Vacation season

Tis the season to be jolly. Not yet the right song but I’m singing it anyway. In less than an hour we fly somewhere within the country, some place we would be at for the very first time. In Marcus’ list, another hotel, another bathroom to discover.

From one hotel comes next and then another. It does look like when it rains it pours. A week after our premature Red Planet staycation, we found ourselves celebrating our wedding anniversary in another hotel in Alabang. We were in Somerset Alabang Manila and it was the best so far based on budget range we–specifically, my wife–have paid for.

Our Somerset Hotel’s accommodation was a studio-type room and it was roomy and it could have been home away from home had we stayed longer like what we did in A Venue Makati. It took some long years before that hotel in Makati would find its match in terms of room amenities. 

Took us time to figure it out but we had our clothes washed and dried with that machine in the corner.

The Somerset hotel room has everything set for a week-long stay. There’s microwave, two-door fridge, spacious closet, couch, circular table, utensils, flat-sceen HD TV, and (drum rolls please), a modern washing machine. I can’t recall we’ve ever been in a room with its own laundry machine. Bathroom has the usual stuffs like bathtub and the basic but luxurious fixtures. Don’t panic, room has internet.

A table for dinner and Uno games.
We arrived with this on the table. It’s wine and it’s for free.

Parking was also worth mentioning. Somerset Alabang Manila must be one of those with well-lit basement parking space I’ve ever seen. Make sure to ask for your parking assignment though as there are double parking spaces and you don’t want to be paged or called while your doing your own laundry in your room. 

Marcus loves visiting gyms.

Then there’s the nice gym located close to the pool area. Somerset’s workout haven has the latest equipment for cardio and strength training. It would have been more challenging had there been more free breakfast buffet choices.

Seafoods would have made us smile more.

This hotel is definitely a must try. Can’t wait to see what awaits in Palawan.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Sun’s out so it must be a good sign.)

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Living in an Acacia for Two Days

When I was a little boy we lived in a place that has this big acacia tree. It was the landmark of that place from which we’ve heard stories about a kapre living in it who would take children who are nearby when nighttime falls. During daytime we would play under it but we have to watch out for the seasonal hairy caterpillars that could give anyone a bad itch that stays for days.

Years later I would find myself at an acacia again. This time it is taller, bigger, and a lot different from the one I used to know. This acacia neither has any hairy caterpillar dangling from it nor does it have scary folklores. It is the acacia where I would want to be at anytime. It is the Acacia Hotel Manila in Alabang.

The acacia sans the hairy caterpillars.

Thanks to online promos, and wifey’s knack to find one, we once again got a good deal from dealgrocer.com that allowed us to be closed to the Lawsons who were then booked in Bellevue. The deal landed us a discounted accommodation in Acacia Hotel which I say must is one of the most strategically located hotels in the area.

On Saturday, June 6, we got a room that has something the previous ones do not have. The sparkling blue water peeking in through the wide glass window immediately got our attention. Marcus loves swimming pools so the fact that there is one right outside our room on the third floor was a welcome sight. With our bag unpacked halfway, Marcus and I were on our swimsuits in no time.

Because Spongebob is a stuffed toy so he got Batman in the pool instead.

Looking down from the pool area I confirmed the hotel’s proximity to other establishments. From there the new Commercenter (that recently opened its cinemas) is a few steps away with its Yellow Cab Pizza Co. branch clearly visible. Right across on the other side of the Acacia Hotel are McDonalds and IHOP restaurants. And anyone who needs some medicines, like I did due to a nagging toothache, the Mercury drug store is just right behind the hotel. At the same area are banks that you could use especially if your account has more than enough to purchase an Audi which by the way has nearby a showroom. Another car dealership along Commerce Avenue is BMW. (I haven’t been inside any of it but I dreamt about entering one. If only dealgrocer.com offers car discounts that we can’t refuse.) The Acacia Hotel is also in the middle of two popular malls in Alabang. The Ayala Town Center is located about a kilometer away and on the opposite direction one would find the Festival Mall.

Night at Acacia Hotel Manila
Busy night traffic shot from the pool area.

Dining at the Hotel Acacia Manila is definitely something to look forward to. The dining area is surrounded by glass windows with a high ceiling that isolate anyone from the noise of traffic outside yet at the same still get the hotel guests see the activities of the commercial district while they enjoy a romantic dinner or a sumptuous buffet breakfast.

Breakfast at Acacia Hotel Manila
Buffet breakfasts never fail to make us smile

The friendliness and service of the staff are also remarkable. Worth mentioning is the pool attendant who checked if there is something he can do to help when he saw Marcus trip in the pool during our nighttime dip. And then there’s the teamwork of the hotel receptionist and room service who made sure that they find Marcus’ Spongebob stuffed toy which we forgot to pack on our last day. You never know how your gestures made our two-day stay something that we will remember.

The breezy pool area did not stop us from taking a night dip.

***

The initial plan was just for an overnight stay but we soon learned that my sister and family aren’t leaving for Bacolod on Sunday. It was a good thing that wifey found another discount through dealgrocer.com that made us avoid paying P8K plus for another day. She made the deal using the HP Envy she got from the Lawons. Thanks!!!

Incidentally, we checked out Monday, June 8, which was exactly a week after we had Marcus’ EMG/NCV session at Asian Hospital and Medical Center.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (I am hoping that these inquiries about our house will translate to a sale soon.)

