Family Summer Vacay @ The Manor CJH

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I was having second thoughts of booking in The Manor CJH because of its location.  I have mentioned in my old post that I would think a million times first before I book a room there because few years ago, when we went there a week after Christmas, we had difficulty in finding a cab and it was a terrible experience for us.  My colleagues had to walk from CJH to Victory Liner.  From then on, everytime we go to Baguio, especially during press trips, The Manor isn’t in my list.
So, how come we had our family vacation there?  Here it goes– One day, I was just playing around and  looking at Baguio hotels.  After few minutes, I got a confirmation email already from the hotel.  Realizing that the transaction got through and couldn’t be cancelled anymore, the next thing I knew was I already arranged the transportation for us– in other words, that was an instant Baguio trip!  Besides, how would I know if I wouldn’t try it myself.

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Prior to our arrival, I made sure everything was in order as I hate hassle during the trip.  I emailed them to make sure about the additional charges if they have.  They answer every email message that I sent and for me, that’s a plus factor and they sent me a text message to confirm what time will we arrive.  That was GOOD customer service on their part.
When we arrived, we were kinda hungry but the prices of the goodies in their mini bar were too pricey so we didn’t get any.  As usual, there were free sachets of coffee and tea, but were very limited.  As a coffee addict, of course, it won’t work for me.  Actually that’s the reason why I book for club rooms–because they have 24 hour free access to drinks.
Let’s have a tour in our one bedroom suite:
living room

This is our spacious living room

dining area

The dining area

bedroom

This is our bedroom with two beds where hubby and I as well as the three kids slept.

Leading to our own comfort room is a vanity area which became very useful to me during my make up and retouch sessions.  They also have a closet where we put all our clothes and footwear so they aren’t scattered in some areas of the room.

vanity

They have a decent bathroom (though it’s quite old already).  Unlike the other five star hotels I’ve been to, I wasn’t astounded with their bathroom.  In Shangri-la and Marco Polo, you can literally stay for hours in the bathroom without complaining as everything you see is first class and of excellent quality and taste.

 

I didn’t attempt to get stuff from the mini bar as everything is EXPENSIVE.

 

Even the freebies are basic though.
terrace
But we loved the view in the terrace.  If you are having an overnight stay, it is advisable for you to just enjoy the view and rest in the room.  That exactly was what we did– we just spent the whole day at CJH.

tempted in bed

It was raining hard that afternoon that I was tempted to sleep early, but I remembered that I booked for massage for the three of us in Belfrei Spa at Ayala Technohub. I called the front desk and asked to deliver a paracetamol because I was not feeling well.  After we dropped Papa in the spa, we went to get ourselves takeout dinner in my favorite pizza house in Baguio, Pizza Volante.
We went back to the room to place the food in the dining area while Papa was having his massage.  It’s a good hing that we were able to catch the rainbow at the veranda.  It was such a beautiful sight!  Rainbows remind me of new beginning and hope.

rainbow

Few minutes later, the extra bed was brought to the living room and they also brought additional toiletries and towel.
After having dinner, we went back to Belfrei Spa.  We had no choice but to wait for a cab going to Technohub.
When finally we were already in Belfrei Spa, I was soooo excited for the treatment.  I had the facial, body scrub and massage minus the foot spa because I just had it few days before we had our instant trip.
Ms. Joe took care of us and it was indeed a pleasant experience.  After the loooong trip, we were rejuvenated and ready again to explore the City of Pines.
It was all worth it!  When in Baguio, there’s only one spa for me-  thank you Belfrei for the best spa treatment everytime we were in Baguio.  After the relaxing massage, I almost forgot that we had to leave (hi hi!).  If only we could sleep there, we would.  We were given hot tea before we leave.  Don’t miss Belfrei, dear readers.  They got the most affordable rates and you will be satisfied with their outstanding service.
After the pampering, all we wanted is to have a good night sleep.  Too bad, we had to wait again for a cab because they don’t have service in the Manor 😦
When we woke up, we cleaned for few minutes, tried to sort the clean clothes and dirty ones.  Then, of course, our visit won’t be complete if we won’t be able to check the gym/health club.  I was expecting a bigger gym but I was kinda disappointed, especially when I discovered that I won’t be able to use their jacuzzi.  That’s my fave part when I go to the hotel and too sad for me because we had to leave when they were about to let the guests use the jacuzzi.
I think we were the first guests to enter the health club.  It was a smooth registration and we were given the locker keys in a while.
Actually there is no need to have a locker because the place is too small.
The restroom is also small but clean.
So after the very short tour to their health club and after working out for few minutes, we went back to the room to take a shower and get ready for breakfast.
At that time, I didn’t enjoy probably because I didn’t sweat at all.  I knew then that I was having a problem with my health.  I was also upset because we were not able to use the sauna and jacuzzi.
It was about less than 30 minutes when all of us got prepared for the breakfast and morning walk.  In my next post, I will be presenting our buffet breakfast at Le Chef and our tour in the Manor grounds.  Til next post–Ta-ta!

 

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Work & Play: A Weekend @ Marco Polo Ortigas Manila

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Last week. I booked an overnight stay at Marco Polo Hotel to relax after my busy day at work.  Since our office is located also in the same building, it was very convenient for us to just head to the hotel room and rest.

