Snapshots: Boracay and La Union

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Boracay

If there is one place I won’t mind visiting again and again, without a doubt, it would be Boracay. A lot may hate Boracay because of being over-crowded, but for me, I have nothing but love for this party island. This is already my eight time here and if someone asks me to be back anytime, granted that I have money, without blinking an eye, I would eagerly plan my return.

* Stayed at Zuzuni, an intimate 13-room beachfront hotel. Excellent service, good food from their in-house restaurant.

* First time to have visited Spider House, which instantly became a favorite.

* In my many visits in Boracay, this is the time I have seen the island at its most beautiful. Clean and not too crowded. No algal bloom during our trip (Jan 31 – Feb 2).

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La Union 

Since I am not a surfer, and I have no plans of learning how to surf, I had no intentions of visiting La Union. When friends I met from Malasimbo Music and Arts Festival planned a trip in this surfing haven, I had hesitations at first. Nonetheless, after our 4-day visit, I ended up loving its chill ambiance. For non-surfers like me, you can enjoy La Union just by sitting on the shore, drinking a bottle of beer, and enjoying conversations with good friends.

* For this trip (Feb 5 – 8), we stayed at Fatwave Surf Resortand Hacienda Peter. Both were very cheap, so do not expect anything good, except the fact that, well, it is cheap.

* Do not forget to try the burger at Fatwave. I had it three time during our 4-day trip.

* Hang out at Flotsam and Jetsam. The pizza is not to be missed!

* Eat at Gefseis, a nice Greek restaurant just along the main road.

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Boracay Haven Resort: A New and Promising Hotel at the Heart of Station 2

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Boracay Haven Resort: A New and Promising Hotel at the Heart of Station 2

By being strategically-located, a hotel enjoys the benefit of accessibility – one thing that lures people who are looking for the perfect accommodation. Staying in a place near where all the action is, in spite of being crowded, will make your vacation worry-free. With the beach, restaurants, bars, and other places of interests within its vicinity, Boracay Haven Resort became an easy choice for our first night in Boracay during the Labor Day weekend.

Boracay Haven Resort 9

The decision to book an overnight stay at Boracay Haven Resort is something I made in haste. During the Travel Tour Expo 2014 held at SMX, I found a room offered at 2,700 and after a quick look at their website, I had the booking settled right there and then. Perhaps because of excitement, it was too late when I realized that I did not check reviews from other people, especially from my always-trusted TripAdvisor. When I finally had the time to check, I became disappointed when I saw negative reviews from past guests, most of which were noting that construction is not yet done. Nonetheless, the management assured that by the #LaBoracay weekend, the hotel will be all good and ready to serve its guests.

Hotel's Reception Area

Hotel’s Reception Area

When we arrived at Boracay Haven, we were immediately attended by some of their friendly employees and were offered cold towel and welcome drinks. These were exactly what we needed to survive the heat! The check-in went a bit slow, but tolerable. We were informed that construction works are not yet totally finished and are scheduled from 10 am to 5 pm. From our experience, we have not been bothered as the noise is minimal.

The room given to us is at the 2nd floor of the hotel and was almost no way different from the pictures in their website. It has a balcony, where you can see the entire hotel, including the swimming pool and the restaurant. There is no fridge, but they have safety deposit box, TV, coffee and tea-making facilities, cabinet, and split-type AC. The bed was clean and very comfortable, although I prefer the pillows to be firmer.

Boracay Haven Resort 1

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View the room's balcony

View the room’s balcony

Although the bathroom is nice, it is very evident that construction has been rushed. I liked how they do not skimp of shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Instead of the usual small bottles, they have huge containers that would never ask for a refill. They do not have hair dryer and bidet, though. They have hot and cold shower. It was my first time to see a rainshower head with LED that changes its color when water is hot or cold! I found this really cool and cannot help but take a look at it while taking a shower.

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If you do not want to go outside the hotel to eat, they have their own restaurant and bar, which is open 24 hours. We had lunch there and ordered Sinigang na Baboy and Lumpiang Shanghai. I forgot how much exactly we paid, but I am sure it is between 500 to 600 pesos only. I would recommend eating here at least once during your stay. Not only that it is convenient, the food deserves a thumbs up! Two thumbs up, actually.

