Saturday, 18 June 2016

Hotel and Inn Review: The Oriental Legazpi (Legazpi City, Albay)

Date of Stay: June 18-19, 2016

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *******
Rooms: ******
Condition and Cleanliness: ******
Staff Performance: *****
Room Comfort: *******
Food and Beverage: ********
Other Amenities: ******
Value for Money: ******

The Oriental Legazpi
Overlooking the city on the top of Taysan Hill, this modern, upscale, serene and exceedingly intimate, 6-storey destination hotel, owned by renowned real estate company LKY Group, offers spectacular views of Mayon Volcano from its infinity pool deck and each room’s balcony. Formerly the Mayon Imperial Hotel which dates back to the 1970's, it has seen some upgrades and changed the name to The Oriental in 2009. 

Skylight ceilings and expansive glass windows, in the big lobby, light up the space but there is no airconditioning and it can get very hot in the afternoon. Its 115 trendy and very spacious rooms and suites, with chic colors reminiscent of boutique hotels, are classified  into the 34-36 sq. m. De Luxe Twin Countryside, the 34-36 sq. m. De Luxe Twin Mayon, the 34-36 sq. m. De Luxe Queen Countryside, the 34-36 sq. m.  Luxe Queen Mayon, the 72.5 sq. m. Executive Suite, Executive Suite Mayon and the 112 sq. m. Governor’s Suite.  

Rooms feature private toilet and bath with hair dryer, rain head shower and complete bath amenities (their bathroom has no lock though); 32”” LCD/plasma screen cable TV; centralized air-conditioning, minibar; tea and coffee making facility, electronic key card access, IDD and NDD phone; executive work desk, electronic in-room safe; and  balconies or terraces with scenic city views while some have volcano views. Suites include reception and dining rooms. The beds were very comfortable but the rooms need a pesticide run as there were baby cockroaches in the cabinet and table.

There’s also complimentary bottled mineral water, newspaper and Filipino breakfast for 2 (6 - 10 AM). The free high-speed broadband internet was good in public areas in the rooms but can be frustrating inside the room. People at the front desk were not very helpful. Rollaway/extra beds are available and extra-person charges may apply and vary depending on hotel policy

Jasmine, the hotel’s contemporary ground floor restaurant, serves local homegrown cuisine alongside international favorites. The buffet for breakfast (daily) and dinner (Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays) was also good. Its 2 ballrooms and function rooms can be arranged to 5 types of set-up: cocktail, theater, banquet, classroom, and boardroom. There’s also a terrace and a sleek lobby lounge with a grand piano. 

Other equally impressive 4-star amenities include a second floor outdoor infinity pool with ay beds, tables and volcano view; a kids' pool; jacuzzi; pool bar; business center; a spa, souvenir shop, a fitness and wellness center and full back–up generator system. The Oriental Legazpi is a winner of the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

They offer limousine service; tour assistance; secretarial service; concierge; laundry and dry cleaning services, babysitting; foreign currency exchange; daily maid service; airport and city transfers (available on request); 24-hour room service; wake-up call; car rental and valet parking service.

The hotel is located 7 kms. from Ligñon Hill Nature Park (a 14-min. drive) and 8 kms. from the Cagsawa Ruins (a 14-min. drive). It is also a 15-min. drive from Legazpi Domestic Airport, a 20-min. drive from the city proper, a 10-min. drive from LCC Mall and the lifestyle hub of Embarcadero de Legazpi, a 9-min. drive from Daraga Church and a 9-min. drive from Albay Park and Wildlife.

The Oriental Legazpi: Taysan Hill, Sto. Niño Village, City, Albay, Legazpi Blvd, Legazpi City, 4500 Albay. Tel: 63-52-742-8888, +63-52-4800383 and +63-53-4800385.  E-mail: Manila Sales Office: 4/F PCCI, Commerce an Industry Plaza (CIP) Bldg., Campus cor. Park Aves.,  McKinley Hill Town Center, Brgy. Pinagsama, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City.  Tel: (02) 536-9999, (02) 536-1111 loc. 206, (02) 856-4116 and (02) 994-5644. Website:

Monday, 30 May 2016

Hotel and Inn Review: Hotel Plaza Venice (Venice, Italy)

Date of Stay: May 30 - June 1, 2016

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *******
Rooms: ********
Condition and Cleanliness: ********
Staff Performance: ********
Room Comfort: ********
Food and Beverage: ********
Other Amenities: ******
Value for Money: *******

Hotel Plaza Venice
About 50 m. across from Venezia Mestre Train Station (we did not have to walk far with our luggage), this contemporary, 4-star hotel is 9 kms. from the Venetian Lagoon (a 10-minute bus or train ride away to Santa Lucia Station) and 13 kms. from the iconic Saint Mark's Basilica. The 226 airy, elegant, spotlessly clean and spacious rooms, which range from classic and ornately decorated to sleek and modern, feature classic furnishings in warm colors. They have three different kinds of rooms: Classic (22 sq. m.), Executive (30 sq. m.) and Club (40 sq. m.).
Hotel lobby

They offer free wi-fi (you need to get a fresh user ID/password every third day from the reception), wall-mounted flat-screen TVs (about 40 channels, half of them Italian), work desk, magnetic key locks, fully-equipped bathroom with modern shower (some rooms feature marble bathrooms) and ample toiletries (they even provided a toothbrush) and hair dryer, electronic safe in the closet, coffee-making facility, and minibar.  
Room service is available. The beds were very comfortable, with good quality sheets.  The carpeting was clean and the room was smoke free.