THE CHECK-IN EXPERIENCE:  Miscommunication

 I inquired at the concierge area near their lobby and I was informed that check-in will be done at the 24th floor.  They accepted our luggages and informed us that those will just be delivered in the room.
Upon approaching the front desk officer named Adi, I was surprised that I had to pay the full amount there.  In other hotels like Fairways and Shangri-la, they take the full amount already one or two days before you check-in.  A night before, I called to check if I had to settle something in the hotel and I was informed that I only had to prepare incidental deposit of P2,000 and additional payment for the kid’s breakfast.  It was a wise decision for me to bring cash; otherwise, it will be a humiliating situation.  In my experience with Holiday Inn, they explained to me via email the total amount that they have taken in my credit card and the balance that I have to settle upon check-in.  Though Adi explained that the reservation was just guaranteed by credit card and that the full payment will be over the counter, they shouldn’t have confirmed to me over the phone that payment was already settled when the truth is they just blocked the amount.  If I was informed about that, I still had the option to cancel.  Adi is very polite and I was not stupid not to understand her explanation– so it was settled already.

check in

Just a secret-  Shhh!  In the photo above, the man at my right side was complaining about the deceiving rates in their website.
 I requested for an early check-in at 12nn and Adi asked for my mobile number– just in case there is already an available room, she will text me.  I actually wasn’t expecting that but I got a call from her around 12nn informing me that I can get the keycard in the frontdesk area.

CONVENIENCE

elevator attendants
After the quick registration in the 24th floor, we were ushered and greeted by elevator attendants (I don’t know if my term is correct, hehe!).  They will ask you if you will be going up or down and will assist you in entering the elevator.  Hmmm, I loved that kind of spoiling.

THE CONTINENTAL SUPERIOR ROOM

For P8,100 we got a small room with double beds and a spacious bathroom– actually not bad enough but for a five star hotel, it has to be almost perfect.

view 1

There was a Nespresso machine and minibar.
coffee.jpg
We had a city view in our room with complimentary fruits (three oranges).  I was thankful but I was about to burst into laughter when I saw those.  In other hotels like Shangri-la and Discovery Suites, we used to receive more freebies like assorted cakes, pastries and ASSORTED fruits.

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beds

bath1

Our room was in the 43rd floor.  I chose the Continental room because of the benefits including three buffets (afternoon tea, cocktails and breakfast).  Aside from that, the guest can also use the boardroom for two hours, complimentary laundry and pressing service, use of the private library, packing and unpacking service, shoe shine service, business center services and daily newspaper.

 

We were able to use the boardroom from 3-5 pm for our tutor orientation at Smart Tutee.  The only downside was that because we were busy, we were not able to take advantage of the cakes and other pastries.

 

BREAKFAST @ THE CONTINENTAL LOUNGE

continental club

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Because we didn’t have a choice, we only had limited selection at the continental lounge.  We prefer to have our breakfast in the regular buffet that they have in regular rooms.  I am looking for variety of foods since I am a very picky eater.  They should have the option if the guest would like to have his/her breakfast served at the restaurant or at the Continental Club Lounge.

pastry station

 

I only had Chicken Afritada and scrambled egg for breakfast and sweets.

 

 Because there were sweets, I couldn’t complain anymore.

 

Before we proceed to the room to change and head to the pool area, we had our pictorial first 🙂

 

THE POOL & GYM @ the 22nd FLOOR

lobby2.jpg

Upon reaching the 22nd floor, there’s a lobby and reception area where you can get your locker keys and borrow towels in the pool area.

pool

I super LOVED the indoor pool.  The time when we went in the pool area, it wasn’t crowded yet.  We soaked ourselves in the jacuzzi– hubby and I decided not to swim because we might feel cold after.
infused water pool area

infused water

junry
While we were soaking in the jacuzzi, Junry (the pool attendant) approached us and gave us glasses of infused water even if we did not ask for it.

pool sofa

 

After swimming, we went to the sauna, had a shower and just visited the gym.  We didn’t have the time to work out.  The staff didn’t tell us that it’s open for 24  hours.  Had we known about it, we could have visited a night before we check out.

flow spa.jpg

We also didn’t have the time to go to Flow Spa because we’re too exhausted and we didn’t want to waste our time.

gym

dumbbells

jas gym

Like the Gold’s Gym Express @ the Holiday Inn, the gym in Marco Polo is also small.  What I didn’t like also is that the jacuzzi is in the pool area and not in the changing room like that of Discovery Suites and Edsa Shangri-la Manila.

vanity kit

The changing room is just fine, but not that impressive.  The vanity kit wasn’t complete– no comb.  I thought there was so I didn’t bring mine.  I ended up finger-combing my hair.

lounge changing room

There were lounge chairs inside the changing room where you can rest or take a nap.

 

LUNCH @ THE CONTINENTAL CLUB

lunch

After swimming, we had another round of breakfast which actually served as our lunch because we had rice and other dishes.  Luckily, there was chicken afritada left 🙂

soda

TOUR AT THEIR EVENTS AREA AND FUNCTION ROOMS

lobby at the function room

tables

CHECK-OUT

with shane
Check-out was a breeze but what i didn’t like is that they didn’t have a late option for club guests.  In Shangri-la you will be asked upon check-in what time do you prefer to check-out.  Their usual answer would be:  ” I apologize but due to high volume of guests we can only give you until 12nn.”  I think, they were lying.  The truth is they can give a late check-out if they want to.
Anyway, we have enjoyed our stay though it wasn’t perfect.  In the future, I might book a larger Continental room but I’m also considering Shangri-la since only the breakfast incident @ Heat ruined my day.
MARCO POLO ORTIGAS MANILA
Meralco and Sapphire Road, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
(02) 720 7777

 

Fantastic Buffet Breakfast @ Fab Restaurant

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tables
If we had a disappointing breakfast at Heat, Edsa Shangri-la, we had a blast in Fab Restaurant @ Holiday Inn Manila Galleria.  We have not encountered any problem because the staff seem educated enough to answer my queries and they coordinated with the front desk as well.

