Swiss welcome offers sweet respite

Welcome to “The Suite Life,” which explores the world of hotels in and out of the Philippines. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a curious novice, I hope this column helps guide you to what hotels in the Philippines and beyond have to offer.

From the bustling cityscape of Manila to the tranquil beaches of Boracay, it’s a journey through the best hotels, resorts and villas in the country and beyond to discover the most exciting and exotic hotels in the world.

Pack your bags and join me on this exciting adventure as I share the hidden gems and ultimate destinations for your next getaway. Our first hotel for this month is the Swissötel Clark in Pampanga.

PHOTOGRAPHS COURTESY OF Swissötel Clark | Swissötel Clark Pampanga.

Cheese and chocolate, watches and private banks — if there’s any country defined by these words, it’s Switzerland. Renowned for its punctuality and precision, the country is very well-known for its high-end horology.

If you want to know how deep this characteristic runs within the country, Switzerland’s national hero, William Tell, is more famous for shooting an apple off his son’s head than his defense of Switzerland from many a tyrant. Such precision is what Tell and Switzerland are known for, and it’s this exact value that the Swiss carry into hospitality.

THE atrium.

Apart from what the history books will say about Switzerland, it’s also a place I’ve gotten to know up close. I lived in Neuchatel when my husband was taking his post-grad degree and got to imbibe in its culture and way of life, day in and out. It’s always in the details. These may seem minute or effortless, but they always add a thoughtful layer to the whole experience. Such touches abound at Swissötel Clark, and it definitely reminded me of the Swiss approach to doing things.

The welcome: Located in the Clark Freeport Zone, I was surprised to find the hotel packed and buzzing. The lobby café was full, leaving no seats available, and the bright, bustling lobby was filled with people waiting — either for loved ones or colleagues — to be taken in by Swiss hospitality or having just finished a relaxing stay. The lobby was a walk away from the casino, leaving the vibrant lobby to shine all on its own.

The room: Rooms and suites at Swissötel Clark welcome you with floor-to-ceiling views of the city or the mountains, flooding the room with natural light. A medley of creams, grays and browns, coupled with a king-size bed and Posturepedic mattress, high-speed Wi-Fi, cable and satellite TV channels, and USB charging stations provide a great sense of comfort for anyone looking to relax. The bathroom continues this philosophy with marble furnishings, a rain shower, and a soaking tub. Anyone looking for a more luxurious experience can upgrade to a Swiss Executive Lounge access suite with complimentary breakfast and refreshments.

PREMIUM room with king size bed.

The restaurants: I wasn’t able to try the breakfast because my alarm didn’t go off that morning, but I was able to try meals at Swissötel Clark’s two restaurants. Markt is their all-day dining buffet with incredible food. Initially conceived as an a la carte offering for diners to choose from, every station offers the full package with mains at every section, making them all stars in their own right. The hotel also has a permanent place on the menu for classic Swiss dishes like älplermagronen (Swiss macaroni and cheese with applesauce) and Zurich-style veal with mushrooms.

NASI, a contemporary restaurant that specializes in Filipino cuisine.

Ristorante Di Verona, on the other hand, is easily one of the best places to try modern and authentic Italian cuisine without leaving the country. With large, luxurious windows and al fresco seating, their spacious halls are filled with soothing Italian music and the noise of happy diners. They offer a fine selection of aperitifs, over 300 wines sourced from various regions of Europe, digestivos, and other Italian favorites, as well as their famous balsamico de Modena 25 anni 550, delightfully paired with Italian bread.

Unique touches to the hotel: Details like the collar brooch and the shoe buckle of the doorman did not go unnoticed. The doorman is the first to greet visitors and serve as the best representation of the Swiss tradition of service. Their gear resembles the Appenzell costume designed by Ida Gout and the delicate brooch designed by goldsmith Sebastian Fassler shows a lot of care and thought for the kind of service they want to bring. The hotel itself also makes use of Appenzell design, the town famous for its mountain range. One must also have the Swissötel traditional cake with its notable ingredient of ground hazelnuts. Experiential for all senses that pull focus on their attention to what matters.

The Spa: Swissötel Clark will launch their spa and Vitality suites soon. Every one of their six private suites will have its own gym equipment for guests to enjoy their fitness regimens in private. Swiss mindfulness podcasts, the Vitality kit, wellness treatments, and menus round out the entire experience for a great session. Outside, on the other hand, lets guests exercise with fresh air on bike and jogging paths as part of the hotel’s promotion of a healthy environment. I’m hearing that one of the managers hails from a 5-star hotel in Mandaluyong with a very good spa, who is also a professional therapist with a good grasp of wellness and treatments — a lot of which they can do themselves, so consider my expectations high.


Great food, comfortable rooms and fresh air for all — they did not miss a beat when it came to bringing Swiss hospitality to the country, even down to the finest details. Taking a trip up north to Pampanga is a great way to retreat from the city for a bit, made even better if you’re staying at Swissötel Clark.