Other Grandeur Travelers.

Saturday, August 18, 2018

My Love Affair with Le Labo: The Noir 29

I first fell in love with Le Labo, a cult favourite, when I stayed at the Refinery Hotel in New York City. They used the Santal line for their bath amenities and it was love at first smell. Since then, I was on the quest to add their line to my growing perfume collection. I have decided to talk about perfume on my blog to change things a little bit. Scents are powerful when we want a trip back to memory lane. As a perfume addict, purchasing a bottle is an intimate and personal experience because it reflects your mood and personality in some ways.

One of my recent perfume purchases is The Noir 29, which has an interesting story behind it. Before  our trip to Osaka, I had already made a mental note that I had to go to Le Labo. When it was time to buy it, not one sales lady had a clue what Le Labo was but I had a feeling they had it here. After all, the site said so! After asking a few people, I had resigned myself to the fact that perhaps the department store did not carry it. Was the site wrong? Just when I thought my luck had ran out, my olfactory cells came to the rescue. This was mad skill. Coming down from the top floor via the escalator, this familiar woody aromatic scent slowly filled my nose. It was unmistakably Le Labo. I told my friend and her son that we had to follow that scent. Et voila, within less than a minute, I saw the distinct Le Labo store! Hallelujah! The Noir 29 was calling my name. 

I am pleased to say that Le Labo The Noir 29 is heaven on my skin. It is the perfect blend of bergamot, fig, bay leaves and black tea leaves. It also has a combination of hay and tobacco as middle notes and base notes of cedar wood, musk and vetiver. It is a sensuous and fresh smell that leaves you wanting to spray more! But, there's no need since the the smell last for 10-12 hours! 

If you want to get this fragrance, check www.lelabofragrances.com. 

(P.S For my next purchase, I will be talking about Tom Ford's Fucking Fabulous perfume, my first blind buy in the country)

Friday, August 17, 2018

Natural Frequency Technology with Philip Stein

When two of your passions come together, you definitely need to make time for both. As of late, my life has been all about traveling to the resort from the clinic and that can take its toll. I decided to do a little experiment with my new favorite accessory- a watch from Philip Stein that has Natural Frequency Technology. After wearing it or a few weeks, I noticed that I felt more energized and more focused than usual. My sleep pattern has been back to normal as well. I might need to wear this 24/7 now, except in the shower (haha). (P.S I can't wait to wear this when I travel to my dream destination in a few months. It might be help me beat jet lag faster.

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Sirom Beach House: When Dreams Come True

A few years ago, I remember writing on my blog that I wanted to build a little beach house in the future. Little did I know that this dream would come true this year. After months of planning and countless trips from Manila to Dasol, our labor of love has finally come to fruition (at least the first phase). We are immensely proud of this project: Sirom Beach House. Sirom, which means shelter or shade in the local dialect, will be the chicest getaway in Dasol Bay. As one of the newest players in this industry, our hope is promotion of ecotourism in this fishing village and the whole province of Pangasinan (More importantly, less public videoke!). Never stop dreaming but make sure you do whatever it takes to get there.

Please Follow our IG @sirombeachhouse or Facebook page: Sirom Beach House. I will be giving 3d/2n soon. Stay tuned!

See you at Sirom soon!

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Friday, January 19, 2018

Bayud: Siargao's Newest IT Boutique Resort

I had always wanted to visit the idyllic island of Siargao before tourism swallowed it. Its meteoric popularity, both a blessing and a curse, was inevitable. Now, with the direct flights from Skyjet and Cebu Pacific, it will not be long until Siargao becomes ubiquitous on your Instagram feed. Such is the fate of our destinations in this country. 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Favorite Movie of the Year: Call Me By Your Name

"We had the stars, you and I. And this is only given once".

I normally do not make a movie recommendation but I will make an exception for this film. A couple of years ago, I found this book called "Call Me By Your Name" by literary genius and personal hero André Aciman at a specialty bookstore somewhere in London. Without a doubt, it was one of the most beautifully written books I had ever read during that time (It still is, actually). When I heard that they were going to turn it into a film, I was excited to know that they had cast two talented actors - Armie Hammer and newcomer Timothée Chalet, who were both perfect as Oliver and Elio, respectively. Director Luca Guadagnino did make this Italian summer dream come alive. Yes, some parts were cut from the book but it still captured its message about lust, first love and heartbreak. Each scene with Hammer and Chalamet is either glorious, sensual or heartbreaking (that I almost felt mine). This book/movie is quite special since it somehow mirrors parts of my life but the whole story will be for my own book one day. 