Weekend at Ramada Manila Central

It has become apparent that I haven’t traveled a lot more than some of my Facebook friends. I realized I do not have enough pre-vacation planning because when my wife made a weekend reservation I never knew what to expect until I got a kilometer closer to the hotel. We got stuck in traffic in the middle of a narrow bridge and at some point bumper to bumper while on an ascending slope.

We were in Binondo, a Chinatown, to check in to Ramada Manila Central for an overnight stay last weekend. For my birthday, wifey got a discount package online and based on recent trips I imagined the hotel to be situated somewhere decent, somewhere driver-friendly, at least.

Spongebob in Binondo, Spongebob in Ramada
Best describes the limited parking slot.

But we soon discovered that not only the streets of Binondo lack parking but as well as the hotel’s. Ramada Manila Central barely has 20 parking slots. Yes, for a 15-storey hotel, it only has that much slots—approximately one car for each floor? Lucky us, we arrived just in time to avail one except that it is a double parking slot which means that I need to leave my car key to the guard on duty.

What lacks in parking though, the hotel makes up in staff courtesy and other hotel accommodation essentials. Upon check in we received a surprisingly nice welcome drink made from cucumber, so good that Marcus who is a very picky kid gave it a thumbs-up. The hotel’s attention to detail also shows in our room. The sheets are clean; towels do not smell clorox-esque but rather refreshingly sweet; and the bathroom fixtures are shiny and everything works—bath tub, rain shower head, and all. The room also has a glass desk and a matching leather chair good for those who need to finish a report while on vacation. In our case, it became a good place to line up Marcus’ Legos.

Breakfast is also something to look forward to. Located on Ramada Manila Central’s ‘M’ floor, the News Café, despite the smallest buffet area we have ever been to, offers one of the best-tasting menus.

Ramada Manila Central breakfast, Buffet, News Cafe
Where do we start from here?

Ramada Manila Central also has a room that anyone who downed extra servings of omelet, steamed rice, and sandwiches for breakfast would appreciate—a well-maintained gym.  Overlooking the busy Ongpin intersection, its gym has several high-end treadmills each facing a flat TV with dedicated cable TV channel; a multi-stack equipment; clean benches and free weights; and a shower room.  Gym is available to any hotel guest with a room access card.

The hotel sits strategically in the middle of popular Binondo Chinatown destinations. The 168 mall is about a kilometer away for those who want to haggle around. Restaurants serving authentic Chinese cuisine are just a few blocks away. And if you want to spend some quiet time in reflection the Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz is just right across the hotel.

Minor Basilica of St. Lorenzo Ruiz
Our view of an early morning rainbow.

Ramada Central Manila is like anything in Chinatown. It is a great bargain for anyone who knows how and where to find it.

***

Our hotel discount package includes a trip to Manila Ocean Park good for two so we have to pay extra for Marcus.

Thumbs up

The Jellies place is a must see. I never knew that jellyfishes can be that interesting to see.

Thumbs down

Makan Makan’s Nasi Goreng and Nasi Lemak. Take my word, do not waste your money on these menu. Buy Jollibee instead.

***

Mood: 3/10 Honks! (Wifey and kiddo in a field trip and typhoon Hagupit is lurking.)

Weekend at The Bellevue Resort

Location, location, location. This I am sure is what was in the minds of the people behind The Bellevue Resort. Situated in Alabang, the hotel can be accessed by almost everyone coming from any direction. The Bellevue Resort can be easily reached by guests coming from both Northbound and Soutbound of the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX), by people passing through the kanan service road, and even by those coming from Cavite via the Daang Hari road.

Getting around the hotel and nearby establishments is also a lot better than any, if not most, hotel in Makati. Like us who do not have the privilege of having our own chauffeur, driving to and from the hotel is not as stressful. Compared with traffic volume in the Makati commercial district, Alabang is more manageable although one must expect to get stuck especially on a payday weekend as there are two malls and several office buildings in the vicinity. Here’s a driving tip: read the hotel’s guide on the first day and familiarize yourself with the location map in one of its pages. In my regular visits to Festival Mall, I have been thinking all the while that the hotel is just right across another block but good thing there are alternative areas where anyone who is lost can safely make a turn.

What about hotel accommodation? For the price of around Php 5000 we got ourselves a room that we did not expect to be a lot better. With wifey and our five-year old boy who changes sleeping/play spot without notice, our hotel room bed was more than enough. Our room on the 8th floor of The Bellevue Resort also has several features: a long study table and a matching ergo chair; a Sony Bravia wall-mounted flat TV; a wide wardrobe section that includes a safe and an ironing set; and a bathroom with well-maintained fixtures–our son, however, still prefers the tub over the rain shower head.

Included in our 2-days 2-nights resreservation is a buffet breakfast. We already enjoyed one yesterday in Cafe D’ Asie. Breakfast is from 6-10 AM and I have just checked the display of the Philips iPod docking station below the bed lamp and it is past 6:30. It’s time to wake kiddo, make a dash from the tower wing’s elevator, through the main lobby, then to the 2nd floor of the main wing where scrumptious breakfast awaits. It’s our last day today, so I might eat more than yesterday. Well, that’s the plan but if the little brat decides to sleep longer, then wifey and I still have time to enjoy the free WI-FI.

***
Mood: 3/10! (Hope that today he will behave.)