Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Restaurant Feature: Hard Rock Cafe Angkor (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

From our hotel, Jandy, Osang, Violet and I started our walking tour of Siem Reap.  After crossing the bridge across the Siem Reap River, we made our first stopover at the 900 sq. m. Hard Rock Cafe Angkor.  Here, we chatted with Mr. Chris Viengkhamvilay (Operations Manager) and Mr. Kevin Mernet (Bar Supervisor) on what's up with this Hard Rock Cafe branch.
Hard Rock Cafe Angkor - Cambodia's firstHard Rock Cafe Angkor - Cambodia's first
Housed in an old colonial-style building, Hard Rock Cafe Angkor is located within the King’s Road Angkor development complex, a 5,000 sq. m., open-air shopping center. It is situated next to the Old Market, on the corner of River Road and High School Road, just across the Siem Reap River. A distinctive giant illuminated guitar is hung outside to light the way. Their grand opening will be in October.
Jandy, Violet, Osang and the author at the terraceJandy, Violet, Osang and the author at the terrace
Cambodia’s first ever Hard Rock Cafe (a second one is slated to open in Phnom Penh in late 2015), this 260-seater café has 164 seats across two floors, plus an additional 96 seats on the riverside terrace. It also has a ground floor souvenir ‘rock shop where souvenir hunters can purchase t-shirts, caps, badges and other items.
The souvenir shopThe souvenir shop
Like its 175  sister cafes in 53 countries around the world, it boasts of an impressive collection of various and exclusive rock n’ roll memorabilia (from Hard Rock’s headquarters in Orlando, Florida), from over the decades lining its walls.
Rock n’ roll memorabiliaRock n’ roll memorabilia
Elvis Presley beltElvis Presley belt
On display are outfits worn by Shakira, Clarence Clemons (Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band), Joey Kramer (Aerosmith), Taboo (Black-Eyed Peas), and Zero (D'espairsRay); Elvis Presley’s belt; Madonna’s hat;  Eminem’s shoes; Brett Michael's (Poison) hat; and Johnny Rotten’s and Paula Abdul's jackets.
Outfits of Taboo, Clarence Clemons and ShakiraOutfits of Taboo, Clarence Clemons and Shakira
The Everly BrothersThe Everly Brothers
There are also mounted displays of drumsticks of  Kevin Franks (Silvertide), Jason Bonham (Led Zeppelin), Frank Beard (ZZ Top), Nicko McBrain (Iron Maiden), Joey Kramer (Aerosmith), Bun E. Carlos (Cheap Trick), Alex van Halen (Van Halen), Eric Singer (Kiss), Dave Grohl (Nirvana & Foo Fighters) and Rick Allen (Def Leppard).
Drumsticks on displayDrumsticks on display
Its typical All-American menu draws mainly on hearty American diner-inspired cuisine which includes the hickory barbecue bacon cheeseburger, New York strip steak and fried jumbo shrimp platter. Many of its ingredients, such as the burger beef patty, will be imported.
The author at the dining areaThe author at the dining area
Osang and Violet at the barOsang and Violet at the bar
To ensure that patrons have a good time, a “V.I.B.E host” will basically carry an iPad through the restaurant and approach the tables so that customers and diners can cue up music by requesting a song that we can put on straight away.  At the same time, they’ll be checking if everything is fine. In due course, there will be live music at the café, to coincide with the start of the high season.
Posing with Hard Rock Cafe management and staffPosing with Hard Rock Cafe management and staff
Hard Rock Cafe Angkor: King’s Road Angkor, 7 Makara, Achar Sva Street, Street 27, Watbo Village, Siem Reap City, Cambodia. Tel: +855 93 565 655. E-mail: info@hrcangkor.com.

Hotel and Inn Review: Bopha Angkor Hotel & Restaurant (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Date of Stay: July 30-31, 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 3-star, eccentrically designed and centrally-located Bopha Angkor Hotel & Restaurant, ideally located near the Siem Riep River, is set in the middle of a beautifully designed tropical garden and ponds.
Bopha Angkor Hotel & RestaurantBopha Angkor Hotel & Restaurant
It has 28 spectacularly furnished, Khmer-style (Khmer furniture; garudas and Khmer style skirting boards and coving) rooms – 11 standard single/double (16 sq. m., US$50), 19 superior single/double (21 sq. m., US$60), 2 de luxe garden single/double (32 sq. m., US$75), 1 connecting (32 sq. m., US$87), 4 de luxe pool side single/double (32 sq. m., US$83) and 1 bungalow suite (85 sq. m., US$120).
Our Superior SuiteSuperior Room
Suite (2)
Our spacious ground floor (402) superior room was fully equipped with free high speed wifi, airconditioning, ceiling fan, cable TV, digital in-closet electronic safe, mini-bar, coffee & tea making facilities and ensuite with private bath and shower (with shower gel and shampoo dispensers). However, they have no intercom so you have to go to the reception for everything.
Tropical garden within hotel groundsTropical garden within hotel grounds
Its very nicely-appointed restaurant, overlooking the garden, has 4 different options (Asian, Khmer, Continental and Fitness).  Their staff are friendly, helpful, honest and genuinely caring.
The free-form swimming poolThe free-form swimming pool
The hotel also has a cozy free form, salt water swimming pool with loungers; poolside bar; business center and offers a 24-hour front-desk, laundry, currency exchange, car hire, airport transfer, tours,  massage and room service.
The hotel restaurantThe hotel restaurant
It is also a very easy walking distance to many restaurants, a supermarket to buy water, Pub Street and the night markets. Across the bridge is Wat Preah Promreath Pagoda.
The reception deskThe reception desk
Bopha Angkor Hotel && Restaurant: Street 23, 512 Acharsva , Siem Reap, Kingdom of Cambodia. Tel: (855) 063 964 928. Fax: (855) 063 964 446. E-mail:resa@bopha-angkor.com. Website: www.bopha-angkor.com.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Hotel and Inn Review: Elite Boutique Hotel (Phnom Penh, Cambodia)

