Monday, 15 June 2015

Hotel and Inn Review: Asia Grand View Hotel (Coron, Palawan)

Date of Stay: June 15-17, 2015

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

Asia Grand View Hotel

The Asia Grand View Hotel, in operation since August 26, 2011, has 20 distinct, comfortable, clean and elegant rooms inspired by the contemporary Asian arts and Palawan crafts – the 35 sq. m. Superior Room (Bay View, 2 rooms), the 46 sq. m. Superior Room (Garden View, 6 rooms) and 46 sq. m. De Luxe Room (12 rooms).  Price range (per night): PhP6,600-7,700.
De Luxe Garden and Swimming Pool View Room

All rooms have airconditioning; fan; comfortable, firm beds; quality linen; nice flat screen cable TV; DVD player; intercom; mini-bar; in-room safe; walk in closet; balcony and free internet access (wi-fi). 

The private bathrooms are roomy, with centralized water heater and wooden sliding door, and are divided into 3 sections - shower, water closet/lavatory and the dresser. 

De Luxe rooms, with their luxuriously homely feel, have 2 beds and a hammock on the balcony. The second floor rooms have wooden floors while the ground floor has tiled floors and higher ceiling. The use of wood in the decor was a great touch.
Bay View Bar & Restaurant

The Bayview Bar & Restaurant, its family-friendly food and beverage outlet, is especially enchanting during cocktail hours when guests can gather to watch the breathtaking sunset, one of the most spectacular one could ever see. 

This restaurant, at the highest point of the property, has a view deck/terrace with an excellent, picturesque view of the town and Coron Bay (here, you’ll know why the hotel is called "Asia Grand View").  


Maria and Jimi Ormita
Its atmosphere is good, with a cool sea breeze and lovely ambiance. The wine selection is very good. 

You can also enjoy stargazing while being serenaded by the cicadas from the nearby hill. 

Every night, the warm and amiable Jimi and Maria Ormita, a lovely couple with great humor, performs acoustic entertainment and will serenade you while you are dining. It is probably the coolest place in Coron town.
The restaurant has an extensive and diverse menu, planned by consultant chefs in Australia and Germany that includes fresh and tasty Filipino and Western meals.  

It offers good choices for breakfast (bacon, meat, cheese, salad, cereals, etc.) including a omelet bar. As a guests’ option, romantic, candle-lit dinners are also offered, either at pool side or the rooftop balcony.  Weddings and special events, with remarkable, simple yet stylish set ups and full attentive services, may be held at the restaurant, function rooms, by the pool side or by the garden.

The two-tiered (you can jump down, over a waterfall, from upper level to the dive pool), beautiful, clean, chemical free salt water infinity pool, the centerpiece of the grounds, is inviting, crystal clear, quiet and the water is not so cold.  

Open from 7 AM to 11 PM, its cleanliness is maintained on a daily basis and has a depth of from 2 to 6 ft.
The hotel is located on a hill so there are quite a number of steps to go to and from the rooms (which are scattered at different levels) to the restaurant. 

The walk up and down may be tiring but it is not an unpleasant walk. In fact, it adds to the charm of the place as the path goes through the lush, colorful and well kept gardens, lovely cashew trees, bougainvilleas, gumamelas and passes by the infinity pool.  The steps leading down to the rooms and the pool are well made and actually wide enough.

Lake Kayangan

Dive and Activity Center
Tangat Wreck
The front desk arranges any tours that you would like such as island hopping and trips to Calauit Safari Park, Kayangan Lake, Mt. Tapyas, etc.  

Its Coron Reef Dive Shop, opened last June 1, 2015, has professional dive team of PADI and SDI-accredited dive instructors and  dive masters headed by Swiss national Mr. Martin Huber.  

Diver at Olympia Maru

They  offer world-class, reef and coral diving at 11 World War II shipwrecks, Barracuda Lake, the marine park, Siete Pecados, etc. and dive safaris around Busuanga & Apo Reef. 

One of the resort’s pools is specially designed for dive training. They also offer technical diving and dive courses up to instructor level. Coron is also known for the rare dugongs.

Function room
Billiards
The hotel offers affordable massages in your room or in their outdoor massage tent within the premises. 

They also have very affordable tour packages for going around the island. For fitness buffs, you can do a 4.5-km. walk around the Governor Drive-National Highway loop (you can ask for directions from the staff or look it up in map). 

The hotel also has a nicely appointed lobby area, billiards, indoor games, a karaoke area, business center with internet access and offers shuttle bus service, room service,  free parking and airport transportation. During brown outs, the hotel has its own generator.
The hotel staff

Their impeccable hotel service is top notch. The warm and friendly staff of Asia Grand View, another strong point of this hotel, was very helpful, with always a smile on their handsome and pretty faces.  

They seem to genuinely enjoy interacting with the guests and making them feel at home. When you board the pick up van for your trip back to Busuanga Airport (only 35 mins. away), the hotel staff, Jimi and Maria will all gather at the entrance and serenade you with a farewell song as they bid you a safe trip home.
The view deck

Ashy Drongo
Spot-throated woodpecker
This environmentally-friendly hotel supports efforts to conserve natural resources.  

It is actually surrounded by a bird sanctuary (you can see up to 27 species of birds here) which was completely preserved during its construction.  

They also plant their own produce and guests can pick their own fruit off the trees.
The location of the hotel is very nice - not along the National Highway and far away enough from Coron town to be really quiet but near enough to be able to run into town (just 1 km. away), on a local tricycle (PhP15 fare), for some souvenir shopping, and the pier (the gateway to the charming underwater world of Palawan). They even have accredited tricycle drivers who can be hired to take guests around town. 

