Saturday, 23 May 2015

Hotel and Inn Review: Taft Tower Hotel (Manila)

Date of Stay: May 23-24, 2015

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

The hotel entrance
Front Office
Taft Tower Hotel, a 2-star business hotel beside the De La Salle University (DLSU) campus opened last May 2004, has 44 spacious and well-appointed rooms (upper and lower level) with individually controlled airconditioning, private bath with hot and cold shower and bidet, IDD/NDD telephone, cable TV and free wi-fi.  

The hotel has three room categories - Superior, De Luxe and Corner Suite (PhP2,600-3,600). Corner suites have a sitting area, dining area, kitchenette, microwave oven and fridge. De Luxe and Corner Suites have bathtubs. Some rooms have great views over the city skyline.  Free wi-fi is also available at the hotel lobby.
Hotel lobby

Board room
The hotel also has a 20-pax board room, fully-equipped business center and 24-hour front desk. The ground floor has several restaurants, 24-hour convenience store, internet café, bank ATM and a coffee shop.  The second floor has 3 spacious function rooms with complete basic facilities.  

The hotel also offers currency exchange, valet, airport shuttle (surcharge), concierge, laundry, dry cleaning, car rental and room service.  The hotel is a short 5-min. walk to the Vito Cruz or Quirino Ave. LRT Station and a 10-min. walk to Harrison Shopping Center and SM Harrison. SM Mall of Asia is a 5-km. drive away. The hotel is also a 45-min. drive to the NAIA International Airport (via Roxas Blvd.).  
Superior room

Taft Tower Hotel: 29/F, EGI Taft Tower, 2339 Taft Ave, Malate, Manila, 1004 Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 567 0651 to 53.  E-mail: and

Friday, 8 May 2015

Resort Review: Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa (Lapu-Lapu City, Cebu)

Date of Stay: May 8-10, 2015

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

The approximately 7-hectare, family-friendly, 158-room Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa, a Class "AAA" ,  resort established in July 1989 with 30 rooms (the 64-room Garden Wing was added 2 years later), is a member of the Bluewater Resorts group, a chain of 3 resorts owned by the wholly Filipino Alegrado family from Butuan City in Mindanao.  

Renovated in January 2007 (with the new Amuma Spa Wing added), by architect and wood artist Benji Reyes, it now bears Benji's signature mark on modern contemporary Filipino architecture - thatch roofs, capiz windows, the use of a lot of recycled wood, wooden sculpted furniture, airy verandas, etc..

The resort has 20 Premier De Luxe Rooms, 5 Royal Bungalows, 83 Deluxe Rooms and 50 Amuma Spa Suites. 

Guests are transported to their respective rooms and suites via their golf cart.   Aside from the design and cleanliness of their well-appointed airconditioned rooms, their size was also impressive.  Each room comes with the resort's trademark “floating beds.” 
Royal Bungalow

Room amenities include a mini bar, a wall-mounted flat screen cable TV, NDD/IDD telephone, a large skylighted bathroom with free-standing bathtub, closet, bidet and separate shower with rainshower head, private veranda and coffee/tea making facility plus free wi-fi. The very Filipino furniture in the room as 'well as throughout the resort were also designed by Benji Reyes.   
Lagoon-shaped swimming pool
Scattered across the property and set among huge balete and talisay trees and bamboo groves are three inviting, beach-inspired, newly-renovated lagoon-shaped swimming pools (one of which has a kiddie slide), all with a shallow depth ideal for children.  

