Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences

Two thousand and twelve is probably one of the best years of my existence. Bridges were rebuilt, relationships got stronger, plans made into reality and dreams came true. Since I'm on a roll *ehem* I thought of sharing this one great find I was lucky to come across recently.

Comfortable. Chic. Unconventional. Vibrant.

Four words that best describes The Picasso, a boutique service apartment located in the heart of Makati City. It was a pleasant surprise to see that among rows of office buildings and condominium units lies a hidden gem waiting to dazzle its lucky visitors to a unique dwelling experience.

Check-in process was a breeze. It took us less than 5 minutes to get the key card to our home for the night. I love how pretty and how the lobby smells so good! Did I mention that Brasserie Boheme Restaurant is just next door?

Upon stepping out of the elevator on the 6th floor, one will immediately notice the gym with state-of-the-art equipments with a striking view of the busy street. Aside from the gym, The Picasso also has an in-house gallery, the previously mentioned Brasserie Boheme by Gustavia Restaurant, a full wellness service center at Qi Wellness Spa, a salon for men and women called Studio 119, a Wi-Fi lounge and a talent agency. Talk about a one-stop shop!

With the colorful vibe of The Picasso, I never had that eerie feeling I always feel whenever I am in a hotel corridor. There's something about it that cheers you up and makes you feel secure. The artworks that are strategically placed on the walls transforms each floor to a mini-gallery.

Even the room number is a work of art!

Even after I went home and lie on my bed, I dreamt to be transported to The Picasso's Madrid Studio once again. This 45sqm studio is named after the city where Pablo Picasso first studied art.

The bed is heavenly making me want to just stay under the sheets the entire time.

Help protect the environment!

Madrid Studio is designed with everything I wished my room will look like because I've always preferred a dark room. In fact, my room is currently painted with Forest Green and I can stay there the whole day. So when I saw the color palette of this room (dark beige, royal blue, red and gray), it was love at first sight!

Not to mention the heavy linen curtains!

Each room is equipped with an iPod docking station, centralized air-conditioning, a 32" LCD TV with cable channels, kitchenette with electric stove, a mini bar with coffee and tea making facilities and microwave oven.

The bathroom was clean, well-maintained and very spacious! The thought of the soft and fluffy towels still puts a smile on my face whenever I think of it.

Hot water is a necessity in these cold days.

Thank goodness for frosted glass window!

If I have a place of my own, it would probably look like this. But until then, I'd consider The Picasso as my temporary home and the Madrid Studio as my room. *wink*

The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences Published Rates:

Deluxe Rooms
     Malaga & Madrid Studio (45sqm) ---------------- Php9, 000nett

Premiere Rooms
     Andalusia Premiere Studio (81sqm) ------------- Php11, 000nett
     Barcelona & Montparnasse Suite (88sqm) ------ Php12, 000nett

Executive Rooms
     Picasso Loft (93sqm) ----------------------------- Php15, 000nett
     Mallorca Adjoining Rooms (133sqm) ------------ Php17, 000nett

*Rates are inclusive of service charge and applicable taxes.


The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences
119 L.P. Leviste St., Salcedo Village
Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 828-4774

Sunday, January 20, 2013

A Day in the Majestic Island of Coron

I remember reading an article saying how we Filipino's are lucky to have thousands of beautiful islands surrounding the Philippines. Last December, I was fortunate to be able to visit and cross out another destination in the list of the places I want to visit before I die.

Coron is the main town in Busuanga, a part of the Calamian Group of Islands located in the Northernmost part of Palawan. The island is now becoming a popular destination for ship-wreck divers, snorkelers and sun worshipers.

This island paradise is accessible by air via Cebu Pacific, Air Philippines and Zest Air that takes you from Manila to Francisco B. Reyes Airport in just an hour. For cheaper alternative, one can take the Super Ferry Liner that sails once a week to Puerto Princesa via Coron.

After dropping our bags at MiCasa Lodge, the group took three tricycles going to the port where a boat was waiting to take us to the bewitching Coron Islands. MiCasa was kind enough to accommodate our last minute request for a half day island-hopping tour.

