Staycation at Dusit Thani Manila

And just like that, April is almost over. 3 trips, 20 days on the road, and 30 days of being unemployed. It's definitely a well spent and sulit summer!

Anyway, it's time for another staycation slash pre-birthday celebration post. Originally, Rob (my hotel-hopper buddy) and I planned to experience some luxury ski holidays in a premiere beach and we're dreaming wide awake of course. Seriously, we planned to stay at The Farm in Batangas, but unfortunately, due to some reasons, we ended up at Dusit Thani Manila. A good choice I say after I underestimated this hotel.

checking-in was subtle and quick

I love the feel of this hotel. It has this unique charm and a very warm Thai hospitality.

the lounge at Dusit Thani Manila

and the staff just delivered our refreshment with grace

I wasn't really expecting a lot from this international hotel chain because this has been operating for some years now. Luckily, we gave it a try. The Grand Room in Dusit Thani was nothing but grand.

a very spacious bedroom

an equally (or more) spacious living area

two bathrooms (for convenience)

with bathtub, of course

and a lot of luxurious toiletries

We love this spacious and luxurious room though this hotel is not new at all. Compared to the newly-opened Midas Hotel, this Dusit Thani Manila is obviously well-maintained and extremely clean up to the last detail.

So how much does this Grand Room cost? Let's just say, this hotel staycation was sponsored by Rob, again. Happy happy birthday for us! =)

i just discovered i love orange tops
kahit standout yung kaitiman ko ^_^

To maximize our staycation, we chose to dine at Basix - one of the four restaurants inside Dusit Thani Manila. Honestly, I have dined 2x at Basix before but never had I've been impressed with the quality of the food. It was my least favorite when I availed the Crossover Buffet. But since we've got discounted vouchers - then it's worth another try.

this smoked salmon was great, why i have not tasted this before?

surprisingly, this rib-eye steak is tender, juicy, and yummy!
i used to rate this steak as one of the worst

this penne in cream sauce is very enjoyable to eat
i used to say their pasta dishes are so-so

these tempura and miso soup are really good as well
i've said before that their tempura are the only ones na hindi masarap

hakaw is heaven

cant get enough of the seafood, i ate this soft and buttery shells with my bare hands. sarap!

Maybe I forgot to take a photo of my Crepe with Mangoes and Ferrero plate, but I can still clearly remember how heavenly it was. Simply to die for!

I was very surprised with the quality of the buffet on my 3rd visit. Lesson learned: some things really deserved more than just a second chance. Haha Im so overwhelmed with the food that I didn't leave Basix without talking to the manager. I told him that it was my 3rd time to dine there but it was the only time I will be leaving happy and satisfied. Kudos to the team!

Rob and I went back to our room and enjoyed the freebies and strong wifi connection.

free wifi on all rooms, i like!

and i planned to create my own milk tea ^_^

I was one good sleep that we almost missed our free buffet breakfast. Sayang naman if we wont avail it so gora na agad sa Basix!

noodle soup - goody good

bacon, ham, cheese, hash brown and beans - perfect!

mango waffles, yogurt, fruits

Though I felt guilty with these food that I ate, Im already craving for another hotel dining experience now. Once in a while wont hurt naman, right? ^_^

staycation at Dusit Thani Manila

Overall, it was a great experience at Dusit Thani Manila. The location is very convenient. The service was superb. The room was spotless, not to mention there's free wifi connection. The food was surprisingly superb. Surely it surpassed our expectations. Looking forward to buy some discounted vouchers again in the future. ^_^

Rob, thank you!! Hugs and kisses to KSA from Manila!

Dusit Thani Manila
Ayala Center, 1223 Makati, Philippines
Phone +6322388880

By the way, PHL360 already revealed the 8 travelers.
If you have a minute, watch the video and you'll see me in a serious mode. Rare yan! =)

Web episodes will be shown on June 2012.

PHL 360

Eight different kinds of travelers doing four extraordinary trips in four different destinations in the country (north, south, east and west). Eight folks will be grouped into four. Say, a fashionista is partnered with mountaineer or urban junkie meets camper. Each duo travels to a place both not suited to their personalities with a mission of “how they will make the trip extra meaningful.” We will see what happens after the weekender trip and some surprise twists along the way.

