In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Harry Potter this year, we threw Hobbes a Harry Potter-themed birthday party last week.
This was actually a belated celebration since his birthday – okay, gotcha day – was on the 18th, and on that day, we were on a week-long vacation to celebrate his actual gotcha day.
This was his 4th birthday invitation sans the venue and my contact number.
My friends are all used to Hobbes’s smiling face, so they again complimented him for his poses when they saw the invitation.
On the day of our lunch celebration, I had the cake delivered an hour early, so we had time to do our shoot. Here are my favorite cake photos of Hobbes.
The cake was from Chedz, one of Cebu’s most popular cake stores, and I got the inspiration for his cake from Pinterest.
In the past years, I used to order a specialty dog cake from Bubbabakes, but I noticed that Hobbes only took a bite that I ended up throwing the cake, so this time, I ordered a cake for his hooman invitees. We loved the cake as it was not too sweet, though it stained our teeth and lips because of its color.
The décor was simple and consisted merely of gifts and balloons as I didn’t have enough time to do the preparations.
Here’s Hobbes surveying the venue while patiently waiting for his guests.
And here’s a close-up shot of Hobbes against some of the gifts.
In case anyone is wondering, I chose the design for his bandana online and had it made by Life is Pawsome Shop.
As for the food, I also ordered everything online. We had Crispy Pata, Sisig, Lumpiang Shanghai, Buttered Shrimps, Flavored Chicken Wings, Mango Float, and Mini Cupcakes.
Except for the cupcakes that came with the cake, everything was from Cha’Tasty Kitchen. Our guests loved all the dishes, especially the Sisig, Buffalo Chicken Wings, and Mango Float. I really recommend this catering company as they are very accommodating. The food selection was varied, and the dishes were reasonably-priced and tasted good. To order, visit their official Facebook page.
When most guests had left by 5 PM, we opened Hobbes’s gifts, which consisted mostly of treats and pet essentials. (A friend was hesitant to open the gifts as she felt they were wrapped too nicely. Ha ha!)
Here’s Hobbes looking all tired that he chose to chill under the table.
Still looking swell despite your weariness, Hobbes!
This luncheon was actually the finale of Hobbes’s birthday celebration because, as mentioned, we were on vacation the week before.
Our first stop was to Oslob’s Down South 118 Beach Resort.
We were here 2 nights mostly to just chill and dine and watch sunrises and sunsets.
Next, we visited Paraiso Tropicale – Beach Cabin, still in Oslob; this was my favorite destination during this trip. Here, we had the whole beach and cabin to ourselves for 2 nights and 3 days.
Paraiso Tropicale is not just a beach as before reaching the main cabin, one had to navigate through about 80 wooden stairs. Here’s another photo of Hobbes in one of the stair’s landing areas.
Our last stop was to Alcoy, specifically to Mangrove Eco Resort and Restaurant.
We had another 2-night stay here; this served the best food among the 3 restaurants.
I’ll just write about each of these resorts in detail in my upcoming posts.
To end this blog, I’ll share snapshots from our Harry Potter-themed photo shoot prior to our week-long trip.
Most of his props, like the scarf, Hogwarts robe, and hat, were bought online, but the broom and wand were handmade. For the broom, I used a big stick and twigs, while the wand was an old chopstick that I traced with a glue gun and colored using a marking pen and glittered Modge Podge.
We stayed here for three nights in January this year and during our visit, had the whole place to ourselves.
The rustic and tranquil ambiance was what made me choose Les Maisons for my first out-of-town trip for 2021. Isn’t this inviting?
Our room I booked the Maison Ulysse because I fell in love with it when I saw its photo on Airbnb. I love homey accommodations, and the room’s distinctly Filipino touches added to its charm.
Of course, the four-poster bed is another plus point for this room.
It had a spacious couch, too, that’s perfect for lounging, especially during high tide since it’s right in front of the window that opened straight to views of the beach.
I love listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, and because Maison Ulysse is by the beach, throughout our entire stay, the sound of the sea was my lullaby every day.