kids buffet

As soon as we have entered the restaurant, we were ushered to a private room with a city view.  We were given a form wherein we would check how we wanted our eggs to be done.  (For omelet, you need to check what fillings do you want.)  Since we have the kids with us, we assisted them first to the kids’ buffet area.  There were colorful plates but the dishes were only limited.  They only had pizza and potato wedges with cheese.  I actually tasted the kids’ meal because I am naturally a kid at heart, but honestly, the pizza is not that appetizing anymore– probably because it was like I was biting a cardboard.  The potato wedges with cheese were okay though.
Here’s what they have in their buffet area.
ASSORTED BREADS AND PASTRIES

 

 

 

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Of all the breads in the buffet area, I only chose the cinnamon bread.  I was tempted to have pancakes but I just let my daughter have that since I wanted to have more heavy dishes to fuel me up for the entire day.

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The kids stopped by the cereal station as usual.
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The kids also loved the taho 🙂

kids

One of the foods that I’ve tried is the buttered vegetables.  I loved the taste– medium cooked and buttery.

 

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They also had Japanese food– my son enjoyed the Maki and my father tasted the siomai.

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The rest of my companions had the dried fish and kimchi.

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For the beverage, though I am a certified coffee lover, I opted to have a cup of hot chocolate instead for a change.

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They also have cranberry juice, infused water and mango juice.

juices

Here’s what I had for breakfast:  a bowl of congee, scrambled egg, lemon chicken,  buttered vegetables, potato wedges and pizza.

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Though I loved the VIP treatment that we had @ Fab, I will just give them a 7/10 because they only have limited choices of foods.  They do not have desserts like cake and ice cream as well.  Probably if they have those, I would have given them 8 or 9.  Should I recommend Fab?  Definitely!  Check them out at 4/F Holiday Inn Manila Galleria, ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.

 

 

An Awesome Family Staycation @ The Holiday Inn Manila Galleria

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I know that there is no such thing as perfect in this world, but there are cases wherein the positive things that you’ve experienced cover all those imperfections. Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with the one-bedroom suite that I booked last May 8, but  the warm welcome and genuine smiles of the staff are enough to have an unforgettable family staycation in Holiday Inn Manila Galleria.

check in

After the very hectic day at work, we checked in at the hotel and everything went smoothly.  Though at first, the front desk staff told me that breakfast was not included, after telling her that I inquired via email and phone before I checked in, she spared a minute to double check and after that, she acknowledged that breakfast for two is already included in the room rate; however, we had to pay for the additional two adults.  Buffet breakfast is P1,100 per head but we were able to get a discounted rate of P800 per head.  The two kids were totally free.  The front desk explained to me about that she had to block the amount needed in my balance, incidental deposit and buffet breakfast for two.  She gave us the keycards and wifi password.  If there’s one thing that I love about the hotel–it’s the STAFF.  Everybody in the hotel was polite and attentive to our needs.
luggage assistance

luggage assistance

Even if we did not ask for luggage assistance, somebody was already waiting for us and escorted us to our room.  That was quite a good start 🙂
When we have entered our one-bedroom suite, I was surprised because it was too spacious.  The only negative thing that I can say is that it was kinda gloomy because it was quite bare and dark.  If only they invested in good lighting and purchased modern and elegant furnishings, my rating for them would be 4.5 stars.
Let us have a tour in our suite.
The sofa that they are using are kinda worn out already.  They need an interior designer to plan how to make the suites and rooms elegant.  I like the idea of having a bar/counter in the suite.  They do not have a kitchen where you can cook your own food and wash the plates and glasses that you have used.
There were two large bedrooms– the master’s bedroom where hubby and I and our four-year old kid stayed.  The other one was also large– it’s just that there is no bathroom inside.  The common bathroom is located just in front of bedroom 1.  The beds were comfy and we had no problem with the aircon and television.
Their bathrooms are large also but I prefer the bathroom in the Linden Suites and  Edsa Shangri-la.  The toiletries were also basic, but we didn’t mind at all.
After an hour of resting and fixing our things, we visited our new office in Marco Polo Ortigas and bought take-out foods for dinner in Robinson’s Galleria.  In the 4th floor, we used the direct access  leading to the hotel.  Because we were really exhausted,it was easy for us to fall asleep.

dinner

When we woke up, we had a cup of coffee and prepared to go to the gym for workout.  Unfortunately, we didn’t even perspire 😦  The gym opens at 6 am so we explored the hotel and looked for the swimming pool.
 The changing rooms are not impressive either unlike that of Discovery Suites, Shangri-la and Marco Polo.  I was looking for the jacuzzi but I didn’t find it in the pool area nor the changing room.
At exactly 6 am we were able to get in the gym– my reaction?  I was actually disappointed because it has limited space and we were not able to use the treadmill.  It was already crowded at that time.  We went back to the suite and prepared to have breakfast at Fab at 7am.  (A separate post will be written for my review about their restaurant).

breakfast

We were taken cared of by the staff @ Fab Restaurant.  All of them were attentive and we felt spoiled.  Food choices were quite okay but there is no pasta and sweets.
Before we checked out, we went to the pool area to have our morning swim.  Though it’s not crowded, we were not impressed with the pool either.  But just like what I’ve said, even if they have imperfections, I loved the way the staff treated us.  We might come back but I guess the hotel needs a makeover because it’s quite old-fashioned and very simple.
HOLIDAY INN MANILA GALLERIA
ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City
#633-7111

 

 

 

 

A Morning of Dismay at Heat, Edsa Shangri-la

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After spending a fabulous night in Edsa Shangri-la’s Garden Premier Suite, I was expecting that the following day would be as perfect as it was– but it didn’t turn out  that way.  I was excited to experience their buffet breakfast that’s why I made it a point to be there with hubby and Shane at past 6am.  I knew that it would be jampacked with people if we came late.

