The Marco Polo Hotel Davao is literally in a class of its own, as it’s the only luxury hotel in all of Davao City, in the Philippines. From your guide’s impressions on staying there, though, they’ve not rested on their laurels.
Despite (or because of) the lack of competition in its class, the Marco Polo has created a niche for itself as a social gathering place for Davao’s business community, making it a great place for business travelers to come and network with their local contacts, whether with a cocktail at the fourth-floor bar facing the swimming pool, or over dinner at the grand Café Marco.
Entering the Marco Polo Davao
Standing at an intersection in Davao’s downtown area, the Marco Polo Hotel is right where business travelers stand to benefit the most: it’s at one end of C.M. Recto Street, Davao City’s main commercial stretch, standing across the street from the Jesuit-run Ateneo de Davao University and the souvenir shopping stop Aldevinco.
On the other end of the property, across from the Aldevinco, you’ll find a line of fruit stands that do bustling business during the fruit season kicked off by the Davao Kadayawan Festival.
Entering the driveway is a matter of serious security; Davao being on the island of Mindanao, entering the local Marco Polo feels less like walking into the Ritz and more like checking into the CIA at Langley, with guards smilingly but professionally checking the vehicle and your belongings for anything suspicious.
Any grimness is dispelled, however, once you enter the lobby, a spacious opening filled with warm light and Filipino contemporary artwork. A large display by the late Pacita Abad stands at the far end of the wall, a patchwork blaze of colors that ties the whole space together, to quote Lebowski.
After being checked in rather efficiently by the front desk staff, you’ll be escorted up for a first glance at your room.
The Marco Polo Davao’s Rooms
The Marco Polo Davao’s 245 guestrooms and suites range from the comfortable Superior to the positively top-flight Presidential Suite. Your guide was checked into a Superior Room on the 10th floor overlooking the pool deck. I enjoyed a view of the swimming pool and bar several floors below, as well as a glimpse of the Davao City skyline beyond.
My room came with the basics: two single beds, a flat-screen TV with cable access, and a large window affording a floor-to-ceiling view. The Superior room is comfortable, with warm-colored fabrics, carpeted floor, and a work desk directly against the window.
One downside I noted – Wifi is not free. You call the front desk for the code, and they send it up in a card and with a bill for the Internet access. Apart from that slight hiccup, Internet access is consistent and relatively fast in the hotel room.
Cabana rooms and suites on the fourth and fifth level take advantage of their position overlooking the pool, flaunting balconies or patios that open right to the deck.
Floor Deck, and Restaurants Elsewhere
The fourth-floor Deck (with a capital D) consolidates the Marco Polo’s “lifestyle” amenities on a single level. The Deck houses the Marco Polo Davao’s “wellness” facilities: the two-storey Lazuli Spa, with four private rooms, one couple’s room, and a foot massage complex on its second level; and the high-tech Fitness Center.
A sizeable lap pool dominates the Deck; on one end of the pool, a bar serves out beer and hard drinks. Along the length of the pool stands the Polo Bistro restaurant.
More on the Marco Polo Davao’s F&B outlets – in the evenings, a lobby bar serves up drinks and live entertainment. At the lobby entrance, the Eagles Bar welcomes casual drinkers and pub crawlers.
The two places that stand out are the Lotus Court Restaurant on the 3rd floor and the Café Marco on the mezzanine floor.
The former is a Cantonese restaurant that also happens to be where the hotel’s breakfast buffet is served, and by George, the Marco Polo Davao’s breakfast buffet is the most extensive one your guide has seen. Bacon by the truckloads, freshly baked breads, and everything breakfast-able from both Eastern and Western culinary traditions. (Read more on Cantonese Cuisine.)
The latter was relaunched on the week your guide was visiting, and serves an incredible buffet spread and a la carte orders, leaning more towards Western fine dining. The buffet we encountered during the launch was almost excessive, offering a sampler of the restaurant’s unique specialties, like exotic fruit juices, sashimi, tempura, paella, roast Peking duck, dumplings, and an extensive dessert selection.
Marco Polo Davao at a Glance
Location: Claro M. Recto Street, at one end of Davao City’s busiest commercial street. Facing a small plaza, which in turn is flanked by the touristy Aldevinco Shopping Center; the Ateneo de Davao University campus; and a row of fruit stands. Location of Marco Polo Davao (Google Maps). 20 minutes’ drive from Davao International Airport. Airport pickup and dropoff available upon request.
Facilities: 245 rooms and suites, including Superior, Deluxe, Cabana, Deluxe Executive Suite, Continental Club Room, Continental Executive Suite, Marco Polo Suite, and Presidential Suite. All rooms have an executive desk, IDD phone with voice mail, fax modem port, internet access, LCD TV, cable access, complimentary tea and coffee making facilities, minibar and in-room safes. Wifi available upon request.