Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Bohol Stays: South Palms Resort Panglao

You know how when you wake up sometimes and it just isn't quite the sight you expected especially when you've been spoiled by...

A sunrise. By the beach. At your doorstep.

Welcome to South Palms Resort Panglao, Shneep-sters! This was the place I called home for 3 days and 2 nights while I was off in Bohol, Philippines and it surely did not disappoint following the amazing F1 Hotel Manila experience just a day before. Located within a 45 hectare spread of a beachfront view, South Palms Resort Panglao is a 9.3 hectare tropical enclave that sports just 90 rooms and villas; most of which brings you close to the sun, sea and sandy goodness to boot.

Walking into our rooms.

While I mooted about how the room in Manila looked bigger, brighter and prettier to my parents, I was reminded that this was a beach resort and ultimately it does take the cake when you open up your door and let the sea breeze flow into your little sanctuary.

Goodies on our beds.

With a tinier bathroom space.

And glass shower cordons.

Food for the hungry.

I was glad to have stepped into the hotel room with Jacky, Deputy Editor of Cosmopolitan Magazine and she didn't at all find me weird for the need to snap everything before we crashed for the night. Unfortunately, I found the room slightly dim for my liking and there were no options for a brighter look so that could be a problem for someone who really likes the brightly lit rooms like myself. Water pressure was also set to such unsatisfactory levels but perhaps that's just me as I've been eternally spoiled with the blessings of high water pressure at home.
Priced at PHP 10,000 a night (RM 744), these Deluxe Garden View rooms fits up to 2 adults and 2 children while additional guests can opt to pay PHP 2,500 a night (RM 186) each inclusive of breakfast and dinner in the resort itself.

Colourful rattan chairs by the beach bar.

And that's me basking in the sun at 7 AM. Read, it says 7 AM and I am not kidding!

Rooms aside, the environment of South Palms Resorts Panglao is still a winner, what with the colourful rattan chairs that invade the beach bar and the perfect spot for sunrise watching with the ones you love. Note that the sun rises REALLY early in the Philippines however so if you're out any later than 5.30 AM, you will probably just be greeted with a full out sun. That could also be a reason on why the water in the infinity pool felt slightly warm when I took a dip around 10 PM on my final night.

Taking a step forward, Illa?

Because jumpshots, everyone! Jumpshots!

For the ones who can't live without the Internet, fret not because WiFi is free all over the resort but it could get limited at certain areas so the trick is to simply seek the right spot. Massage services are also available and you could opt to go to the masseuse or have the masseuse come to you...or your room anyway. It is however limited to certain massages and you will definitely have to be at the spa if you opt for the hot stone massage and I would definitely recommend you be there as they would massage you...by the beach. Just imagine the feeling of getting your bones cricked and lightly cracked with the sounds of waves crashing on the sand and that's what you'll get when you're there at Palm, The Spa.

I hope you drool.

Their buffet spread for the morning also leaves a lot to be said what with great picks of western and Asian food for different palates on different days. My greatest surprise had to be the yogurt drink that was served in a bowl of ice; that of which I had 3 or 4 servings of in a single morning. It was delicious! Also when you're in the Philippines, you'll never go wrong with mangoes.

The only problem however is that it does take quite a while for you to walk OUT of the entire resort area as it takes about a 3 minute drive from the guard house right into the lobby of the resort, which makes this less than satisfactory for backpackers alike. For the less curious, the resort serves a fantastically clean and white beach for your mind to relax and your body to unwind on hammocks all over.
 The true enjoyment of the Philippines sun.

Sweet heavens, hammocks are a bliss!

And selfies of my face with no make up because I woke up at 5 AM is mandatory!

Phew, was that a wrap for the stays I've had in the Philippines? Absolutely. Just as a final word to the amazing stay in South Palms Resort Panglao: It will probably top the list of beach resorts that I have stayed in for a while now. Being so close to the beach is such a wonderful blessing and the sounds of crashing waves is something everyone should hear when it comes to making your holiday worthwhile. After all, it's the way a Bohol beach holiday should be!

Barangay Bohol, Panglao, 
Bohol 6340, Philippines

Disclaimer: This has been a trip graciously sponsored by AirAsia and the supporting parties on hotels, tour services and visitation fees in the Philippines. Much thanks shall be given to AirAsia MY and AirAsia PH as well as the F1 Hotel Manila, South Palms Resort Panglao, Angels' Wings Tours and Tourism Bohol for the gracious 4 days 3 night AirAsia Media Familiarization Trip. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Manila Stays: F1 Hotel Manila

There's no vacation without a hotel and there are no hotels like the one I've stayed in Manila. Now as I've mentioned, you will have to stay the night as you fly in to Manila from Kuala Lumpur if you're making your way to Tagbilaran and the hotel we bunked in is called F1 Hotel Manila.

