Thursday, April 28, 2016

Amadeo's Hidden Gem: Poniente Spring Resort

Indang and Amadeo, two towns in Cavite known for its cold springs and natural swimming pools, are popular options for outings and family gatherings especially during the scorching summer days. The resort does not have its own website or even an official Facebook account so I had to check with my friend who has been to Poniente to ask for directions. The resort is located in an off the beaten path and a good 10-minute ride from the town proper of Amadeo so don't fret if you feel like you're driving in the middle of nowhere with grass fields to your left and right.

Entrance fee is Php200 for adults and Php150 for kids aged 5 to 10, which is quite expensive for this part of town as resort fees usually range around Php100 only. After some little persuasion, the resort charged us Php150 per person for adults so make sure you haggle before you pay.

Cottages are scattered around the resort, request for the ones near the pools so you can watch the kids from above. The cottage we got is good for 10 to 15 persons at Php500 for day use.

Poniente Resort has a total of 4 swimming pools -- two of which are spring water pools that can literally make you shiver even at 37-degree weather.  Even the regular swimming pools are cold enough to relieve and beat the summer heat mainly because of the upland location of the resort and the towering trees that give shade to the guests in the pool.

Poniente Resort is ideal for people looking for a place to bond with family and friends that fits within budget. No fancy facilities but just enough to cover the basics like clean pools, decent bathrooms, open air cottages and a secured parking lot. With more people flocking to Indang's famous resorts like Rio Villa Neuvo and Villa de Colmenar, its a comfort that we now have an option for our family excursions and barkada outing that's nearer and less crowded.


Poniente Spring Resort
Arellano Avenue, Amadeo
Cavite, Philippines
Tel.: (63919) 302-2327

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Chasing Waves at JPark Island Resort and Waterpark

I have only been to Cebu once back in 2012 prior to this trip where CS and I stayed in Plantation Bay Resort and Spa for three days (read here). Since the resort was huge, had complete facilities and was like a village in itself, we did not feel the urge to leave the comforts of the resort to tour around Cebu City. Four years later, we embarked on another trip but decided to check out other resorts in Mactan to see what they have to offer. First stop was JPark Island Resort and Waterpark which is formerly known as Imperial Palace Waterpark Resort.

The entire check in process took no more than 5 minutes. Staff at the reception were a mix of Filipino and Korean as majority of the guests, about 70%, are from Korea. Along with the key card to our room and a map of the massive property, the staff also handed 2 complimentary welcome drinks that we availed at JLounge located at the lobby.

The Room

To cater to varied needs and budget of guests, JPark offers 7 different types of accommodation such as Deluxe, Mactan Suite, Cebu Suite, Executive Suite, Ambassador Suite, Royal Suite and Villa. A good friend gifted me with a voucher for a deluxe room that we upgraded to an ocean view for an additional Php1500 per night. Money well spent to wake up to a view like this!

Our deluxe room, located on the 8th floor of the main building, is a 38-sqm sized room equipped with a king bed, our own balcony with outdoor table and chairs, an LCD television with cable and DVD player, safety deposit box, a fully stocked mini bar and refrigerator, complimentary coffee and tea, and a bathroom with separate toilet and bathtub. It seemed like the resort has renovated the room to keep up with the times but there are several areas that were left unfinished like the walls where the refrigerator is and some missing tiles in the bathroom. For a five-star resort like JPark, one would expect not only topnotch service but high quality materials and facilities as well.

In the midst of summer, an air-conditioned room is anyone's best friend. But when you got a balcony overlooking the blue skies and vast seas, enduring the summer heat one easy task.

The Waterpark

True to its name, JPark Island Resort and Waterpark takes pride on having several pools suited to give kids and adults a great time while on vacation.The sight of the various shades of blue of the island pool from our room is a tempting invite anytime of the day. Of all the pools in JPark, the island pool is the last one to close at 9PM while others operate at 6PM latest.

Both the Captain Hook's Pool and Toddler's Pool opens at 9AM until 6PM only. Kids would enjoy playing in the slides and the pirate ship dipped in 1.6 ft deep waters. Lifeguards are around but adult supervision is still recommended as the pool can get really crowded especially on weekends.

CS and I spent most of our time lounging in the Beach Pool and the Amazon River. The resort provides pool floats so you can take leisurely rides along the river. As the floats are limited, better bring your own so you don't have to wait until you stumble one that's available. Its fortunate that we scored some colorful floats at the SM Department Store before the trip that got a lot of attention from foreign guests that we even joked about renting it out at some point.

The beach is rocky so wear your aqua shoes to protect your feet if you plan to take a swim. We weren't able to check out the marine life at JPark Island Resort but it seemed like the guests snorkeling were having fun so I guess fishes are still abundant in this side of Cebu.

The Breakfast

It came as no surprise that breakfast was a blend of Asian and Continental cuisine to indulge resort guests from the different parts of the world. There's a section for breads and pastries, salad, appetizers, hot meals, egg station, waffles and pancakes, soup and noodles, cereals, fresh fruits and assortment of desserts. Breakfast was laid buffet style and while guests kept coming in as the morning progress, the staff were quick to replenish the food so no need to hoard everything in one plate. The selection was decent and the taste were pretty much okay but the only thing I can really remember right now are the sweet mangoes and the extra crispy bacon.

JPark Island Resort and Waterpark is indeed a kid's wonderland. We had a great time at the resort but I'd probably think twice before paying the same amount that could get us a room in either Crimson or Moevenpick. Good thing we only paid for the upgrade, lucky to have generous friends!


JPark Island Resort and Waterpark
M. L. Quezon Highway, Brgy. Maribago
Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu, Philippines
Tel.: (6332) 494-5000

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila

One of the cheaper hotels near the Mall of Asia, Golden Phoenix Hotel is still on its soft opening since it started operations in 2015. Apart from Red Planet Aseana, most hotels in the area command a hefty price for an overnight stay that's why I was ecstatic to know that Golden Phoenix's rate is quite easy on the pocket. Owned by the ZhongFa Development, majority of the guests are Chinese tourists exploring Manila while some choose Golden Phoenix for its proximity to the airports (a mere 10-minute ride away) especially for travelers catching their early flights out.

From the lobby, guests have to take the escalator to the 2nd floor where the elevator is located. I am actually surprised that no elevator services the guests from the ground level which is a hassle if you have luggage in tow. Construction is still on-going so make sure to ask the staff if your room is far enough from all the improvements so you'll have a rather peaceful stay in the hotel.

Golden Phoenix Hotel houses a total of 281 non-smoking and spacious guest rooms and suites with minimalist and modern design. The suite room features a 40sqm area with separate bedroom and living room which is perfect for a family staycation. Other room amenities include a chiropractor-approved beds, 2 LCD TVs with cable channels (one in the bedroom and one in the living room), iPod docking station, mini-bar with coffee and tea making facility and an in-room safe.

If you're on a budget and is not expecting visitors to come over, the 30sqm deluxe room should be good enough with the same amenities as the suite minus the living room. I wouldn't mind sharing this room and maximizing the room occupancy as each bed can sleep 2 adults comfortably.

The pool located on the 7th floor is shared with the condo unit owners of the building. You can just imagine how crowded it must be when guests start arriving at once. With the rising temperature nowadays, a swimming pool that will let you enjoy a dip on a hot afternoon and with just an ample personal space for each guest is what I consider a requirement for a fancy staycation.


Golden Phoenix Hotel Manila
Oceanaire Bldg., Macapagal Avenue
Pasay City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 683-2888
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