Things To Do and See in Coron

First stop was a snorkeling spot 30 minutes off the docking port in the town of Coron. I failed to jot down the name of the spot (which I normally do) thinking I'd remember it by the time I went back to the inn but after lying my back on the bed, all is forgotten.

What I do remember is how amazing the marine life is -- great variety of fishes and beautiful coral reefs that will surely blow your mind! If not for our hungry tummies, I bet everyone will want to spend more time snorkeling here.

Atwayan Beach

If I have gazillions of money, I'd offer the owner of Atwayan Beach with a blank check and build my dream beach house there. Fine white sands and crystal blue waters -- seems like another island paradise but what sets Atwayan apart from others is how unspoilt and jaw-droppingly beautiful the island is!

According to our tour guide, Atwayan Beach is now becoming a popular lunch spot. With just a couple of nipa huts available in the island, we were lucky to get one before loads of local and foreign tourists arrived.

The island-hopping tour costs Php1,000 per person that includes the boat ride, entrance fees and lunch. Since it was a last minute booking, we were told that the guide barely had time to prepare a feast. Not much choices but it was enough to put a smile on everyone's faces and tummies.

Lato (Seaweed) Salad

Grilled Fish

Grilled Liempo

We stayed for about an hour in Atwayan Beach before the guide told us that it was time to go so we'll still have time to visit the other spots. We were supposed to snorkel at Siete Pecados but the group decided to skip it and just proceed to the Twin Lagoon.

Twin Lagoon

I forgot to bring my Underwater Digital Camera Mask so I was not able to take photos of the impressive landscape inside these towering limestones. Perfect time to go is during low tide so you would fit in the tiny cave-like entrance leading to the lagoon.

Swimming in hot then cold then hot (repeat) water was both an odd and amazing feeling. Even for seasoned swimmers, the long stretch of the lagoon is quite tiring to swim to. Good thing I had my life vest on or I would have drowned half way to the other side.

Kayangan Lake

Last stop of the island-hopping tour is the magical Kayangan Lake.

Often referred to as the cleanest lake in the Philippines, Kayangan Lake tops my list of the must visit places in the country. The ten-minute uphill slippery hike is worth the effort and sweat as the turquoise crystal clean water will literally take your breath away. I know it did mine.

Stunning view!

Aside from sunscreen, don't forget to apply a mosquito repellant as they are abundant this side of Coron. I got a few bites while we were there even after thorough application of Off Lotion but I didn't cared much as I was to busy admiring the beauty right in front and underneath me.

We were all so excited to jump into the water that one of the kids I traveled with failed to see the sharp rocks he landed on! Before we know it, his feet was bleeding profusely! Good thing we had "Boy Scouts" in the group and first aid was applied right away. 

We didn't stayed long in Kayangan because we wanted to go back to the town and have the wound checked by a professional. Half of the group proceeded to the hospital while some of us went back to MiCasa Lodge. Two hours later, they arrived and according to the doctor in the hospital, they've been treating a lot of tourists with the same injury recently. So if you are going to Kayangan Lake, be extra careful with the sharp rocks especially if you are traveling with kids.

Before having dinner at Seadive Restaurant and Bar, we decided to go to another famous tourist spot in Coron -- Maquinit Hot Springs.

What makes Maquinit so unique is that it is the only saltwater hot spring in the Philippines, or even in the whole of Asia! We went there during night time and I could hear the sound of the waves nearby. I bet this place is even prettier during the day, though I'm not not sure if you can tolerate the hot water during a sunny day.

A dip in the 40°C seawater hot spring is the perfect invigorating experience after a tiring day. The water comes from the volcano located underground where two smaller pools have direct link, hence the hotter the water then down to the bigger pool. I had to dip my body one part at a time to get used to the temperature then up every 5 minutes. It was really hot!

We only had one whole day to squeeze in all the places we wanted to visit in the beautiful island of Coron. Yes, it was physically tiring and we barely slept in those two days but it was a happy stress! The only kind of stress I would welcome with open arms. *wink*

There are still a lot more places that I wanted to explore and discover so as I leave this wonderful town, I promised myself that I would come back soon. See you again in a few months Coron!
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