Refreshing Birthday at Hotel H2O

Summer vacation plans can be overwhelming. There’s that part when one wants to get that well-deserved pampering in a hotel and there’s that urge to get out of the urban jungle to be one with nature. Both though, however contrasting, have one general benefit to everyone–an experience that soothes the senses. Then ask anyone and more likely than not there would be that common element they have in mind that is synonymous to relaxation. Water. 

Cruise ship docked close to Manila Ocean Park.

Thank heavens, we need not split friends or family members into groups anymore just to satisfy everyone’s wish and there’s no need to burn gas just to drive farther out of town either. Located within Metro Manila is a haven called Hotel H20 which provides the best of both worlds. Whether you’re in for an overnight staycation (when did this word come into life by the way?) in a comfy hotel or if you’re looking for opportunities to interact with wildlife, this hotel has it.

The Oceanarium tunnel.

Its name derived right out of our science subject, H20 stands for water–remember? Situated along the scenic Manila Bay area, and in close proximity to the historic Luneta Park, Hotel H2O  offers its guests a variety of refreshing options. All it takes is some good online deal hunting skills which thankfully my wife possesses–whether naturally or out of necessity.

A fan of Metrodeal, wifey was able to find a good package once again just in time for a birthday celebration. Our kid, Marcus, turned nine yesterday and this time he wished for nothing but to see fish. His regular visit to the hospital’s saltwater aquarium during his therapy sessions must’ve been a factor . So imagine his surprise when we entered Hotel H2O’s room and for him to see one whole wall where different colorful fishes swim back and forth 24/7. This beats any Ultra HDTV entertainment, yes?

Great for kids and working moms. Even Spongebob approves.

Our accommodation package includes access to Manila Ocean Park’s attractions that complete our son’s birthday wish like touching the once intimidating stingray in the Close Encounter with Sharks and Stingrays area. In the Oceanarium, we were surrounded by giant aquariums that made us all feel like Finding Nemo characters. It was a bonus that Marcus got to see the scuba divers feeding the fishes. 

Like being one with the ocean.

But Manila Ocean Park is more than just about water creatures. There’s Birds of Prey area where Eagles fly almost freely. Anyone who likes to see rare collection of toys would definitely want to see Yexel’s Toy Museum–the Iron Man set is must see. Then there’s the variety of jellyfishes that seem hypnotic as they move gracefully in their own aquariums. Our package does not include the Creepy Crawlies but the extra pay was worth it.

Yexel’s collections.
Colorful Creepy Crawlies animals.

This is Marcus’ fourth visit to Manila Ocean Park though our first time to stay in H2O Hotel. He discovered that we skipped the bubbly pool in the Liquid pool area so being a fan of pools he would want to be back soon. Hopefully by then improvements would have been made.
***

Waves have crest and trough. That’s ups and downs. In summary, here’s our Hotel H2O  experience.

Crest

  • P5000 was worth the package.
  • Bed and linen are clean and comfy.
  • Toilet fixtures are mostly functional
 
  • Most hotel staff are friendly and helpful.
  • For picky kids, the option to grab their favorite fastfood few walks outside the hotel is a big plus. I was out late night for a burger steak meal.
  • The attractions are PWD-friendly.
We always appreciate seeing something that Marcus could relate to.

    Trough

    • Bidet please.
    • Shower area doesn’t have enough recessed floor and the glass door has gaps so it water leaks out of the enclosure.
    By design, the door is shared by the shower and toilet area. Take note also of the clear glass walls.
    • PWDs would have some access challenge.

    • Don’t expect too much from the Liquid dining buffet. 
    • The penguin area needs some love.

    ***

    Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Pool time.)

    Sky’s the limit

    To jump out of an airplane and eat at McDonald’s were two of the things I mentioned when I was asked by my brother in-law what I plan to do once we are in the US. I never thought the former was possible as I just want wifey and Marcus to experience their first US trip–everything else would be a plus. Then budget was an issue and the more we got closer to the trip the more I learned that weather could be a factor. But as fate would have it, the skydive happened. On a fine Elk Grove day, my brother in-law jumped strapped to our own instructors.

    Tandem freefall from 13,000 feet.

     

    The freefall was thrilling, the view was spectacular.

    This is the second time I have jumped out of the plane and maybe this wouldn’t be the last. Fingers crossed.

    ***

    In pictures

    My sis and I after my first jump so may years ago.