Date of Stay: July 28-30, 2016
RATING (Scale of 1 to 10)
Location: *******
Rooms: ******
Condition and Cleanliness: *******
Staff Performance: ******
Room Comfort: *******
Food and Beverage: *****
Other Amenities: *****
Value for Money: ******

Elite Boutique Hotel Elite Boutique Hotel
The fairly new, clean, comfortable & affordable, 19-room (de luxe single/twin/double, US$40-50), 3-star Elite Boutique Hotel, located along a tree-lined main road near the river front, has unfailingly polite, attentive and friendly staff,  and a very attractive coffee shop (Cafe Rendez-Vous) with outdoor dining, a nice garden/patio area & live band at night (7 PM to 12 midnight, Thursdays to Sundays).

Suite 202 (De Luxe room)De Luxe room
Its simple but well appointed and comfortable de luxe room has an LCD cable TV with 76 channels, digital in-closet personal safe, coffee/tea mini-bar station, IDD fax-phones plus internet connection, audio/visual entertainment , individually controlled air-conditioning, private bathroom with hot/cold water shower, bathrobe/slippers, extra pillows and 24-hour room valet and butler.

Cafe-Rendez-VousCafe-Rendez-Vous
The hotel also has two restaurants – the ground floor Elite Restaurant (open 7 AM – 12 midnight) and a Japanese restaurant with 2 private rooms with tatami seating.

Whiskey LoungeWhiskey Lounge
The hotel also has a sauna, hot tub, steam room and a spa offering Khmer traditional massage, full body massage, head/foot massage, oil/lotion massage, sakrab massage, hot stone massage and physiotherapy.  There’s also a bar (Whiskey Lounge) and a business center.  The hotel also offers , tours, currency exchange, airport transfer and laundry service. However, it has no elevator. 

Elite RestaurantElite Restaurant
Located 1.6 kms. from the city center and 13 kms. from the airport, it is within walking distance to Central Market and Sorya Shopping Mall plus nearby tourist attractions such as the Royal Palace, National Museum and Wat Phnom. There are many local restaurants and other stores nearby. 
Front DeskFront Desk
Elite Boutique Hotel: No. 53, St. 63 corner St. 184, Sangkat Pshthmey 3,Khan Doun Penh, Phnom Penh, Kingdom of Cambodia. Tel: +855 23 211 566. Fax: +855 23 212 366. E-mail:booking@eliteboutiquehotel.com and info@eliteboutiquehotel.com. Website:www.eliteboutiquehotel.com.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Hotel and Inn Review: Elios Hotel (Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam)

