Toby is back as a guest blogger to tell us about his fantastic experience at Banyan Tree Macau! A little on his background, Toby – as you might already know from his previous guest posts – really knows how to enjoy life and demands for a work-life-balance! This time round, he’s introducing us to his Pool Villa retreat.
Guest Post by Toby Chan for Anna Susanne * The Travelling Pixie
When I casually told Anna about my holiday plans, she asked if I could write a guest blog post of it. Of course I couldn’t say no!
What was so worthy to write about was the Pool Villa at the Banyan Tree Macau. The hotel is one of three located at the Galaxy Macau casino-resort complex. While Banyan Tree names some of its rooms ‘villas’ in the main hotel building, probably because all are quite large and have some form of relaxation pool in them, there are only 10 Pool Villas located on the podium floor, each with its own private patio, swimming pool and jacuzzi. The exclusivity of the Pool Villas extends to its ever long waiting list, and sometimes requiring a deposit in the casino-gambling account in order to be shortlisted.
The Pool Villas comes in three configurations – one, two or three bedroom suites. The one I had the opportunity to stay in was the one bedroom villa. A two bedroom villa would be more suitable for my family of three, but again, the exclusivity meant the two bedroom villas were fully booked that weekend.
The experience starts at the Macau Ferry Terminal. All villas enjoy complimentary limousine service and we were greeted by a friendly staff after we passed Macau immigration. After a short ride, we arrived the hotel. Villa guests check in at the villa itself, and so we skipped the reception desk and hopped onto a golf buggie that took us to the room. The ride took about a minute, which probably takes about 3 minutes to walk. It seems unnecessary at first but if you account for the hot weather, this is much preferred.
We arrived Villa 510, affectiately named Bauhania (coincidentally the City Flower of Hong Kong). After all the paper work for check-in, we were given a mobile phone that has a dedicated speed dial to contact the villa support team. During our stay, we made use of the phone as we were told – for making spa appointments, breakfast orders, buggie requests, restaurant bookings, newspaper request etc. This is certainly a touch of class that the hotel extends to its Villa guests.
About the room
The floor plan of the room is shaped like the letter “U”. The two longer ends houses the living/dining room and bathroom, while the bottom part is the bedroom connecting the two. The main door of the villa opens to the dining room. The room feels airy, with floor-to-ceiling windows/sliding doors on almost all sides of the villa that faces the private patio, bringing in lots of natural light. Luckily all of the curtains and shades are electrically operated, making it less of a fuss having to deal with so many windows.
The bedroom in between the dining/living room and bathroom is divided by a large wooden sliding door. The room has a large window that opens up to the jacuzzi and swimming pool in the patio, an integrated design that begs you to believe you’re in a resort outside of Macau. The bed sits in the middle of the room, under a pointed roof decorated with curtain shades hanging from the top. A small box next to the bed adds to the touch of class – it contains five smaller pillows, which are samples of different pillows of varying softness, and could be requested at turn down service.
The bathroom is behind another pair of wooden sliding doors. The bathroom is lavishly large – as it is almost as large as the dining/living room. There are two toilets in its own closet, with electronically heated and operated washing systems (similar to those common in Japan), a huge circular bathtub, and a walk-in shower that also doubles as a steam room. The private spa room is at the very end of the bathroom, providing enough space for two people to simultaneously have spa treatments.
About the patio
The patio can be accessed using the glass doors available to each room (living/dining, bedroom, bathroom). The jacuzzi with glass sides adds to the wow factor – but this design has its downsides as the water jets can hardly reach the backs and is mostly targeted to the legs… this is certainly an example of aesthetics over function! The water in the jazucci could also be slightly warmer. The swimming pool further down the patio is moderately sized, about 18m in length. Two terraced areas are found on either side of the pool – one for sunbathing, and another with some garden sofas and a table for four. I kept on thinking that this setting is perfect for an outdoor shisha. This will be the first thing I’ll implement if I somehow run a resort chain someday (lol). Finally, there is a sense of privateness as the patios of other rooms cannot be seen except at the very end if you peep.
Each Villa comes with two complimentary 90 minute spa treatments, which makes the room rent very good in value – as the spa treatments themselves could cost as much as half the room rent if purchased separately.
Spa treatments could be enjoyed at the hotel’s main spa facility or inside the Villa in the private spa room. I asked them to come over as I never had spa inside a hotel room.
As expected, the spa is good, but there is nothing surprising about it. Although there is a sense of perfection to everything – from the service, amenities, aromas and oils, there is nothing that really pops up in my head now that I try to think about it (two weeks later). Honestly, I might have regretted a little because I have a feeling it could be better at the dedicated spa in the hotel. Ah right, the post-spa fruit salad drizzled in yogurt and ginger tea were quite nice.
Dining at Saffron, Banyan Tree Macau
Saffron is Banyan Tree’s flagship restaurant. There is one in almost every branch of their hotels for East Asian dining and also the international breakfast buffet. We decided we wanted to pay a visit at dinner time as we won’t be having breakfast there (more on that later).
When we arrived Saffron we thought it was very quiet – which usually is not a good sign for restaurants (no customers = disappointing food). Luckily when the food arrived we were quite impressed. The fried crab cakes and soft shell crab are done just right and the homemade thai sauce compliments it really well. The beef brisket tomato soup (no photo unfortunately) was surprisingly good. The brisket was very tender and is nicely flavoured when paired with the tomato soup. The pad thai was well presented and was rather nice.
Truth be told, I was never really impressed with F&B offerings in Macau – Hong Kong is still better. Saffron is good but not astonishing good. I might visit again but not eager to.
I woke up early and decided to visit the pool. Although the Grand Resort Deck shared by all three hotels at Galaxy Macau is a must-visit, I decided to visit the pool dedicated to Banyan Tree instead to enjoy some quiet time (photo of the pool taken at night, obviously). It did not disappoint – the water is well maintained and crystal clear.
During check-in, we were offered the choice to have the complimentary breakfast as buffet at Saffron or inside the room. We gave it some thought and decided to have it in the room, or more precisely, outside in the patio. Surely this will be an interesting experience – how often do you have time to have a nice breakfast on a work day? All I usually do is quickly down a bowl of oatmeal before I head out.
There were only two breakfast choices – English or Chinese. We had both. Both comes with its own selection of freshly squeezed juice and coffee/tea. Breakfast is business as usual – nothing exciting but it was certainly nicely done. The juice is fresh and chilled, the toast is crispy, the food is nice… more importantly, the service was superb.
Shortly after breakfast, we refreshed ourselves and were ready to depart. Just like check in, check out was completed in the room and the golf buggie took us directly to the limosine that took us to our next destination. The stay in general was an experience in its own, and the cost of the room was actually justified after you account for all the complimentary add ons – the spa, the in-room breakfast, and the afternoon tea that we missed (I had the spa and my parents went to the casino).
The final question: will I come back? Unfortunately, maybe not. I’m better off staying in a pool villa at a real resort next to the beach. Still a nice weekend getaway!
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