Oh hello, lion. Didn't see you there!

Located just a little out of the heart of Manila, the F1 Hotel Manila spots 243 guest rooms and is separated into 3 categories - Deluxe Rooms, City Suite and the Fort Suite to cater to different guests who finds different needs in their stays.

The exterior of F1 Hotel Manila. If you go further, you can see the words "F1" in its red glory.

There was an unmistakable buzz for the group on this amazing trip as we were visibly drained from the flight and traffic that we were unfortunately stuck in but nothing stopped us short from being excited at the fantastic sight of the lobby in F1 Hotel Manila.

Lobby space to lift areas.

Graciously lit and open wide space.

And the unmistakable sight of the pools in F1 Hotel Manila.

It would definitely be a lie if I were to mention how I didn't give the hotel a quick look through online but I had no idea where I would be placed for the night. However, the lobby itself was as promising as it seemed and I had an immediate sigh of relief on how it didn't matter even if they put me into their worst of rooms; it really wouldn't be that bad.

I was absolutely NOT disappointed.

And neither was Max, my beloved stuffed dog who came along on the trip.

A flat screen TV for entertainment seekers.
Fun fact that my roommate Kittie found out: They air Korean series dubbed in Tagalog.

Complimentary coffee and tea, anyone?

Just about enough fridge space.

Bath robes, room slippers, safe, weighing scale (LOL!), clothes hangers, ironing board and a fire extinguisher. What more can you ask for? Stuffed dog not included.

It was such a shock to step into our City Suite and there was nothing but a, "Wow" that escaped the mouth of Kittie and I for the evening. That and an absolute plop of our items on the 2 double beds definitely set us down and we were graciously just waiting for dinner time to arrive.

Work stations for the less-holiday people who find the need to work on the go.

One of the best double beds. Period. And that pillow, good God...that pillow!

Shower space.

A mirror greets you as you enter the washroom too.

And there's nothing that says you've arrived like settling your toiletries at the sink, right?

Having said that, I was just mildly disappointed to know that the water pressure for the shower wasn't as strong as I expected for it to be and hot water does take a little while to arrive. The room was otherwise fantastically big and WiFi is available throughout the entire room, including the toilet. Don't ask me how I know, I just do. *Coughs* 

Facilities such as hair dryers are also available for those who have the need (Like myself) and there is an iPod dock for the ones who needs music and charging of iPhones. Unfortunately it only comes with the bigger ports so if you're holding the new generation of iPhone, you're out of luck. Do remember to also bring a travel adapter if you're used to travelling with a three-pin plug as the power points in Philippines are are dual ported and smaller than our regular two-pin plugs.

The room, available from PHP 10,200 comfortably houses 2 houses and 2 children while 24 hour security gives you that extreme knowledge that you're staying somewhere with tight care. In fact when you walk in, you'll be expected to walk through a metal detector and have your handbags searched by the security personnel. This; I was told, is a norm in Philippines as it is a way in ensuring that no firearms are entering the building.

A park for casual runs and exercises.

Friends coming out for a casual rugby play.

Cycling, jumping jacks, dances...you name it and you can do it here.

A plain clothed policeman with the most adorable looking golden retriever guarding the corners of our hotel.

It's also good to note that the Bonifacio Global City where F1 Hotel Manila is located is an urbanized area and you could possibly spot quite a number of expatriates having their roots set in this area where night runs and exercises is a common practice. It gave me the same vibe that Hong Kong set for me and I was thoroughly shocked that this was Manila; a completely different area that I had in mind. Canines are also readily placed in nooks and spots around the area as Ah Bok noted and this just got us feeling even more safe than we already did.

The sun sets really early in the Philippines and the skies were already dark by 6 PM, setting us in the mood for a good night's sleep before our adventure began for Tagbilaran the next day. While I had initial plans to combine my hotel reviews, this has proven to be long enough to beat any old grandmother story so I shall keep that to the next.

Until then, please don't forget me.

I should just also say that they have a HUGE mirror next to the bed. Bliss for those who want to wake up and have a look at themselves I suppose. Cheerios!

32nd Street, Taguig,
1634 Metro Manila,
Bonifacio Global City

Disclaimer: This has been a trip graciously sponsored by AirAsia and the supporting parties on hotels, tour services and visitation fees in the Philippines. Much thanks shall be given to AirAsia MY and AirAsia PH as well as the F1 Hotel Manila, South Palms Resort Panglao, Angels' Wings Tours and Tourism Bohol for the gracious 4 days 3 night AirAsia Media Familiarization Trip. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Flying With AirAsia Zest

I am back! To kick start, I am extremely apologetic for having gone missing over the past 2 weeks but as you would have read in my previous post, I've been in Philippines for 4 days only to come back and prepare everything I could in order to go off to the Penang Bridge International Marathon 2014. Indeed, the fatty in me ran 21kms and I have the medal to prove it.