Lunch from Eden Bar and Restaurant

Lunch from Eden Bar and Restaurant

Our booking came with buffet breakfast, which is perhaps another reason on why we enjoyed Boracay Haven. Although options are quite limited, they are almost all good. Some items from the menu that I can remember include Potato Mojos, Chop Suey, Pancit Bihon, Pork Adobo, and Hungarian Sausage. They also have egg, salad, and fruit stations.

Buffet Breakfast

Buffet Breakfast

The swimming pool is one of the highlights of the hotel, but we did not have the chance to take a dip while we were there. From the way it looks, seems like the pool isn’t completely done, although already good for swimming.

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As you walk outside of the hotel going to the beach, you will pass by Boracay Regency and McDonald’s. Even if the hotel it not located on the beachfront, they have a private area by the beach that can be used by its guests. It is located in front of Reyes Barbecue, which is also owned by the same owners of Boracay Haven. This is also where you can get the complimentary cocktails given to their guests. Their sunbeds are perfect if you want to get a tan, see the sunset, or simply revel upon the sight of people enjoying the beach.

Sunset at Haven's exclusive beachfront area

Sunset at Haven’s exclusive beachfront area

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Boracay Haven Resort 8

If you are making plans of heading to Boracay anytime soon, I highly recommend that you check Boracay Haven Resort. The rates are very affordable, while making sure that your stay will be memorable. This will surely make you love Boracay even more.

 

 

The Tides Hotel Boracay

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Boracay is my favorite holiday destination. Every trip to this world-famous white beach, party haven to many as well, creates a hangover that makes me eager to plan for the next. My last Boracay vacation is one of the most memorable. One thing that made it special was our stay at The Tides Hotel Boracay.

We booked the Essential Room at Tides for 4 days and 3 nights (April 25-28). Looking for a hotel at one of the busiest seasons of Boracay is always challenging because of high prices and availability. During the time that we were there, it was also the Dragon Boat Festival, which made it quite harder to find a place to stay. Almost two weeks before our trip, we were lucky to find a deal at Agoda, offering a room at Tides for 5,000 per night. We have always wanted to try Tides, which is why we decided to have the room booked even if the price is still quite high. After all, it is a special promo price, making it already reasonable.

Tides made our Boracay holiday more special. Among others, I would say that having friendly and accommodating staff is one of their biggest selling points. They carefully attended to all of our needs and requests. We were lucky enough to be given a room at 10am, which is way too early that the 2pm normal check-in. They also accommodated our requests to change the bed configuration and to stay at a room with balcony.

The hotel offers a wide array of amenities and services to make sure that the stay of their guests will be worth every peso spent. They have their own restaurant, fitness center, spa, and a chill-out lounge at the roof deck. The latter was the one that we enjoyed the most. The Solstice Sun Lounge is considered to be the first of its kind in Boracay. It has a pool with a view that overlooks the beach and cabanas that are perfect for chilling with your favorite drinks. We made sure that we were there every Happy Hour for the duration of our stay. Nothing beats the pleasure of drinking and taking a dip at their heated pool. While everyone can enjoy the bar, use of the pool is exclusive to their guests. If non-staying guests wish to use the pool, the charge is 300 pesos per head.

Tides only offers only two rooms: Essential and Exceptional. Essential is the cheaper one, which is why we decided to settle for such. The room is equipped with a mini-bar, ref, TV, safe, and other basic room amenities. My girlfriend liked the room a lot, which is the reason why she even skipped some of the usual Boracay activities. She chose to spend most of her time sleeping. She even got a massage inside the room, which, according to her, was very soothing.

During the time that we were there, renovations were on-going, which was on a rush since they are trying to accomplish everything before the Labor Day Weekend. We also learned that they have a series of parties at the roof deck the week following the time that we were there. Too bad, we were not able to catch all the parties.