 

When we arrived, we were greeted by Shai, who immediately asked us about our room number.  After few minutes, I sensed that she was having trouble in finding our names in her list, but she escorted us inside and let us be seated while she was double-checking.  When she came back, she asked us if nobody informed us that breakfast is not included in the room that we booked.  It’s a good thing that I asked because it was unbelievable.  How come that breakfast in Heat wasn’t included but one of the inclusions in our booking was access to their exclusive Horizon Club Lounge?  From there, something wasn’t right.

welcome letter shang

I told Shai that I was given that letter and I had the option to have my breakfast in either Heat or the Horizon Club Lounge.  She excused herself for few minutes to check again.  I was getting impatient at that time because I myself couldn’t visualize the looks on our faces if we would be escorted out of the restaurant.  Of course that would be very humiliating on our part– how stupid I was on that part— that I didn’t check beforehand that our breakfast wasn’t included.  I was about to give up but another part of me was insisting that it was part of our booking, so I grabbed my wireless landline and called their hotline.  A male agent answered my call and clarified that breakfast was included in our booking.  I was put on hold because I think he was already calling Heat at that time and when he talked again on the line, Shai already appeared and explained to us that breakfast for 3 pax  was included in our booking since we were staying in a suite.  In that point, I told the male agent I was speaking with that it has been settled already.  It was normal for a person to commit errors– it’s part of being human, but what we noticed was that Shai didn’t have the humility to accept her mistake.  She didn’t even apologize 😦  Because I was not in the mood to make any argument at that time,  I didn’t make a formal complain to her manager/superior.  Probably it was also because we were starving as well.   Anyway, I just shared about our experience– the fault of one person doesn’t reflect the entire property.  Let me show you what they had in the restaurant that morning for the breakfast buffet.

Table at the Heat

BREAD AND PASTRIES

Ensaymada

Jams

Yogurts

Yoghurt

Chocolate loaf and banana bread

ASIAN FAVORITES

Noodle station

If there’s one thing I regret about this, it was because I didn’t try their taho!

Taho

My daughter tried the Pork Siomai.

Siomai

Chicken sausage

INFUSED WATER

Infused water

The Juice Station

 

Juice station
DIFFERENT KINDS OF MILK

Milk station

FRESH FRUITS

Fresh fruits

Here are few of my favorites in the buffet:
1.  NOODLES
2.   Pizza

Pizza, quiche tart and blueberry tart

3.  Pancit Canton

Pancit canton

4.  Roasted Potatoes

Roasted potatoes hash brown

5. Corned Beef
I’ve tried this but was kinda disappointed– it was too soft:-(  I asked hubby and he had the same opinion as mine.

Corned beef

6.  Ice Cream
I super loved their ice cream.  I tried the Peanut Choco with Strawberry– super yummy 🙂

family pic 1

Honestly, the food was okay, but nothing special.  Probably, I actually lost my appetite because of the incident. How would I enjoy the food if my day was already ruined?  But the ice cream saved the day!  Too bad there was no chocolate cake– if there was any at that tme, I could have forgotten the whole incident (hihihi!).  Anyway, I plan to go back some other time.  I hope that this won’t happen again.

 

A Luxurious Family Staycation: A Review of Edsa Shangri-la Manila

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There is no such thing as perfection– that’s what they say so as far as expectations is concerned, I always consider that we are only human and sometimes, we commit mistakes whether we like it or not.  Well, yes!  That is indeed a fact, but despite of some flaws or imperfections, an error or a slight mistake is acceptable, but if you have done more than one mistake, especially if you are a luxurious five-star hotel, that one is another story.  Let me share to you about our experience in staying at Edsa Shangri-la Manila a week ago.
As what I have said in my previous post, I wanted to give a memorable birthday gift to my daughter who just celebrated her 11th birthday and that’s the reason why I decided to book an overnight stay in Edsa Shangri-la Manila.

Registration at Shangri-la

I commend the Front Desk Staff for being very professional in dealing with us from check-in to check-out.  Even without asking, ESL offered us luggage assistance, which we appreciated much.   Let’s talk first about the things that we have enjoyed and loved about our stay.

jas lobby

stairs

 

1.  Let us have a tour of our Garden Premier Suite.

 

When we opened the door, we were impressed with the elegant furnishings.

Living room and birthday treat

Cake from Shangri-La
On the table in the living room, there are welcome treats for us– native delicacies and a slice of birthday cake for my daughter Shane.

 

Since the suite is for business travelers as well, there is an executive table with charging station and a fax machine.
Morning shane Shangri-la
I didn’t expect that there was an extra bed as I didn’t request one.  Extra toiletries, bathrobe and slippers were also given few minutes before we checked in.

 

They have a minibar counter wherein you can have goodies and drinks without going out– of course, you need to pay for what you have consumed.

 

Shower Shangri-La

I loved the spacious bathroom– we had a separate toilet, bath tub area wherein you can hear the sound of the TV program that you are watching in the speakers above.  There is also a shower area and a vanity area with luxurious toiletries.
The walk-in closet is connected to the bathroom and the bedroom.  I would like to adapt that brilliant idea in my own bedroom if I will have it renovated.

