Other Grandeur Travelers.

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: 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 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.
A post shared by MARC FORNE (@marcforne) on 

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!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

La Mamounia Hotel: Velvet Dreams in Marrakech

In any city in the world, there is that one hotel that defines and represents it. In Marrakech, it is no less than La Mamounia - a historic and opulent palace hotel within the Medina. With its roots deeply tied to the city, it is no wonder that this hotel has become a symbol of Marrakech's past and future. La Mamounia, a member of the Leading Hotels of the World (LHW), embodies Moroccan luxury at its finest.

Enjoy this PHOTOBLOG. 

Greeted with Moroccan hospitality by these gentlemen.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Amanjena: Peach-Walled Oasis in Marrakech

Outside the vibrant city of Marrakech, a peach-walled paradise with views of the majestic Atlas mountains exists. Located around 12 kilometers south of Morroco's tourist capital, Amanjena captures Arabian and Moorish fantasy to perfection. Architect Ed Tuttle outdid himself here when he designed the first Aman property in North Africa. Despite its grand scale, Amanjena does not seem to overwhelm the senses. Dotted by olive trees and date palms, the zen-like atmosphere will captivate any guest who visits. Life will never be the same after that.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Salaya Beach Houses: An Exceptional Luxury Boutique Resort in Dauin

It was Resort Love at first sight. Salaya Beach Houses is a dreamy tropical dive and yoga resort in Dauin, Negros Occidental. Built with love and passion, Salaya was a private retreat for an American couple but they eventually decided to open its doors to everyone.