from P30,000).
Valentine guests can then participate in a romantic cliché, made popular in Paris’ Pont des Arts bridge, the love lock, where lovers write their names on a padlock, attach it to the bridge and throw the key into the water, immortalizing their love.
A “love tower” will be set up by the Sofitel poolside where lovers can mimic the ritual. Instead of throwing the keys into the water, they will be buried in a time capsule by end of February. Before that, a lucky couple whose key is picked will win an overnight stay at the hotel.
No date for Valentine’s? The hotel has something called Black Valentine’s at Le Bar, designed for singletons who just want to celebrate with their friends, and a singles’ party at Snaps on Feb. 14, as well as a “me time” treatment at Le Spa.
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