 

2.  The Horizon Club Experience

hrizon sign

If there is one reason I will go back in Edsa Shangri-la, I would say this is our Horizon Club experience.  As a club guest, you will be treated as a VIP and you are allowed to hang out in the lounge and get anything you want for free.  The videos below were taken after we have unpacked our things.  They serve free cocktails and canapes for their guests at 5 to 7 pm.

 

 

Yman horizon lounge
If you are practical, no need for you to have dinner somewhere else as they also have rice and other dishes.  Unlike the other luxury hotels that serve concentrated juice, in the Horizon Club Lounge, they serve fresh juice!

Real juice

 

They are open 24 hours so you can drop there anytime that you wish.  Because we were not there for business, I wasn’t able to use other priveleges like the free usage of the meeting room for 2 hours, the concierge and secretarial service and the free pressing/washing of the suits.

 

 This is an advantage for a coffee lover like me because you don’t need to have stocks of coffee sachets in your suite.  High tea is also available from 2pm to 4pm.

High tea

3.  The Swimming Pool
The swimming pool is one of my favorite amenities in the hotel.   This is where I can relax and forget all the troubles for a while.  This is also my daughter’s favorite activity—swimming!  The pool is big enough to accommodate the guests while we were there.  I was surprised to see that it’s not crowded.

 

The staff here were professional and very attentive to the guests’ needs.  As soon as we have arrived, we were assisted with the mermaid tail that I borrowed from the Health Club for Shane to use in swimming and short pictorial.

 

After the morning swim, my fave part is just to sit in the lounge chairs and watch the people.

 

4.  The Health Club

receptionist

In the Health Club, you can use the gym and the jacuzzi and lap pool inside the changing room.

 

gym1

There are cups, water dispensers, and fresh towels available for the guests to use.  There are also few tables and chairs where the guests can sit and have a cup of coffee or tea during break.

 

Of course, my visit won’t be complete without my favorite— the jacuzzi!

Jacuzzi 2 Shangri-la

 

The vanity and shower area is clean.   It’s also equipped with everything you need from the toiletries to comb.

washroom1

 

5. Kid-friendly 

Cubs and cubbies

 

They have a play lounge area called Cubs and Cubbies but we were not able to go there because Bruce had to go home on day 1.  Anyway, we were able to borrow a board game and X-box and they connected it in our TV in the suite.  The kids didn’t get bored 🙂 

 

I also borrowed a mermaid’s tail for Shane to use in swimming and pictorial.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE:
1. No bidet in the restrooms
Toilet In our suite

the toilet area

Though I love their restrooms, it’s incomplete for Filipino guests like me without the bidet.
2.  No dining area in the suite/room

Kids shane’s cake

Probably the reason why they didn’t include a dining area is that they didn’t want the guests to cook or to bring take-out foods in the suite.   I do understand that– but comfortability wise, I think the other hotels are better like the Discovery Suites.
3.  No bubble bath   

Hot tub bath Shangri-La

It would be more fun in the tub if there is a bubble bath included.
4 .A disappointing experience at HEAT, where the guests have their daily buffet breakfast.

family pic 1

 

We went to Heat at around 6 am for our buffet breakfast.  The lady at the reception named Shai asked for our room number and when she had difficulty finding our names in her list, she ushered us inside so we can sit down while she was checking.  After few minutes, she came back and asked us if nobody informed us that F&B is not included in the room that we have availed.  I really couldn’t believe what I just heard.  I was confused because I received a letter upon checking in that we have complimentary breakfast in Heat or the Horizon Club Lounge as club guests.  I was puzzled  why we were welcome in the Horizon Club Lounge but how come that breakfast is not included in Heat?  She left again to double-check and while she was checking, I dialed 0 and verified if breakfast was really included in our room and when he confirmed that I was right, Shai came back and told us that it was already settled.  She informed us that since we were staying in a suite, it includes 3 free breakfasts.  I was waiting for her to apologize, but she didn’t.  If only I was in the mood to argue, I would– but we were starving at that time so I didn’t waste my energy to ruin my beautiful morning.  We were able to have our breakfast anyway– but I wonder what would have been our expression if she escorted us out of the restaurant.  We could have melted in humiliation! (The food will be reviewed in a separate post.)
After swimming, while I was resting in the lounge chair, I was bothered and suddenly, I just found myself dialing Shangri-la’s trunkline number, and I inquired if I have to settle something aside from the in-room dining we had the previous day.  I just wanted to make sure that there was NO problem anymore with that buffet breakfast.  When I heard the male agent’s answer, I didn’t know if I would get mad or just laugh. Was  I really that stupid not to understand that our breakfast is not included?  Was I just insisting that it should be free?  It’s as if he was wondering why we were able to have breakfast because he was explaining to me that I availed of the advance purchase; therefore, breakfast is NOT included in the rate.  I told him that we availed of the suite and it includes 3 people in the rate.  With that, he put me on hold and transferrred me to the front desk.  It was ringing for about eternity– that I decided to fix ourselves in a flash and appeared instantly in the front desk.
When we were already in the front desk, Ms. Len was there, who was very courteous, amiable and professional.  I was able to control my temper because of the way she handled customers.  She confirmed that our breakfast was included in the room rate and that I only have to settle the in-room dining charge.  She apologized for what happened in Heat that morning (which was actually Shai’s fault) and for the inconsistency of the information of the staff.  So, with that, we were pacified, and I really don’t know what would have happened if Ms. Len wasn’t there.

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The conclusion:

If only these incidents didn’t happen, our stay would have been perfect.  I hope that particular incident would serve as a lesson for them on how they would improve their service.