Our 4-day, 3-night stay at The Tides Hotel Boracay was relaxing, fun and memorable. From the time we left, we have already planned of going back by September. Even if the hotel is not situated at the beachfront, it is one place that I can recommend to anyone going to Boracay. The hotel offers an experience that is hard to match by other hotels within its category. Thanks to Tides for making our holiday a lot more special!

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The Tides Hotel Boracay
http://www.tidesboracay.com/

** I just received an email from The Tides Hotel Boracay informing me that their guests can use the sun loungers at Epic. This is perfect for those who are looking forward to having a relaxing nap by the beachfront. Guests also get 10% discount at Epic when dining before 10pm, waived entrance fee (except on major events), and special deals on their partner establishments (list can be seen at the holder of the room’s key card).

Palawan + Boracay

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While many others were deep asleep after their New Year activities, we were packing our things while trying to nurse a hangover on the morning of January 1st. Prior to preparing what we have to bring, we welcomed 2013 at a countdown in Makati, followed by a party at Relik and beer breakfast at Rue Bourbon. Even if we were all tired, the three of us tried our best to make it to our morning flight to Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

We arrived some time after lunch in Puerto Princesa and headed straight to the President’s House at the Palawan State University where we stayed for four days. We were supposed to have a quick countryside tour, but we fell asleep the whole day.

The next day, we woke up early for an approximately 76-km road trip going to Sabang Port. From there, we had a 20-minute boat ride going to the entrance of the cave. We were so excited upon seeing the entrance, especially with the fact that we are about to see one of The New 7 Wonders of Nature. The whole trip inside the cave was amazing. It is a guided tour, wherein the guide will provide you with some interesting information about the rock formations that can be seen inside. The guide tried his best to be funny throughout the tour, which, in my opinion, is a failure in spite of his efforts. I just marveled at the sights that I was seeing and did not at all pay attention to the things he was saying.

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ENTRANCE LEADING TO THE CAVE

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After the tour of the cave, we took a quick look around the area and saw monitor lizards roaming freely. We then went back to Sabang where we had lunch. There’s a small restaurant by the beach that serves buffet for a cheap price. The food, however, was not even close to being delicious, apart from having limited options. We then took a stroll around the area, passing by the Sheridan Resort, which is one upscale accommodation option by the area.

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MONITOR LIZARD

Our next activity that day was island hopping at Honda Bay. However, rather than choosing to hop from one island to another, we opted for the more relaxing choice. We just chose one island and stayed there for a couple of hours to swim and sleep by the sand. We went to Cowrie Island, which was a pleasant surprise for us. There were few people, making us feel like we own the island.

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COWRIE ISLAND

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SWEET COUPLE ENJOYING THE PRIVACY AT COWRIE

On our third day, we first went to the Crocodile Farm where we had an up-close encounter with the crocodiles that were bred in the area. After which, we headed back to Honda Bay to choose another island. We initially decided to go to Snake Island, but we were informed that it is not open for tourists because of some rehabilitation going on. We opted to go to Luli Island instead. In the island, there is an area for snorkeling that is abundant with different fishes. The island itself is charming, although I enjoyed Cowrie more. It started raining late in the afternoon, which forced us to go home earlier than planned before the waves get bigger.

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CROCODILE FARM

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LULI ISLAND

For our last day, we headed to some other attractions in the city, including Mitra’s Ranch, Baker’s Hill, Baywalk, and a cathedral and a park (I can no longer recall what they are called). We flew back to Manila at around after lunch.

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MITRA’S RANCH

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BAKER’S HILL

While in Puerto Princesa, we planned to go to El Nido, which was around 5 hours away from the city. However, we figured out that it is going to be a tiring trip, which lead us into going to Boracay instead. We booked our flights and accommodations just two days before our Boracay trip, but we were still able to get a good price.

It was the 5th of January when we flew to Boracay for our 3-day beach holiday. We stayed at Villa Criselda. When we arrived at the hotel, we were surprised to know that it is now called Facebook Resort. The place is decent and cheap. Our room costs only 2,600 per night, which is pretty much a good catch. While in Boracay, we had more time to rest. There was not too much of drinking and partying this time. We also chose not to do any of the usual Boracay water activities. Instead, we spent hours on the water and sleeping on the sand, talking about what happened in the three years we have not seen each other and what could possibly happen in the next three years before we see each other again.

