“Sosyal naman ng asPin mo!” That was the general reaction when friends and family learned I was taking my three-year-old dog, an asPin named Kikay, on a weekend “staycation” in one of Manila’s poshest luxury serviced apartments.
Indeed, Kikay has come a long way from the insecure, mangy mutt we found on the street in May 2009, so it was only fitting that she experience more of the good life.
I’ve been on staycations— that’s how we call quick getaway weekends in luxury hotels right in the middle of the city, when you want to disappear for some pampering without the hassle of serious travel. But the prospect of actually bringing my baby with me was enough to get me all excited.
That, and other indulgences that come with five-star service, like in-room dining, plush beds, and my personal favorite—a bathroom that just begs you to soak in the tub. I mean, who has the time in daily life?
It all started when Look Magazine, Inquirer’s glossy fashion and beauty mag, shot a fabulous spread of gorgeous women and their beloved dogs for our July-August issue, now out at selected magazine outlets. (The pictures have since gone viral on Facebook!)
When the magazine staff learned that Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center Manila, part of Oakwood Asia-Pacific and Oakwood Worldwide, the largest chain of luxury serviced apartments in the world, was genuinely pet-friendly, we jumped at the chance to shoot there.
“Why not bring Kikay here for a weekend?” invited Oakwood Manila’s PR and marketing communications manager Jose “Ouie” Badelles, himself a true-blue dog person—his best friend Stitch is an eight-year-old pug.
The fact that our canine feature subjects were as fabulously behaved as their mistresses was added encouragement.
Ouie has much to show off, anyway. Aside from a new downloadable app loaded with info on the property’s neighborhood, and an ongoing “Burgers of the World” food festival at the elegant Oakroom (until September 15) by executive chef Jerome Cartailler that has had carnivores flipping, Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg was recently awarded a 2012 Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor, the hugely popular, tell-it-like-it-is international online travel resource where travelers go for honest advice.
That’s how Kikay and I ended up checking in one rainy afternoon into a gorgeous one-bedroom apartment with a view of Ortigas Center.
Dogs, cats, and fish are allowed here, but to be sure, the rules of responsible pet ownership apply, so go through the fine print of the pet agreement that you must sign.
There’s a limit to the number of animals you can bring in, as well as the size; no dog over 75 lbs is allowed, so you have to leave the Great Danes at home. A deposit and a cleaning/disinfecting fee are required in case your pet trashes the place like a rock star, and yes, you will be accountable in case he or she makes too much noise or soils the carpet.
You’ll need your pet’s vaccination certificate, and a picture in case you’re dumb enough to lose your animal and the staff has to help you search. (Face it—losing a pet is almost always the fault of the owner, really.)
Ouie reveals that longer-staying guests who bring their animals are quite enlightened and conscientious about taking the dog out for a potty walk along the many bushes around the Ortigas area. Kikay and I immediately found an empty, grassy parking lot right across the building, and yes, she was on a leash at all times outside the room, and we picked up after her and disposed of her litter properly.
Pets are allowed to pass through the lobby, but not in other public areas, so it’s really all about cocooning with your animal. Now, Oakwood wants to tap into the local market of weekenders who want to bring their families and pets along.
The room was spacious enough for us to play fetch with Kikay’s toys. I recommend the private, in-room dining so you don’t have to leave your baby, and the dishes come in humungous portions to share (with another person, or, okay, your dog—hey, Kikay was on vacation, too).
Noteworthy are menu items that are marked as “healthy fare, minimally processed to retain high nutritive value.”
I had time to surf the net, do some work, and practice some yoga in the spacious apartment while Kikay dozed off on the couch after casing the joint. There’s a gorgeous pool upstairs in case you want to leave your pet and duck out for a swim, though.
Heating dog food
The fully-equipped kitchen is big enough for you to cook anything, which, in my case, was limited to heating dog food in the microwave oven. I did take a peek at the popular Sunday Bubblicious Brunch Buffet, with its live cooking station, great array of food, and, yipee, glass of bubbly—how’s that for a happy Sunday?
I also highly recommend an in-room massage courtesy of Oakwood’s Paradasia Royale Spa. Masseuse Cleofe came in and gave me a great hilot, complete with heated coconut oil.
Because Kikay tends to get protective when somebody approaches me, I had to lock her out of the bedroom temporarily, until she got used to the new person.
Fortunately, the pet-friendliness is internalized; the Oakwood staff know your animal by name, and they kept a respectful distance until Kikay had relaxed, which is exactly how you are supposed to approach an animal you don’t know.
Really, though, a staycation is about “me” time—watching mindless TV, taking long baths, and catching up on much-needed rest. Having a loving, cuddly companion along was a delightful bonus. By the time our stay was over, Kikay was sleeping more than I was.
Author and animal lover Jon Katz wrote that, since our pets have such short lives, we have to fill their time on earth with “perfect days” that celebrate the bond we share with them.
Every time I heard Kikay sigh in utter contentment, buried with me under the sheets of our comfy bed, I knew I had added to what I hope to be her lifetime of perfect days.
Oakwood Premier Joy-Nostalg Center Manila is at 17 ADB Ave., Ortigas Center, Pasig City, tel. no. 637-7888, email [email protected], www.oakwoodasia.com.