 

Will I go back?  YES, I love the Horizon Club Lounge, the pool and the jacuzzi, but I hope that those incidents won’t happen anymore.
EDSA SHANGRI-LA MANILA
1 Garden way Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City
Telephone Number: (02) 633-8888

 

Shane’s 11th Birthday-Staycation @ Edsa Shangri-la (TBIP’s Summer Diaries)

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I wanted to give my daughter something special for her birthday and instead of celebrating her birthday at home, I booked a family staycation at Edsa Shangri-la.  I wanted her birthday to be memorable and a one-day luxurious stay there was the perfect present I could give her since she wanted it that way also.
I booked a Garden Premier Suite in Edsa Shangri-la, with the room rate of P13,200 plus P3,012.24 for taxes and charges via Booking.com (I paid a total of P16,000).  So, what was my impression?  Since it’s a five-star hotel and the room rates are exorbitant, the service must be exceptional.

View daytime 1

The check-in time is 2 pm, but we were able to reach the hotel at around 3pm.  I did not experience any inconvenience in the check-in process because all the staff in the reception area from the usherettes to the front desk staff are very friendly and professional.

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I didn’t fill out any registration forms– the staff just asked for my ID.  The funny and partly embarrassing part was that my IDs were missing in my bag!  Oh, well!  I was confident that my IDs were in my bag because I just used those in the airport a day ago.  Since I couldn’t find my PRC ID and company ID, I just handed the Philhealth ID and thankfully, she just asked about the date of my birth to verify the information.   I was also asked to present the credit card that I used to settle the payment and after few minutes, she asked me to sign in the tablet and ta-da!  Everything was already set– I got 3 keycards and a piece of paper wherein our benefits as guests were written.
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Even without asking, we were offered a luggage assistance and were ushered into our suite in the 7th floor of the Garden Wing.  While we were following him, we thought that we might get lost and that we really had to explore the hotel that night.
Luggage assistance Shangri-la

luggage assistance

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We were able to get in the suite at past 3 pm.  Instead of having an afternoon swim,  we decided to rest for a while and unpack our things.  Though the hotel is kinda old, it has remained to be a favorite especially to business travelers because of its elegant furnishings and first-class amenities.  We were impressed with our assigned suite though I was expecting a bigger one with a dining table (a separate post will be written for the review of Edsa Shangri-la Hotel with an exclusive tour of our suite and a review of HEAT, where we had our breakfast buffet).
Living room and birthday treat
Upon entering, we had welcome treats such as native cakes,  a plate of fresh fruits and a slice of cake for Shane.
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When I have spoken to the customer service representative of the hotel when I called to confirm if they have received my payment, I mentioned that Shane will be spending her 11th birthday there.   They took note of that and prepared a slice of cake saying “Happy Birthday!” which we really appreciated.

Cake from Shangri-La

After the short inspection in our suite, I ordered pizza for Shane’s visitors so they won’t get bored.  Hubby, Shane and I went to the Horizon Club Lounge, which is located in the 14th floor because they serve free cocktails and canapes at 5-7 pm.

Shane1 Shangri-La

 

Our stomachs were already full when we came back to the room, but we still managed of course to have a simple dinner with the visitors.  We brought spaghetti, chicken and cake with us when we checked in.
Family pic at Shangri-la

Family picture

By the way, Shane had only 3 visitors:  her two brothers Kyle and Bruce and her grandpa.   Before they leave, I called the concierge service and requested to borrow a board game and an X-Box so the kids won’t get bored.  Actually, the guests can borrow those without any charges.  Aside from that, I arranged to borrow a mermaid tail for Shane to fit and use for her morning swim the following day.
After we escorted them outside the hotel entrance to wait for their transpo service, we went to check out the gym at the Health Club and dipped in the jacuzzi.

 

After loosening up in the jacuzzi,  we checked the swimming pool and we went back to the suite to fetch Shane who was still playing with the X-box that we borrowed.

 

 

Coffee at horizon Lounge

One thing that I loved about our staycation is our Horizon Club priveleges and one of these is having coffee and having VIP treatment.  It’s open for 24 hours so you can drop by anytime to have coffee or soda.   Before we went back to the suite, we dropped by there for a drink then we had a good night sleep.

Extra bed Shangri-la

In the photo above, the photo shows the extra bed for Shane.  Actually, I didn’t expect that and I was very thankful that they included this.  I think we have made her feel special because she has her own space in the living room area and was very comfortable because it was airconditioned, has its own flat screen TV and has easy access to the bathroom.
The following day, we headed to HEAT, where the guests have their FREE buffet breakfast; unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding.  I will elaborate on this in my review about HEAT.  Anyway, we were able to have our FREE breakfast and after that we went back to our suite to get ready for Shane’s favorite- the morning swim!  We dropped by to the Health Club to remind about the mermaid tail that we would borrow for the swimming session and short pictorial.

Mermaid 1

Shane mermaid1

 

After the morning swim, I decided to go to the Front desk because I was really confused with the information I was receiving from their staff and I had to clarify everything before we check out.  Fortunately, Ms. Len of the front desk was very accommodating and she apologized about what happened. (Details will be in the hotel and restaurant review).  I appreciated also when she agreed to have a late check-out at 3 pm which I believe was also part of our privelege as a Horizon Club guest if there is room availability.
After the clarification, we went back to the suite and started to pack our things.  At 2pm we went to the scheduled High Tea at the Horizon Club lounge.

Tea time

High tea

Overall, Shane’s birthday celebration was a blast.  It may not be perfect, but it is something that she can never forget.
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Shane2 Shangri-la

EDSA SHANGRI-LA MANILA
1 Garden Way, Ortigas Centre, Mandaluyong City
Telephone:  633-8888

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Secluded Family Resort in Paradise: A Review of Fairviews & Bluewater (TBIP Summer Diaries)

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Everytime  I book for a hotel in Boracay, I always go for the quiet area in Station 1 and it has to be beachfront.  I didn’t know what exactly happened, but I just found myself reading reviews and blogs about Fairways and then in just a flash, I already booked the property via Booking.com.  So, what convinced me to book in a secluded area in Bo. Yapak?  I’m a hypocrite and a liar if I won’t say that the photos didn’t help.  When I saw the image of the Ventana pool and the other amenities in the resort, that was the hint that I should give this a try.
In this post, I will give you my unbiased review of Fairways & Bluewater Newcoast.  Let us begin with their Front Office and Reservations staff.  When I heard about the Boracay closure and when the airlines and transfer service were willing to give a refund except them, I was quite disappointed.  I have reached them a lot of times via phone, messenger and email and they were firm in saying that they do not give a refund, but they can modify the dates up to 1.5 years.  I had no choice but to reschedule it to 2019.  I have informed them about the changes I wanted, but there was no confirmation from them yet.  One day, I just decided to take a peek at Boracay before its closure and surprisingly, their marketing manager approved the changes to April 15-17, 2018.  They gave me instructions to mail Booking.com and asked for another voucher with the modified dates.  I received a reply from the latter that it would be impossible for them to issue another voucher because my booking with them was already cancelled due to the closure.  They encouraged me to contact the hotel directly.  When I called back Fairways to ask for the voucher, the reservations staff told me that they already have noted the changes in their system.  To cut the story short, I didn’t print any voucher at all.
Fairways van

The Fairways shuttle service

 Fairways front desk officers
We were picked up by BPHT and the Fairways shuttle took us to the property.  We were ushered to the Veranda Lobby to check-in, but uh-oh, there was a teeny-tiny problem.  Ms. Dindin, the front desk officer was asking for a voucher.  After waiting for about 10-15 minutes, they were able to confirm with the reservations and the changes were already applied in the system.
Dindin

Ms. Dindin, Front Desk Officer

Though I have encountered a problem, I didn’t feel irritated.  Ms. Dindin was very friendly and accommodating.  While we were waiting, we even had a short talk about the Boracay closure and the presence of Ms. Jhoy of BPHT was indeed a great help because I didn’t get bored and she didn’t go until everything was finally okay.
Checking in

With Ms. Jhoy of BPHT

And so, upon confirmation, we had a short briefing about the amenities.  We were assigned to Villa Riviera and was a bit disappointed that my request to be assigned near the swimming pool wasn’t granted because they were fully-booked.  After giving us the map of the property, we left our luggage in the Luggage Area and planned to have lunch while waiting for the standard check-in time which is 2pm.
Now, let’s take a tour of our one bedroom suite in Villa Riviera.

Villa at night

I was expecting to be assigned in a higher floor, but we were assigned in the basement 😦  Anyway, when we opened the door and saw the suite, my disappointment turned into satisfaction.

Living and dining area

The suite was spacious enough for 3 people.  It was more than what I expected.  It has a living room, a dining area, kitchen equipped with kitchen utensils and cutlery.  It has two bathrooms (one common bathroom) and the other one located in the bedroom.

 

 

 

Kitchen

The kitchen

One advantage of choosing a suite is that you can stock groceries and even cook your own food in the kitchen.  They almost have everything that you need to make your stay comfortable.  They have a grocery store beside the main gate where you can buy snacks, drinks and other things that you need.

 

 

I enjoyed the spacious bathroom– the hot shower and the hot bath in the tub.  It’s just that the bidet in our bathroom wasn’t functioning.  As for the toiletries, those were basic and incomplete.  They didn’t provide bathrobes, cotton buds, razor/shaver, sewing kit and bubble bath gel.

 

 

Toiletries

Bath tub 1
The bedroom was big enough for us.  Our 10 year-old kid slept with us in the room and shared the bed with her.

 

 

There was a writing desk in the room, a nice blogging area actually, but I wasn’t able to utilize it because I knew that we had very limited time so I didn’t bring my lappy with me.

Wardrobe

One thing that I loved about the suite is the wardrobe room/walk-in closet.  Our stuff especially the clothes were only in one place because of this.  When you open the door, you can see the open closet where you can easily see your stuff.

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They have two terraces– one in the living room (with two chairs) and the other one in the bedroom (one chair).  When you open the sliding glass door, you will witness the amazing view of the golf course.

Fairways security officer

All the rooms in the suite have a phone but we were not able to use them because when we didn’t have to call for help.  When you go out of the villa, there is a waiting area for a shuttle service and there were times that before we sit down, a security officer would approach us to ask where we wanted to go.

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Where to go in Fairways?  Actually, there is no need for you to go out because they almost have eveything that you need.
1.  The Pools
The Ventana Pool

View 5 ventana pool

 

 

View ventana pool

Hideaway Jacuzzi
I liked the view here but the water is dirty if you come at lunch or in the afternoon.  Better yet, come when they open at 9 or 10am.

Jas and yman jacuzzi

 Lucia Pool

Villa lucia sign

Though The Ventana Pool has a breath-taking view of nature feature the Sibuyan Beach, one of my favorites is the Lucia Pool, which is not crowded and very clean.  Unlike the other pools that open at 9am, Lucia Pool opens as early as 7 am, so after having breakfast at 6 am, you can already proceed there if you would like to have the place to yourself.

Lucia Pool 2

Atlantis Pool
Aside from the Lucia Pool, Atlantis is my fave.  It was very relaxing and peaceful in the area– not crowded.