A free and extensive, Continental style breakfast buffet, including eggs (scrambled or sunny side up), ham/bacon, yoghurt, chocolate croissants, cereals, chocolate and cream brioche, fresh and canned fruit, tea, fruit juice, sausage, several kinds of cold cuts and cheeses, fruit salad, coffee/espresso (from a self-serve machine) and a variety of pastries, sweet pies and tarts, is served daily. The 24-hour trendy, eclectic ground floor Soul Kitchen Italian restaurant, with its bold, artsy décor, boasts an eclectic menu of Italian and international dishes. This doubles as bar in the evening. The smartly dressed staff, at the front desk, were very friendly, if a bit formal, spoke very good English and were professional.  Everyone, from the maid to the receptionist and the bell boy, were very helpful.
Buffet breakast

The hotel also has 3 meeting spaces, 2 small lifts and luggage storage room. There were several internet stations available for use in the lobby and the mezzanine floor. Pets are allowed with prior notice. Public parking is possible at a location nearby (reservation is not needed) and costs EUR 14 per day. There’s a large supermarket 5 mins down the road where you buy cheap snacks and drinks. There are several bus stops also across the street including bus #2 that will take you to Piazza di Roma in Venice. A public bus to Marco Polo Airport (a 20-min. drive) stops 100 m. from the hotel, while Treviso Airport is 25 kms. (a 40-min. drive) away.  
Soul Kitchen
Hotel Plaza VeniceViale Stazione, 36, 30171 Mestre, Venice, Italy. Tel: +39 041 929388.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Hotel and Inn Review: Hotel De La Pace (Florence, Italy)

Date of Stay: May 27-30, 2016

RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *******
Rooms: ********
Condition and Cleanliness: ********
Staff Performance: ******
Room Comfort: ********
Food and Beverage: *******
Other Amenities: ******

Value for Money: *******

Hotel De La Pace

The elegant and refined, 3-star Hotel De La Pace, in the heart of the city, was created inside an elegant building from the late nineteenth century.  Located in the restricted traffic zone (ZTL) of the historic center of Florence, the hotel’s 41 rooms, of various sizes (Single, Double, Double Standard, Double Superior, Family) are all very quiet and peaceful.They are perfectly renovated and equipped with every comfort -  air conditioning, mini bar, work desks,electric kettle and coffee maker, safety deposit box, direct-dial telephone and flat-screen color plasma television with satellite channels (including a dedicated channel that will keep you updated on all events and exhibitions taking place in Florence). The only English TV channel offered was CNN. 

The spacious, streamlined rooms are brightly and colorfully decorated (some have exposed-brick hints), with warm and intimate furnishings, including soft and cozy couches. The private bathrooms are furnished with bath or shower (there is no shower tray though), a hair dryer, and also a complete set of towels. A number of upgraded rooms have sofas and balconies (must be requested when booking) where you can admire the streets of the historic center and the dome of the cathedral. There’s also a fully equipped room for our disabled guests and very spacious quadruple rooms, (including a large 35 sq. m. Family Room).

The hotel offers an extensive, sweet and savory Continental buffet breakfast (cake, fruit, croissants, cereal, natural yoghurt, bread, cappuccino, cheese, ham, hot and cold milk, fresh rolls, hard boiled eggs, chilled fruit flavored drinks, etc.) served in the casual dining room, while those who wish can request to have their breakfast inside their room (available upon request and completely free-of-charge). 

Free coffee and tea is offered in the hotel lobby. It also has a 24-hour front desk, a 10-15 pax meeting room (with independent entrance from that of the hotel), an elevator (very small though) and an informal American bar (where guests are welcomed with a complimentary drink) which offers light meals, salads, snacks, and sandwiches. The hotel also has facilities (cozy bed, bowls for food and water, and some toys to play with) to accommodate pet dogs and cats, a parking garage (special rates) 500 m. from the hotel. The staff speak reasonable English and are extremely helpful with directions, with a good knowledge of local restaurants.

The hotel also offers babysitting (for a fee); internet point (for a fee at the hotel lobby as well as in several rooms); free wi-fi connection; Italian and foreign newspapers available for guests; daily maid service; reservations for museums, guided tours and restaurants; reservations for taxi and/or transfers with private drivers; express check-in/check-out; car rental, luggage storage; concierge service, bicycle rental (subject to availability) and laundry service (Monday to Saturday). Check-in is after 2 PM while the room must be vacated by 12 noon.

San Marco - Santissima Annunziata is a great choice for travellers interested in museums, art and architecture. The hotel is near the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, Galleria dell'Accademia (a 7-min. walk) and Santa Maria del Fiore Cathedral (a 1-km./12-min.walk). Abus stop is located right outside the hotel, connecting you to Santa Maria Novella Train Station and other sites around Florence less than a 15-minute walk away. This property has been on since November 8, 2005.
Hotel De La Pace: Via Alfonso La Marmora 28, San Marco - Santissima Annunziata, 50121 Florence, Italy.  Tel: +39 055 577343. Fax: +39 055 577576. E-mail: Website: