Nov 262014

Flavorful dishes from around the world at 50 percent discount: Chefs in open-theater kitchens cook for the buffet at Flavors Restaurant of Holiday Inn & Suites Makati, assuring freshness. The discount is given to Citi credit card holders until Jan. 31,2015.

I am a sucker for the magic phrase “50 percent discount.” When a top-rated restaurant declares a 50 percent discount, all gourmets and gourmands rush there like mad, hungry fans. And this one thing I’ve observed: the richer people are the first  to go for cost-saving treats like this. That’s why they’re richer.

So when Bea Tan of Citi Philippines invited me recently for lunch at Holiday Inn & Suites Makati, I quickly said yes.

I wanted to see if the offer was really worth trying. I also wanted to check out the new Holiday Inn & Suites Makati, so conveniently connected to Glorietta Mall. I remember memorable events at the old Holiday Inn along Roxas Boulevard. It opened in 1976 together with 14 other hotels to accommodate International Monetary Fund/World Bank conference delegates, Its director for advertising and PR then, Toni Villaraza-Gregory, recalled that it became Traders Hotel in the 1990s.

The amiable hotel manager Christopher Wichlan  showed us a new Holiday Inn that is an incredibly modern and relaxing urban sanctuary in the heart of a busy business center But what about the buffet at Flavors Restaurant which is offered at 50 percent off for Citi cardholders until Jan. 31, 2015?  Could it be just another buffet that’s all quantity? I soon ate my words — and a lot of delicious food!

Flavors Restaurant boasts freshly-cooked dishes at open-theater kitchens that can do both Asian and Western cuisines. All my faves — from Japanese sushi and sashimi to to Greek hummus to Italian vongole pasta to Spanish paella to Chinese  spring rolls  to Pinoy grilled fish — were there. The dessert counters were so tempting, I couldn’t resist the cheesecake and the halo-halo.

Here’s another treat: Wichlan said every group of four guests will receive a bottle of wine at Flavors which is open daily from 6 a.m. to 12 midnight. And yes,there is a function room for cozy gatherings. And more: A Citi credit card is also a ticket to a staycation at 50 percent discount from Fridays to Sundays. Staycations became popular in the USA during the financial crisis years starting 2007 when gas prices rose and people wanted to enjoy vacations without having to drive too far. Well, over here, Filipinos have always loved staycations. Holiday Inn’s 348 rooms each have a 40-inch LED TV, mini-bar, coffee and tea maker and a work desk and  a multimedia panel — and of course, there is wireless Internet access.

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A big treat during our lunch was the wonderful presence of Batara Sianturi, CEO of Citi Philippines. I have yet to meet an expat like him who loves going to Divisoria and knows it by heart, and enjoys the pleasure of discovering Manila by MRT.Talk about humble and down-to-earth corporate giants who like to feel the pulse of consumers.

“Around the world, Holiday Inn is recognized for its service and our cardholders can be assured of rewarding experiences when they take advantage of our best market promos,” said Sianturi.

Holiday Inn & Suites Makati general manager Christian Pirodon  who is also area general manager of the InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) Philippines expressed  this mantra: “At the core of Holiday Inn & Suites Makati’s service culture is delivering distinct Filipino hospitality at every touch-point. We have fused the Holiday Inn brand hallmarks, which our international travelers have come to love, with the caring attitude of our staff whose prime concern is your comfort.”

Citi Philippines consumer business manager Bea Tan added  that these offers are part of a long list of rewards for Citi Platinum members in the Philippines as well as across Asia and around the world. “We leverage on our global presence in 100 countries to literally bring a world of privileges to our clients — whether it is dining, a staycation or shopping.”

Excuse me while I pack my bags for a staycation — or should I say, nearcation.

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To know more about Citi offerings, log on to For reservations at Holiday Inn & Suites Makati, call 909-0888 extension 7429 or email

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