 

 

Atlantis pool

The Infinity Pool

 

 

Infinity pool

 

 

 

 

2.  The Private Beach

Paradise cove

If you don’t feel like going to the White Beach or Puka Beach, Fairways has its own private beach with lounge chairs.

Private beach lounge chairs

Honestly, though I like the view, I still prefer to swim in White Beach and Puka Beach.  This is advisable for those who would like to go to the beach early.  They are already open at 6 am.
3.  The Restaurants
Though they have several restaurants to choose from, we were able to try only the Kudetah Italiano Restorante and the Veranda Restaurant where we have our daily free buffet breakfast.
KUDETAH ITALIANO RESTORANTE

Kudetah district

 

 

THE VERANDA RESTAURANT

Veranda receptionist

I wasn’t able to get her name, but she was very friendly to us and even offered to help in taking a family picture.
4.  The Spa
There are two spas to choose from:  the Maris Spa located near the private beach and the Bluewater Spa.  During our stay, I was hesitant to schedule for a treatment because of the time.  A spa treatment would take 2 to 3 hours.  Next time when we go back, I will include one of their spas in my Spa Detective Series.

 

Maris Spa

5.  The Gym

 

They have a gym located in Monterey ,but it’s not as big as what I have pictured in my mind before.  You can borrow towels and get a glass of water after your workout.  They have indoor jacuzzi but it is only for club members and you have to pay if ever you will use it.
Ideally, Fairways is perfect for big families.  The room is for 2 pax but you can add a kid for only P200 (includes breakfast already).
If there is a disadvantage of staying there, I could say that it has something to do with the schedule of the trips going to D’mall and vice versa.   We have experienced calling a tricycle instead and we paid P100 per ride.

Waiting for the shuttle budget mart

 Will we come back?  Definitely YES!  Next time, I will bring all of my kids with us.

FAIRWAYS & BLUEWATER NEWCOAST

Bo. Yapak, Brgy. Balabag, Newcoast Boracay, Malay, Aklan, 5608
                                                                 Phone Number;  +63362885587

Last Day in Paradise Day 3 (TBIP Summer Diaries)

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I”ve already mentioned that our Boracay trip is just a peek before its closure that’s why I have designed a short itinerary.  We wanted to make the most out of our short vacay that’s why on our last day we decided to explore Fairways by pool-hopping!  We started by enjoying our view from our terrace.  If only we have booked for a longer stay in the resort, we could have spent our days sitting by the terrace while reading or just admiring the stunning view.

We had our breakfast first at Veranda Restaurant.   It was just okay-enough to fill our tummies and be energized for our planned activity.

Before the pool-hopping, we rode a shuttle to the main gate and had a pictorial with the Fairways sign in the background.

Family pic fairways

Since we already visited the Ventana Pool and the Hideaway Jacuzzi on our first day, we decided to go to the first pool that is open by 7am– the Lucia Pool.

Villa lucia sign

 

Jasmine lucia pool pink maxi

We thought that we won’t be able to use the pool because there was a sign saying that it’s under maintenance.  Hubby asked permission from the lady guard in Villa Lucia if we can take photos because the pool is not available yet.  To our surprise, she said that we can use the pool,  they just didn’t remove the sign yet.  Yey!  So we chose lounge chairs registrered, and borrowed towels from the caretaker.

 

Lucia Pool 2

Family pic lucia jacuzzi

We used the jacuzzi first before jumping in the pool.

After swimming in the Lucia Pool, our second stop was Fairway’s private beach.  We didn’t swim in the beach; instead, we just feasted our eyes in God’s great artwork.  At one second, I was considering to rebook our flights for the following day, but then I came back to reality— that we had to go back on that day and rest for one because we would be spending Shane’s 11th birthday on the 19th.  After admiring the beauty of the beach, I promised myself that I would bring my other kids there and we will explore Fairways onext year.

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Private beach lounge chairs

Hubby and I were debating whether we will go to Ventana or to the other pools.  I insisted that we already have been there on our first day so it would be better if we try the other pools.  Unlike the Lucia pool, the other pools open by 9am and when we checked the time, it was already 9 am.  Luckily, our feet brought us to the Atlantis pool and we were vey lucky at that time because we had all the pool to ourselves!

Atlantis pool

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The three of us atlantis

Next to Atlantis, we headed to the Infinity Pool which was a bit crowded.

 

Infinity pool

 

 

We left the Infinity pool at 10am.  We were about to go to the Cabana Pool but we hesitated in a while because BPHT will pick  us up at 11am.  As much as we would like to continue the activity, we had to go back to our villa and prepare our things 😦  I managed to extend the pick-up time for another 30 minutes and I was really glad Ms. Mariel agreed.   Mark was already in the Veranda Lobby when we arrived and it took us a while to check out.   We left Fairways with a heavy heart because we didn’t want to leave yet…

Whether we like it or not, we had to leave.  Anyway, as Barry Manillow say in his song… “Goodbyes are not forever!”,  let the government and the locals heal Boracay and yes, we will be back in 2019.

Speaking of going back next year, while we were in the Jetty Port, I had the courage to divulge the BIG secret to hubby that I was planning a renewal of vows for us.  Supposedly, the original date is April 30, 2018 but since there were problems with the guests who are coming, we decided to reschedule it on October 30.  When we heard the closure of the island, I rebooked our tickets to 2019 which means the renewal of vows will be rescheduled to its original date which is April 30 but on 2019.  So the next time we go to Boracay, I will be posting not only about our 6-day family vacation but our event as well.

 

 

I hope that you have enjoyed reading about our short stay in Boracay.  Watch out for my next posts about Boracay travel and packing tips and itinerary.   Bye for now, dear readers!