Reviews

Hotel Feature: Rediscovering Paradise in COAST Boracay 


The last time I was in Boracay, it was mid-June of 2007. I have recently left my job at the shipping line plying the seas of the island and was returning for “the last time – for the time being.” Unlike most people who considered the island as paradise and vacation spot, the nature of my job then made me look at Boracay as just an extension of my office. Unlike the time when I first laid my eyes on the island, my two years of going back and forth Caticlan and its surrounding islands have withered any romance between me and Boracay. 

So imagine going back ten years after and being truly, truly blown away on how far the island has changed during my absence. 


Definitely, the turquoise-colored waters remain as inviting as ever and the fine white sand remained as breath taking. Standing on the shore even for a bit will immediately transported to your own bit of paradise. 

What surprised me more is how far has the island has changed during my decade long absence. New hotels – swankier and posher than the next – has appeared from stations 1 to 3. We are lucky to be able to stay in one of those amazing places. 

COAST Boracay is the latest relaxing haven in Station 2 Boracay, courtesy of the Raintree Hospitality Group, one of the recognized names in F&B Management and the company behind M Cafe, Kabila, among others. 

The hotel has a 71 rooms and immediate access to the beach and the nearby D’Talipapa.  It sits right in the middle of Station 2 and is about a 10-minute walk to the D’Mall, and is surrounded by tons of restaurants and other food kiosks. 

Upon arrival, guests will be greeted with a welcome drink, warm welcoming smiles from the staff and a cold towel to refresh you after the long travel. 

While the other half of the hotel is still being constructed, careful planning by the management made sure that the guests will not feel inconvenienced, no construction noises can be heard or workers seen.

The premises of the hotel is bright, airy and stylish yet very laid back – none of the heavy wood paneling or heavy interior decorating usually seen in other hotels. If you love posting on your social networks, every nook and cranny of the hotel screams #OOTD #BestEver #Lit and would look wicked online.

The rooms are very nicely appointed, the bed tempts you to forget abot the nice view outside and instead vegetate amidst the very soft goose down pillow and luxurious bed sheets. Coast Boracay is also the first to have Smart Television in the island, giving access to its guests to any of the film’s available via Netflix or iFlix. 

Our stay was more than amazing, courtesy of the service shown by the hotel team lead by Pitina, the hotel manager. Staying at Coast automatically leads towards the VIP lifestyle and experience, which starts as soon as your plane reaches Caticlan. Coast will pick you up from the airport, bring you to the Jetty Port through the company’s very own service car, label your luggages while at the Jetty Port and sort them (the next time you’ll see your luggage – you’re already at the hotel), bring you across the island to the Cagban Port where you no longer have to line up the usual disembarking area. Instead, you will disembark away from the crowd and instead ushered straight to the waiting van who will bring you to your hotel. 


COAST Boracay is located at the Station 2 Beach front, Bgy Balabag, Malay, Aklan. 

For room reservations, go to www.coastboracay.com

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Hotels, Reviews

Hotel Feature: Meranti Hotel – A nice haven in the heart of Quezon City


The first thing I noticed, after entering the lobby, is the scent: woodsy yet sweet, comforting without being cloying. It’s the scent that lures you in and relaxes you. Later, we are told that the scent was especially commissioned by the owners to suit the ambience of the hotel. 
The hotel is MERANTI HOTEL, a four-star luxury hotel owned by The Max’s Group. The 12-story hotel offers 59 rooms to is guests, complete with a roof top deck, which also houses the quaint swimming pool and two function rooms.

Max’s Group, the company behind the brand, is one of the country’s recognized institutions in the F&B industry and is currently making its first leap in the hospitality industry with Meranti. According to Brix Sebastian, the young but very hardworking hotel manager, the hotel hopes to showcase the best of the Filipino. This is palpable as seen on the beautiful red wicker chairs in the lobby by internationally-known furniture designer Kenneth Cobonpue, while renowned Filipino design firm Budji+Royal Design Architects designed the interiors. 



To say we were blown away is an undestatement. I was pleasantly surprised to see this impressive hotel standing in a quiet street in Scout Castor, near Timog Avenue in Quezon City. Standing in front of the hotel is the first Max’s restaurant, whose function rooms also serve as an extension for the hotel especially for big social events. 

