Monday, January 12, 2015

Review: Magallanes Square Hotel Tagaytay

Before 2014 ends, my fiance and I had an impromptu overnight getaway in Tagaytay.  Well, it's not really impromptu but somehow it is unplanned.  We received a gift certificate last Christmas for an overnight stay at a Deluxe Room in Magallanes Square Hotel in Tagaytay.  Validity of the GC is only until December 31, 2014 and it cannot be used on a weekend and holidays.  We were quite in awe since after Christmas, December 29 is the only day left that falls on a Monday and not a Holiday.  Unfortunately, upon checking Trip Advisor for the availability of the deluxe room, there's none, even in other rooms.  I even tried other dates after Christmas and it seems the hotel's already fully booked.  I tried my luck by calling the hotel directly.  My first choice of date was December 29-30 to conform with the conditions of the GC.  But there's no available deluxe room on that day and the date that th hotel offered me was December 30-31.  I told them that my GC is not valid on a holiday but they didn't say anything about it so I proceeded with the reservation.  A last minute reservation and relaxation for the  year 2014.

Magallanes Square Hotel is a small hotel located in, as the name implies, Magallanes Square (Magallanes Drive).  If you're not familiar, Magallanes Square is near the vicinity of some famous restaurants in Tagaytay like Leslie's, The Grill by Antonio's, RSM Lutong Bahay Restaurant and many others.  There are buses that makes Magallanes as one of their drop off point.

Sofa at the reception area

Coffee area at the back

Our deluxe room is located on the first floor.  Their key is a magnetic card where it is also used to turn on the electricity of the room.  Its quite wise for them to provide only one card key so that the electricity will be turned off once the occupants leave their room.

Hallway to our room

Our room number

Our room have queen size bed, glass bathroom, hot and cold shower, business area, closet with safe, mini ref, electric kettle with coffee sachets, LED TV, carpeted room (except near the toilet) and complimentary bottled water.












What I love about this hotel is the smell of their linens.  It seems to be very clean.  The pillows however are not too fluffy and quite flat.  I guess it already needs to be replaced.

I find their glass bathroom quite unique.  Normally the shower area is the only one that is made of glass.  But theirs was the enclosed area of the bathroom made of glass.  Well, not really the whole bathroom but specifically their door and side panels.  The bathroom is clean but the shower area seems clogged as water gets too long to be drained after shower.  Their toilet also has bidet.  Towels and a few toiletries were provided.

I also find it unusual for a small hotel like this to have a safe and carpet.  The carpeted floor covers most of the room except the area outside the bathroom.  The safety box is just small.

Our accommodation includes buffet breakfast.  But they are only serving garlic rice, egg, tocino and longganisa.  Orange juice, water and coffee are the available drinks.  My fiance and I love their garlic rice.  It seems to be cooked in butter.  You can taste and smell it on the rice.

Below is the hotel's room rate for 2015.


I find their rate without discount to be expensive.  With the discount, its quite reasonable already, although my fiance still finds it a bit expensive.  He thinks the hotel is very basic.  No special or additional amenities for the rate.  Well, its quite true but additional things like carpet, safety box and card key, for me, was the "added" feature of the hotel.  Nevertheless, the hotel is recommendable due to its proximity to famous restaurants in Tagaytay.  What's more, they accommodated and allowed us to stay on a holiday even if it is not valid as per GC.  The staff were also approachable and they replied to my inquiries quickly.  Not bad for a free, quick, last 2014 hurrah!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review of My 2014

The year 2014 was a very memorable year for me.  A lot of surprising events happened to me in various aspects of my life: travel, career and personal life.  I won't go into details but I would like to name a few of those unforgettable events and share them with you. :)

My Passion

Of course writing/blogging is my passion but I noticed in my 2014 list of blog posts, I wasn't able to write much.  There were even times that I was not able to write anything for a month and if I did, it was only one post!  Yes, I was busy with work.  And maybe one reason is that blogger was blocked in our office so I wasn't able to access it a lot.  Another thing, I switched to an android smartphone.  Unfortunately, it cannot download blogger app and says it is not available in my country.  I wonder how could that be when I was able to download it with my iphone.  Anyway, because of my very few blog posts, I got so many backlogs!  There were a lot of travel blog post that I haven't finished or started yet which had happened way back 2013!  I hope to finish them soon before I already forget all the details on those trips.

Career

Just last month, I have received a not so good news related to my day job.  But it is still a blessing because I still have work!  Although my working environment will be a little different this year, I'm still blessed because my job will be a more challenging one as I stepped a notch higher on my responsibilities.  I just hope I will be able to perform well on this new challenge.  I know I can! Good vibes!.
  
A quite related to my "other" career, which is really my passion, I am grateful on the last quarter of 2014 as I received a paid writing job.  Even if my posts were less last year, I am happy and pleased to have been invited to do a sponsored blog posts, not just once but four times!  It was indeed such a blessing!  I hope this year, I will be invited for more sponsored blogs on various niche.

Travel

A lot of first relating to travel happened to me last year, specifically for me and my fiance.  We went to Baguio, Dumaguete, Siquijor, Apo Island and Cebu (more blog about this trip soon).  Individually, we have previously visited Baguio and Cebu but last year was our first time to visit again those provinces together.  It was also my fiance's first trip with my family.  We also had the opportunity to stay in luxurious hotel in Makati for free!  This was at Raffles Hotel.  Unfortunately, I haven't blogged about it but I already had a review of this hotel in my Trip Advisor account.

This 2015, I might not be able to travel much as we are expecting a one of a kind event by last quarter.  So we need to save. :)

Personal Life

This would probably be the most memorable event and highlight of my 2014.  It is also because of this event where we decided to lessen our travel for 2015.  Last August 26, 2014, in one of my favorite beach in the Philippines, the Boracay, my boyfriend proposed!  To what I thought would just be the usual beach vacation, I didn't expect it to be the day where our lives will be changed.  I guess my fiance got inspired since my brother got married last June 2014.  I wasn't expecting that he will propose after our almost two and a half years of togetherness and on a place I love most, the beach.

Adding to my personal life, by end November of 2014, my fiance and I also engaged into a small business.  It is still a baby business but somehow it is quite doing well.  I hope it will continue to be successful by 2015 and on the succeeding years.

And lastly, I am thankful that my family is still strong and healthy similar to the previous years.  We are still intact and love is overflowing among us.  Whatever challenges we face as a family, I am glad that we are always together in facing them.

With so many things happened to me last 2014, the proposal was, I believe, the highlight of my year.  Even if there were some not so good events in my life last year, the proposal event overcomes those bad vibes.  Nevertheless, I am thankful for all the blessings, the love and everything that happened to me.  I am now ready to face what 2015 has to offer for me and I am also looking forward to another chapter with my fiance this year.  I am so excited! 

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Snorkeling at Apo Island

Based from research, I know Apo Island is best for snorkeling because of its big turtles which you can see even near the shore.  There are also nice corals and marine sanctuary that can be found here.  This is why we had to include this in our trip to Dumaguete/Siquijor.  Besides, Apo Island is quite accessible coming from Dumaguete.  But we opted to come from Siquijor going to Apo Island since we availed Coco Grove Beach Resort's, the place we stayed in Siquijor, package trip.  You may read more info about it here

The resort's package tour to Apo Island costs Php 1,600 per person which includes boat transfer, entrance fees, lunch, snacks, snorkeling gears, aqua shoes and tour guides.  This is quite expensive compared to DIY from Dumaguete to Apo Island.  But it doesn't matter to us since we prefer to stay in Siquijor a bit longer and we no longer need to worry about anything since everything will be taken care of the resort.

Coco Grove's nice boat


Their boat was quite big which I think can accommodate to up to 20 pax.  It has an "indoor" and "outdoor" lounging area and with small restroom.  We aboard the boat at around 8am.  Travel time from the resort to Apo Island is about 2 hours.  The travel was not a smooth sailing because of the waves but still safe since the boat is quite big.  Upon reaching Apo Island, we walked our way to Apo Island Beach Resort, which we heard was Coco Grove's sister resort.  We just left our things there and proceed to the registration for snorkeling activity.  Snorkeling area was just near the registration area.  It is said to be called "the village" where locals stay.  It is also the area where big turtles can be found even near the shoreline.


Registration Area



Apo Island Beach Resort

Apo Island Beach Resort Accommodation

Apo Island Beach Resort on the left end of the beach

Rock formations surrounding Apo Island Beach Resort

Now feast your eyes below on what we saw :)

I don't know what this is. Creepy.






Turtles being fed by one of the tourist

My fiance trying to chase the turtle.  They swim fast!

See how big the turtle is!





Closer look of the turtle

Nice color of the turtle



Lunch was served buffet style at the Apo Island Beach resort.  It was a simple lunch with 3 viands, rice and dessert.  Location of the Apo Island Beach Resort was on one end of the beach where nice rock formations can be found.  It was a nice photo op location.


Panoramic view in front of Apo Island Beach Resort

When everyone is done, I thought we were already heading back to Coco Grove.  But it turns out, we were off to another snorkeling area!  Not far from Apo Island, our boat stopped and let us snorkel again.  I wasn't able to ask what the location is called.  I'm not sure if this is what they called the Marine Sanctuary which is located at the back of the village.  Anyway, these are what we found.  Not so clear pictures but the corals were beautiful!
























Going back to Siquijor was a more "dizzy" ride.  Aside from its already raining, the waves were stronger and some waters were coming in our boat.  But again, it wasn't so scary since the boat is quite big.  And by the way, even if the travel time is quite long, you will not get bored since Globe data signal is strong even in the middle of the sea!  You can just browse Facebook and post status while cruising.

Visiting Apo Island is really worth it, most especially to those who likes snorkeling or even diving.  I heard there are a lot of diving spots in Dumaguete including those in Apo Island.  I would surely want to explore those someday. 

If you want to know how to plan your Dumaguete, Siquijor and Apo Island trip, you may read my previous blog post for some details.