The bathroom was spacious, with native décor and shell accent. There was no hot water, though, and the toilet would not flush on our second day. Good thing they fixed it promptly.
Maison Ulysse has two floors, with the bedroom on the second floor and a spacious living room on the ground floor.
The al fresco ground floor living room was my favorite spot in the afternoon since it’s perfect for sunset-watching and listening to the sound of the crashing waves. Its couch was also so comfy that on my second night, I slept here after dinner and woke up late in the evening only because it’s gotten cold.
The food Breakfast is included in the room rate, and here’s a photo of my set Filipino breakfast
Over-all, the food here was good and the serving generous. I’ll just make a separate post about Les Maison’s home-cooked meals next time.
The Pool Les Maisons had one freshwater pool that overlooked the sea.
It’s a little small and deep, so if you have small children with you, make sure to watch them.
As we were the only guests during our stay, we had the pool for ourselves. On the third day, however, about 5 people visited the resort to check the place, and their voices could be heard all the way to my room. I surmise that when the resort is full, the pool gets crowded and its tranquility compromised.
The Beach The resort had a private and well-maintained beach.
Though their beachfront was rocky.
The water was also brackish, and the seafloor even felt mucky sometimes, especially during lowe tide, so make sure to bring beach sandals when swimming here.
This was my favorite part of their beach because of the sandy shoreline.
Other Room Types Uphill, the resort had two villas that could accommodate bigger groups. Each villa had its owns swimming pools, too.
The smaller rooms were located near the lobby. There’s one room, too, on the second floor of the lobby, but I forgot to take its photo.
While I still felt our room, Maison Ulysse was the loveliest of all the rooms in Les Maisons, if you are a couple who want a smaller room than the villas, choose these ones. They’re air-conditioned, too.
The Hammocks Hammocks were strategically placed around the resort, and my favorites were the ones by the pool and the one on the ground floor of Maison Ulysse.
Here’s Hobbes chillin’ like a boss. Ha ha!
Sunsets The resort had excellent views of the sunset (but not of the sunrise). Here are some of my favorites.
The best vantage point for sunset-watching was by the beach or pool, though on my second day, I was rewarded with this view of the yet-to-sen sun while chasing Hobbes on the hills.
At Night It’s very quiet here in the evening, especially considering that we were their only guests during our stay. But the pool was perfect for night swimming.
At Dawn We were here in January, so mornings were always chilly. But the cold weather was perfect for a stroll, especially by the beach because it was the high tide, so the sound of the crashing waves was incredibly soothing.
The Gardens Les Maisons’ gardens and landscape were well-tended.
Every morning, the staff were consistent in sweeping the lawns and watering the plants. Everyone was so polite and would always greet us.
Here’s a photo of my favorite flower in the resort.
Pet-Friendly Aside from the rustic ambiance, my other factor for choosing Les Maisons D’Itac was that they’re pet-friendly. They were also not strict with their guidelines as they let Hobbes roam the resort without a leash. A friend who stayed just this month was even able to have her dog swim on the beach. (Hobbes didn’t because he hates the water.)
Random Photos These are just some random photos I took at Les Maisons. As the weather was mostly cloudy, even rainy, during our stay, most of these photos look bleak.
Minor Refurbishments Needed I’ll end this point by pointing out that while generally well-maintained, it’s still evident that the resort was undergoing some difficulty because of the pandemic. It’s understandable, though, for establishments to put off some refurbishments to save resources during this time.
As examples, the mosquito net in my room had holes and needed replacement and so does one of the window stands.
But what I found really inspiring about the resort, its management, and owners was that even during the pandemic, all the staff were on duty; if they had no guests, they were asked to till the lands of the owner and their friends. As per the manager, this is something that they made sure so that people would have a source of income during these trying times. Isn’t that heartwarming?
For its ambience, service, and excellent management, I highly recommend Les Maisons D’Itac.
It’s Hobbes’s third birthday last week – on the 18th, to be exact – and instead of vacationing somewhere to celebrate it, we decided to just have it at home as a precaution to the rising COVID-19 cases in the province.
We invited our favorite hoomans, and I had fun decorating what was once Plantation Bay’s Penthouse Suite.