Date of Stay: July 27-29, 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 small, 81-room Elios Hotel, opened in 2007, sits across from a large, lush and lovely public park with lake (great for an early morning jog or leisurely stroll), close to the Ben Thanh market (the largest and most popular in Saigon), a supermarket, Notre Dame Cathedral, the Reunification Palace, the Saigon Opera House, Saigon Square and the Saigon River.
Elios HotelElios Hotel
Elios Hotel is also nicely located very near (but a comfortable distance from) the vibrant Bui Vien/De Tham backpackers’ area, with its souvenir shops, restaurants, bars, money changers and spas plus the convenient tour agency offices are just a few buildings away.  Beside the hotel is the  ABC bakery which sells great bread and cakes.
Front DeskFront Desk
Great interiorGreat interior
Its good, clean and comfortable 30 sq. m. de luxe room (1 of 9 such rooms, US$73) has electronic locks, airconditioning, wall-mounted flat screen LCD cable TV, IDD phone, free wi-fi internet service, tea/coffee making facility, in-room safety deposit box, mini-fridge, work desk and ensuite private bath with bathtub.
De Luxe RoomDe Luxe Room
This 3-star hotel, with slightly higher standards than its neighbors, also has 17 superior (22 sq. m., US$50), 46 senior superior (25 sq. m., US$63.50), 7 grand de luxe (358 sq. m., US$84) and 2 suites (with jacuzzi tubs, 38 sq. m., US$94.20).
Amenities at De Luxe RoomAmenities at De Luxe Room
Ensuite bathroomEnsuite private bathroom
A great plus for this hotel, aside from its bright, comfortable and modestly-sized rooms and great location, is their staff. They were very super friendly, courteous and helpful and attended to our every need and request with a smile on their face. In 2013, Tripadvisor awarded it a Certificate of Excellence based on ratings by hotel guests.
View of the city from the roof deck terraceView of the city from the roof deck terrace
The 12th floor airconditioned Blue Sky Restaurant, a good place to unwind, provided a good breakfast (6:30-10 AM) buffet variety that changes every day, a mix of traditional Vietnamese food and Western dishes (pancakes, omelettes, cold cuts, a variety of salads,toast, curries, pastries, etc.) plus excellent Vietnamese coffee and fresh fruit.
The breakfast buffet at the 12th floor restaurantThe breakfast buffet at the 12th floor restaurant
The restaurant also has a lovely roof terrace and bar with a stunning view of the city skyline (especially at night).  The hotel also has an elevator (not usually available in the area), a business center and the Orient Lounge at the ground floor and meeting rooms, the Elite Club (club and jacuzzi) and a non-airconditioned mini gym (with 4 machines) at the second floor. Another great value for money hotel.
Osang, Violet and Jandt at roof deck terraceThe roof deck terrace
Elios Hotel: 233 Pham Ngu Lao St.,  Dist. 1, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.Tel: (+84 8) 38 385 584 and (+84 8) 38 385 585.  Fax:(+84 8) 38 385 583.  E-mail: reservation@elioshotel.vn.  Website: www.elioshotel.vn. 

Monday, 14 July 2014

Georgia-Belarus Special Film Donation (De La Salle University)


Thelmo Luis Cunanan
Last Monday, a ceremony,held at the Yuchengco Hall of De La Salle University, highlighted the donation of two films, And Kathyn Will Live On and Father of a Soldier, plus several other Georgian and Belarusian cinematic masterpieces, to the university's library.  

Presenting the former was Ms. Anna Marie R. Ablan, Honorary Consul of the Republic of Belarus, while the latter was donated by Mr. Thelmo Luis "Buddy" Cunanan, Honorary Consul of the Democratic Republic of Georgia.  A short introduction to these films was presented  by Filipino screenwriter, director and author Dr. Clodualdo "Doy" del Mundo, Jr., Professor Emeritus of the Department of Communications.
Anna Marie R. Ablan
Accepting the film donations on behalf of the university was Bro. Michael J. Broughton FSC, Vice-Chancellor for the Lasallian Mission.  

The ceremony was emceed by Mr. Carlito "Lito" Casaje, President and Artistic Director of Dramatis Personae, and welcome remarks were delivered by Dr. Julio C. Teehankee, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. Master of Ceremonies was Dr. Melissa Dizon-Dulalia, Public Relations and Tourism Director of the Consulate of Georgia.

Bro. Michael J. Broughton FSC
The short (26 mins.), 2013 feature movie And Kathyn Will Live On, provided by the Embassy of Belarus in Jakarta, depicts the story of Khatyn, one of the hundreds of villages in wartime Soviet Belarus where the German occupiers exterminated the entire population. 

On March 22, 1943,  the 118th Schutzmannschaft Nazi battalion burned 26 houses, with their 149 inhabitants (including 75 children) inside, as punishment for collaboration with partisans.  Only one adult villager, Yuzif Kaminski, and 5 minors survived to tell the tale. Two other Khatyn women were lucky to be away from the village that day.

In 1969, the tragic fate of the murdered Belarusians of Khatyn was  commemorated in a vast, 50-hectare memorial, opened near Minsk, of 26 symbolic chimneys with bells (which rang every hour).
Dr. Clodualdo del Mundo, Jr.
Father of a Soldier (Djariskatsis mama), courtesy of the Georgian National Film Center,  is a 1964, 86 min. long black-and-white Georgian drama film based on a script by Suliko Jgenti and directed by Revaz Chkheidze

Playing the lead role is renowned Georgian actor Sergo Zakariadze (July 18, 1909 – April 13, 1971) who portrays Giorgi Makharashvili, an aging peasant wine grower who leaves his Georgian village and embarks on a dangerous journey to find his wounded son Goderdzi, a tankman and army lieutenant.
However, before Giorgi can get to the hospital in Dubovo, the son has already been sent back to his tank unit. 

The father cannot go back to his village, so he joins the Red Army and goes off into the front lines, accompanying the Soviet Army all the way to the final victory in Berlin where he is briefly reunited with the freshly wounded Goderdzi who dies in his father's arms.  

This touchy and realistic movie,  entered into the 4th Moscow International Film Festival (July 5-20, 1965), won Sergo the "Best Actor" honor.