Showcasing the human element of the traveler, his perceptions, and experiences, this reality travel show documents from pre-travel to post-trip, and everything in between that. It serves as promoting domestic and independent traveling that people could embrace and a lifestyle that they could easily adopt.

8 travelers. 4 destinations. 1 passion.

all for the love of travel.
PHL 360

photo credits:

Apo Reef | A Paradise Above and Below the Sea

Last April 1, 2012, I officially became a glorified tambay.
For the record, I didn't resign this time. I got retrenched - not because of excessive absences but due to acquisition (defensive?!). Every employee had the choice to 1. be retained or 2. be terminated and accept the tax-fee retrenchment package.

Obviously, I chose to get paid. Im now a glorified tambay and I love it! ♥

Apo Reef | a paradise above and below the sea

For me, a great beach must have a white sand, fine seabed, clear water, and a rich underwater kingdom. Apo Reef seems to be very blessed to have all of these. As early as January of this year, I opened a joining trip for this summer getaway.

woot, a group of 10! thank you for joining and nice meeting you!
ikaw, kelan ka jo-join sakin? ^_^

Solo joiners Jeng, Otep, Maricar, Peng, Donnie and I took the plane to San Jose Mindoro, while the buddies Aisa + Kendra, and the officemates Gladys, Kate, and Jay rode the RORO bus straight to Sablayan - the jump off point to Apo Reef and Pandan Island. Prior to our arrival, I already arranged our booking at Sablayan Tourism (via phone and email). The overnight boat rental to Apo Reef costs P7,500 which is just perfect for a big group. Tent rental is P300, which can already accommodate 4pax. Food can be catered all throughout our stay in the island but it will cost us P200 per meal. Ang mahal. We unanimously agreed to bring our own food supplies instead.

After the 40-min airplane ride to San Jose Mindoro, the 2-hour bus ride to Sablayan, and another 2-hour boat ride to Apo Reef - we finally reached the paradise between the mountain and the sea.

first glimpse of Apo Reef

The journey via airplane, the bus, and the boat was all worth it. Agree?

a paradise in Occidental Mindoro

It's surprising to see a multi-function hall in this island. The tourism official imposed us that this island is remote, di naman pala gaano. There's already a small community in this place.

We're still thankful that this place can't be easily reached (and expensive at the same time), there were only a small number of tourists in Apo Reef island - considering it's the Holy Week season.

a small number of tourists considering it's the holy week season

im so ready to stroll and take gazillions of photos #bloggermode

We're so excited to stroll around the shore so right after we placed our bags inside the hall, Donnie and I immediately grabbed our cameras and started taking hundreds of photos.

very fine white sand + turquoise clear water at Apo Reef

..and til now my heart was still pounding for the beauty of this beach. Probably ranks 5th of my most favorite beaches in the Philippines. Wanna know what's on my list so far?

5. Apo Reef
4. Malamawi Beach, Basilan
3. Dumaluan and Beach Club in Bohol
2. Boracay
1. Calaguas

I have yet to see El Nido, soon.
Care to share yours too? What are your top 5 beaches in the Philippines?

Okay, more photos to convince you to visit Apo Reef while the summer heat is on.

tents are pitched near the beach - as close as you want

Security wise - there are lots of soldiers in this island. There's nothing to worry about.
After we ate our lunch, our guide Harris told us we could start our snorkeling activity as soon as we're ready. Everyone changed outfits in no time.

rashguards, snorkel sets, life vests, and undewater camera - check!

Snorkel rental is P100 for those who still do not own one. I strongly suggest to buy your own, sulit yan in the long run.

my beautiful joiners. gaganda lang!

After a short 15min ride, the boat stopped. That spot will be the start of our snorkeling acitvity. Apo Reef is the largest coral reef system in the country, and for us to be able a see lots of spots - the boat slowly pulled us around. Effortless snorkeling! We had to see such a big coral reef area by the use of the boat. Aylavet!