There is a covered drop off/pick up area which leads to the hotel lobby doubling as dining area for MAPLE FOR MERANTI, the in-house hotel cafe (more of this on a separate feature)

Soon enough, we were introduced to Genevieve Sebastian, the kind front office manager who will lead the quick hotel tour. 

The rooms are located from the fifth floor of the hotel going upwards and features heavy use of wood in its furnishings. Basic standard rooms are spacious and can comfortably fit a couple and a small child. Standard rooms usually feature a twin bed, with complete bath amenities and the standard bath kit.


We also had the opportunity of meeting many of the hotel’s team members and we remarked to Brix that he leads a very young and dynamic team. More than the standard hotel greeting, what is palpable is the energy among staff members: everyone seemed genuinely happy to serve you. 

Apparently in Meranti, they do not greet their guests with “Welcome…” – but instead with “Tuloy Po Kayo,” the hearthy Pinoy welcome that denotes warm hospitality and the promise of a good stay. 

For more information, go to http://www.merantihotel.com

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Hotels, Reviews

A date with the “Grand Old Dame of Manila” – The Manila Hotel

The Manila Hotel stands imposingly on the mouth of the Manila Bay, looking over her subjects like a regal queen granting audience. 

Ever since my days as a rookie lifestyle writer at The Manila Bulletin, it became a habit for me to gawk at the imposing structure, wondering the many secrets and mysteries hiding behind her walls. Consuming a vast number of books (both fiction and otherwise) retelling the glory days of Manila where the elite of Manila would dine under the three gigantic brass chandeliers. 



The imposing and majestic chandeliers were the first to catch our attention, as my sister, husband and I catch up over afternoon tea. A self-confessed aficionado of the afternoon tea, I can’t help but rave on how Manila Hotel made liberties to make the tried and tested British tea tradition into distinctly Filipino. 

Manila Hotel’s version has kesong puti, puti bumbong, bibingka and refillable tea or coffee, aside from the usual pastries. As we lounged on the lobby, we can’t help but steal glances on the large brass chandeliers hanging  overhead – a quick search online showed stated that when the current management took over the hotel, the first order of business is to tore down the three chandeliers and replace it instead with five – in respect to fengshui. 

We were assigned two twin rooms situated across each other. The halls were airy and bright, with a carpet muffling the sound of our footsteps. 


We were surprised to find our rooms very spacious and roomy. Since the rooms are across from each other, we had a view of the Intramuros golf course and the Manila Bay on both sides. 

True to its historical brand, the rooms use dark wood and rich fabric in all its furniture and drapes heavily. The beds are made of solid wood (we suspect it’s Narra), including the TV console which dominated the center of the room. Due to the use of dark wood and rich fabrics the room gave of an old world yet dated vibe. 

But what my dad loved more than any other is the flatscreen TV inside the bathroom. Every one had an excuse to stay longer in the loo.


We spent the rest of the afternoon until the evening at the hotel pool, drinking cocktails and beer ordered straight from the hotel bar embedded on the pool. Our parents loved the sun beds and lounged like a boss until sunset drinking margaritas and eating chips. 

The next morning, we had a quick breakfast at the buffet. Manila Hotel offers one of the most affordable breakfast sets and had the best rates for senior citizens. The selection is not as many and diverse as that of other hotels but it’s still an impressive spread, especially the wide variety of fruits available. 

my lovely sister

some of my greatest treasures, my parents and my niece – Penny


We spent about PHP15,000 for the rest of the  StayCation – including two twin rooms, food trip galore courtesy of the Manila Hotel lobby cafe and pool and a sumptuous breakfast. 

The nice price tag made all of us fans and converts of the idea of staycations. It was also a nice opportunity to get to know more the Grand Old Dame of Manila. 

In spite its age, the Manila Hotel still commands attention and love to those who walk its halls. I was unable to tour the hotel extensively due to family activities so I wasn’t able to see the General McArthur Suite but this only gives me reason to go back. 

