Tag Archives: Hotel Accommodations

Camiguin: Camiguin Action Geckos Dive and Adventure Resort

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stunning sunset at Camiguin Action Geckos

This was where I spent my third and fourth night in Camiguin.  As I had already toured the island’s attractions on my first two (2) days in the province, my stay at the Action Geckos was purely for leisure.  That is, I spent my 3 days here doing nothing but sleep in my room, or read a book while listening to the crashing waves, walk along its beachfront, or just laze at one of its hammocks without a care in the world.

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the entrance and the resort’s main building that serves as its front desk and restaurant

Accommodations
I booked via Agoda, since the rates I got here were cheaper than what I saw on Action Geckos’ website.   I specifically chose their Beach Bungalow because of its beachfront location.  It’s expensive at Php 2,150 per night for a solo traveler, but it was worth it.

I especially appreciated their warm welcome.  I was charmed when I opened the door and saw the bed canopied with an intricately-made mosquito net.

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I was even more charmed when I saw the welcome note with flowers.  Such a sweet and thoughtful gesture.

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And I loved my room’s furnishing too!  Who knew you could make beautiful ceiling lamps from a bulb and strainer?

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And the bathroom was beautiful!  I loved the mosaic of colorful tiles on the vanity and the floor.

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And yes, after making do with just cold water and using dipper at Enigmata, it was nice to finally have access to a shower with strong water pressure and hot water.

My room was called Ardent, which is named after one of Camiguin’s hot springs as featured on this blog.  It has a hammock and wooden loungers right at its doorstep, which offers me a good view of the sea.

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I loved that my room was right by the beach.  Even when I chose to stay in my room as it was too hot outside, I could hear the waves crashing against the shore.

Aside from the hammock right in front of my room, there were hammocks too beside the bungalow where my room was located.

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Dining
The resort’s restaurant is called Tuko (Gecko) and serves local and international cuisine.  I loved its very native ambience.

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My first meal here was the dinner I had on my first night.  I ordered their specials for the day, which was Meatballs with potato chips and garlic mayo and mango shake (sorry I forgot to take its photo).  I did not like it.  The garlic mayo was too garlicky and the mango shake was bland.

The following day, I had Filipino breakfast, which consisted of tocino, egg, and tea.  Yikes!  It was the worst tocino I’ve ever had.  It was too salty.  I told one of the staff and they said it’s homemade.

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Since the food I had so far were not good, I opted to go out for lunch but come dinner, I had no choice but to again dine at Tuko as there were no other resorts or restaurants near Action Geckos.  I had  Spaghetti Action Geckos, which was described as Asian style spaghetti with chicken and vegetables.  It sounded interesting, but I found it weird.  It’s like pancit, but with pasta.  And it’s again too salty.  By this time, I was convinced of the resort having expensive but so-so food.

The next morning, I ordered Helvetia for breakfast, which is a combination of grated potato fried with onion, topped with melted cheese and bacon bits.  Tuko’s menu specifically mentioned that it had a 20-minute preparation time and the staff who took my order said so too, but added that it’s a specialty so I took her word and was not disappointed as it was the only food I liked here.  For my drinks, I upgraded my regular coffee to Latte Machiato.

Beachfront

Unlike White Island’s white-sand beach, the beach here has black sand.  Though this is something not new to me as we also had black-sand beaches in Aklan (I’ve even blogged about one of them HERE), I found the black sand here to be the finest.


It was nice to walk barefoot on it and watch my feet create footprints, or just sit and watch the horizon while squishing the fine sand between my toes.

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On Action Geckos’ photo gallery, they had photos of their beachfront with volcanoes (or mountain range?) as its backdrop, but I did not see such a view.  Instead, I chanced on these sights, but the volcanoes/mountain range were not right in front of the resort, but about a dozen meters from it.

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Too bad the towering coconut trees were blocking the views (or perhaps when the photos were taken, the coconuts were still not that tall so the mountain range was very visible from the beachfront).

While walking along the beachfront, I also chanced upon these fishermen.

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You may have noticed that my beach photos so far had overcast skies, and that’s because the weather was pretty bad on my second day here.  Thankfully, the weather improved on my third and last day.

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Note the bluer sky and the sea.

Garden
Action Geckos’ garden is beautiful and most of the flowers were in full bloom when I was there.  My favorites were the colorful cosmos that came in yellow or pink, or a combination of both.

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There were white and pink vica plants (top photos in the succeeding collage) too, as well as sampaguita (lower left), which is the national flower of the Philippines.  I don’t know what the other two flowers are though, but I’ve seen them before.

