Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Hotel Review: Nobu Manila I City of Dreams

Gambling is addictive because everyone loves winning. When people win the first time aka beginner's luck, some tend to gamble more in the hopes of doubling or tripling their money. Game of chance has nothing to do with your skill as it is after all, ruled by chance. I know people who lost their business, properties and practically everything because of their addiction to gambling. I've been to several casinos here and abroad and it safe to say that the casino lure doesn't interest me much except for the occasional slot machines just to get free drinks and kill time.

City of Dreams (COD) opened its doors in 2014 as a premier integrated resort and casino to cater VIPs and mass market alike. With three grand hotels, various dining choices, high-end retail brands and a plethora of entertainment and attractions -- guests will never ran out of things to do once you set foot at COD. I always pass by the elegant gold buildings but never really took interest after seeing how expensive the hotel rates are and as I've mentioned before, casino gambling is not really my thing. Christmas came early for me though when I came across Agoda's Insider Deals of Nobu Hotel Manila for just Php6,000 nett a night in a deluxe room!

Our 32sqm deluxe room had a city view with amenities that include a king bed, air-conditioning, black out curtains, a 47-inch LED smart television with cable and in-house movies, a JBL docking station, complimentary ultra fast WiFi (100mbps), a mini bar, coffee and tea maker, a writing desk, a comfortable sofa with welcome fruits, a vast toilet and bath with Natura Bisse toiletries. If you're a light sleeper, better upgrade your room to a pool view to avoid the noise from Roxas Blvd. that could disturb your slumber and prevent you from having a good night's sleep.

Pros: Hospitality at its finest, convenient location, free parking, complimentary shuttle service to Mall of Asia and Binondo, high speed WiFi, numerous dining options within the COD vicinity, complete wine set-up, plenty of bottled water in the room (even in the bathroom), easy access to casino and the shops, luxurious rooms and amazing hotel facilities

Cons: Auto-deactivation of room key card at exact check out time, no bathtub in the deluxe room and too much noise from the busy roads below if you're staying in a city view room


Nobu Hotel
City of Dreams Manila
Aseana Blvd. corner Macapagal Avenue
ParaƱaque City, Metro Manila, Philippines
Tel.: (632) 800-8080

Monday, November 21, 2016

My ATV Off Road Adventure to Mayon Volcano

An all-terrain vehicle (ATV) is a four-wheel vehicle designed to handle a wider variety of terrain with its low pressure tires, high power, good suspension and a low center of gravity. I first rode an ATV in Kuala Lumpur's Sunway Lagoon Theme Park but on a guided and almost flat trail. So when I learned that you can ride an ATV to Mayon Base Camp, I knew this would be the highlight of our Legaspi trip. My research brought me to Your Brother Travel & Tours, the original ATV service provider in Albay since 2008, who patiently answered all my queries and requests through text message. Your Brother has been featured in several local television shows and prides itself in having Zac Efron, Kris Aquino and Manny Pacquiao among its celebrity riders.

From our hotel in Legaspi, Your Brother arranged our transportation that brought us to their headquarters no more than 10 minutes away from the airport. The lady staff explained the ATV trails we can take and made us watch the introductory video to show the scenic track and the safety precautions to ensure that we come back to their office safe and sound.

Your Brother's father and son tandem started with just one ATV and now operates 80 Can-Am units!

Renowned as the perfect cone because of its symmetrical conical shape, Mount Mayon is an active volcano located in Albay, Bicol Region. The staff suggested we get their most popular 2-hour trail but it seemed bitin so we booked the 3-hour Mayon Advance Trail instead for Php3,000 per person using a 350cc single Can-Am ATV. The trail from the amusement center to the base camp is the same but the way back to their headquarters is longer and definitely more challenging!

After the crash course, we hopped on to our ATVs and made our way to the trail led by our guide who captured perfect photos using our camera. Should you forget to bring one, you can rent a Go Pro from Your Brother because trust me, you'd want to relive this great off road experience soon after! An hour or so of driving through the rough trail and occasional splash off the stream, we reached Mayon Base Camp to rest and so our guide can check our ATV's condition. 

Guests were given an option to do a little hiking to reach a helipad where you can see the magnificent Mayon in all its glory and the city of Legaspi. Getting down can either be through the same route going up or an easier and more enjoyable zip line for an extra Php300/person.

Apart from their Can-AM ATVs, what I love about Your Brother is their flexibility to fit your schedule, their safety record and as long as you're billeted in the city, they will arrange your transfers for free! A lot of tour operators would offer you the same kind of adventure for a lesser price but as with most things, you cannot gamble your safety in exchange for a little savings. Go for a reliable and reputable name so you can enjoy every minute of your ATV adventure in the hands of their expert guides. To book, you can contact them at +639175958859 or +639053636330.

Have you tried riding an ATV to Mayon? Share your experience in the comment box below!

Monday, November 14, 2016

How Misibis Bay Almost Ruined Our Vacation

Let me get things straight, all my travels and food trips that you read here are self-paid from our own pockets so its only fitting that I demand to get my money's worth and there's no way I'm settling for something less. Whenever I book a hotel whether thru Agoda or directly to the property, I specify my requests and more often than not, follow up on them before I arrive. This time however, I was not able to check with Misibis Bay if my requests such as a large bed, early check-in and the room's location have been accommodated. This was actually my second time in Misibis Bay having traveled with my friends back in 2012 when the resort was barely new so I knew what to expect. After scoring a great deal with Philippine Airlines' 75th Anniversary Sale to Legaspi last March, I knew it was the perfect time to revisit Albay's premier and only luxury resort.

