Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A Delightful Afternoon at Cafe Breton

My hunt for the perfect aqua shoes brought us to Paseo de Sta. Rosa, a name synonymous to branded outlet stores and the place that burns a hole in your pocket. If you're a thrift shopper like myself, I bet you've been to Paseo more times than you could possibly remember.

This is the place where you can get really great discounts for brands like Speedo, Nike, Adidas, Oakley, Gap, Banana Republic, Marks & Spencer, Debenhams, Benetton, Sisley, Yosi Samra, Payless, Nine West, Mizuno, Samsonite, Aerosoles, Rudy Project, Charles & Keith, Celio, Bench, and many more!

Since it was very hot that afternoon, we decided to cool off first at Cafe Breton before making our way to Speedo and other stores that might carry aqua shoes, swimsuits, and the like.

What we ordered

Grape Slush - Php135.00

Mango Smoothie - Php110.00

Hungarian Sausage - Php140.00

Plain Crepe - Php45.00

Veal Sausage, Onion and Mushrooms Crepe - Php182.00

We had lunch two hours prior to this but the Hungarian Sausage was so good that before I realized it, I already finished the entire thing without even sharing a bite! The crepe was light, seasoned just right and equally delicious as well. It was definitely 9356412087 calories well spent. *wink*


Cafe Breton
Units 2 & 3 Paseo de Sta. Rosa
Sta. Rosa, Laguna, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 687-5971

Monday, May 26, 2014

Staycation at Azumi Boutique Hotel

With my very busy schedule at school, I'll be lucky if I can travel at least once in every two months. Since the past few weeks have been extra stressful with my upcoming defense, we thought it was the perfect time to spend a night in a hotel, still close to home but in a more relaxing and less stressful environment. After deliberating our options for days, we finally decided to book a room at Azumi Boutique Hotel in Alabang, Muntinlupa.

For someone who do not frequent the Alabang area, it took us about 10 minutes driving around Madrigal Business Park before we finally saw the unassuming name of the hotel located just across Shell gasoline station. After parking the car, we took the elevator to the lobby and instantly fell in love with the chic Parisian interior of the hotel!

Azumi Boutique Hotel has a total of 187 rooms with laminated wood floors, earth-tone color scheme with a pop of orange and floor to ceiling windows (with privacy blinds) to give guests a view of the city. We requested a room on the highest floor since the building is quite near the main street of Alabang and got lucky to get an upgrade! Our corner queen room (about Php3,000 a night) is a 25-sqm studio unit with two-sided balcony, a queen-sized and day bed, and the usual amenities like cable television, coffee and tea making facilities, refrigerator and a mini bar, and the works.

The inviting infinity lap pool on the roof deck offers a great view of the Alabang skyline. Too bad there was a private function that night so we were not able to take a dip.

The hotel is modern, stylish, ultra clean and conveniently located -- I can add more positive points to properly describe our Azumi Boutique Hotel experience but these four is enough for us put it on top of the list of staycation places in Manila.


Azumi Boutique Hotel
2205 Market Street
Madrigal Business Park, Filinvest
Alabang, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 869-9888

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Pooling Around Fontana Leisure Parks & Casino

I consider myself lucky for having friends who never fail to invite me for out-of-town trips and quick getaways. Two weekends ago, a group of my colleagues and I drove to Clark, Pampanga to spend the night at Fontana Leisure Parks and Casino courtesy of our very generous sponsor.

Due to the numerous road blocks and re-routing around Manila, it was already 230pm when we finally set foot at Fontana's hotel lobby. It was the first time I experienced queuing up for check-in as both the hotel rooms and surrounding villas were fully booked. The available villa by the time it was our turn was near the gate, far from the hotel, so we asked the staff if we can just wait for the one in front of the water theme park being cleaned up.

Our two-bedroom villa is the one on the right side, located right across Fontana's water theme park. Each standard villa has either two or three bedrooms and two bathrooms, a driver's quarters with its separate bathroom, living and dining areas, and centralized air-conditioning.

This is the main reason why we chose to drive all the way to Clark -- Fontana's Water Theme Park.

Even if you're a guest of the resort, you have to pay an entrance fee of Php450 for the day swimming (from 0800H to 1800H) and Php350 for the night swimming (from 1900H to 2200H). This world-class theme park features a wave pool, aqua thrill slides, lazy river, water factory pool and pirate ship pool. You can just imagine how enjoyable it was for the kids and the young-at-heart hopping from one pool to another! Just make sure you wear proper swimming attire as the life guards are very strict with implementing the resort's rules and regulations.

We woke up early the following day to have breakfast at the hotel's Cafe Fontana and explore the rest of the resort. How would you like to see this view every day for the rest of the summer time?

Buffet breakfast had an assortment of breads, crab and corn soup, pancit canton, siomai, tocino, sausage, chicken adobo, fried rice, and omelet and pancake stations.

To burn off the calories from breakfast, we walked from the cafe to the upper water park where guests can enjoy taking laps at their Olympic size pool for free.

Or take a dip in the hot spring and lagoon pools for an extra Php200 per person.