Pool towels are provided for guest use and all pools have lifeguards on duty.  The resort is known for its Marine Wildlife Saltwater Lagoons which is filled with assorted tropical fish including groupers, clown fish and a few baby black tip reef sharks. A scheduled shark and fish feeding activity is offered daily at 4 PM. 
Shark feeding at the Marine Wildlife Saltwater Lagoon
Blacktip shark
The 110 m. long white sand beach front, more spacious than other Mactan resorts, is surrounded by golden coconut palm trees, talisay trees, thatch huts with beach beds, a beach volleyball court and life-size chessboard.  
The 110 m. long beach front

Banana boat
Wave Raider
Ocean kayaking
The beachfront Aquamania, the resort’s complete aqua sports facility, offers ocean kayaking (PhP800/hr. and PhP450/30 mins), scuba-diving (regular dives and certification courses), snorkeling (PhP250 for mask and snorkel, +P250 with fins and flippers), stand up paddleboarding (PhP900/hr.), Wave Raider (Ph3,500/hr. and PhP1,800/30 mins.), Wake Raider with banana boats (PhP5,000/hr., PhP3,000/30 mins./PhP2,000/15 mins.), wakeboarding (PhP6,000/hr.), Hobie Cats (PhP1,000/hr.), parasailing (PhP3,500/15 mins.), coastline cruises (PhP2,800) and island-hopping. 
Bluewater Private Island 

About 65 m. from the beachfront is the 1.1-hectare, man-made white sand breakwater called the Bluewater Private Island, a private and ideal way to view the cove and open sea. 

Spotted with coconut palm and cabanas, it also provides resort guests with an additional area to bask under the sun. The island can be reached by swimming, kayaking, paddle boating or wading through shallow water at low tide. It can be rented out for romantic, intimate and exclusive weddings (it can seat 1,300 guests) and/or private dining.
Premier De Luxe

De Luxe Room
Garden Wing
The 44.12 sq. m. Premier De Luxe Rooms either have 2 double beds, a king bed or 2 queen beds. 

The native-styled, quaint and cozy Deluxe Rooms have capiz shell windows and a private veranda that opens to seascape views or tropical gardens. The 21.76 sq. m. Beach Wing has 2 single beds while the 28.6 sq. m. Garden Wing has 1 double bed and 1 single bed. 
Garden Wing
Fishing Village
Mondo Mediterraneo
The well-appointed, quaint and expansive, 53.4 sq. m. Royal Bungalows, located along the beach, has a comfortable set-up, with 1 king bed, a separate living space and a spacious balcony with hammocks.  
It has fine views of the white sand beach and Bluewater Private Island. 

Allegro Restaurant

Barrio Fiesta!
Cebuano Street Fest
There are 5 food and beverage outlets.  The 24-hour Allegro Restaurant, the main restaurant, offers Filipino, Asian and continental cuisine including fresh seafood while dining al fresco at a patio by the swimming pool. 

They serve daily buffet breakfast and ala carte or buffet lunch and dinner. Staff here make sure that everything they serve is fresh and of quality. Their breakfast buffet includes breads, pancakes, bacon, corned beef, crispy squid, fried or steamed rice, etc.  They also have a noodle station, omelet station, salad station, dimsum lane (siomai, siopao), native chocolate and fruits. Their flavor and variety was really good.

Taste of Asia
All Steak Night
Throughout the week, a variety of theme dinners and entertainment are offered. Sundays is All-Steak Night, Mondays Mondo Mediterraneo, Tuesdays Taste of Asia, Wednesdays Cebuano Street Fest (with Pangulitawo Dance Show), and Thursdays Churrasco with Latin Twist.   

Friday’s dinner buffet is a Fishing Village theme featuring fireball dancers.  Every Saturday is the popular Barrio Fiesta (Country Feast), featuring another dinner buffet of Filipino specialties, entertainment by live serenaders and a cultural show that highlighted native folk dances. By the end of the show, the guests were encouraged to join the performance. All shows start at 7:30 PM and costs PhP1,250 net per person. 
Cove Live Seafood Restaurant

Live seafood
The cool and breezy Cove Live Seafood Restaurant, Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort’s premier restaurant overlooking the Bluewater Private Island and the open sea, offers ala carte lunch and dinner menus, choosing the freshest sea bounty varieties from seawater aquariums and have them prepared to your liking. 
Its yummy seafood, prepared by Bluewater's Executive Chef Gilbert Alan Mathay, includes oysters baked in lemon butter, scallops baked in garlic butter sauce, steamed pugapo (grouper) served with ginger and sesame-soya sauce among others.  Open daily for lunch, from 11 AM to 3 PM, and dinner, from 6 PM to 10 PM.  
Molto Italiano
Oyster Bar
Molto Italiano, an Italian cafe, offers brick oven specialties, with gourmet pizza as its trademark, plus fresh salads, pasta, sandwiches and desserts. Open daily, from 11 AM to 9 PM. 
The open-air Oyster Bar, located on the shores of Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort, has a great view of the beachfront, the Bluewater Private Island, the open sea and the sunset.  They offer happy hour specials. Open daily, 10 AM to 10 PM.
Amuma Spa