As the Grand Old Dame of Manila, there were obvious signs of wear and age – nicks, bumps and scratches, little cracks of tiles and a crummy paint job on the elevator. But like a little old lady, nothing major that a good paint and maintenance check can’t fix. 

These are my two favorites photos of our little staycation: 

penny and me

my beloved


Book a StayCation at The Manila Hotel through their website or through Booking.com. 
Contact details: 

The Manila Hotel 

One Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines 

(02) 527-0011

Disclosure: 

Nothing to disclose. We paid for our stay. 

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Manila!, Reviews

Review: Z Hostel Makati is perfect for budget travelers with preference for comfort 

Disclosure: KamikazeeGirl was invited  by budget hostel Z Hostel Makati for an overnight stay during the onset of the holidays. This was my observation and full review. 

 
If you are a budget traveler like me who is always on the look out for cheap digs without sacrificing comfort, cleanliness or style, consider staying at the Z Hostel located in Don Pedro, Poblacion, Makati City. 


Check In 

Check in process is very straight forward, quick and easy. You can easily have reservations through the Z Hostel website or the many third party booking sites online. Upon check in, you will be given your key card, your towel and a bracelet with the RFID chip which you can use to purchase food and drinks within the hotel premises. 

   
    
 

I have stayed in a lot of hostels in HongKong, Singapore, Seoul, Busan and Tokyo, and I must say that it is only at Z Hostel Manila where I encountered the use of the RFID in purchasing beverages and meals within the hotel premises. 

The RFID at Z can be loaded and reloaded at the lobby and at the rooftop bar where guests usually unwind. 

Rooms and hotel premises 

Rooms at Z is no frills, basic, clean and secure. The ultimate must-haves when looking for a place to stay in. 

As for me, I have three non-negotiables: a locking door, a flushing rest room and a bug-free bed. Obviously, Z Hostel passed all these. 

A bed in any of the dorm rooms comes with its own night light, sufficient electrical outlets for charging of your devices, a pillow and a simple bed sheet. For valuables, each room also comes with lockers while guests are advised to bring their own lock and keys. 

One thing that Z Hostel can improve on is the availability of basic toiletries within the room. In Tokyo and Taipei, resort owners usually include a pair of dispensers in the common rest room: one for the shampoo/conditioner and one for the body wash. 

   


  

Rates begin at PHP899 for a bed on an All-Female Dorm while private rooms begin at PHP2,430 for a night’s stay. Z Hostel has mixed dorm rooms and female dorm rooms which can house 4,6 or 8 persons.

  

   
    

Dining In 

Z ZHostel  has a solid F&B line up, starting from their ground floor cafe where breakfast and most of the meals is commonly served.
   

For dinner,  I had the Beef Tapa which was served with a warm cup of fried rice and my favorite sunny side egg. 

For breakfast, I was directed to the  generous spread of the breakfast bar featuring congee, hard boiled egg slices, bread slices, two types of jams, eggs (cooked according to your preference), fruits, cereals and oatmeals plus juice, coffee or tea. 

  
You pay for your meals using the RFID on your wrist. Paying is very easy: the server will rally your meals on the hand held tablet with RFID capability; after the total amount to be paid is displayed, will you tap the RFID chip against the tablet where the cost of the  meal is immediately deducted and your remaining balance is displayed. 

   
 

As mentioned, you can also use the RFID when you pay for your drinks and bar chow at the rooftop bar. 

Ah – The Rooftop Bar which is already a legend in itself among Z Hostel fans. The Rooftop Bar, with its  laid back atmosphere and cheap drinks and chow is famous not only among guests but also among Makati’s gimmick crowd. 
   

Fellow travel junkies (L to R): KamikazeeGirl, Cao of Z Hostel, fellow bloggers Cindy and Rona and new friend and fellow back packer Rachelle of Australia


   
  

Z Hostel is the kind of place where travelers are encouraged to have fun and just relax, it encourages interaction and promotes nothing but cool vibes among its guests. Service is fast and friendly and each hotel staff seemed geared to provide customers with a nice and memorable stay. 

  
Find Z Hostel at 5660 Don Pedro Street, Makati City. They are also in Facebook: Z Hostel Philippines 

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