Kamana Sanctuary

Over the weekend, the hubby joined our colleagues in our yearly teambuilding activity. This year, we had it in a resort-spa called Kamana Sanctuary. It is a cozy and secluded resort right on Subic Bay that is accessible only by private car so you can be sure that there will be no scalawags or unwanted personas around the area. As soon as we came in, especially inside the rooms, I regretted that we didn’t bring the kids (and the older folks too). I thought that it was perfect as the resort was not big that we could get lost, and the amenities are all within reach. But the rooms were huge and our family would fit right in, and the kids could burn off energy running around without us having to worry too much about it. They have a smallish pool and beach access, a playground, and volleyball and basketball area. And the food was awesome! We had to have a mad dash for the bacon in the morning, but worth it!

Palm Boutique Hotel

My stay in Cambodia was made more comfortable by the Palm Boutique Hotel. It’s a quaint little thing right at the heart of Phnom Penh. I was actually surprised by its modern facilities amidst its Hindi-Buddhist decor. And for only US$39/night, the accommodations are at par with 3- or 4-star hotels elsewhere. I loved my room with its crisp white king bed accented by fluffy white and orange pillows. The dim but cozy lighting was restful. Zen bathroom was also superb. Most of all, wifi is two thumbs up! (I was expecting to be disappointed lol).

Those indoor ponds though are disasters waiting to happen, especially at night. With the lights turned off most of the time, and with an inattentive guest, a spectacle is bound to happen, which I and my companions witnessed first hand as a guy using his mobile phone plunged knee-deep into one of them.

Food is also kind of forgettable, although what we had was breakfast anyway. They’re also always late in opening the restaurant. For us who needed to get an early start, we didn’t get to enjoy it as much because we always had to hurry.

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N Hotel

I am fresh from Cagayan de Oro City. Wait, while I arrived in the wee hours of this day, I wouldn’t really say fresh because I feel anything but, having to endure yet another delayed flight just before midnight. It’s so sad that flying here in the country is so lousy at this point. In about the twenty times or so that I flew in the last year, my flight was delayed about nineteen times. It is that bad. On the one hand, I am glad at least that they have done something about the lack of seats in gates and waiting areas, and the rest rooms have undergone significant facelifts. Now they just really have to do something about air traffic!

Anyway, before I run out of words ranting about the management of airports here, lemme tell you about the hotel I stayed in Cagayan de Oro this time. I was pretty holed up at the N Hotel the entire time I was in the city. First, I was a speaker for two days at a conference. Second, I was too lazy to go out because I was alone. And third, because I am currently hooked up with a new gaming app that’s gripping the world, and the hotel was prime spot for things to catch, I was more than happy to stay put.

I was not sorry of course. The hotel is located on the major highway just before you enter the city proper. It is not that old but there was that whiff of mustiness when you first enter its premises then the rooms. It goes away after a while though and I began to get settled after the first hour. The room was spacious and big enough for three. Bed was good bordering on great but I didn’t like the lighting that much. I love muted whites and yellows in hotel rooms, and this one’s too orangey. These kinds of rooms make me a little restless. That, coffee at night, and finalizing my presentation did me no good on the first night. Good thing I made up for it the second night.

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This is one of the better hotels I’ve stayed in. As I said, I practically stayed here for three days. I had all my meals here, and I could say it was a-okay, nothing to rave about but okay. If I had the time and the inclination, I would have taken a dip in the pool.

Hotel Veronica

I was eyeing Hotel Veronica earlier this year when I had a scheduled trip in Roxas City. Unfortunately the organizers of the event I was a resource speaker of booked us at this hotel. I was glad I got another chance to come back in a couple of months’ time and stay here this time. Yay!

True to the photographs on its website (that made me long for it), the interior was sleek and elegant. The hotel is a breath of fresh air from among the many provincial hotels I have stayed in. It screams taste yet the rates are reasonable. From the lobby to the rooms, one can feel the care that came in with the selection of the furnishings. I could have stayed in our room curled up under the blankets all day. The room was big, and if you are on a budget, even four can fit as it has two queens.

The restaurant and cafe downstairs also make mean pastas and desserts. I opted for room service during my one night stay because my colleague was meeting an old friend who is now based in Roxas. I was more than happy to curl up in my jammies while leisurely enjoying my dinner. What a way to fatten myself, but as they say, you only live once. lol. We were able to eat at the restaurant for breakfast the next day though. I enjoyed the daing na bangus but I could have kicked myself afterwards for not getting the dried fish, which is their specialty.

Its location, inside the developed Pueblo de Panay, was perfect. It sits right across a big shopping mall, and just a few minutes’ ride is the El Circulo Convention Center. It is minutes away from the famous black sand beaches of Roxas, historic churches and the public market.