5/5 for the movie. And the book, it is always 6/5! 

Friday, December 15, 2017

Four Seasons Hotel Firenze: An Urban Sanctuary in Florence

It was the ideal escape from the cold winter of the Netherlands. My family planned an eight-day trip in Tuscany, my favorite region in Italy. We would start in Lucca and end in Tuscany's capital -- Firenze. Florence is a city where people live and breathe art. It also happens to be the location of one of my all-time favorite properties - Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. 

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Dedon Island Resort (Now called Nay Palad): Siargao Island's Top Luxury Resort

When the best outdoor furniture in the world decided to build their own resort in our country, everyone imagined it to be exceptional. Bobby Dekeyser, the owner of Dedon, had always wanted to build his own resort that will showcase and highlight all their beautiful creations made in Cebu. 

Dedon Island Resort (Now renamed Nay Palad) may not be an actual island as the name implies but it might as well be. Despite being located in General Luna, the home Cloud 9 for word class surfing, Dedon feels like a world away. Its unique location and lush tropical jungle landscape will make you feel like you have arrived somewhere else. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

Rizal Park Hotel: Restoring Manila's Grandeur

A few years ago (during my residency training), we went to this old and derelict Army and Navy Club where a period movie shoot was taking place.  I had no idea that this building even existed in Manila. We were tasked to invite actor Cesar Montano to open our fun run for the hospital. While walking in the hallways of the Army and Navy Club, I wondered how it would have looked like during the American occupation. I kept telling myself that if I had the means to save this beautiful property, I probably would. All I saw was the potential of this building to help restore Manila's grandeur. We cannot afford to lose another heritage building.

For those who do not know, the Army and Navy Club is actually steeped in history. Founded in 1898, the Club's original location was in our beloved Intramuros district. When urban planner Daniel Burnham came into the picture, the club was transferred to the present site where it would serve as a venue for the military and social set upon its completion in 1911. This iconic property was designed by William Parson, an American architect who trained at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in France. Unfortunately, the glory days of this elegant building would soon be over after the war. Without proper maintenance and support from the government, the future of the club seemed bleak.  Hope, however, was not lost. In 1991, the building was finally declared a National Historic Landmark by the National Historical Commission of the Philippines.  With the intent of restoring and preserving the old forgotten building, Oceanville Hotel and Spa Corporation decided that they would turn this into a world-class hotel. Thanks to the vision of Simon Lee Paz, we can finally see the beauty of this property with the opening of Rizal Park Hotel.

The Grand Lobby is the pièce de résistance of Rizal Park Hotel. I am certain that most guests who  visit the hotel for the first time will be snapping photos for their social media feed.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

5 Instagrammers to Fuel Your Wanderlust

Having been swallowed by my work lately as a practicing dermatologist, I haven't had time to properly satisfy my wanderlust.  I have then decided to compile a list of few of my favorite Instagrammers to inspire (and sometimes torture) myself when I am stuck. Here they are:

1) Carolyn from UK a.ka. @theslowtraveler. As someone who teaches Instagram photography, Carolyn certainly knows how to play with light and a proper filter. All her photos almost seem magical and straight out of a fairytale. You will know what I am talking about when you see her feed.

2. Marc Forne. I started following Marc, a model from UNO, when he posted photos from his Formentera Trip. I was instantly drawn to his hip and nonchalant attitude. He makes tanning look like it's the best thing in the world! Well, it actually is, Please wear sunblock though. And Reapply.
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Saturday, July 8, 2017

Casa Kalaw: Your Latest Home in El Nido

I just had to get this aerial shot of the Big Lagoon

(At one point during these challenging past months, I almost led myself into believing that "Adulting" would briefly halt my life's halcyon days. My old self, however, could not let that happen. I can never give up my one true love - Traveling. There should be room for it in my life one way or another).

A few days ago, I found myself back in my ultimate happy place - El Nido. This time, I was playing host and tour guide for good friends visiting from Hong Kong. After touring the world famous Puerto Princesa Underground River, we hired a private van and proceeded to the glorious Bacuit Bay. Timing was excellent since the 325-hectare Lio Tourism Estate opened its first resort called Casa Kalaw - a Filipino-inspired property located around 15 minutes from El Nido town proper and 5 minutes from Lio Airport. Kalye Artisano, Balai Adlao and Hotel Covo (for backpackers) will be launched soon, too. The whole Lio Tourism estate is a testament to Ayala Land's commitment to eco-tourism and sustainable development.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

I'M Hotel: Urban Escape in Makati

Barangay Poblacion in Makati City is experiencing some sort of rebirth lately. Its reputation as the Red Light District no longer precedes it. This side of Makati is now the home of the hippest cafés, restaurants, and bars.  It didn't come as a surprise to me when I heard that I'M hotel - a 5-star property - was finally breaking ground here. I'M hotel has a unique position because it is hotel of many "firsts" in the city.  Its signature facilities, location and design will surely appeal to all types of guests. The hotel's main feature is the Onsen Spa - the largest state-of-the-art spa in the Philippines. 