It was truly a refreshing and enjoyable trip not just for the kids but to us adults as well. It was fun playing around Fontana's water theme park that we were already planning another trip on our way back to Manila. More on that soon!


Fontana Hot Spring Leisure Parks & Casino
C.M. Recto Highway
Clarkfield, Pampanga, Philippines
Tel.: (6345) 599-5000

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Eat-All-You-Can at Okiniiri Japanese Restaurant

As I was driving along BF Homes in ParaƱaque, I saw a poster that really caught my eye.

Just put the magic words "buffet" and "Japanese food" and I'm so there! So after a quick errand, we went back to see if it was worth the visit. Since it was in the middle of the week, there weren't a lot of customers in the restaurant making it very convenient for me to take photos without worrying a line building up behind me.

For Php380 per person, one can have a taste of authentic Japanese food like Kani Salad, Sushi, Katsu, Tempura, Sashimi, Sukiyaki, and many more!

The food were okay (nothing spectacular and commercial food quality), the choices covered all the favorite Japanese dishes, and the staff were very attentive to our needs. Only downside was it took too long before the Tuna and Salmon Sushi were delivered to us since it was on a per order basis. By the time it was brought to our table, my friend and I were already having dessert.

Sushi for dessert, anyone?


Okiniiri Japanese Restaurant
285 Aguirre Street, BF Homes
ParaƱaque, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 826-6202 / 586-0656

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

First Dip of Summer at Portulano Beach Resort

It was yet another one of those Eureka moments when I chanced upon Portulano Beach Resort in Anilao, Batangas. You see, its been days since I started looking for a beach resort in Batangas and all our top choices were either fully booked or have super expensive rooms available. We initially wanted a beach front resort with fine sand so it was a toss between Nasugbu, Calatagan, or Laiya but luck wasn't on our side. At that time at least.

Come Thursday and I still haven't found a place to stay for that weekend, I started searching for accommodations in other towns in Batangas. My expert googling skills led me to this one-of-a-kind resort and favored home of professional divers and enthusiasts.

Booking with Portulano was a breeze and the owners, Arnel and his wife, attended to all my inquiries sent through email and text. We knew from the moment we contacted them that we will be in good hands and all our needs and requests when we arrive in the resort will be handled capably and with personal touch by their equally courteous and helpful staff.

We were two hours late to our meet up in the resort's parking lot in Bauan no thanks to the terrible traffic we braved in Lipa City because of the town fiesta. After securing the car (parking fee is Php100 per day), we were brought to the motorised boat that transported us to the resort. The ride was a bit bumpy but the expert hands of our boatman knew exactly when to stop the boat to avoid the waves crushing our ride. In about fifteen minutes, we finally set foot on the footbridge that leads to this piece of heaven we can now refer to as Portulano Beach Resort.

The staff at the reception area was already expecting our arrival so after confirming our meal plans and requests, we were ushered to our room on the second level of the building.

Our room opens up to this wonderful view of the sea where I could just lie on my bed or sit on the chair by the veranda and admire the amazing sight in front of me. It was a surreal experience waking up to this that I had to pinch my arms at times to remind myself that this is not a dream.

After settling down and resting a bit, we made our way to the dining area to have our late lunch. Getting the package inclusive of three buffet meals is a must (and mandatory) since the place is secluded and there's no way you can eat anywhere else. But don't you worry because the food at Portulano is superb! If you're used to the bland and expensive meals during your vacation, this resort will change the way you look on resort food.

Lunch on our first day was Fresh Salad, Fish and Tofu, Steamed Vegetables, Chicken Curry, and Omelet with rice. You can also order fresh fruit shakes since drinks are not included in the buffet.

We agreed to take a dip late in the afternoon to avoid too much sun exposure which gave us enough time to explore the rest of this cozy resort. If you love your private space, there are a lot of areas in Portulano where you can just relax, read a book, listen to your favorite songs on your iPod, or have meaningful conversations with your significant other.

The resort takes pride in having a rich marine life in their house reef. If you want to dive or snorkel and came empty handed, the resort offers gears for rent at an acceptable fee.

There's also a saltwater pool that serves as the training pool for first-time divers.

By 7pm, we heard a knock on our door signalling that it was dinner time! As always, we were the first ones to arrive in the dining area then came another couple. During our stay, there were only three occupied rooms in the resort so it was a basically a laid-back night for us and the rest of the staff that took time to chat with us.

The dinner buffet spread had Fresh Salad, Pesto Spanish Sardines Pasta, Chicken Barbeque, Calamari, Beef Kebab, and Mango Graham Cake for dessert. I came back twice for the pasta and kebab as it was really delicious!

We woke up the following day to the smell of Adobo, Spanish Sardines, Waffles, Pancakes, and Coffee. You have to order the waffle fresh from the kitchen so the sides are still crunchy. I can really get used to this everyday!

Too bad we had to go back to Manila that afternoon because it was back to work the following day. An overnight stay was not enough to truly enjoy the sea and visit neighboring islands so the next time our schedule frees up, we will definitely stay longer!


Portulano Beach Resort
4201 Bauan
Batangas, Philippines
Tel.: (63917) 540-4257
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