 The Amuma Spa(anuma means "pamper" in Visayan)  offers the traditional Filipino hilot, pik pik kawayan sa siki (foot massage using bamboo poles), all best enjoyed in the comfort of your room, as well as Western and Asian massage therapies such as water shiatsu (watsu), Swedish, Namikoshi Shiatsu, Duot, Hot Stone and Travel Revive Fusion. Spa Packages are also available.  
Amuma Gazebo 

The spa has 3 single treatment rooms with veranda; 2 suites with private jacuzzi, steam bath and verandah; a fully-equipped gym and health club; men’s and women’s locker rooms; outdoor jacuzzi and sauna; hilot pavilion, beach gazebo, garden gazebo; spa boutique; watsu (water shiatsu) pool; a pavilion where one can learn tai-chi or arnis; and a hair and beauty salon (manicure; hair, hand and foot care treatments; waxing services and make-up application). The use of spa facilities is free for guests availing of treatments. Guests under the age of 18 are not permitted. 
Juice Bar
The Amuma Spa Café & Juice Bar, complementing the Amuma Spa’s relaxing therapies, offers healthy fare.  
They include fresh fruit and salads, light meals and sandwiches plus innovative fruit and vegetable-based drinks, milkshakes and flavored iced teas. Open daily, 10 AM to 5 PM. 
Amuma Spa Suite

The luxuriant and expansive Amuma Spa Suites, perfect for those who want to unwind and indulge in Amuma Spa treatments, is located in the Amuma Spa Wing, close to the treatment pavilions.  
It has a private veranda that offers a relaxing vista of the lagoon-style pool and tropical gardens and a spacious bathroom that offers an al fresco shower and bath. The 42.5 sq. m. Spa Suites has 2 queen beds while the 58 sq. m. Spa Royale Suite has 1  king bed or 2 queen beds. 
The octagonal, thatch roofed Main Lobby
Gift shop
The resort also has a convention hall, conference rooms, boutique, gift shop, children’s playground, game room (billiards, table tennis), tennis court and children’s playroom (Dolpo Kids Club).  

Wi-fi hotspots are also located at the lobby and the resort area. The Bluewater Gallery, a venue for local Philippine artists to showcase their works to both local and international audiences, also hosts events and workshops as part of its art appreciation and educational goals. 
Bluewater Gallery 
The resort also offers airline booking/confirmation, airport transfers, baggage storage, beach carts, in-house nurse, on-call company doctor, laundry/pressing service, luxury sightseeing, mail service, parking, safety deposit boxes , tourist transport, wake-up call, currency exchange. 

Their service is very good and their staff is very courteous and efficient. The reception desk was welcoming. 

Golf cart
They deal with each and every customer in a professional yet friendly manner. Overall it was a very pleasant experience. In my opinion, Bluewater Maribago Resort is probably  the best resort in Mactan Island in terms of its rooms, staff, service, facilities and cleanliness. The resort may be over 25 years old but, as the saying goes, “the older the wine, the better is it’s taste.”The resort is a 25-30-min. drive from Mactan International Airport.  

Front Desk

Bluewater Maribago Beach Resort & Spa: Buyong, Maribago, Lapu-Lapu City, 6015, Cebu. Tel: (032) 492-0100. Fax: (032) 492-1808.  E-mail:   Website:  Metro Manila sales office: Rm. 704, Cityland Herrera Tower, 98 Herrera cor. Valero Sts., Salcedo Village, Makati City, Metro Manila. Tel: (02) 887-1348 and (02) 817-5751. Fax: (02) 893-5391.