The motif was blue, with Hobbes dressed like a prince. Okay, not really a prince, but he just wore a crown and had a “It’s my Gotcha Day!” bandana courtesy of LifeisPawsomeShop (LiP). Here’s Hobbes, all set to welcome his guests.
Food-wise, we had lechon belly, chicken inasal, and lumpiang shanghai from 4A’s Lechon. I also ordered Pancit Malabon from Daniella’s and ube and yema cakes from Cardinal. Hobbes had a personalized birthday cake from Bubbabakes, too.
Isn’t the cake amazing? It showed Hobbes’s trademark tongue-out smile.
He also received tons of gifts from me and my friends and his vets. Here he is, looking so pleased and princely. Ha ha!
More photos of Hobbes in his nook.
And a photo of him with his gifts all lined up so we could account for all and later send our thanks to his godmothers and friends.
He received several plushies, which are his favorite toys, treats and dog food, clothes, new bandanas, a personalized harness from The Rosey Collective, another harness from Zeedog, and grooming essentials from Aroma Paws.
There were so many presents that they didn’t fit on our picnic mat!
In the evening, his vets from Animal Wellness visited him, too. We had dinner in Plantation Bay’s Fiji Restaurant.
Happiest birthday, Hobbsie! While people always say that you’re such a lucky dog, I feel that I’m the luckier one because I have such a well-behaved and smart furbaby.
Since I became a furmom to Hobbes, my now three-year-old Shih Tzu, traveling around Cebu has become more challenging. If before I could pack my bags hurriedly and go to the beach or mountains on a whim, now I have to carefully research my destinations to ensure that Hobbes is well taken care of every time we travel.
Most if not all high-rises hotels in Cebu City and resorts in Mactan do not allow pets, so it was a joy to find these pet-friendly places. Note that most are a long trip from the city itself.
Bantayan Island’s Coral Blue Oriental Villas
On our first out-of-town trip, I brought Hobbes to Bantayan Island. We stayed at Coral Blue Oriental Villas, and we loved our spacious room, especially the native bathroom.
The resort wasn’t strict with its policies on pets. Hobbes was allowed anywhere and could roam around without a leash. Still, I was always carefully watching him because there were stray dogs in the area.
Bantayan Island’s Virgin Island We were here only for a day, but because Virgin Island also has rooms, I included it in the list.
Hobbes had a great time here running around, and yeah, making me run after him. Heh. The island is huge, and it was scorching hot, so halfway through our walk on their trail, Hobbes refused to budge. After resting for a bit and re-applying his Natural Dog Company Organic Pawtection, we continued on, with me carrying Hobbes half of the time.
Cebu City’s Solinea Resort Condominium There are several listings on AirBnB of units in Solinea Resort Condominium that allow pets, and during a much-needed trip to the city, I brought Hobbes with me. The place was perfect because it’s right across Ayala Center Cebu.
The only downside was that every morning and in the afternoon, I had to bring Hobbes downstairs for his daily walks and potty time. And because the condominium’s entire ground floor area was paved, I had to bring him to a vacant grassy lot fronting the HSBC building, which meant crossing the busy intersection.
Malapascua’s Tepanee Beach Resort This secluded resort in Malapascua is ideal for furparents like me because of its well-manicured gardens and private beach, both of which are perfect for strolling.
On our first two nights, we stayed in their standard room. It’s smaller than the usual guest rooms that we’re used to, but it had a balcony that Hobbes absolutely loved because it’s breezy in there.
On our third night, we moved to a De Luxe Room, which was more spacious and had a floor-to-ceiling window that afforded us nice views of the sea.
Hobbes loved this room and spent most of his days just looking out the window. He even took a liking to the side table outside and made it his own sitting area.
Some pet-related observations of Tepanee: they have house dogs, and while the ones inside the resort are docile and sweet, the ones in the restaurant – strays that they feed from time to time, from what the staff told me – are noisy and a little aggressive around other dogs because every time they saw Hobbes, they barked. Beware of cats, too, because even when they didn’t approach us, their mere presence was enough for Hobbes to go ballistic. (He dislikes cats and chases after them.)