Friday, March 3, 2017

Mandapa, A Ritz-Carlton Reserve: The Best in Ubud, Bali (A Photoblog)

The Ritz-Carlton group has finally made an incredible and stunning debut in Ubud. Mandapa, which means temples in Sanskrit, is the dream destination that will shift the way you think about quintessential paradise. There is no better place to see and feel the magic of Bali's spiritual and cultural center. It is a special place where people can rest their mind, body and soul.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Conrad Hotel Manila: An Inspiration by the Bay

I sometimes forget how magnificent the sunsets are in Manila Bay. With certainty and pride, I believe it is one of the best in the world. Those sunsets even helped me in deciding where I would take my Dermatology Residency (Not a big factor but a bonus. I knew that sunsets would save me every time I had a bad day at the hospital). However, I noticed something was missing -- that little extra that would add life and inspiration to the bay. Last June 15 2016, that became possible when Conrad Hotel, through its partnership with SM group, opened its first property in the Philippines.

Designed to look like a luxury cruise ship, Conrad Manila definitely stands out. WOW architects from Singapore wanted to bring a refreshing addition to the hotels in Manila.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

East Hong Kong: New Favorite Hotel

A few of you must be wondering why I have been in Hong Kong longer than usual for the past few weeks. Let's just say I am going where the wind takes me these days. Something that may be worth pursuing has led me back there but I wont be talking about that personal part of my life. After all, this is a travel blog so let's focus on that.

Finding the unfamiliar in the familiar has constantly been an exciting thought. Since I take regular trips to Hong Kong, I had to change things a little bit. I moved out of Kowloon and Central to discover a different side of the island - The East. With no competition, East Hotel of Swire Hotels was the only accommodation that could make this new experience a special one. 

Despite its positioning as a business hotel, I could say the East Hotel is ideal even for leisure travelers, families and couples who want to have a relatively quiet staycation in the city. There was something homey about Tai Koo and its neighborhood that made me feel like I was integrated in the local community. The proximity of the hotel to the MTR (It is literally right beside it!) will make it easy for anyone to reach it. 

Designed by the CL3 Architects, East Hotel has taken advantage of natural lighting and art. The airy lobby has some good energy overflowing through it. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Hotel Icon Hong Kong: Staycation in Style

Having visited Hong Kong countless number of times since my pre-teen years, I could not remember a vacation when I was not smitten by its beauty and grand scale. The former British colony was my first glimpse of the harmonious cultural intersection of the east and the west. Seeing that solidified my love for travel. Now, I look forward to taking trips there at least once or twice a year to draw more inspiration. I recently found that dose of inspiration in a hotel in the middle of bustling Kowloon. Its name is Hotel Icon.

Hotel Icon, owned by the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, is a hotel that marries hospitality and art in style. It is special because their students, who are future hoteliers, come here to work and learn about hotel management and everything in between.

The lobby alone is worth the visit. Designed by French Botanist Patrick Blanc, Hotel Icon is proud to have Asia's largest vertical indoor garden. It is a wonderful to see all that green inside a building in Hong Kong.

When we arrived, we were whisked immediately to the sleek executive floor for our hassle-freecheck-in. On the same floor was the Above and Beyond restaurant, which would most likely be one of the most romantic spots for dining in the city. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tarsier Botanika: Bohol's Most Extraordinary Luxury Boutique Resort

I have a confession to make. When I fall in love, I fall fast and hard. This truth can also be said for my favorite resorts and hotels. Every time I see a property that makes my jaw drop, I tend to get lost in it. A few years ago, we ate at this beautiful cliffside restaurant called Tarsier Paprika -- our last stop before going back to Manila. It was love at first sight. My immediate question to one of the staff was: "Are they planning to build villas here? It would be a waste if they did not". I believed the whole project was not yet done and I was right. I knew the vision of its owners, Nicholas and Patricia Moussempes, was slowly being brought to fruition. After years of careful planning, they now have Tarsier Botanika - an extraordinary boutique resort in Panglao Island with 12 unique villas that reflect luxury in nature. It is nothing like the resorts you have seen in this country or anywhere in the world. 

