Other Grandeur Travelers.

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. 

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Atmosphere Resorts and Spa: Dumaguete's Premier Luxury Eco-Resort

Negros Oriental was a revelation. I never thought I would enjoy it as much as I did. It was a packed beach vacation that showed some us of the country's best. Our home here was Atmosphere Resorts and Spa, a beautiful eco-resort within a seven-acre coconut plantation in Dauin (a municipality outside Dumaguete City). It was the absolute jump-off point to the islands within the region.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Amanpulo: The Most Beautiful Island in the Philippines

Some vacations are truly more special than the rest that they almost become transcendental.  This island, the most beautiful one I had ever seen, was clearly a defining moment in my life. It marked the start and end of a lot of things. I kept telling Ivan (my personal guest assistant) that I was most likely the happiest person on that island when I arrived. No one could surpass my bliss. Unquestionably. When dreams do come true, it still feels like dream. Pamalican Island, more popularly known as Amanpulo, was it.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Pursuing Your Passion Without Getting Broke Through Security Bank

With my passion for travel, sometimes I tend to forget about the importance of financial security. I know that living in the moment is part of my philosophy but it is also essential to plan for the future Recently, I have decided to get out of my comfort zone and explore the world of UITF or Unit Investment a Trust Fund. I had always wanted to do this but the timing was always off. When I was invited by Game Changer PH to attend their talk at the Fairmont Hotel called "Pursuing Your Passion without Getting Broke", I knew I could not miss that opportunity. 

Basically, UITF pools money of investors (that's you) and professional fund managers will handle that investment for you. They choose the best investment outlets so you can get the return you deserve. The good thing about this is that everything will mostly depend on how much of a risk taker you are. You can go from minimal to hight risk. Most importantly, this process is easy! You can start investing in UITFs with just P10,000. If you have money sitting in your savings account, it might be more practical for you to put in in a place where it can generate income. I know this may sound a bit complicated and daunting but it is not.

There's really no better time to invest than NOW.  The whole world awaits. 

For inquiries, please call (02) 8887371
Email trustmarketing@securitybank.com.ph


Friday, August 19, 2016

Under The Stars Luxury Apartment: Boracay's Secret Haven

If you are a group of 5 or 6 people planning a trip to Boracay, you should consider staying in Under the Stars (UTS) Luxury Apartment. UTS can give you all that privacy you want without being too far from the main action. Situated along Tambisaan beach (around 10-15 mins to D'Mall or Station 2. They have a regular shuttle service for this), UTS is the one of the most impressive accommodations in Boracay. Imagine a 500-sqm apartment all for you -- a complete bargain on this island! Guests also get their own butler who will be at your beck and call. 

Here are some of the photos. 

The Living Room. SO MUCH SPACE! The artworks add so much character to the whole apartment. During some of our "lazy" time, we would sit and decipher what some of them could mean.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Metropolitan by COMO Bangkok

The only thing I am not excited about whenever I visit Bangkok is the damn humidity. It is as bad or even worse than Manila. As for everything else though (food, sights and hotels), this bustling city never runs out of the best ones. In fact, Bangkok has all of them in excess. 

My hotel pick this time was the Metropolitan Hotel by Como for a few good reasons. The most essential among these was that I had never stayed in any of the COMO hotels and resorts before. They have thirteen (13) incredible properties scattered around the world -- from the mountains of Bhutan to the atolls of Maldives. Despite being relatively new in the hospitality scene, COMO has received a good following from a particular set of travelers. Founded by Christina Ong, a Singaporean entrepreneur, the COMO properties have been handpicked to make your experience a remarkable one. They believe that the "philosophy of hospitality and service should be both shared by the owners and the employees". 

When we reached the hotel, I carefully studied the sleek and minimal design of the lobby. I knew nothing about Chi but if did, I would say it flowed easily here. The Metropolitan's interiors and choice of furniture felt like a mix of Thai and Japanese design sensibilities. You could almost imagine it being an Aman property without the hefty rates.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Monday, July 11, 2016

Lunch at L'Oiseau Blanc in Peninsula Paris

Ethereal 800-Glass blown Dancing Leaves by Lasvit

My love-hate relationship (mostly love) with Paris is not known too many. It is a city that has brought me incredible bad luck that it is almost impossible for me to go there without anything crazy happening. Those stories, however, are reserved for my book. Let's just say I can give the Talented Mr. Ripley a run for his money. Seriously. 

For now, I will be talking about my favorites during my pre-specialty board exam trip in Europe. First one is all about dining with a view at L'Oiseau Blanc, Paris's hottest dining destination. It is located on the 6th floor of the newly-restored and ultra-luxurious Peninsula Paris -- a stunning 1928 Haussmanian building near Champs Elysees. 

L'Oiseau Blanc is an aviation-themed French restaurant with a 360-degree view of Paris and its most famous structure, of course. Acclaimed Alsatian Chef Sidney Rebel is at the helm of this beautiful restaurant. He once worked for celebrated Chef Pierre Gagnaire before transferring to Avenue Kléber. Booking a table was not that hard as I thought but it would still be advisable to book at least 3-4 weeks ahead (I made a personal booking the night before. That meant I was there physically to secure everything). If you want the best table in the house, make sure you get Table number 17. It is the perfect setting for a special romantic evening in Paris. You will not go wrong with any table though. 