Pet policy-wise, Tepanee was not strict, too. I was not asked to sign a waiver. Hobbes was also allowed everywhere, even in the restaurant.
Mactan Island’s Karancho Beach House We had our company outing here, and my colleagues and I were allowed to bring our pets. Unlike other pet-friendly resorts that allow only small to medium-sized dogs, Karancho allowed my staff’s Labrador and even let him swim on the beach.
Karancho also has several dogs and cats on-site, so be sure to always be on the lookout for your furbaby, especially if your furbaby is like Hobbes, who doesn’t like other animals.
Ronda’s Les Maisons D’Itac This place is perfect for a relaxing vacation with your furbaby mainly because its well-maintained grounds were perfect for daily walks. Just take it from Hobbes. From the photo below, one can tell that that indeed, he’s having a relaxing vacation at Les Maisons. Ha ha! Seriously, this baby sure knows how to channel his inner peace (and cuteness).
They’re not strict, too, of the places where pets are allowed. I initially walked Hobbes on a leash, but after assuring me that Tracy, their resident dog was harmless, I let Hobbes wander around the resort on his own.
Our two-story accommodation was right by the beach. It’s very spacious, and I especially loved the four-poster king bed. The balcony below had unobstructed views of the sea, which was really awesome.
Aside from the vast space for dogs to run around in, there were various nooks and crannies, too, that were ideal for taking photos.
Les Maisons D’Itac also had several strategically-placed hammocks, and during this trip, I discovered Hobbes’s love for them. He especially loved being rocked gently on them, and I think it’s because he loved the feel of the wind. Several times, he even napped on them for hours!
Mactan Island’s Solea Mactan Resort
Solea Resort used to allow dogs because that’s where Hobbes and I stayed during my birthday last year, but when I checked again early this year, they said they no longer allow pets because some pet owners refused to follow their policies. When I probed, they said that these owners, even when they signed a waiver, allowed their dogs to swim in the pool. They also did not clean up after their pets. I was aghast when I heard this. Because of some irresponsible owners’ behavior, we suffer the consequences, which is really sad because the resort, with its spacious grounds and private beach, would have been ideal for furmoms like me.
Hobbes especially loved their grounds, so it’s really unfortunate that pets are no longer allowed here as this is one of the resorts nearest to where we live.
These resorts and hotels usually do not allow dogs, but after telling them that Hobbes is well-behaved and pretty much well-traveled, they allowed him to stay with me provided that I agree to their conditions.
Liloan’s Rosario Boutique Hotel We stayed here during the COVID-19 pandemic. We had been cooped up at home for nine (9) months, so when we found out that a friend works here, we booked a room after she assured us that I could bring Hobbes.
To bring Hobbes, I had to bring his stroller so I could hide him, which was a hassle since their elevator was small. The staff were nice, though, because after observing that Hobbes did not bark at all and just kept to himself, they allowed him to just be on his leash whenever we went out of the room.
The hotel was small, and there was nothing to do in the area. Our room did have a good view of the sea.
Moalboal’s Kasai Village Dive Resort We were here last month, and while they initially declined my request to bring Hobbes, they relented when again, I told them that Hobbes is pretty much well-traveled and with updated antirabies shots and vaccines. Their only request was that the bed would be off-limits to Hobbes so I had to bring his own bed. As an added precaution, I also brought a waterproof bed cover so the bed is protected if Hobbes hopped on the rather low bed.
Our Sea View De Luxe room afforded us nice views of the sea, though Hobbes was more interested in running around the garden fronting the balcony and in sniffing among the bushes because he did see several cats roaming the place.
He loved the beachfront, too. Only two (2) rooms were occupied during our stay, so we had the place to ourselves since the other guests were usually out for their daily dive.
I’ll end this post with what I consider the most pet-friendly resort in Cebu. Just a disclaimer: I work and live here, so this is Hobbes’s home in Cebu.