The resort arranged our transfers from the airport to Misibis Bay at Php600/person one way. As the resort's location is far from the city, the only mode of transportation that goes in and out are private vehicles. Travel time is about an hour but with an amazing view to look at, it somehow becomes bearable. The van alighted near the most-photographed Misibis Bay sign where we were greeted by the resort's equally courteous staff and security who led us to the reception area.

Check-in was a breeze partly because we were the only guests there but went downhill from the minute we were brought to our garden view room. All praises from my previous stay in Misibis Bay, which was like a dream, went down the drain as my recent stay seemed like a nightmare! I've never been so disappointed and regretful of my hotel choice during my trips because I do my research beforehand. Well, there's always a first time in everything and after our recent trip, I don't see myself going back to Misibis in the next few years. Read on why.

Dirty and poorly maintained rooms. Misibis Bay prides itself as a 5-star resort so guests would expect the rooms to be as beautiful as depicted on the resort's website. To say that I was disappointed was an understatement. I didn't travel all the way here and paid premium to sleep in a room with soiled linens, pillows that needed new covers, even dirtier day bed, stained walls and toilet that was obviously cleaned in a rush. To make things worst, we had to wait for 3 hours for a new room to become available only to be brought to a slightly better and cleaner one but with half empty bottles of toiletries situated at an even farther location.

When I first stayed in Misibis Bay, this part of the resort was non-existent so I'm assuming that the rooms here are newer than the villas located near the reception area. Unfortunately, both rooms we went to were poorly maintained and badly needed new linens. The garden view room that we booked thru Agoda at a little over Php5,500 per night is a 24sqm room with amenities such as your choice of a large or twin beds, air-conditioning, coffee and tea maker, bathrobes and abaca slippers, an in-room safe, a separate toilet and bath, a cable television and mini refrigerator.

Limited food choices. One of the things that I recall from my previous trip to Misibis was the pricey and limited options for dining. With only one restaurant in a secluded resort, guests have no choice but to dine and hope that the high price tags equate to high quality and delicious meals.

Instead of staying in the room while we wait for the new one to be available, CS and I went to the restaurant for late lunch. We were not in the mood to eat heavy so we passed on the buffet and settled to order ala carte. The staff gave us complimentary breads as we browsed thru the menu.

Classic BLT - Php325.00

Spice Market's Classic BLT Sandwich was probably the best meal we ever tried during our stay. I love that they used ciabatta instead of an ordinary bread to level up the look and the taste of the sandwich. The bacon was extra crispy and the vegetables were fresh, a classic favorite if you like it simple but with varying flavors. The Spicy Tuna on the other hand, was the worst maki I have ever tasted! The rice that they used was no Japanese rice and the tuna was so small I can barely taste it was there. It was like eating rice with a hint of spicy mayo on top. Do not order at all costs.

Spicy Tuna - Php325.00

The staff convinced us to get buffet instead of ordering ala carte again for dinner. He was right that the Php700/person rate could only get us about 3 dishes that can either make or break our night while the buffet has more options that we can choose from. Besides, the quality of the food that they serve were average, some even below quality, so we thought that the grilled meats and seafood were the better and safer choice. The cheese and fresh fruits were welcome bonus as well.

Hotel facilities and paid resort activities. Another unfortunate surprise came to light upon learning that the resort activities that used to be complimentary are now all chargeable with a fee. Everything from snorkeling to the zip line and hobie cat that we used to enjoy for free can now be booked but expect your bill to rack up some few hundreds to a couple of thousands. To avoid paying more, we just lounged by the pool that used to have a visually stunning view until the resort decided to reclaim land so no more infinity pool and its gorgeous backdrop.

When Misibis Bay advertised the room that we booked with a garden view, I was expecting a lush garden to wake up to and not a view of the other building and a dead lawn. Maybe a few flowering plants and a lush green carpet of healthy grass can help liven up the place.

Bad customer service. I've been to numerous resorts and hotels within the Philippines and abroad and without a doubt, Misibis Bay bags the top spot of the worst customer service I have ever encountered! When we were first brought to our room and asked to be transferred to another, the staff on the other line insisted that we take it even if the room was dirty and had two single beds. From experience, when the room that we booked is not available upon arrival, the property usually offers a complimentary room upgrade and not let the guest wait for hours especially during off peak season. CS was willing to pay the upgrade fee of Php2,000 to a garden villa but I thought it was not worth paying more so we waited instead.

A few hours has passed and still no room, we went to the restaurant to eat and kill time. After that, we went straight to the reception to get the keys to our new room only to be met by an unapologetic staff who, upon learning my concerns, cannot hide her annoyance and even frowned when she thought I wasn't looking. I let it pass and just walked away because another minute I spend there would empty out the remaining patience I had that day. Besides, its not worth ruining the entire trip for the inconvenience Misibis Bay caused us. This was all charged to experience.

Not worth our time and definitely not worth our money. If you must, book at your own risk.


Misibis Bay
Cagraray Island, Bacacay
Albay Province, Bicol Region, Philippines

Manila Sales & Reservations Office
1202-B Tektite West Tower, Philippine Stock Exchange, Exchange Road,
Ortigas Center,1605 Pasig City, Phillippines
Tel.: (632) 661-8888
Fax: (632) 470-3607
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