IN the past when people took a break from the daily grind, they literally wanted to “get away from it all.” This endeavor—and it was an endeavor—required careful planning.
Plane tickets had to be purchased, hotels booked and dietary requirements considered.
Now, instead of taking off, many choose to stay close to home. If they’re based in Manila, they book a hotel in the city. If they live in Metro Cebu, they head to any of the resorts in Mactan for a view of the sea and sand.
Inquirer Lifestyle has come up with a short list of places to stay if you need just a couple of days to unwind and recharge. Relax, you’ll be home the day after tomorrow.
Aruga at Rockwell
Aruga’s serviced apartments (tel. 8180000) have all the well-designed creature comforts one expects from the Rockwell brand. Units range from studios to one- or two-bedroom suites.
The larger rooms have dining areas where one can host intimate dinners for four to eight people.
Or, one can head to Aruga Café of Vicky Pimentel on the ground floor that serves comfort food like cheese sandwiches with guava dip, callos and lengua. If you like fries, order its decadent version. Once you start, you might not be able to stop.
Ascott Bonifacio Global City
Ascott Bonifacio (tel. 8609888) is this brand’s newest property in Taguig City.
The serviced residence is a short drive from Makati and offers a choice of studio, one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments with lavish living spaces and plush interiors.
It has a lap pool and outdoor Jacuzzi that was practically empty during our overnight stay. The pool can get cold late in the afternoon, but the water in the Jacuzzi is warm and inviting.
If you’re hungry, head to Bonifacio High Street and take your pick from dozens of restaurants.
Discovery Country Suites in Tagaytay
Coming from Makati, the drive to Tagaytay can take anywhere from one to over two hours. Good thing you can book a room at Discovery Country Suites (tel. 5298172; e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org) and enjoy the cool weather.
Guests who book a deluxe or premier room from June 15 to 21 can avail of the special package that includes wine and cheese cocktails, dinner and country breakfast for two and a choice of outdoor adventure: a 30-minute ATV Ride on two ATV Trex; or a tour for four at Old Kano farms.
Executive chef Anthony Raymond has prepared a Father’s Day menu that includes beer-battered oysters and two red meat dishes, roasted beef short ribs and lamb chops with a tasty pesto-cilantro sauce.
The newest property of the Discovery chain, Discovery Primea (tel. 9558888) has serviced apartments for short stays or long-staying guests.
Located on Ayala Avenue just across Rustan’s, the gleaming glass building is accessible and hard to miss. Make sure to have lunch or dinner at Tapenade, its all-day cafe with an actual salad room, not just a salad bar.
General manager David Pardo de Ayala told Inquirer Lifestyle that guests can have their fill of salads, cold cuts, bread, dips and fresh oysters with a glass of wine for roughly P1,000.
Domicillo in Tagaytay
This eight-room boutique hotel in Tagaytay opened only a few months ago, but has enjoyed media coverage a number of times. Owned by home decor exporter Rene Alcala, Domicillo (tel. 46-4133552 or 0922-8841532) was designed by Budji Layug of Budji+Royal Design firm.
The property is filled with Instagram-worthy spots and has one of the best unobstructed views of Taal Lake.
Layug’s clean lines and studied use of poured concrete pair well with Alcala’s shiny mirrored surfaces.
Guests who fancy the latter’s range of export-quality Manila Mirrors can order them to their specifications.
There is a restaurant that serves tasty Filipino breakfast (crispy danggit, longganisa, fried bangus) although one can always head to Antonio’s or Josephine’s for a late lunch or early dinner.
Dusit Thani Manila
Like many hotels in Makati, Dusit Thani Manila (tel. 2388888) is near some of the country’s top malls, restaurants and cinemas.
Devarana, its in-house spa, offers Asean-theme treatments that give one the chance to travel without having to leave the country. We tried the Mekong River Harmony, a two-hour treatment which starts with the application of a freshly made body scrub using tanaka powder from Burma (Myanmar), cashew nut from Cambodia, and dragon fruit from Vietnam.
After rinsing off the scrub under the shower, we were given a soothing, hour-long aromatic massage using Laotian champaca oil.
The Henry Hotel Manila
In the six months since it opened, The Henry Hotel Manila has caught the attention of locals who want a change of scenery. Stepping onto the property, one is transported to a bygone era.
The compound has several two-story buildings so one can gaze up at night and see the sky. The guest rooms are spacious and light-filled, while the bathrooms are outfitted with modern showers and deep, claw-footed tubs.
Linger over afternoon tea on the tiled verandas or take a dip in the pool. Feeling peckish? The restaurant on site is run by the same people behind the popular Apartment 1B.
Go Hotels Ortigas
If you’re on a tight budget, consider booking a room at Go Hotels Ortigas (www.gohotels.ph), a stone’s throw from Robinsons Galleria. Get one of the rooms with a king-size Windsor bed and veg out in front of the wall-mounted TV. The bed might take up practically the entire room but believe us, that’s a good thing.
Hungry? The mall is just across the street or you can work up an appetite and walk to SM Mega Fashion Hall or the East Wing at Shangri-La Plaza.
Boracay really shouldn’t be on this list that considers proximity, but it’s only an hour by plane to Caticlan.
Last June 10, Shangri-La Boracay (tel. 36-2884988; e-mail email@example.com) was named one of the world’s top luxury spa hotels by Agoda.com. The popular accommodation booking site chose Shangri-La Boracay’s Chi Spa as a standout luxury spa on its annual list of world-class hotel spas.
The spa has 10 villas, each overlooking a private bay. Most of the spa treatments are based on Philippine health traditions and use coconut products, warm oil, heated stones and supplies derived from local flora.
Guests have commented on the clean and private beach, the resort perfect for families with kids of any age. A Filipino guest said, “The Travelers’ Treatment at Chi Spa was a huge delight, soothing away all the stress in your body. Trips into town were always fun, but really, if you want the peace, quiet and your own relaxation, there’s no need to leave the resort.”
Cebu residents probably think Shangri-La’s Mactan Resort and Spa (tel. 32-2310288) is out of town. The hour spent driving through traffic, however, is worth the trouble once you enter the resort’s airy, bougainvillea-framed lobby. Check-in is usually a breeze and within minutes, you’re on holiday mode.
The beach and its cove are understandably popular with vacationers, but our favorite has always been the blue-tiled pool next to Aqua restaurant.
The resort’s manicured grounds are great for morning jogs or afternoon strolls, but if you prefer to just lounge around the pool or the beach, no one will begrudge you that.
Siama Hotel, Sorsogon
Siama Hotel (www.siamahotel.com; tel. 0917-8816497 or 0998-9828101) has earned a reputation in the two years since it opened for its beautifully designed interiors.
Credit goes to furniture and home designer Milo Naval, who turned four hectares of the 10-hectare copra plantation into one giant showroom.
“When we were conceptualizing the resort, we wanted to maintain the provincial feel of the place but with all other creature comforts included,” Naval said.
He and wife Kat positioned the resort as the “home base” of guests who intend to visit other places in the province. Since Siama is in the city, guests can leave in the morning, go whale-watching in Donsol, check out a new surfing destination, Gubat, and head back to the resort by afternoon.