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There was hibiscus too, and more flowers that I’m familiar with, but cannot specifically identify.

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Sunset

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Action Geckos’ location is perfect for sunset-watching .  On my first afternoon here, it was cloudy so the sunset was not that colorful.

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On my second and last afternoon though, the sunset was mesmerizing.  It came in vivid hues of red and orange.  I must have spent a quarter of an hour watching the sky change colors while the sun was sinking beyond the horizon.

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The main photo on this post was from the same set.

In closing, Camiguin Action Geckos is one good accommodation option when in Camiguin.  It’s more expensive that other resorts but because its newer and well-thought-of design-wise, it’s worth the splurge.  Their restaurant though, is an altogether different story.

For more information about Camiguin Action Geckos Dive and Adventure Resort, visit their official website.

Batanes: Rapitan di Vasay

This is my review of our stay at Rapitan di Vasay.

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In Ivatan language, Rapitan di Vasay translates to a place to stay in Vasay, which is the eastern part of Basco.  It used to be the residence of Don Vicente Barsana, the first Ivatan Governor of Batanes and is now being managed by his great grand children.

Inquiry and Reservations
I made the inquiry through their official website’s contact form.  The owner herself answered my queries promptly.  She’s very helpful too and suggested that we bring jackets because the weather can be very fickle.

After reserving their Idawud room, we were asked to deposit the payment via their PNB account, which was a hassle for me since PNB is in Cebu City, which is an hour from Mactan.  I’m hoping that in the future, they will come up with credit card payments for everyone’s convenience.

Arrival
Kuya Ireneo, the cousin of the owner who also acts as its caretaker picked us up from the airport.  Rapitan di Vasay was a mere 10 minute ride from the airport.  As mentioned on a previous post, it is walking distance from Basco’s church, town plaza, municipal hall, and school.

Accommodations
As mentioned earlier, our room is Idawud.  It has one queen-sized bed and a single bed.  Its view is that of a garden of bougainvilleas.

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The room was clean and quite spacious.  On the downside, it had no bathroom as it’s shared between the occupants of their rooms (from my inquiries, most accommodations in Batanes have this arrangement).  Fortunately, the couple on the other room was due out when we arrived so after they left, we had the whole house (and bathroom) to ourselves since the third room, Kagtin, was also unoccupied.

The living room, dining area, and front porch were also common guest areas.

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Basically, all the house’s facilities are shared among the occupants of all the rooms.  If you are a family or group of friends, this is one ideal accommodation for your group.

Service
We were mostly out so our contact with the caretaker and the cook was minimal.  Nevertheless, our experience with them was most pleasant.  while the young lady who prepared our breakfast mostly just smiled, Kuya Ireneo shared some travel tips and explained that the reason why they had no restaurant is because the owner wants utmost privacy for their guests

Meals
Now this is the best part about our stay here.  Our breakfasts in Rapitan di Vasay were always beautifully presented and delicious.

On our first day, we had dried flying fish, sweet potato, and rice.

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The dried flying fish was in my list of Batanes must-try because it’s a known delicacy and I was happy to tick it off my list on our first day in the island.

Every day, they also provided complimentary buko (young coconut) juice and camote (sweet potato) fries for our snacks.  Both were sweet and quite a treat, especially since they are free.  Te he.

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On our second day, we had longganiza, omelette, rice, and again, sweet potato fries.

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Another filling, yummy meal for us.

We had fried chicken, sunny side up eggs, rice, and again, camote fries on our third day.

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Yummy, especially the very tasty chicken, which was well-marinated and crunchy.

On our fourth day, we again had dried flying fish, scrambled eggs, rice, and the now perennial camote fries.

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Note that breakfast is not included in the room rate so we had to pay Php 200 per person per breakfast.

I’ll end this post with photos of the flowers I took here.  The purple flower brought me memories of my childhood.  We had the same orchids at home and as a child, I would make it into some sort of floral crown.

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In a Nutshell
I recommend this place for those who want basic accommodation when in Batanes (you will be out most of the day for your tours, anyway).  It’s perfect for small groups and families, though if you prefer an accommodation with a view, head on to Fundacion Pacita.  It’s more expensive, but it’s beautifully designed and with a good view of the mountains and the sea (details in a future post).

Rapitan di Vasay is located at the corner of Amboy and Castillejos Streets in the capital town of Basco.  Visit their official website for more information.

Macau: Royal Hotel

We stayed here only for a night and spent most of our time exploring Macau so we only stayed in this hotel to sleep.