Let me show you why this is one of my favorites through these photos. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

5 Reasons Why I love Pure Marula Facial Oil: The Pure Beauty OIl

With my profession as a board-certified dermatologist, the right skin care products will always be essential in my life. I am in constant search for the best ones here and around the world for my patients and myself. Recently, I have discovered this Miracle Oil that is perfect for all skin types. Let me introduce to all of you the Award-winning Marula by John Paul Selects: Pure Marula Facial Oil.   I cannot live without this being part of my regimen. Every time I travel, I bring this with me to treat and spoil my skin. 

Here are some of the reasons why I love this product:

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Padma Resort Ubud: Longest (Heated) Infinity Pool in Bali

A new resort has claimed the title of having the longest infinity pool in Bali - Padma Resort Ubud. Recenly launched a few months ago, Padma Ubud is the freshest baby in the luxury resorts segment of Bali. It is located around 40-45 minutes from Ubud Centre.

Stretching 89 meters, the pool of Padma Resorts Ubud gives you a breathtaking view of the lush jungle in this northern part of Ubud. The best feature of the pool is that it is HEATED. Yes, you heard that right. It can get quite nippy in the mornings and nights in this part of Bali.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Samata: A Peaceful and Beautiful Retreat in Bali

Every year, the opening of a new resort is inevitable in Indonesia's most popular destination. The challenge for most properties in Bali is making themselves stand out from the rest. Having a unique position in the market is necessary to elevate the resort experience to exciting and surprising ways. Otherwise, you will not make it in Bali.  

During my recent vacation here, I found one resort that had the "X" factor - The Samata. It is not located in the more popular areas like Kuta, Seminyak, Legian or Ubud. Situated in a quiet part of Sanur, The Samata is THE place for guests who completely want a relaxing getaway in Bali. The location is special since guests can have the best of both worlds -- the verdant rice fields directly fronting the whole property and the Indian Ocean from a short distance. Having only 10 exceptional and well-appointed Suites and Villas, The Samata has that air of exclusivity that I always look for. They even provide a 24-hour butler service. As part of the Lifestyle Retreats group, the Samata (which means the state of equilibrium between mind, body and soul in Sanskrit) promotes a more holistic kind of getaway. While eating healthy, they want guests to engage in sports or any fitness activity as well. I can attest that they have the most hardcore and impressive gym I had ever seen in a resort or hotel. 

Before arriving, I already knew this this trip was going to be about pure indulgence and pampering. I stayed in their beautiful Spa Suite (50 sqm), which was incredible since I had my own treatment room! They do know how to make things convenient for guests. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

My AirBnB Experience in Ubud: Bali's Cultural Center

(This is a Sponsored Post)

For obvious reasons, I am not really your AirBnB kind of traveler. I have always been been comfortable with my hotels and resorts. The first time I tried AirBnb was perhaps 5 or 6 years ago in London. Although it was not necessarily a bad experience, it was not the best either. Perhaps the reason for this was the fact that those were not the best options in the city. Now I am wiser.

Recently, I decided to get out of my comfort zone and give this a go one more time. I would say if there's one perfect place to do this again, it would be none other that the islands of the gods - Bali. My love affair with this island will continue to burn until I have stayed (or seen) all of  my favourite resorts here (That is quite impossible but I will do my best).

In between my resort stays, I chose one of the villas in charming Ubud for a change. To my surprise, my villa was actually part of a small resort near Ubud Centre called Suarti Boutique Village. My fears suddenly vanished! My chance of living in Bali "Eat, Pray" Love" style might have been thrown out of the window but it did not matter any more . The good thing about this was that I felt more comfortable and safer knowing that I could call someone at the front desk every time I needed something (True enough, I called them for a lot of things).

Since all the one-bedroom villas were booked, I was upgraded to a huge two-bedroom villa. I had no problems with that, of course.

My villa went beyond my expectations. I had a spacious common area with dining table and kitchen. Right in front was the Ubud I had imagined -- verdant surroundings that will relax any tired mind and soul. 

Thanks to Smart Communication's partnership with AirBnb, I was able to able to do this. It was an opportunity that I could not miss. if you are a SMART prepaid or Postpaid subscriber (I have been a one for more than a decade), their new promo entitles you to a P1,200 discount for a single eligible booking. Smart will give you a unique promo code when you text SMART Airbnd to 2855 for free. As soon as you get your code, you can already use your chosen Airbnb listing. A minimum of P4,500 is needed for this promo. Quite easy and brilliant, eh? 

Promo is until December 15, 2016 but don't fret since the codes can still be used for any booking until March 31, 2017!

Cannot wait to check more amazing AirBnBs around the world!