Mactan Island’s Plantation Bay Resort and Spa
With its 11.4 hectares of landscaped grounds and private lagoons and beach, Plantation Bay is the perfect destination for everyone, including pooches. Everywhere and I mean everywhere, is Instagram-worthy, especially when you have a furbaby like Hobbes who knows how to pose for the camera.
From the paved roadway to the tennis court to the main pools and lagoons, pooches will have a wonderful time walking or sniffing among the bushes or just bonding with their hoomans.
Hobbes especially loved Savannah Park, which is where most of the resort’s facilities are located.
Sunrises in the resort are also one of the loveliest on the island, as these photos can attest. Usually, the nicest sunrise shots can be taken from the natural beach or the west lagoons since they face the beachfront.
Even sunsets in Plantation Bay are quite captivating, though usually, I am unable to capture them with Hobbes as my model because he usually has his walks early in the evening.
Among the pet-friendly resorts that we’ve been to, Plantation Bay has the strictest but most transparent guidelines on pets: they ask for a copy of the pet’s pet passport/vaccine certificate to ensure that its antirabies shots are up-to-date. They will also ask you to sign a waiver. Some no-nos concerning pets include not leaving the pet alone in the room and not letting the pet swim in any of the lagoons, pools, or even the beach and indoor sections of the restaurants and shops.
Pets are allowed, though, in the outdoor sections of the restaurants, which is really nice. Here’s Hobbes with his takeaway cup, of which he is the model. Heh.
I’ll end this post with one of my favorite photos of Hobbes that’s taken in Plantation Bay.
Edit as of April 2021 In addition to the above, Hobbes and I have also been accommodated in these pet-friendly staycation farms.
Adlawon Vacation Farm (AVF)
While Adlawon allows dogs in their property, they do not allow them inside the restaurants or guest rooms. As I wanted to check in, I asked that they consider, and they did! They let me bring Hobbes but advised me not to allow him on the bed. Below are their policies pet-wise.
Hobbes loved walking around the farm and barking after cows, a carabao, and goats. He loved their swings, too.
Read my full review of Adlawon Vacation Farm here.
Serenity Farm and Resort This has become one of our favorites! Here’s Hobbes chilling on the swing by the pool at sunset.
This is their policy on pets: Small and medium-sized dogs are allowed in the property. Swimming is not allowed. Must be leashed in common areas since resident dogs are roaming the property.
Serenity has 3 restaurants and 2 were open during our stay. Both allow dogs. Here’s a photo of Hobbes in Serenity Cafe.
And in Liel’s Kitchen, the Japanese restaurant.
Edit as of April 2021
Azienda Gracia While we loved our stay here, Azienda Gracia is not for everyone. It’s a farm, so if you’re squeamish about muddy trails, bathing using a pail and dipper, or seeing ants and insects, this isn’t the place for you.
Hobbes and I loved the spaciousness of the place. We rented the treehouse all to ourselves, so we were the only guests during our stay. Hobbes had fun running around, though I had to carry or leash him when we’re near the animal pens – they had rabbits, ducks, chickens – to keep him from barking at or chasing them.
While here, Hobbes and I also trekked to Sayaw River.
Too bad he’s all about posing as he refused to swim in the river.
Tabuelan’s Durhan Beach Resort This resort has one of the nicest beaches I’ve seen in Cebu! They’re very pet-friendly, too. Aside from dogs, cats are also allowed.
We stayed 3 nights here, and every day, the sunset never failed to captivate me as they’re one of the most beautiful in all of Cebu. Here’s Hobbes enjoying the beach while waiting for the sun to set.
Note that while the beach here is excellent, their room is very basic. It only had a bed with a thin mattress and no television or even a mini-ref. They had strong Wi-Fi connection, though.
Maayo San Remigio This is about 30-40 minutes from Durhan so if you want to maximize your vacation to northern Cebu, go here after staying at Durhan.
I love Maayo San Remigio’s rooms. They’re just too cute and country-looking.
Their pool was also lovely.
What I love about this resort is its many nooks and crannies that are perfect for picture-taking. Here’s Hobbes dominating my phone’s memory with his antics and poses.
As I’m always on the lookout for pet-friendly places, I will just update this blog from time to time.