     

    Back to the arms of with my ever supportive wife. (Take note of the shadow.)

     

    Grounded and happy to drive back home.

     

    Anxious beneficiaries at the jump center in Lodi taken while I and my in-law fill up our respective waivers.

     

    Late afternoon stroll at the park after the jump.

    ***

    Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Inside an RV somewhere in San Francisco early in the morning.)

     

     

    Achievement unlocked: Snow

    To be in the snow seems like to be just a dream for people like us. It’s like we can see it only be in the movies, in the games. I have never imagined that soon we’d frolic in it. Yesterday it happened.

    Red wheelchair in the snow.

    Marcus is someone who can go sleep in an air-conditioned room just wearing sando and pajama so we had a hard time getting him to wear extra layer of clothing since we arrived in the US. He would complain at every opportunity justifying he could take the cold. However snow changed his mind in an instant.

    Bally the Snowman.

    To build a snowman had been his main plan when he learned we’d be at Kirkwood. So immediately after lunch we made one for him though it didn’t look like typical–one with the carrot nose and button eyes. He named it Bally.

    Using apple and grapes. This is the best snowman size and look we can do.

    Marcus had fun nevertheless. He experienced his first snowfight and saw the elements he used to only see in his Call of Duty map–the condensation when he exhales, the bright red plastic fence, the massive white snow. He loves the snow so much that he would’ve wanted to stay longer.

    He can’t move his legs so I got a good excuse to make a snow angel for him.

    ***

    Marcus with his uncle.

    Wifey and I had our first ski lesson and it was one I didn’t expect her to enjoy. ¬†She was so anxious about it that I had a good laugh when I discovered she was watching YouTube ski videos during the wee hours of the morning before our trip. The tutorial seems to have paid off as she did better than expected. Had she hydrated enough she could have reached the Graduation slope with me.

    There was bitterness in the experience though. Along with our ski class were kids learning how to snowboard. I couldn’t help but admire how cute they were in their complete gears.

    “How old are you guys?” I asked some of them when I got close to the group after I exited the conveyor.

    “I’m 5…I’m 8,” came the replies. For some moment I almost teared up. Marcus could have been one of them.

    ***

    Mood: 4/10 Honks! (Old dog, new trick.)

     

    Our Santas’ House

    We must have been so nice that this year our Santa Clauses decided that we personally pick our gifts from where it come from.

    No reindeers here but fat cats and nosey dogs.
    The table has been cleared and beers and gifts take over.

    While this isn’t my first time to set foot in the US, this is the first time to be with Marcus and wifey and with our Santa Clauses. Needless to say, this is one unusual Christmas for the three of us and we couldn’t thank God enough for this opportunity and for surrounding us with people who support us: people who paid for this trip and even people back home who wished us well.

    Merry Christmas everyone!!!

    ***

    Mood: 2/10 Honks!!!! (Our Garmin watches are waiting to be tested.)

     

    Rogue One Versus Popcorn

    Rogue One is one of those movies that Marcus had been waiting but it premiered in the Philippines when we were already busy packing stuffs and going through our travel checklist over and over again. He was all smiles when he heard he’d catch up on it where we would be after four days.

    Cold but eager Rogue One fan. Outside Arden Fair while we wait to get our tickets.

     

    I’m beginning to get the hang of taking selfies from different angles.

     

    We are lucky to be one of those watching in this recently opened cinema in the area.

     

     

    Big bucket of popcorn and comfy seat complete Marcus’ experience.

     

    Team popcorn.

    Did I just say popcorn? Well, Rogue One is one of those movies I fought off sleep by eating popcorn. At some point I knew I slept and twitched and dreamed and talked in Filipino. Sorry American seatmates if I snored as well.

    ***

    Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Achievement unlocked: found food in the pantry on my own.)

     

     

    Cold And Sweet

    So this is the land of milk and honey and it’s cold.

     

    Blown away. He was overwhelmed with everything and this was just the beginning.
    Two hours after the long Customs Border Protection queue we finally step into the land of milk and honey.
    And the adventure begins. Face to face with a drone though not those he sees in Call of Duty.
    He discovered not everything is sweet in a candy store. He just tasted Toxic Waste.

    This is just day day one and this the first official post that says we have landed.

    ***

    I had cancelled trips in the past and I don’t want this one to be among them so I never told any of my friends about details of this trip as I don’t want to jinx it.

    ***

    Mood: 2/10 Honks! (Happy and fat.)