The Veal from Limousin was special - exceptionally succulent and tender (I had more photos of the food in my phone but it crashed recently).
The gorgeous desserts lived up to my expectations as well. Executive Pastry Chef Julien Alvarez is the man behind all these beautiful and decadent treats. The first one I got was the Chocolate Star. The praline and macae ice cream were the perfect ending for lunch. I also recommend the signature L'Envol --  a beautiful cake with a propeller on top of it. It is basically chocolate biscuit and custard, raspberry sorbet and hazelnut streusel. 
During summer, you can could have a fabulous brunch in the terrace with a panoramic view of Paris.
Aside from the food and views, the highlight of this restaurant is a replica of L'Oisseau Blanc, the plane that Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli used as they attempted to cross the Atlantic Ocean in 1927.
L'Oiseau Blanc is certainly one of the best palace hotel restaurants in Paris now. It hasn't earned its Michelin starts yet but I wouldn't be surprised if it will one day. 
L'Oiseau Blanc (Hotel Peninsula Paris)
19 Avenue Kléber, 75116 Paris, France

Phone: +33158126730
Hours: Lunch 12:00 (noon) - 2:30 PM
Dinner 7:00 PM - 1030 PM
Bar/Terrace 12:00 PM - 1:30 AM

Monday, March 21, 2016

Pangulasian Island Resort: El Nido's Island of the Sun

As travel bloggers, we often get asked the most obvious and predictable questions. The number one on that list of questions would be: "What is your most favorite place in the world?".  In my case, my answer almost seems like a knee jerk reflex - automatic and unforced. It is and will always be the same - El Nido.

I have always thought of our Palawan Islands as a dream. El Nido is a dream within that dream. My first life-changing trip to the Bacuit Archipelago many years ago ignited my love for travel and our country. It was not an easy 6-hour journey from Puerto Princesa but arriving in El Nido felt like a spiritual experience. The jagged limestone formations (some even looking like Godzilla's back) that dotted the Bay were all nothing short of magical.

For this trip, it was more special because we stayed in the newest and most luxurious Eco Resort in El Nido - Pangulasian Island Resort by El Nido Resorts. It gained more worldwide recognition when Condé Nast recently included Pangulasian Island Resort as one of the favorite beach resorts in the world for the GOLD IT list this year. 

The day before our trip, I barely slept because of the excitement. My cousin Trisha and I went to the El Nido private hangar around 5 AM to check-in. Everything was going perfectly until I found out that I could not use my new Phantom DJI drone. I was looking forward to flying my drone to take aerial shots of the island. I was quite disappointed, to say the least, but I would not let that dampen my mood.

The trip to Pangulasian Island was a relatively quick one.

After the one-hour flight with Airswift (also known as ITI) and 30 minute boat transfer, we arrived in our piece of paradise. We were greeted by the staff with warm smiles and cold towels. It would have been better though if the General Manager or assistant Manager greeted us when we arrived. As a luxury resort with a discerning clientele, I look for more personal touches. I guess after visiting dozens of luxury properties around the world, I focus on service all the time.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Riad Dixneuf (19) La Ksour: African Chic in Marrakech

Morocco was one of those places I had always dreamed of visiting. Imagine a country located in Africa with people that speak Berber, French or Arabic. It is a destination that makes you realize why traveling is the best way to experience the world. 

To start this Moroccan love affair, I went only to Marrakech - the center of this country's tourism. I wanted to get a feel of the city without having to rush exploring it. As you get older, I think you learn that traveling is not about numbers. It is about taking it slow in order to enjoy the beauty and (sometimes) chaos of a place. I decided to fly from Barcelona to Marrakech, with a stopover in Casablanca, since it was a practical route when traveling to this region. 

I was certain that I would be staying in a Riad first since this was a unique accommodation in Morocco (I will be writing about La Mamounia and Amanjena after). A riad, which means garden, is basically a traditional Moroccan house with a central courtyard. If it does not have a garden in the central courtyard, it is called Dar or house. 

There are hundreds of Riads in Marrakech and picking the right one for you could be quite a challenge. I picked Riad Dixneuf La Ksour or Riad 19, a boutique hotel that has that African chic vibe, only minutes away from the grand Koutobia mosque. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

The Siam Hotel: An Urban Oasis in Bangkok

Sometimes, the difference between a good trip and a great trip is the hotel choice. Let me introduce my new love in Bangkok - the most luxurious resort in the capital - The Siam Hotel. This property has 39 Art Deco inspired suites and villas that could change the hotel game in the city. The impressive design and atmosphere of  the Siam reminded me of my favorite hotels in Siem Reap - The Park Hyatt and Shinta Mani. It did not come as a surprise when I found out that architect/designer Bill Bensley was one of the people behind it. It had Bensley written all over it.