One of the good places where we ate at Boracay is Ole Restaurant, which is located at D’ Mall. We had some tapas and paella. They had big servings, which made us rest for some time first in our hotel before we finally had a round of drinks. I also did not forget to take home some calamansi muffins from The Real Coffee.

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THE FAMOUS BORACAY SUNSET

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WILLY’S ROCK

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Boracay, as always, never disappoints. It is, by far, my favorite holiday destination. Even after visiting the place for five times already, I am still looking forward to coming back. In fact, it was during that visit in January where I texted some friends and made a plan for an April summer getaway to once again enjoy the multitude of things that Boracay can offer.

  • Special thanks to Fred and Sammy for this trip (my cousin and cousin-in-law). They are from UK, and went to spend the New Year and a couple of days in the Philippines. These guys are the best!
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FRED AND SAMMY AT BORACAY

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FRED AND SAMMY AT COWRIE ISLAND, PALAWAN

2010 Destinations

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2010 was a good year for me, especially because I have had the chance to visit and explore a number of local destinations. It was, of course, even made more special by the company of my beloved friends. Below are the places I have visited last year.

1. Bauan, Batangas.

With my then fellow Corporate Accounts Specialists from San Miguel, we stayed at Coco Hills Beach Resort. A quite  quiet far-off place. One thing which I cannot forget with this trip (well, remembering is hard for me because I was drunk and all recollections were based on stories) was that I woke up wearing a friend’s shirt and used boxers I have worn the day before. That was definitely one trip to remember.

2. Caramoan, Camarines Sur.

This was a trip with my fellow orgmates from the Commerce Journal, the official student publication of the College of Commerce of the University of Santo Tomas. This is the inspiration behind the formation of the CJ Travel Club. The long trip and gigantic waves made the trip more memorable. The highlights of course included the islands (clear water and amazing rock formations) and the food. The trip ended with a day tour at CamSur Watersports Complex.

One of the Islands in Caramoan.

An old church in Caramoan

The Shrine. An activity I would not recommend.

At another island in Caramoan

Jump shot!

AT CamSur Watersports Complex

3. Potipot Island, Zambales.

After CJ Travel Clubs Caramoan trip, the destination which followed was Potipot Island in Zambales. Long trip. The island was not at all that superb making it not worth all the effort. We stayed at a nearby accommodation, Dawal Beach Resort, which is about 5-minutes away via boat ride from Potipot.

* Photo from Theejay Natividad.

* Photo from Melissa Sue Molina

4. Boracay

Definitely one of the best destinations for me. This marked my fourth visit to Boracay. But then, Boracay remains number one on my list of beach destinations simply because it got all in one place. I will definitely visit this island again. I was there with three of my friends and we got a boutique hotel for only 2,300. One of the best thing we did while there was helmet diving. Definitely, a must-try for everyone. Snorkeling site was not that good. Puerto Galera’s corals and fishes were much better for me. It was rainy when we were there so the waves were huge. A lot of people were into kite surfing. Of course, do not forget Jonah’s Fruit Shake. Calamansi Muffin from The Real Coffee is also worth a try. And 15 shots from Cocomangga’s which we did not try.

Milflores de Boracay

Helmet Diving in Boracay for only 500 pesos for 30 mins.

Snorkeling

AT the boat during island hopping

Sandcastle

Boracay’s shoreline unusually crowded with paraws.

Guilly’s Boracay

5. Baguio

Another memorable trip from last year. I went there, with four other friends, last week of November, so it was quite cold already because of the Christmas season. Not too much cultural activities were accomplished (against what was planned). Much of the time were spent drinking (even ’til 8am). Cafe by the Ruins should definitely be given a visit. 50s Diner as well. Baguio is like Boracay for me: one place which will always be worth visiting, even for countless times. In fact, early this year, after less than two months, I was at Baguio again.

In Igorot costumes at Mines View

Cafe by the Ruins

At one of the churches in Baguio

Baguio nightlife at Nevada