That aside, I did promise everyone to speak about my Philippines trip, did I not? Well then let's start with how to get to Bohol from Kuala Lumpur. The route when spelled out actually runs as...


Of course then if you want to come back to Malaysia, it's the other way round. With 2 flights daily that operates between Kuala Lumpur and Manila, each AirAsia Zest flight takes about 3 and a half hours in order to arrive in either destinations and the airports involved are KLIA2 and the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

A chart for easier understanding than me just talking typing.

The thing however is that you will have to put up the night in Manila before catching the next AirAsia Zest flight to Tagbilaran as they operate just 3 flights in and out from the Ninoy Aquino International Airport to the Tagbilaran Airport.

Charting for Tagbilaran flights.

The journey will take you approximately an hour and 10 minutes but that's really just a child's play when you fill it up with interesting things to do...like sleeping for a good adventure ahead. If you aren't one for sleeping in flights however, I would suggest the next best thing to do: Eat. It's true that we Malaysians love our food so getting inflight food is something that we should all gear up to, especially if you're getting food from the AirAsia Cafe.

Maan's Pasta Arrabiata.

Penne goodness.

On the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Manila, we had Maan's Pasta Arrabiata that had a lacking in saltiness but did not skimp when it comes to ingredients. This is said with the fragrant smell of herbs it has and the extremely noticeable olives that hides within the strands of penne drenched with tomato sauce. 

Also snacked on chocolate Pocky sticks and had a good gulp of Minute Maid Pulpy orange juice while reading Ai Yori Aoshi!

I figure that when you're on a 3 and a half hour flight, you do tend to eat a little more than you expect, right? For those who don't already know, AirAsia Cafe also serves up light snacks such as chocolate and strawberry Pocky sticks and juices to your choice. I totally should have also had the strawberry Pocky sticks!

Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak.

Absolutely as it looks in pictures.
To all who have given praise to Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak that is available on board all AirAsia flights, praise your tastebuds because this is truly one of the best nasi lemaks I have ever had. The chicken pieces are also all boneless pieces for people who are just as lazy as I am enjoys a good bite of their meat but can be a little cloying towards the end for its sweet taste. One thing also to note is that the egg may taste a little rubbery but it is otherwise absolutely delicious and served piping hot!

It is also a good idea to have cookies from the AirAsia Cafe! They're in chocolate chip variants and have a real chewy bite to them.

Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice.

Includes chilli sauce in a separate pack.

Our return flight from Tagbilaran packed us Uncle Chin's Chicken Rice with rice that was really aromatic and chicken slices that were tender to bite while the chilli sauce was not overbearingly spicy. It had a good tang too, winning a lot of points as an inflight serviced cafe. 

Bless you AirAsia for stocking up Earl Grey onboard.

Truth be told, the one thing I had craved for while in Philippines was the heavenly scent of Earl Grey so when the cabin crew told me they had it infused with green tea, I told her in an extremely excited tone to just give it to me anyway. I needed an Earl Grey fix and STAT!

For those who need an extra leg room or have more freedom to board, I would also recommend you to get yourself the Hot Seats that AirAsia offers because you're not only allowed to board first, it also means your seats (somehow) feels like it has more leg room than regular seats.

And if you are lucky, even your soft toy gets a seat!

Hot Seats are available as an add on when you book online or you can even get them when you're at the service counter before you board. They're easily recognizable from the red cover that's placed on the top of the seat so it distinguishes you from the...others.

There is no flight like a flight with my selfie taken on it!
Roped in a new friend to join my vanity flight.

I'm also going to commend on the pilots that operate our flights because on all 4 flights I had taken, (KUL - MNL then MNL - TAG and back) they all had a great land and weren't as bumpy as the ones I once experienced with flight M. Indeed if you're looking for a good way to fly into Manila and Bohol, AirAsia Zest is going to be your absolute pick because they also somehow have amazingly pretty cabin crews onboard and I am not even kidding! Happy booking at AirAsia.com!

Disclaimer: This has been a trip graciously sponsored by AirAsia and the supporting parties on hotels, tour services and visitation fees in the Philippines. Much thanks shall be given to AirAsia MY and AirAsia PH as well as the F1 Hotel Manila, South Palms Resort Panglao, Angels' Wings Tours and Tourism Bohol for the gracious 4 days 3 night AirAsia Media Familiarization Trip.