This is a rough guide on how to enjoy a family vacation in Boracay – home to one of the world’s best beaches – without having to eat cup noodles and canned meat twice a day while on the island. And yes, there’s a trick to getting your own free beachfront chairs that doesn't involve checking-in at a fancy, beachfront hotel.
One of the things I like about being employed is the yearly company outing outside of Metro Manila. I’ve heard of other companies holding theirs in Boracay and I’ve personally seen one in Coron, Palawan (I know right?!), but anywhere away from this grimy city is fine with me – even if said place is the walang-kasawaan-walang-kamatayang dun dun duuun…Tagaytay.
Because, really, who can say no to an all-expense-paid overnight trip that promises clean, wholesome fun *wink wink* with fellow overworked employees? And I don’t mean “sex on top of the table while everyone’s watching” kind of fun (you horny, little wench!) but more like “literally kick each other’s asses and smother one another’s faces with armpit sweat” kind of fun. Ewww, gross. But what can I say, I’m competitive like that.
So! The location of choice was Piña Colina Resort. I must say that I was impressed with the pictures on their website. What's more impressive are the prices. Very, very affordable! And it also has very good reviews on TripAdvisor - well, as good as how far your trust in this site goes :p
For our 9th anniversary, Toto and I decided to skip the usual beach trips and go for a quick R&R for a change. We scoured the net for quaint lodgings a few hours away from Metro Manila and there were just too many options, really. From Casa San Pablo to Corito's Garden to The Inn at Cliffhouse Tagaytay. But most of them are in South Luzon, and we didn't want to commute along SLEX on a long weekend (Chinese New Year) so we thought of looking at the Central Luzon area. There are considerably fewer B&Bs here and so it was a bit more difficult to choose the one that suited all our needs. Needs talaga, lels. Abe's Farm seemed to tick off all the things on our list: good location (not too far away and accessible), good food (they're part of the LJC group), and massage services (they have a "spa village" according to their website).
Excuse me for the overused blog title but I can only think of 'romantic' as the perfect word to describe the weekend we spent in Moon Garden, Tagaytay. I was scouring the web for accommodations in Tagaytay that are not too mainstream but are still accessible for a quick birthday getaway and Moon Garden seemed to be the best choice.
A 1.5-hour bus ride from Buendia to Balibago, a 45-minute jeep ride from Balibago to Olivarez Plaza, and a quick jeepney ride from Olivarez to SVD road were all it took for us to reach Moon Garden. Sure, it may seem like it was one hell of a journey just to get to this place but going as early as 5am saved us from the weekend traffic.
I was skeptical to write a blog post about our stay in Court View Inn last November 29, 2012 because there was nothing spectacular about it nor did we experience something terrible. Besides, we were only here just to literally sleep because we spent the whole day around the city and checked-out early the next day to catch the outrigger boat bound for Pearl Farm. I guess what prompted me to write this review is its 4.5 rating on TripAdvisor, a far cry from what I saw last year. In my honest opinion, this hotel is average at best.
When you're a newly opened hotel without any associations to the big names in the industry, good advertising (aside from excellent service!) is your best tool. Photos are a great way to market your hotel and the internet offers a strategic venue to lure customers. But photos on social networking sites can be deceiving. I chose to stay at Court View Inn because the hotel rooms looked clean and big in photos, the rates were affordable and it just opened three months before our travel dates. They are also one of the very few hotels that offer triple standard rooms.
Pearl Farm may probably look a lot better at night with pool lights and all ('coz it looked hella boring during the daytime) but we didn't have time to wait for the sun to set and act like star-crossed lovers groping each other by the iconic pagoda. While everyone was still in Malipano Island, we were already on our way out to look for habal-habal drivers who'd be willing to take our fat arses off to the northwestern part of the Island Garden City of Samal.
While planning for this holiday trip, I thought that going to Samal Island Huts from Pearl Farm would be as easy as 1-2-3 (or a-b-c if you fancy alphabets). We would just ride the habal-habal and pay P100 each. Actually, we could just take advantage of the free boat transfer from Pearl Farm back to the city, take a cab to Sassa Wharf, and then ride the barge from there to Babak Ferry Terminal and finally take the tryk to Samal Island Huts. But where's the fun in that, right? Besides, we didn't want to wait for the 4:30pm boat ride back to the city because I was pretty sure I wouldn't be able to keep my sanity intact if we stayed for two more grueling hours in Pearl Farm doing, you guessed it right, nothing.
Okay - I know, I know. Gross title. But if there's anything more memorable about our trip to this famed resort other than the "overratedness" of it all, it has got to be me shitting loads of papaya down the drain (will probably edit this after getting my imaginary "virtual manners" back).
Being the stereotypical tourist that I am, I wanted - no, scratch that - I needed to visit Pearl Farm. It promised a taste of luxury for a day tour rate of P1,950/person on weekdays and P2,500/person on weekends *gulp* Of course I scheduled our day trip on a Thursday. Besides, if we pushed through with the original itinerary and visited on the next day, which was a holiday, I'm pretty sure we'd have no place to even have our asses seated judging by the number of people already waiting in the resort's, well, "waiting area" (sue me for my limited vocabulary ples).
Save for an hour of water activities and a few quick trips to D'Mall to grab some food, we practically glued ourselves to Sur Boracay's beach chairs and cabanas. Why wouldn't we? It was the best way to make the most out of the P14k we paid them! :))
It took me months of reading reviews and browsing travel sites to look for the best hotel in Boracay, and when I said best I meant value for money. I wouldn't mind paying a little more than the usual as long as the area is not too crowded. And I reckon Boracay and "not crowded" can't be used in one sentence so I really had a hard time choosing among the countless of hotels, inns, and guesthouses on the island. I guess it just all came down to personal preferences.
It has been almost 3 years since I visited this paradise but I can still clearly remember how much we enjoyed this beautiful, ravishing, extraordinary, perfect, stunning, lovely, magnificent, exquisite place named Coron. Too many good words to describe it, seriously. After college graduation, my friends and I initially wanted to go to Hong Kong to celebrate before we all become "professional" citizens of the world. But due to the bird flu scare, we were forced to find another place to visit. My friend, Maan, insisted that we go visit Coron. We wanted to go out of the country but the heavens probably wanted us to explore more of the Philippines before we head somewhere else. This 5D/4N Coron trip turned out to be my best trip yet.
What's after the jump:
1. 5D/4N Itinerary and cost breakdown
2. Ms. Gigi and Gran Vista
3. Places to see
4. Tons of pictures!! :)
Whether you're planning to spend the next long weekend or the entire week or even the whole month in San Juan, La Union, there will always be good accommodations that will surely fit your needs. This post is my compilation of resorts and inns that offer rooms for all kinds of travelers - from the budget-conscious to the indulgent type. Read more after the jump.