This chic, idyllic property, truly a perfect place for travelers who want a combination of ambiance and comfort, is a little gem and hidden getaway which is full of surprises and exceeded all our expectations. One ideal venue I would not hesitate to return to for unparalleled relaxation, elegance and comfort combined with personalized Asian hospitality.

Asia Grand View Hotel: Governor's Ave., Jolo, Brgy. 5, Coron, Palawan.  Tel:(+632) 788-3385. Mobile number: (0999) 881-7848. E-mail: gsd@asiagrandview.com. Manila sales office: Unit 504, Richmonde Plaza, 21 San Miguel Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City.  Tel: (+632) 695-3078 and 531-8380.  Mobile number: (0917) 550-7373 to 75 Fax: (+632) 695-3078.  E-mail: info@asiagrandview.com. Website: www.asiagrandview.com

Airline Review: SkyJet Airlines - Flying the Boutique Way

The 80-seater, 4-engine British Aerospace 146-100 jet 

Coron
Coron, in Palawan, has always been a dream destination of mine and this discerning traveler’s second journey there was made more memorable as me and our media team  flew there with the utmost convenience, comfort, and style, on board SkyJet Airlines’ 80-seater, 4-engine British Aerospace 146-100 jet. 

This is the same VIP jet aircraft used by Queen Elizabeth, Prince Charles, Prince William and the rest of the British royal family.
The four Avco Lycoming ALF 502 turbofan engines fixed on pylons underneath the high wing

Boarding......
Magnum Air (SkyJet), Inc., operating as SkyJet Airlines, is the country’s first boutique leisure airline.  

In December 2012, it started its operations as an air charter company, launching, for its initial operation, charter flights to serve the growing number of group travelers and tourists to Basco in Batanes province, the only airline, at that time, flying the under served, missionary route to this far-northern area of the Philippines.  It started regular commercial flights on December 14, 2012. 
All aboard..... (photo: Ms. Lindy E. Pelicer)
Landfall at Francisco Reyes Airport in Coron
After a few months, this airline also launched its inaugural flights to the exotic island dream destinations of Coron (Palawan), Virac (Catanduanes) and Boracay (Aklan). 

In 2013, it also served charter flights to Balesin Island, an exclusive high-end and first-class resort in Quezon province. This full service airline is owned and managed by Dino Reyes Chua. 
The spacious cabin

Ms. Cheena Liao Pe - PR and Events
Officer of SkyJet Airlines
Our media group consisted of yours truly (blogging as well as writing for the Business Mirror), bloggers Ma. Joy Calipes-Felizardo (www.gstronomybyjoy.com) and Ms. Aylin Vedad (www.thedailyposh.net), Mr. Amadis Ma. Guerrero of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Mr. Angelo Gaspar Garcia of the Manila Bulletin, Ms. Lindy E. Pelicer (also writing for the Business Mirror) and Mike Potenciano (International race/rally driver, motorsport organizer, radio & TV host/producer and editor of Speed Magazine). 
Joining us was event organizer Mr. Pete Dacuycuy (with son PJ), Ms. Issa Dimacali (Asia Grand View Hotel) and Ms. Cheena Liao Pe (PR and Events Officer of SkyJet Airlines). 
The more than ample leg room

Cabin Crew- Ms. Jeany Bautista and Ms. Jeanie de Luna
As part of our ticket, SkyJet included free baggage allowances - 10 kgs.  of checked in luggage and 5 kgs. for hand-carry luggage. Their cabin crew, Ms. Jeany Bautista and Ms. Jeanie de Luna, were very kind and accommodating as they served our snacks and beverages.  

Our uneventful, 30-min.short-haul flight, expertly piloted by Capt. John Jatico (assisted by Capt. Marvin Abadiano and Capt.Francis Anagaran), went on smoothly and we eventually arrived in Coron. 
Capt. Marvin Abadiano, Capt. John Jatico and Capt.Francis Anagaran
Boracay - the country's No. 1 tourist destination
Our aircraft, widely used in London City Airport (which has a short runway and steep approach) due to its S.T.O.L. (Short Take-Off and Landing) main feature, is perfect and ideal for small island airports such as Francisco Reyes Airport in Coron, with its short runway which bigger jet aircraft cannot land on.  It also works well with undeveloped and unpaved runways. 

It was just as if I was flying with an Airbus or Boeing plane, with its interior also similar to these jet aircraft.  They didn’t want to sacrifice the comfort and convenience of passengers that’s why all the seats that they offered were Business Class or VIP seats. In fact, I found their seats to be quite comfortable, with plenty of leg room , even for my  5’-10” (177 cm.) frame.  Due to the very low level of operational  noise of its four Avco Lycoming ALF 502 turbofan engines, the aircraft has become renowned for its very quiet operation.  In fact, it has been marketed under the name "Whisperjet."
Batanes

Skyjet Airlines: Manila Domestic Airport, Parking A, Terminal 4, NAIA Complex, Brgy. 191, Pasay City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 863-1333 and (02) 823-3366. E-mail: sales@skyjetair.com. Website: www.skyjetair.com

Skyjet Airlines has 4 times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays an Sundays, 10:30 AM), 30-min. flights from Manila (NAIA Terminal 4) to Coron (Francisco Reyes Airport) and 4 times weekly (Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays an Sundays, 5:30 AM), 1 hour and 15 min. flights from Manila to Basco Airport.