We requested early check-in, but was not accommodated, which was fine with us since as hoteliers, we knew that it’s subject to room availability. But they were kind enough to keep our luggage while we visited nearby attractions.

After our tour and lunch, we came back to check in and was given Room 1322, which was a pleasant surprise since it’s comfortable and quite spacious (I was expecting something small based on my experience with Hong Kong’s Dorsett Far East in 2010). The downside was that it had no view.

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The bathroom came with a bathtub. It too was spacious and clean.

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What I liked most about this hotel was their service. Though I had difficulty understanding the local staff’s English, they were smiling. They did have Filipino staff though that were very accommodating and spoke fluent English. One concierge in particular, Mark, was very helpful. He was the one who helped us with our itinerary and recommended A Lorcha, the restaurant where we had our best meal in Macau.

What I did not like about this hotel was their small lobby, which was always crowded and noisy.  Wi-Fi in the lobby was free.  I also found it weird that their lobby restrooms were kept locked, accessible only through guests’ key cards. This was actually not an issue until we checked out and had to use the restroom again and had to wait for a hotel staff to open the door for us, which was really inconvenient. The same lobby restrooms were also not well-kept. For the 2 days that we were there, there were always stalls with toilets that were not flushed. Though obviously some hotel guests were to blame for their lack of toilet etiquette, the hotel must do better to clean up after such guests.

All in all, I found Royal Hotel Macau a good hotel, but not as luxurious as its website claims.  Book this hotel if you want to be just walking distance to and from Guia Fortress, Ruins of St. Paul’s and Senado Square, but if you prefer to be where the action is, find a hotel along Cotai Strip where new and truly luxurious hotels and resorts are based.

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I’ll end this post with a photo I took of Vasco de Gama Park, which is located right outside the hotel.

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Royal Hotel Macau is located in Estrada da Vitoria 2-4, Macau. Visit their official website for more information.

Fairmont San Francisco

Watching The Rock on HBO last night inspired me to write this post mainly because it was filmed in part at the Fairmont.

The Fairmont San Francisco is one of the grandest hotels that I’ve been to. We were given a tour of its Penthouse Suite, which occupied the entire eight floor. This extraordinary suite has three large bedrooms, four bathrooms, and a living room with a grand piano.

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It even has its own two-story circular library with a ceiling featuring the night sky and constellations.

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It also has a billiard room covered in Persian tile from floor to vaulted ceiling.

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There’s a formal dining room too.

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Isn’t t this so intricate?

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And an expansive terrace with views of San Francisco.

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This same terrace, of course, is where the “dangling scene” from the movie The Rock was filmed.

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We were told that this particular suite was originally constructed as the private residence for John S. Drum, then the president of the American Trust Company. Since then, this $15,000 (gasp!) a night suite became home to some royalty and rock stars, including President John F. Kennedy, Prince Charles of Wales, Mikhail Gorbachev, King Hussein of Jordan, Mick Jagger, Elton John, and Tony Bennett.

Aside from its magnificent Penthouse Suite, The Fairmont San Francisco also has a Roof Garden, which I saw as a perfect wedding venue.

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I also found the hotel’s Laurel Court Restaurant and Bar very nicely done.

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On one corner of Laurel Court was a recreation of the San Francisco Bridge in Ghirardelli Chocolate. Wow!

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But the restaurant that struck me most was Tonga because of its unique ambience. It’s a tiki bar featuring a bandstand on a barge that floats in a former swimming pool. It even has artificial rain and thunderstorms!

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When we were there last year, these two cars at the lobby also caught our attention. Its signage says these Ferraris joined the visually spectacular September 2012 FOG Road Rally in Los Angeles.

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Another trivia about Fairmont San Francisco: It is one of the historic hotels of America.

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Here it is over the years:

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For my last trivia, did you know that Tony Bennett first sang “I Left my Heart in San Francisco” at the Fairmont Hotel’s Venetian Room?

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I’ll end this post with my “parting” shot of the hotel. I said “parting” since I took this onboard our car as we were leaving the hotel.

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For more information about what is considered the Grand Dame of San Francisco, please visit its official website.

San Francisco Skyline as Viewed from the Mandarin Oriental

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Of all the hotels we visited and stayed in at San Francisco, the Mandarin Oriental has the best views of the city hands-down.

In this picture, the Bay Bridge, Coit Tower and Alcatraz are visible but the most prominent structure here would be the TransAmerica Pyramid, which is the tallest skyscraper in the San Francisco skyline and one of its most iconic.