It's a must to bring an underwater camera in this kind of trip.
Here are some of the shots (c/o Jeng and Maricar's Canon D10)

daddy found nemo

Huge table corals, brain corals, fire corals and a huge variety of soft corals can be found all around. Im just a big fan of those colorful corals and swimming species. Sad to say, dead corals can bee seen too. These are obviously results of dynamite fishing. I really hope this area will be preserved and protected.

We came back to the shore satisfied. It's now time to enjoy the beach. I think we're only 30 tourists in the entire island, ansaya!

enjoying the beach all by ourselves

Could have been really fun only if there's some fresh water in the island. Yes there's a pump but it produces salt water too. Ang hirap bumula ng shampoo at sabon sa tubig dagat. Hehe It felt uncomfortable and sticky on our skin. Arte lang.

Before the night came, our guide Harris setup our tents. While others chose to placed their tents in the shore, Maricar, Jeng and I agreed to placed ours inside the hall. Im so tired I wanted to have a good sleep and lay my back on a flat surface.

..and yes, it brought us a good sleep. Well almost. In the middle of the night, I suddenly felt dizzy and threw up. Yikes. (pagod + puyat = pagsusuka)

our tent inside the hall

The morning after and there's still no fresh water. A request for some potable hot water took forever. Good thing I brought my version of masustansyang breakfast.

my version of masustansyang breakfast

After breakfast, our guide Harris told us we could walk to the mangrove and climb the lighthouse. Im still not feeling well but I cant miss the chance to see the breathtaking view on top.

may konting energy pa ko to take group shots

alright, here comes the raft

Actually, you can reach the lighthouse without crossing the water. It's just these mangroves are very nice to see upclose. Dont miss it as well. Riding the raft is safe, so relax!

edi ako lang ang attentive
shot by Kendra

A little more walk and we finally reach the foot of the lighthouse.

group shot muna before anything else

breathtaking view of Apo Reef from the lighthouse

i wont miss this chance to pose for a portrait shot here
kahit buwis buhay ang cliff

and more fantastic view on the opposite side

framed shot by The Donnie Ray

we're not allowed to climb the highest point, but it's fine with us.

Every spot is just photo perfect. The views made us thankful we had the chance to see these with our own eyes. God's creations are awesome!

At past noon, we decided to go back to the mainland. Wala na kaming makain at mainom! Haha We passed by Pandan Island Resort, for experience. They serve lunch! Woohoo. We can really stop here and spend more time on the beach.

dolphin sightings on or way back!
nawala ang antok naming lahat

the crowded Pandan Island

grabe si kuya bangkero, di man lang ako tulungan. haha!

Unlike Apo Reef, Pandan Island is just a short 20-min boat ride away from the mainland. Due to accessibility, this beach gets very crowded. The sea bed has lots of rocks that hurt our feet. We tried snorkeling but there's not much to see compared to Apo Reef. (taas ng standards?) Anyway, it's a good stop over to have lunch. Sabik na sabik kami sa kanin at cold drinks! However, I just dont get it that they still dont provide fresh water for their guests. They require guests to pay P120 each and they only have salt water in their faucets? No way. Di kami nagbayad ng entrance fee. =P

meet my travel buddies | Apo Reef edition

thank you Gladys, Kate, Jay, Donnie, Peng, Maricar, Aisa, Kendra, Otep, and Jeng for joining!

In case you dont know, it's such a joy for me to see your delighted faces and pure reactions whenever we see something amazing. It brings back the days when I was once awed by everything I see. Your insights remind me that I dont need to compare for each place has its own beauty.

walang tubig, walang pagkain, walang kuryente, walang signal, walang wifi
edi magpictorial nalang tayo!

Apo Reef and Pandan Island Expenses | April 6-9, 2012

- would be cheaper if you take the bus, though it's a numbing 8-hour land trip
- emily's pension house is a very good find in the town of sablayan. may fresh water pangligo, sa wakas!
- sikatuna ecotel is an even better budget accommodation. walking distance pa sa san jose airport.

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