Just totally loved it!

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Injap Hotel Iloilo

I was in Iloilo for the nth time in the last two years, but we are almost at the tail end of a project that brought me a lot to this bustling city. This time, I and a staff and colleague stayed at the Injap Hotel. Strategically located in Mandurriao, Iloilo City at its major thoroughfare, the hotel is a good choice for those visiting Iloilo for business and pleasure. It sits in front of SM Iloilo City, and is a stone’s throw away from Jaro, La Paz and downtown Iloilo. Traffic is a little bad going to the place, though, and the u-turn slot from the airport is a little too far off. But it was not all that bad at all.

The lobby and reception is quite small, but as with all Ilonggos, front desk personnel and bellboys warmly received us.

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The room is okay, bed is comfortable but I find the lighting dim. There was not much space to move around, too. But it has a kitchenette with microwave and mini refrigerator if you are into staying in a lot. I didn’t like the bathroom because one, the heater was too high up and wasn’t friendly to short people like me (I had to call my companion to adjust it for me), and two, there was nowhere to place your toiletries when you are already inside the shower area. I ended up putting it on the floor, which is icky considering water sloshing all around the place. But I still good night sleeps the two days we stayed there.

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It was rainy during this visit so we stayed in most of the time after our official work was done. Dinners and breakfasts were spent at the restaurant at the topmost floor of the hotel called Horizon Cafe. Food was just okay and there was nothing really special about them. Prices were just right. I had:

Singaporean Bee-hon

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Cheesy beef pot with mashed potatoes (kind of like caldereta)

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I also stole away a massage at the Spa Circle located at the hotel. Thumbs up for this!

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Garden Palace Hotel Roxas City

I stayed in this hotel last April during one of my official travels. The draft must have been pushed far back that I have completely forgotten about it until now.

The Garden Palace Hotel is a house that has been converted into a small hotel that opened earlier this year. It is located at the Pueblo de Panay, Roxas City’s business hub, and a stone’s throw away from Robinson’s Mall. Unfortunately, I heard from one of my friends that this has been temporarily closed because of ownership issues within the family that runs it. I was told that an estranged couple was fighting over the rights of the house. Oh well, I am glad we were able to stay in it before it happened.

The family’s main line of business is actually catering before they started branching out to hotel management. And that was so evident because what really struck me during my stay was how good the food was! I mean, the food they served were honest to goodness Filipino dishes but there was a kick in every dish. Everything was tasty, and you could sense that they didn’t scrimp on ingredients. They could do well in the presentation department though. But really, it’s okay as long as the belly is satisfied.

The rooms, on the other hand, are very basic. They were clean but as they haven’t had the much customers yet, they were full of mosquitoes. The sheets, blankets and pillows were a little threadbare too. And as it is formerly a house, soundproofing is still a thing of the future. I wouldn’t have minded at any other time, but since our room was next to the dining area (they offer lunch and dinner buffet), the buzz of people talking goes well into the night.

In general, it was a comfortable stay. I would return (if they open again) to eat again, but I would probably opt for the comforts of a commercial hotel in Roxas City.

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Hotel Venezia

When I was single and younger, I used to go to Bicol a lot because of my good friends, Allen and IC. But family happened, shift in career happened, kids happened…you get the drift. So I was glad to have come back for an overnighter last month. I didn’t get to go around this time, and the majestic Mayon Volcano hid its imposing figure behind a curtain of grey clouds so I was left to spend the day inside my hotel room. Which is not bad at all. It gave me a much needed me-time (aren’t mommies always clamoring for this??).

I stayed at Hotel Venezia, an upscale hotel located inside a private subdivision in Legazpi City. It was not new but it was still elegant and looks well-maintained. Only three-stories high, its modern and minimalist look draws in the weary traveler. My room was small to say the least. You could hardly walk around (but who walks around hotel rooms anyway?), and the queen-sized bed occupied the space between the one wall and the bathroom. But it was so comfortable, and I was plain happy that I get to have a bed all to myself once in a while.

You had to walk a few meters then take a jeepney or tricycle before you reach malls, restaurants and other places of interest. I really didn’t mind at all being holed up in my room. Because I had some time on my hands since work finished early, I had myself a rejuvenating massage. Hooray for some relaxation! The lone therapist at the hotel did a wonderful job although she kept up a chatter. I would have preferred a quiet session but, as she was probably lonely for some conversation, I endured her talking throughout the session. I think my occasional grunts and ayes sufficed because she kept on talking. I was lame and nice like that. lol.

Also had dinner at their in-house restaurant, as well as breakfast the next day.

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Satisfied in general.